Redesigning Denim Part III : Wear Your Work

We did some redesigning and we did some making. And here’s the finished product!

Redesigning Denim_Final_square

A quick before & after

What do you think? Do you like my lacy peacock butt? I love it! I’m gonna have to strut before my professor and face critique. Wish me luck. Did you follow along? I wanna see you wearing you work. And working dat work!


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Redesigning Denim Part II : Making

Hi Sunshines!

We’re back for part two of our denim project. Click here to catch up on part I. When we left off all we had was some sketches, a glint in our eye and hope. Where are we now? A little closer to fabulous that is, admittedly, a combination of ideas. Here’s what the shorts looked like before I started hacking away at them:



If you’re following along here are some supplies to have on hand:

  • seam ripper
  • scissors
  • quilting pins
  • fabric, muslin works, denim pictured. This can also include other clothes or scraps you’ve had in the unfinished pile or bin. If you’re anything like me, anyway. I’m sayin, tho!]
  • embroidery floss this one is particularly thick
  • needles (the larger the floss, the bigger the eye)
  • heavy duty thread
  • sewing machine
  • iron
  • ironing board


Begin by ripping the seams. This always seems more painful than it really is. In my head I’m thinking ugh every single stitch but, yes, every single stitch. At most I might rip two stitches at  time, but I consider that loosey goosey. Pulling out one stitch at a time only took a few minutes. Then I pressed out the creases. So the general idea is to sweep lace between layers attached to the shorts. A little something like this:

4_General Idea

Next I removed most of the front panel of the shorts; basically cutting the front like extra hoochie daisy dukes. Be careful not to cut the pockets! Pin in the new fabric and sew down the sides first using the sewing machine. For the uppermost connection between fabric and shorts, I embroidered by hand chain stitches in a pattern emulating lace.



For the back I opted to keep things simple. I patched the gaping hole with a darker wash of denim. Where the seams connect, I made an overlapping fold so that as little hole was visible as possible then pinned and stitched that in place using the sewing machine.

11_Back_patch continued

Then lengths of lace were layered and embroidered down using the chain stitch. I chose the chain stitch because it’s pretty and very secure, which is especially important considering how hole-y lace can be. To keep each row from flaring upward (say if you sat down funny or something) I stitched an X in the center. That was Honeybee’s idea because he’s handy like that.


I can’t wait to share the finished product with you guys! I’ve been stitching my fingers to the bone. How’s your project coming along? Smooth sailing or struggle-fest? Leave in the comments below! And don’t forget to hit the Like button if you’re into seeing more projects like this around here.

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Sh*t That Makes Me Smile: When Seattleites Get a Lil Sun

You can see the satisfaction. All of a sudden—literally in the middle of cycling—everything and everywhere is a beach worthy of a good lay-out. I’m sure its the Floridian in me, but I just find it so endearing. Especially when I get the Weather Channel warnings to stay hydrated (which we all should, I know, but still). Everybody’s got a little light under the sun! Look at this guy ↓ makeshift lounge.


What’s making you smile these days?

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Redesigning Denim

Do you ever think about the counter-couture fashions of the counter-culture of the 1960s & 70s? [Or, as my professor describes it, hippie 101.] You’d love my class this quarter. We’re learning about clothing as a means of revolutionary expression through the lens of rock&roll, funk, punk, sex, drugs, war, anti-war sentiments—everything. Sidetone: It’s so interesting be learning alongside people so much younger than me. Our teacher asked everyone who’d heard of the Draft to raise their hands. Not all the hands were up! That’s wild!

This project is essentially pretending to enter Levi’s Denim Contest from back in 1974. Our job is to find something pre-existing and make it something else, indicative of ourselves by means of embroidery, painting, appliqué, additive / fusion, subtractive / cutout, etc. like the characters in our required reading, Native Funk & Flash. I’m inspired by the stories in this treasure trove. There are tales of drug-smuggling and there are winged penises. There’s also incredible millwork, if you’re a millwork-enthusiast like me.


Follow along with this project! It’ll be fun. Remake something schnazzy for yourself. You deserve it.

