Sunday, June 13, 2010

Play with Your Clothes: Is My Basket on Crooked?

Valerie says: Jean is up in Montreal as I write this. She is watching men zoom round and round in circles as fast as they can. It's beyond me why she has to go up to Montreal to see the same thing that takes place in thousands of offices right here in New York City (or Washington DC, where all the best runners in circles have gathered for the serious competition). The important thing, however, is that in her absence, she has left me in charge of the blog.

Not so long ago, Jean and I received an invitation to a warehouse sale - about two weeks long - at one of our favorite second hand boutiques. Unfortunately, because we both have day jobs, we couldn't take advantage until close to the end of the first week. The announcement swore that new items would be added daily, but one always has one's doubts, and when we finally arrived, we were both hard pressed to find a Really Truly Fabulous Thing that we couldn't do without.

I DID come away with this very lovely red vegetable fiber basket with striking black diamonds. I was quite happy with it, but I've had one other vegetable fiber basket, and without my realizing it, the fiber of that basket, which I slung over my right shoulder, slowly but methodically wore a hole on the right flank of a favorite vintage wool jacket of mine. Having learned my lesson, I knew I'd never use this basket the way it was intended. I struggled, even while paying for it, to think of a good use for it. The texture, design and price were impossible to resist, but I was going to have to assuage my puritanical practical side.

Jean and I popped into a bar for a post-purchase wee drinkie. In the middle of our chat, I suddenly pulled the basket out of its shopping bag and placed it, straps and all, on my head. Jean was not amused, and said "Not everything is a hat, Valerie." How right she is. I was able to turn the Guggenheim Museum into a hat (see our September posting), but do not feel I'm up to the challenge presented by, say, the Chrysler Building. Nevertheless, I had my suspicions about this basket.

The next night, I spent about an hour with a box cutter, gingerly slicing away all the tiny vegetable fiber knots that bound the straps to the basket, and put the basket on my head. It was terribly tall, and suggested someone trying to hide a papaya underneath, but I was not deterred. The fiber is very supple, and I was able to manipulate it into a Sukarno-like hat. This is what it looks like. (You may have seen it in a previous posting we did.)

This past Friday, for reasons that are not at all interesting, I bought a new camera, and because it has a video function, it seemed I should make a video - since (as the old saying goes) a video is worth a thousand words - showing how to turn a basket into a hat. If I were twelve years old, I would have had the video up on line in fifteen minutes, but as I'm four times the age of a twelve year old, it took me four times as long. I did not have time to teach myself how to edit, so although there's a timer delay that allows me to start filming when I'm ready, you'll see that there is no wonderful gadget to allow me to turn off the camera when I'm done. So I have to show myself walking off screen. Oh well. Steven Spielberg made home movies for years before graduating to the big time. For your viewing pleasure, here's how to turn a basket into a hat in twenty seconds. (This link is included for people like me, whose ancient computers cannot see the Youtube attachment directly on the blog, and have to take the extra step.)

To be fair, with reference to my above-stated anxieties about the Chrysler Building, some are more than up to the task of rendering it in millinery form. Here, William van Alen makes it work for him in 1931. On a completely different note (and way at the opposite end of the bodily spectrum), since we have often blogged about our love of shoes, click here to read National Geographic’s article about the recent discovery of the world’s oldest (5500 years old) leather shoe. A very special welcome to our first visitor from exotic Zanzibar, the stuff of legend! (Opening photo of this year's Montreal Grand Prix from Google Images.)

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