18 December 2014

The Printed Fabric Bee - October's Science Fabric

I think I forgot to tell you that I was invited to join the Printed Fabric Bee earlier this fall. If you aren't familiar with this dynamic group, check out their (our!) blog for all the deets.

The first fabric I made was due the end of October and the theme was Science. Fun, but a little challenging until I decided to USE science instead of depicting science when making my fabric!

I decided to try a new product that I've only played with a few times before. It's called SolarFast from Jacquard and it is a water-based dye that reacts with UV light to "develop" based on what masks you place on the surface of your fabric.

The dye paints on in one color and the exposed areas develop into a different color.

I painted the first fabric with a combination of the pink and orange SolarFast dyes. For masks I used some of my smallest rubber gyotaku fish. The more opaque an object is, the more contract there will be from the masked to the unmasked areas. 

I set the wet fabric in front of one of my studio windows and sat back to watch it.

Less than 5 minutes later you could definitely see some developing of color going on. Because the light was from a sharp angle, I noticed that the shadows the fish were casting was developing at a different rate than the uncovered fabric.

15 minutes total had passed by this point and the process was complete.

I removed the fish and decided that the contrast was a little TOO stark for me so I left it in the sun for another 3-4 minutes so the covered areas would have a chance to develop slightly.

After those few minutes I ran to the sink to rinse out the rest of the dye to stop the process as I quite liked how it looked at this point.

The completed, rinsed and pressed fabric! That was a blast - I definitely need to play with this more. The fabric is just as soft as it was before I started the project. It took about 30 minutes from beginning (opening the bottles and cutting a square of fabric) to end (the final press and squaring up).

Here is a collage of images from the other Printed Fabric Bee members and whaT their Science fabrics look like.

Have you tried Jacquard's SolarFast yet? What do you think?

14 December 2014

Review - Fabric Printing at Home

I want to tell you about a cool new book that I've just read - Fabric Printing at Home by Julie Booth. As you know, I love printmaking, almost any kind of printmaking, but especially printmaking with found objects and produce. This book has tons of creative ideas for both - and it goes way beyond the potato prints we all remember from elementary school! Julie describes in detail how to take every day objects that most of us already have in our kitchens and pantries and use them to create gorgeous, sophisticated printed fabrics. She gives in-depth instructions and suggestions, and provides lots of inspirational photos.

There are lots of things I've never thought of before, like creating texture plates with baker's clay (she includes a recipe), printing a nifty background design with corn on the cob (put the cob in the same holders you use to eat it, daub on some paint, and roll the paint-covered cob across your fabric, ta da!), creating "marbled" designs with cabbage, and making printing plates with wax paper and flat objects like string, leaves, and paper clips. Broccoli may not be your favorite vegetable now, but it just might be after you see how you can print with it.

Fabric with a corn cob printed background

You can bet that I'll be scouring the produce aisle on my next trip to my local super market for fruits and veggies to print. It'll be a toss up on whether this book ends up in my studio or my kitchen. I'm much more likely to be printing in the kitchen than cooking and this book is the perfect recipe book to get my creative juices simmering.

04 August 2014

Printmaking and more at Create Mixed Media retreat in Chicago!

I had such a great time teaching at the Create Mixed Media retreat in New Jersey in July that I'm doing it again in Chicago this month. I'd love for you to join me!

I'll be teaching four workshops. First up is the 4-color block printing class. You'll learn about design, registration for perfect prints, marketing and selling prints, and even cut your own mat. You can add some stitching by hand and/or machine. Everyone works on their own design and New Jersey's students came up with some stellar ones!

On Saturday I'll be teaching a class called Art Websites for Beginners. All you need is a laptop with wifi capability and some images of your work. There's no software to buy or download, no special knowledge needed. By the end of class you'll be well on your way to a beautiful website you can maintain and update yourself. We work on the websites in real time, one step at a time, until everyone is confident and ready to move onto the next step. In New Jersey we joked about having a hacker party with pizza and beer in the hotel lobby after class to keep working on our sites together. Fun!

Saturday night we jump into the Live Tweets class. This is a great introduction to soft sculpture and the results are delightful. Make a bird with fabric and paper that you've painted or printed yourself. What a fabulous way to show off your handiwork!

And on Sunday morning join me for a great inspirational exercise that ends up as a house with a bird on it in the Bird:House workshop. Randomly choose a "bird word" and create a collaged and stitched house to illustrate it. We talk about inspiration, the principles of design, and many construction techniques. The houses can either hang on the wall or sit in a wooden stand when complete.

The Create retreats are great fun, inspirational, educational, and a wonderful way to connect with our "tribe" while trying new things and meeting new people. I hope to see you there!

14 March 2014

The Quilt Show for free!

Celebrate International Quilting Day with me and TheQuiltShow.com beginning Friday, March 14 through Sunday, March 16!

I had the best time back in 2007 in Colorado taping with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims - it was my first experience with television and I could not have been more fortunate than to have these two acting as mentors and role models on set.

Everyone who signs on to TheQuiltShow.com will have FREE access to over 160 WebTV shows featuring some of the top quilting instructors in the world. You can also enter the TQS prize drawing with a grand prize of a BERNINA 550QE and wonderful fabric prizes. 

So check in at www.thequiltshow.com on Friday, March 14, and enjoy the shows and exploring The Quilt Show website. You can start with my show, Episode #208, "Principally Speaking - A Firm Foundation for Fabulous Designs".

You can find more about the adventures of taping on The Quilt Show at this link.

30 December 2013

B2B Monday - Recapping the year

Happy last Monday of 2013! Before we sail into a brand, shiny new year and set a few goals and pick a new word to guide us, now is the perfect time to look back on this year and take pride in all that we've created. Make a list of all of this year's art-related accomplishments. How many works were started? Completed? How many proposals were written and submitted? How many shows were entered? How many new techniques were learned or old ones honed? What kinds of art "field trips" did you take? When you sit down to think about it, there's always more to write down than occurs to you at first thought.

Creating this list also helps you figure out what you might need to focus on for the year ahead. I'd love to see all or part of your list if you'd like to share it here!

Happy New Year! Bring it, 2014, we're ready for you.

16 December 2013

B2B Monday - Art Field Trips

With the year drawing to a close and the holidays upon us, this week's tip is simply to set some time aside to enjoy some art. You can take an actual field trip, by yourself or with others, or a virtual one. I recently had the opportunity to visit DIA Beacon in New York with a group of friends and it was so creatively stimulating. We had interesting, in-depth discussions about what we were seeing and what it made us think. I highly recommend the experience!

If you don't have time to get in the car and head off to a museum or gallery, take a tour of a museum's website or visit an art blog. In the midst of the holiday craziness and preparation and stress, a creative time out can be very refreshing and inspirational.

Here are some virtual favorites of mine:

This is Colossal
Google Cultural Institute
Virtual Museums

What's your favorite place for an art field trip (real or digital)?

09 December 2013

B2B Monday - Are Your Tools in Top Shape?

Happy Monday from very icy Connecticut! This week's tip deals with your equipment and tools and getting them into the best shape they can be in for the coming new year. If you are in the thick of creating for holiday gifts, disregard this tip until you've wrapped up (har har) your work for Santa, but then hop to it. Because we are all busy with parties, family, and holiday preparation for at least the next few weeks, this is the perfect time of year to send your sewing machine for a "day of beauty", your scissors to be sharpened, to spend time re-organizing your Dremel drill bits and replacing the ones that need it, stocking up on needles, new brushes, and whatever else will put your basic supplies and tools in fine fighting shape to hit the studio in January running and ready to create!

Here's a small list of tools to check over:

  • Sharpen scissors
  • Send sewing machine for a tune-up and cleaning
  • Soak and restore paint brushes (did you know that using a drop of hair conditioner in the final rinse water can keep your brushes soft and the bristles behaving?)
  • Clean iron
  • Clean or replace painting palette
  • Sharpen pencils
  • Discard dried up paint jars and tubes
  • Check all lightbulbs in your studio area and replace any that need it (fluorescents lose luminosity over time, for example, and become dim gradually enough that you don't notice unless you're really paying attention)
  • Stock up on blades for Xacto knives, bits for a Dremel, sandpaper, batting, basic thread, and any other consumable supplies
What is on your list of tools to service and equipment to check? Let me know in the comments.

New for 2014! - I'll be offering one-on-one mentoring for a limited number of artists. Find all of the details at the bottom of the Studio Workshops page.