First, power through 50 [8 ½”x11″] sketches of ideas of possible future denim creations. This got painful after about 30, but keep at it! I drew up outlandish headdresses (that may very well be future projects wink*nudge) and more realistic ideas based on items I already own. When I hit a wall, I hit the thrift shop. I stopped in on Value Village and found this structured stretchy denim jacket with a wonderful problem: it’s too big. YASSS honey! Come home with me. We shall make beautiful fashion together.

To bridge the gap between ideation and physical creation, we take a closer look at our ideas, creating at least 5 [11″x17″] iterations. Not sure why exactly, but I took this opportunity to try digital illustration for the first time, focusing on two main ideas:

This incredible pair of shorts. They came from H&M‘s Label of Graded Goods (L.O.G.G.) line back when I worked there and I enjoyed that  fresh-off-the-truck quality check. Just by feel, you could tell something was different about these shorts. The denim is supple, but thick and has a generous stretch, they’re not just washed indigo, but also floral printed and slightly longer than your average denim shorts and also cuffed at the leg which gives us even more fabric to work with. Just pure perfection. Anyway, I wore them every (warm-enough-in-Seattle) day for two years until what some may describe as crotch blowout happened.

I don’t know if I can use that phrase, though. Sounds…weird.

But even as Spring turns to Summer I miss these shorts, so this is a perfect opportunity to attempt reinvigorating them.

Denim Drawing_1_LaceSweepSkirt

Also thought through some ideas for the jacket. My plan is to attempt both projects and whichever sucks the least will be my midterm.

What do you think? The final projects will likely be combinations of these ideas, but we’ll have to see. So far I’ve ripped the seams, so it’s truly a blank canvas.

Post your befores in the comments below and / or #wraysofsunshine on Instagram so I can see your projects! And stay tuned for the next part of this adventure, coming soon.

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Redesigning Denim Image from Levi’s Denim Contest accessed 4/17/16Welfare (Winner: Levi’s Denim Art Contest), 1974. Photo: Sam Haskins © All Rights. The Sam Haskins Estate 2015. Native Funk & Flash. It is always my intention to link back to the original work referenced on Wrays of Sunshine. Questions about content? Use the contact page! 

Real Talk: I Smile Because I Want To

This post has been in the drafts folder for a while. It’s an awkward subject to broach, but here goes:

I’m happy. I’m really really happy. There’s an abundance of blessings and luck and warm fuzzies in my life, yo. It’s true. And I have a lot of extra love. Unless I’m fully acting in a play or something I cannot will not poker face…unless I’m actually playing poker…which I’m not good at. You can tell what’s on my mind. And it’s pretty damn positive. Mama Sunshine says I was born with this affliction. And, you know, I just have to take it one day at a time.

If you’ve traveled through Seattle you may’ve heard of a little something called the Seattle Chill, meaning that people here are apparently all bottled up inside and don’t talk or greet each other. Further that it can be hard to make friends or create meaningful relationships.

Bollocks, says Sunshine. In fact, I find quite the opposite to be true. People are so friendly and open up so readily almost everywhere I go. Some might then say that the Chill exists and is merely counteracted by my southern hospitality. Yeah, maybe, but that only proves the Chill can be overcome. So there.

Dark Side of the Sun

In general, being a smiley happy-go-lucky sort of lady works out however every once in a while I’ll notice that some people will be less honest with me when they don’t have something cheerful to say. It’s as though they don’t want to bring me down, but it’s only by sharing our joy and pain that we can lift each other up.

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, to make eye contact with everyone you pass for a solid day week and see if you don’t feel like smiling, too.

Love & Light,

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UW Cherry Blossoms

My brain full from a hard day’s learnin’, exit the [art] building to find all sorts of shenanigans.


There are cute girl with bunnies on leashes. There are Frisbee Brand flying disks. And, oh, the cameras. But what can we do? We are compelled to document the beauty around us. And ourselves in it.


Thanks for venturing to school with me, you guys. I’m getting back to work, I swear!

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Meet: Tamblyn Gawley

So far my experience with higher education has been an excellent journey filled with inspiring works and even more inspiring professors. And now that I’m studying at the University of Washington, its nostalgic to look back at my time at Shoreline Community College where it all began. One of the first art classes on my transcript was 2-dimensional design with Tamblyn Gawley. If you’ve been reading my writing for the long haul you may remember a post on way, way back on Sunshine Press about critique.


In it you’ll find this picture of Tamblyn. Can you tell even despite the darkness that she was not on board for this photo?! Because she wasn’t, but I had to document this teacher who, like me, had an affinity for painting trees and taught me so much. Now, all these years later we have the pleasure of catching up and poking around her studio. Lucky us! Ladies and gentlemen, Meet: Tamblyn Gawley

State your name for the record, please.

Tamblyn Gawley

What is your primary artform?

I spent a long time working almost exclusively with oil paint. But the last few years, I’ve focused mostly on drawing, gouache, and lithography.

tamblyngawley_albertparkauckland_2014_gouacheandlitho_38x56_web_0Albert Park, AucklandAlbert Park, AucklandAny others?

I’ve also been working with egg tempera and watercolor, and etching and drypoint when I’ve had access to a print studio.

Where did you study and how does that affect your current practice?

I received my BFA in painting from Daemen College in Amherst, NY in 2009, and my MFA in drawing and painting from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA in 2012. I studied painting in Florence for a semester in 2008, and I received a Fulbright to study printmaking in New Zealand for a year in 2014. I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to study in different places, and each one has impacted my work.  Daemen College helped me develop my skills and explore interdisciplinary concepts. The trees in Florence, especially in Boboli Garden, were the beginning of my study of tree roots and branches. At the University of Washington, I was able to delve deeper into my subject matter and explore alternative approaches. It was here that I took up drawing as a more serious medium and where I discovered printmaking. The work I am doing now comes directly out of what I was doing for my MFA thesis. The Fulbright grant was an invaluable opportunity for me to develop my art practice as an independent artist, rather than a student. I was also introduced to lithography, which became the medium for most of the work I created there. The New Zealand landscape was also a major influence in my work. While the huge driftwood of the Pacific Northwest coast inspired my high-key light-filled drawings of root structures, the majestic landscapes and skies of New Zealand inspired multi-panel works deconstructing trees and canopies.

Do you have a mentor? Or a mentee?

Throughout school, I’ve had several mentors and advisors.  Most notable was my painting professor, Felice Koenig, at Daemen College. I still keep in touch with her, and turn to her with questions occasionally. My mom is another person I consistently turn to. She’s a watercolor painter and a retired middle school art teacher. We share our work and feedback with each other, and when I’m unsure of something, she’s my go-to. I also have a very good friend and fellow painter, Carly Helen Cummings, who I turn to when I’m trying to work something out.

Does your work have a goal?

On a broad level, I try to represent my experiences with the trees; what it is that I’m seeing or feeling. I generally want my pieces to be beautiful and lyrical and the show the viewer something they may not have seen if they looked directly at the source of the subject matter. Individually, each work tries to tackle and illustrate various things. Sometimes I want it to be about the contrast between two elements; sometimes it’s the light I’m interested in; other times I want to show you the color or the form.


Who are your top 5 most inspiring artists?

I have been looking at Sylvia Plymack Mangold’s work a lot lately. I love the way she handles edge quality and negative space. I always return to Jim Dine’s ability to activate the empty space of the image. The Group of Seven and Tom Thompson are also some of my favorites; you can feel their love of the wilderness. Other favorites are Cezanne, Sargent, and Whistler, and Van Gogh’s drawings.

Are you inspired more by pain or joy?

Neither. Inspiration usually comes to me from hiking or sifting through my photos of trees and one jumps out that I just have to work with. It could be the colors, the light, the composition, or a specific way a branch or root bends.  It could be something I’ve overlooked for months or years, but suddenly it grips me. I am also inspired from looking at others’ work, whether in books, museums, or galleries. I see the wonderful and beautiful things people have created, and it drives me to create some of my own.

Give us a quick play-by-play of a studio day. Are you easily distracted or do you work in a more focused way?

