Rekindle Your Wild Joy and Deep Belonging to the Earth

Machine Moment September 17, 2015

2face_sewingmachine_behindthevoiceactors.comWe who enjoy material prosperity in the modern day Industrial Growth Society are expected to chuck out imperfect possessions that we don’t use anymore and go buy new ones.

However, I like to repair and repurpose things, so I’ve been doing some mending.

Some of the clothes on the pile are nearly worn out. But that’s because they’re favorites and therefore too beloved to just let go softly into that dark night of the rubbish bin or consigned to a second life as cleaning rags without a fight. Others, I want to alter in some interesting way; to usher their good raw material into a new and more currently useable form.

Even though I’m much more skilled at sewing the archaic way, with a simple needle and thread, I got our old sewing machine out for the first time in many years to make the work go faster.

“Faster,” she said. Ha! As soon as I attempted to begin, the thread snarled up in incredible thick tangles over and over behind the bobbin. This being on the bottom side of the piece, I didn’t notice it until quite a few inches were already sewn and I was congratulating myself on the excellent choice to employ some metallic plug-in help. Then the snarl caught on the foot hardware and everything stopped cold. I turned the work over, and omg. In certain places, what was intended to be a neat row of small stitches was a mass two inches thick and a half-inch deep! What a mess.

I tried a few more times, with no luck. As a last desperate resort, I finally broke down and got out the owner’s manual to try and understand what was happening. Not surprisingly, this helped. Improper settings for the kind of material, thread, stitching style, etc., had indeed caused part of the problem.

But really, getting deeper to the core of the issue, machines have never liked me.

You’d think they would cut me some slack due to my family: my dad, a mechanic, served their kind his entire life. He worked on aircraft, cars, motorcycles, and small stroke engines like chainsaws and outboard motors. He even single-handedly rebuilt three-and-a-half P-51 warbird airplanes from the WWII era, one from a husk found abandoned out in the desert. And my mom cared for this exact same sewing machine for decades. Where’s the gratitude?

But machines don’t seem to think that way. It’s all about their needs and their individual relationships with us soft-bodied creatures, and something about me is apparently just too much water to their oil.

Thinking about it, maybe it’s because I’ve not given this one a name, nor painted Celtic knotwork all over it, or suchlike. I seem to get along better with the machines that I anthropomorphically spoil, or at least art up. Or perhaps it balked because I don’t use it enough, and it feels under-appreciated; without a strong purpose. Hm.

You reading this: how do YOU personally develop a mutually happy relationship with the machines in your life? Inquiring, frustrated minds want to know.

For myself, I think I am better off sticking mainly to simpler tools like the hand needle, thimble and thread. Even with it occasionally drawing blood and me taking a lot longer to complete tasks, there’s less wariness between us. We know what to expect from one another. We can get along.


Artzybasheff’s Animistic Machines April 26, 2010

Filed under: Animism,Arts — BrujaHa @ 12:16 pm
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Artzybasheff Machinalia

Animism is alive and well in the industrial world of Boris Artzybasheff.

After the Russian Revolution, Artzybasheff (1899-1965) arrived in America with no parents and 14 cents in his pocket. He began to work as an illustrator using an Art Deco style, then became heavily influenced by the representational surrealist movement.

His illustrations graced countless Time and Life magazines, loads of ads, and around 50 books, including Charles Finney’s The Circus of Dr. Lao and Dhan Gopal Mukerji’s Gay-Neck, which won him the Newbery.

One of his most famous books was his own, As I See. This book contains a section entitled “Machinalia.”

In its introduction, Artzybasheff says, “I am thrilled by machinery’s force, precision and willingness to work at any task, no matter how arduous or monotonous it may be. I would rather watch a thousand ton dredge dig a canal than see it done by a thousand spent slaves lashed into submission. I like machines.”

He says that, but while some of these do look like a happy little Disney world o’ machines, others look far more ominous to me. However, I’ll give the artist the benefit of the doubt for knowing his own subconscious along with his conscious approval of human liberation from drudgery.  Perhaps the machines’ expressions do not signify plotting the eventual overthrow of their soft, fleshy masters, as I suspect, but simply intense concentration on their work tasks.

See what you think.


Artzybasheff Machinalia
Making of Steel: Charging the Open Hearth

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Tapping a Heat of Steel

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Filling Ingot Molds

Artzybasheff Machinalia
The Soaking Pit

Artzybasheff Machinalia
The Blooming Pit

Artzybasheff Machinalia
The Rod Mill

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Hydraulic Press

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Stranding of Wire Rope

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Weaving of Fence Fabric

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Wire Drawing Machines

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Spring Forming Presses

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Wire Cloth Looms

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Navy’s Mark III Calculator

Artzybasheff Machinalia
Executive of the Future

(Thanks to my original source for many of these illos: Stephen Worth, ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive)