30 June 2016

Printing on Fabric with Natural Materials - online course!

Back at the beginning of May I took a trip out to the Denver area and recorded an online video workshop for Craft University called Printing on Fabric with Natural Materials. Working with the team there was a blast and I'm so proud of the content of this workshop.

In the workshop I teach you all about how to sun print with acrylic paints and inks, how to direct print leaves, fruits, and veggies, how to print 3D objects like seashells and bumpy leaves, how to print fish, and even how to print your own photos with UV reactive dyes.

The team put together a preview of the workshop and you can watch it here:

Printing on Fabric with Natural Materials starts on July 25 and runs through Sept 5, but you own it forever, in case your summer gets busy. But! If you want to play along in real time, I'll be around to cheerlead, answer questions and troubleshoot, and share some more fun tips, tricks, and resources. You all are encouraged to post photos from the lessons and ask as many questions as your heart desires. I'll be right there guiding you!

You can use coupon code PRINT20 to save 20% on the course, and I'll be giving away a free gyotaku rubber fish for printing on Facebook and Instagram, so make sure you friend and follow me there too!

Summer is the best time to Nature Print - head out into the backyard to gather some supplies and then come join me in class!

21 December 2015

Loft Office Design

Carlos and I recently moved to an old loft complex near our art studios. I've been mulling over the design of the new office/guest room space and have finally arrived at a plan.

Things may change a bit as the room comes together, but it feels good to have the general direction decided upon. The first step will be painting the walls a warm white (already started!), followed by building a desk the length of the room (11.5') with two work stations, and cubbies/shelves over it, like the inspiration photo in my moodboard above. I'll be on the lookout for a midcentury modern sideboard or dresser for another wall to house office supplies and give our guests a little storage space. A convertible sofa will be great for overnight visitors and provide a place for a snooze or some work, depending on the day. I desperately want to replace the current "boob" light in the ceiling with an updated sputnik-type chandelier and have found a great, reasonable source for it. Now to save up some pennies! Here's a quick "before" photo of the room (yeah, that green is outta here):

While the living and dining rooms of our loft have brick walls, wood beams, and lots of character, the bedrooms have less character and no bricks, but do have really high ceilings and are large rooms. The furnishings and textiles in the office/guest room will give it the character that it needs.

Here are peeks of the living, powder, and dining rooms for a hint of that charming loft character.

I'll share progress photos and furniture building and sourcing tips as we go, so please check back!

20 December 2015

Tiny Beetles

Now that I've shown you my giant beetles, I'd like to show you some tiny beetles. Each of these beetles is 1.5" square and framed in a 4" square frame with a custom-cut mat.

A few of these tiny beetles have copper tape wrapped around one edge, all have stamps or "chops" on them, as well as a design stamped from a bit of metal screening material and acrylic paint, for texture. 

Each is $25 framed and an additional $5 shipping but I'm offering free shipping through the end of the year, so if one of these tiny beetles needs to live at your house, don't wait!

11 December 2015

Giant beetles!

As promised yesterday, here is a recent piece with two seriously big beetles. "Elfreth's Alley" is a mixed media collage with stitching on a 36" x 48" stretched canvas.

This is the first in a series of at least 8 new works, all depicting large-scale insects. I've sketched out the next four already. The one I'll start next has a big-ass moth on it. This is a fun series to construct because I'm having to invent methods and techniques to make what's in my head work in real life. I'm enjoying the unexpected turns that this project is taking me. Check back for more progress and updates!

10 December 2015

Swarm - new art cloth

Sorry about missing the last couple of days of blogging, there was nothing blog-worthy going on over here! Today I hung up a new piece, Swarm, outside my studio. It just returned from a show at the View Art Center in Old Forge NY.

The piece is art cloth (no batting or backing) that started as plain white heavy cotton. First I painted it with a diluted acrylic ink wash. Second I blockprinted with a mustard acrylic paint a series of geometric blocks that I'd made previously. Next I screen-printed a swarm of beetles with a thermofax screen and an opaque navy acrylic paint And finally I added some hand stitching with coral linen floss. It's 18" x 36" overall.

I've been on a beetle kick for a number of years now. I find their forms so intriguing, and they've come to symbolize how I feel about climate change. Beetles are at once formidable and fragile, much like the earth herself.

Tomorrow I'll show you my recent gigantic beetle piece - each beetle is over two feet long!

07 December 2015

Art Business Housekeeping

December is a busy month for most people, but it's also a good month to attend to some year-end art business housekeeping tasks. Steal away 15 minutes here and there and you'll be off to a great start when January rolls around. Here is my list of suggestions of categories to work on this month, one at a time, as time allows.

Update your website
Most of us finish our website and then stop thinking about it once it's published and uploaded. If you haven't updated yours in a while to reflect new work, a current calendar, new workshops, etc, take a bit of time and make certain it's up to date. Pro Tip: Set a reminder on your phone to update it at the end of every quarter (or more often!) Websites that are updated regularly rank higher in search engine results than websites that are stagnant.

Review your business cards and other promotional material
Business cards often need updating too. Sometimes the image on it might not reflect what you're currently doing, or you might have a new blog or a new email address. Take a business card or postcard out now and check to see that everything on it is up to date and that you're happy with it. If not, spend the time to correct it. Then order new ones so you have them on hand for all of the holiday gatherings you'll attend. Pro Tip: My favorite place to order business cards and postcards is Moo.com. The cards are high quality, you can have different images on each card for no extra cost, and their "moosletter" is chock full of great info for marketing and promotion and they offer coupons and discounts. Get 10% off your first order with this link.

Update your mailing list
When I go away to teach I take a notebook with me so I can collect email addresses from my students for my email newsletter. What I often forget to do when I get home is transfer those names to my emailing list program (I use Mailchimp). December is a great time to make sure that your emailing lists are up to date Pro Tip: If you haven't added a widget for an emailing list sign up to your website yet, now is the time to do it. And if you haven't signed up for my newsletter yet, please do!

Update your Etsy store or online selling platform
Check to make sure that all of your listings are up to date, your prices are correct, and shop and shipping policies are current. Pro Tip: Review your descriptions and labels. These two things are the most important (after good photos) in getting found and getting sales.

If you'd like to join my online mentorship group with tips, tricks, and homework like this all year, please sign up for my mailing list above to receive notification of when it starts in early 2016! 

06 December 2015

Custom Built-in IKEA Billy Bookcases

One of the more fun projects that I've tackled lately has been customizing some IKEA Billy bookcases for a client. I've got the skinny on how it came together, in case you'd like to try something similar. I don't have the glamour-shot "after" photos yet with the perfect styling and the new rug so I'll be sure to update this post when I do.

We started with four of IKEA's ubiquitous Billy bookcases in a space off of their kitchen that was newly designated as a library.

They had just purchased new comfy reading chairs and wanted to use their existing pedestal table. I created a moodboard, or collaged image, of what their space could look like with some changes. We knew we wanted a new rug and lighting above the bookcases, as well as some fun detailed woodwork.

We were on track for a cosy area to read and relax, except for one minor detail. Behind all of those bookcases was a length baseboard heating, causing the bookcases to sit out from the wall about 6" and not allowing us to anchoring the bookcases to the wall to prevent toppling. So I built a base or platform for the bookcases to sit on from 2 x 4s bolted securely into the framing of the house and the floor below. This ensured that there was no weight on the heater itself and that the bookcases would be supported and flush against the wall. I also ran electricity from the existing outlet to a new switch that would be hidden inside a shelf and a new outlet near the ceiling for the lights that would be installed above the bookshelves.

Here are all four bookcases securely fastened to both the newly-constructed base and the wall behind them. They are also screwed to each other in a number of places for stability and to keep all of the front edges even. I used metal L braces on both sides of the bottom of each bookcase to secure them to the 2 x 4s that they're sitting on. I like to build things rock solid with no possibility of failure, so I add fail-safes wherever I can think of them. It might be overkill, but I sleep better. 

You can see one light in place as a test, and the new outlet peeking out above the third bookcase. The homeowner had made a hole for a power strip in that same bookcase, but it didn't end up being in the right place for the new switch (which is camouflaged just to the right of it) so that got patched.

Once the bookcases were secured I created a soffit above with a frame of 1x2 pines and added  painted planks of wood in different colors, trimmed it out with moulding, and installed the four new lights. The switch inside the bookshelf behind a picture frame controls the lights. I loaded all of the books back on the shelves, staged the table with a vase and flowers, and stood back to admire the work so far.

So the top of the bookshelves looks great, the bookshelves themselves look fabulous, but the bottom is looking a bit unfinished. To remedy this, first I trimmed out the opening below each bookcase with pine and stained it to match the bookcases' finish. I also stained all of the visible parts of the 2 x 4s that make up the base (which hadn't happened yet in the photo below).

Because I wanted the heat from the baseboards to be able to reach the room (there is a wood burning stove just out of sight to the left, so it is really warm there, but still), I purchased metal grating to cover the openings below the bookcases without blocking the heat. I cut them to size and spray painted them oil-rubbed bronze. Those got nailed in place. Then I added trim around each of the grates, mitering the corners.

The fronts of the bookcases were also trimmed out in lathing strips over the areas where two bookcases meet vertically so that the units appeared more custom and built in. You could no longer see four individual bookcases, but rather one large unit. I added a 1 x 12" pine board to the left side of the last bookcase, notching around the baseboard, to complete the custom look (not pictured, but I'll take one from that angle the next time I'm there and post it). In retrospect, I should have painted the baseboard heaters (and maybe the floor inside the base) a dark brown color so they wouldn't be noticeable through the grating.

After using wood putty to fill of the nail holes, I stained everything with a Kona brown stain to match the existing finish on the Billy bookcases. It's hard to remember that the actual bottom of the bookcases is way up in the air, hidden under all of the trim work. Stay tuned for the stunning "after" photos!