It depends on the day. Some days, I find it very difficult to focus or get any work done. There are days when nothing works and I hate everything I make.  And there are days when everything goes well, and I can work all day. I currently have a studio space in my apartment, which has its benefits and drawbacks. I see my work all the time, so I can analyze it, look for solutions, and add to it whenever I want. However, with a home studio also comes countless distractions: housework, pets, family. With my new studio arrangement and the fact that I work in mediums that can be set-up and cleaned up quickly, I work in smaller, but more frequent, chunks of time. I’ll spend parts of weekends, or a few hours in the evening after work.  Sometimes, I spend just a few minutes if I see something I want to change. Countless times, I’ve been about to have dinner or leave the house, and I’ll see something and stop to add a branch or change a color or value.


I had the pleasure of learning about 2d design in your classroom. One of the main things I learned (and has really stuck with me) from your class was a strong attention to detail. Are there any areas  that you wish you’d like to be more attentive to?

I’m not quite sure what you mean. In terms of my art, I would like to be more attentive to how the work is displayed after it’s finished.  I tend to dive into the work without thinking about framing, mounting, matting, etc., which can create a huge impact on the work. Currently, this is something I usually think about as an afterthought.

What tips do you have for conquering artists’ block?

What helps me if I get stuck is to sift through my countless photos of trees taken on various camping trips, hikes, and travels. Something will always jump out asking to be made. Sometimes, I will approach things in the other direction, coming up with something I want to tackle in my art and then looking for a composition to use for it. I also find it very helpful to look at other artists’ work or talk to other artists.

Windstream (detail)

How do you feel about Etsy, Society 6 and other internet artistic venues? Are they helping are hindering the modern artist?

I don’t have strong feelings either way about these sites. While it’s not what I’m looking for, I think they can be wonderful venues for some artists and artisans. Concerns about the security and logistics of selling fine art online have kept me away from using these services.

What, if any, lessons have you learned from your students?

I always learn from my students and from the act of teaching. Teaching foundation classes makes me reexamine the elements and principles of design and the “rules” of art. It’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and forget to think about things like color scheme. They are things I think about altogether when I am creating a composition, but I find it helpful when I slow down and reexamine them. With students of any age, I witness new approaches, styles, and perspectives. Everyone brings something different to the table, between their background, interests, and education. Everyone interprets projects, subjects, and materials differently. It can be very fulfilling to share these perspectives and experiences.

Are you still teaching at Shoreline?

I am not currently teaching. After returning to the US from my Fulbright grant, I moved to the Boston area.

How was your Fulbright experience?
My Fulbright experience was unbelievable. I worked at the University of Canterbury, studying printmaking and meeting with the post-graduate art students and faculty. On the weekends, I went hiking and “tramping” (backpacking) with the Canterbury University Tramping Club. I used these trips, and my other travels around the country, to obtain reference material for my art.  My supervisor at UC introduced me to a process of lithography that uses Pronto paper (polyester litho plates). With pronto paper, you don’t need the giant litho stone, and you can use Sharpie, India ink, grease pencil, scratching, etc. to make marks. It gave me the ability to work on many plates at the same time, much quicker and easier than working on a traditional stone. I was also able to connect with the other Fulbright New Zealand fellows. It was a wonderful opportunity to share our stories with each other and watch as all of our very different projects grew and developed into really interesting things.

Do you have work showing anywhere currently and/or any upcoming shows?

My work is represented by Prographica Gallery in Seattle, WA and Market Street Art Center in Lockport, NY.  I currently have work on exhibit at the Milton Art Center in Milton, MA.

Do you have a website we can link to and spread the word about?

Thank you soon much, Tamblyn, for sharing your skills with me in the classroom and your practice with us here at Wrays of Sunshine. It’s always a pleasure!

And thanks for checking in on our little corner of the internet. See you soon! Need more artist interviews now? Check out our last one, E. R. Saba or Dale Harkness. More still? See the archives!


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Credits: All images courtesy of the artist. Gawley in New Zealand from Prographica. Final Critique Post from Sunshine Press: