27 December 2010

new video tutorial - printing with thickened dyes

Yesterday the studio and I got along like old chums. We spent the whole day together, didn't get cranky with one another and just generally had a pleasant time. Since things were going swimmingly, I decided to drag out the video camera and do a new video tutorial.

One of the tutorials on my list involved showing how I like to make thickened dyes and then printing with them using thermofax screens. I touched on it briefly in my article in Quilting Arts but its really so much fun that I thought a video would be in order to show just how easy and addictive it is.

So I did.

I like to use a product called Superclear. It acts just like sodium alginate but comes already mixed and there's no fuss of blending it and praying it doesn't clump up. I add dye powder directly to it, and print away! (I like things easy.)

Since YouTube is such a crab and won't let me put up long videos, its split into two parts again. Apparently I can't ever shut up.

You can see all my video tutorials on my YouTube channel.

Enjoy it and I hope you will give it a shot!

26 December 2010

where i stand sunday

His little paws have followed my feet through another year.
Patient, prancing, playing, resting.
Now we are both caught in the hazy days trapped between Christmas and the New Year, those last few days when things blur into reflection and preparation for a new calendar. I can't help but look down at my feet and look for him as I move through the house, he's always there, always looking forward to what each new day will bring.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

22 December 2010

tasting christmas

I was talking to Cathy this morning, lamenting over the fact that my back has been horribly cranky these past few weeks and I didn't know if I could stand on my feet to do all the Christmas baking I usually do. (I love baking.)

She told me that she was doing some baking today because if certain things aren't made, it "just doesn't taste like Christmas without them."

It stuck in my head. I kept thinking about what she said. And eyeballing the Martha Stewart cookie magazine this year (there are several that caught my eye). I decided Cathy was right, there are certain traditions attached to Christmas and food is one of them.

I bought a few ingredients when I did grocery shopping but nothing major. I was worried that I would waste them if I couldn't get my back sorted. I knew which recipe was my number one choice for baking. If I made only one thing, it would have to be this:

I got the recipe for this cranberry bread in the third grade.

I've made it every year since.

Its pretty basic and I've recently changed from making a whole loaf to either mini loaves or square muffins. But one thing is for sure, I know its Christmas when I make these.

I thought I would share the recipe with you all. Its simple, extremely tasty and everything that holiday baking should be.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Holiday Cranberry Orange Bread
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
0.5 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel

2 tablespoons crisco shortening
1 well beaten egg

1.5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped (I use one bag of fresh cranberries.)

OPTIONAL: 0.5 chopped nuts or 0.5 cup raisins (I usually leave these out but would undoubtedly be tasty if you are inclined to add them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg.

Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries (also nuts and raisins if used.) Turn into greased loaf pan. Bake 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If you would prefer, you can also make mini loaves or muffins. Bake mini loaves or muffins for 10 minutes and then check every five minutes after until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on rack 15 minutes, remove from pan.

21 December 2010


My schedule this time of year is no different then anyone else's. I'm dodging the crazed people while trying to shop and running a mental checklist over and over again to make sure I didn't miss anything for the holiday at the end of the week.

Its a hectic ending to the year, always is. I bought a 2011 planner yesterday which means I'm already looking into the new year, jotting down things that need to be done for the many projects on my plate. I'm trying to work ahead so that I can keep developing new things, I want to keep the momentum going.

Yet with all the things spinning around, my mind keeps pulling back to my studio and the new piece laying on the print table. Its to the final stage, just need to do some stitching. I have two more waiting on the design board and the enthusiasm I feel for these new pieces has been...surprising, welcome, needed.

I'm no different then any other artist, I doubt where I'm going and why I do the things I do. I find myself hesitating at times and debating things. (I'm exceptionally good at arguing with myself.)

But then there are times like these, when I walk into the studio and just know.

I know that when my hand reaches for the threads to figure out what color is needed, they will reach for the right one.

I know that when I hide myself away in my studio for even a few minutes, that peace that is only mine will settle down over me and tell me I belong.

I know that without art, this life would be less bright.

I know that I am lucky to be one of the ones who knows.

19 December 2010

where i stand sunday

* * * * * * * *
t r a d i t i o n
* * * * * * * *

The end of the year is thick with tradition, ritual. Laying the past twelve months to rest in a long flurry of celebration is comforting and satisfying. The house is wrapped in a series of decoration and peacefulness, a quiet kind of reflection that will be punctuated by family and friends.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

18 December 2010

creating order

This is my new coffee cup. About the only thing I love more then coffee is a good cup. Particularly white ones, something about the lovely contrast of drinking black coffee against a white cup that never stains gives me that little thrill. (Yes, I'm that easy to please.) I'm a coffee cup collector, its a little out of control but I can't help it. Particularly milk glass and vintage style ones - makes the coffee taste better (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

I've had about three cups this morning so far because last night I felt an impending sense of doom and chaos. I couldn't quite figure out what my problem was, I'm used to running at full tilt with tons of things on the burner at one time. I pondered the reason.

Maybe its because its the holiday season and there's so much extra to do.

Maybe its because there is a full moon (not sure on that one, didn't check a lunar calendar but its been a good excuse in the past).

Maybe I've got too many projects going at once. (This one made me laugh - there's no such thing!)

Then it finally hit me why - NO LIST.

I live my life solemnly by the rules of THE LIST. It creates order, it tells me what to do, it keeps me humming right along toward deadlines with no worry of stress or chaos.

Somehow I had not updated THE LIST lately and it was making things seems kind of dark and foreboding around the edges. It meant I could possibly forget something important or stray off track or wander off on some path that had nothing to do with anything I mean to accomplish.

I see THE LIST as a kind of leash that keeps me on track. I imagine people look at me and say, "She's got it together. Didn't you know? She has THE LIST." They won't mess with me, even Murphy's Law fears THE LIST (and we all know the great affection he has for me).

It is my super power.

I am indestructible when I have THE LIST.

Its important to distinguish the rules for creating THE LIST. Some people think they are list makers but they aren't, they don't know the rules, they just haphazardly flail around with a pen and a piece of paper and think that their lists are the bomb but they're mistaken. Its an art. Rules must be observed in order for THE LIST to do its job properly.

1. Have a pretty notepad or board (dry erase or chalkboard) on which to write THE LIST. Consider it a form of dating, creating a sort of special relationship. You wouldn't show up for a first date wearing your pajamas with extreme bedhead, would you? Wooooo THE LIST.

2. Items such as laundry, grocery shopping and paying bills do not belong on THE LIST. They are futile, never completed and will only taunt you because they are never really completed. If you add them, you will avoid looking at THE LIST and you will be conquered. Instead, segregate them off into daily errand lists, or as I like to refer to them, "I Hate You Because You Are Never Done" lists.

3. Cross off completed items, don't erase them. Leaving them there with a big old line drawn through them shows how awesome you are at completing tasks on THE LIST. Plus erasing them makes you think you don't have much to do and this is dangerous. It can lead to excessive internet surfing and knitting.

4. Be bold. And confident. THE LIST can smell fear and it will not hesitate to crush you. You must respect THE LIST.

5. Understand that THE LIST is here to help you. Don't give it dirty looks or threaten to run it through the washing machine with the laundry. Growling at THE LIST is also ineffective and will serve no other purpose then to put you behind schedule.

6. THE LIST has comrades that you will want to become familiar with. These range according to your personality type but can include: coffee, vodka, hysterical laughter and trash cans.

7. Some lists are portable and others are not. Portable lists are for the "I Hate You Because You Are Never Done" tasks (see point 2) and stationary lists (like the one in my studio) are attached to the wall so that when you realize the deadline is only two days away, you will have something to hang on to as you slide to the floor sobbing.

8. Get THE LIST a calendar. This is crucial. Not having a healthy sense of how many days away a deadline actually is is like setting your list on fire and laughing with glee while you do it. Also keep in mind that when you are creating things (particularly by hand), a deadline that is seven days away is equivalent to about fifteen minutes. Work ahead.

9. Update THE LIST regularly. (This is the most difficult and one that I struggle with regularly.) There comes a point when you just need to create a new list, with updated priorities and new goals. Don't fear this process, it is not the same as piling more work onto your schedule. THE LIST is your schedule. Don't fight it, it will only cause pain.

Now that I have an updated LIST in my studio, I feel like I can conquer anything. In fact, because I have the list, I am working on item #1 today (and no, its not blogging but it is blogging related so I feel that I am in the correct ballpark and will get to work on obliterating #1 from THE LIST as soon as I hit "publish" on this post).

Me and THE LIST. THE LIST and me.

There's no stopping me now! Muahahahahahah!

16 December 2010

let's screen print t-shirts with thermofax screens!

A few weeks ago, Cathy Arnett, spent a weekend at my house and I convinced her that it would be fun to do a video on screen printing t-shirts with thermofax screens. The two of us working together on a major project is usually a source of entertainment. We spent much time debating how we should do this, and that and then this.

We took over the print table in my studio and what ensued was silliness and the filming of a three part video tutorial on the subject. It came out quite well, if I do say so myself.

Here she is wearing the shirt that was printed during the video tutorial:

(Yes, it is autumn in that picture, already a vague memory here in Michigan.)

Cathy has hand dyed several t-shirts and they are waiting for some photography - once that happens, they'll be available in the shop. But I get asked constantly how to print t-shirts with thermofax screens so I decided that the tutorials simply couldn't wait any longer.

The tutorials is split into three parts because of the time limit that YouTube places on video uploads. (That means the total tutorial is nearly 30 minutes long. It will answer allllll your questions.)

It took me a day and a half to get all three videos up on you tube (it was being incredibly stubborn yesterday and bailed on three uploads when they were nearly complete) but luckily I am far more stubborn then that site so they are all there.

I do hope that you find them helpful and informative - go forth and screen print t-shirts!

Don't forget, I have several other video tutorials on thermofax screen printing on my YouTube channel so check it out!

13 December 2010

getting the ball rolling

For the past week I've been fighting the urge to push every single thing off my work table so I could start on Behemoth.

Starting my little business has put a serious dent in my art making time. I'm not complaining but holy cow, it can really get under your skin after a while.

Today I decided enough was enough. I braved the post office today to send out a whack of boxes and decided that after that trauma, I deserved a little selfish me time in the studio. I wandered up there, looked that giant hunk of felt that has been hanging on my design board for the better part of a month straight in the eye and mumbled, "You. Are. Mine."

I ended up reducing the size slightly because its what fit on my print table. Its now about 33" wide x 27" high. Which I'm sure doesn't sound huge to many fiber artists but for me? That's pretty big.

I dumped out my pitifully small basket of printed fabric (I really must learn to create a reserve instead of printing as I need it) and half an hour later, had this:

Its the base layer. I'm happy with the colors and movement in it. I've got a long way to go yet and still have not figured out how I will hand stitch this (my fingers cramp up just thinking about it) but I see no way around it. I won't be happy with it any other way.

The best part is that its sucking up my whole work table. Preventing me from wandering off and working on other things. Oh what a burden...(are you buying that?)

I would have preferred to stay in the studio all day today and continue to work since we got over half a foot of snow dropped on us last night. But I had things to do so I braved it.

I really shouldn't complain because I least I don't have to do this:

The temps went below zero today and it looks like its not going to let up for a while. Weather like this makes me supremely happy about two things: (1) that my bathroom facilities are located indoors and (2) my ability to hoard a large amount of wool yarn means that I will not freeze to death should electricity cease to exist.

12 December 2010

where i stand sunday

p a t t e r n * t i l e * c o p y * structure * r e p e a t * p a t t e r n

Life seems to be built upon patterns. Schedules. Something familiar to rest my feet on. I look steadily and cautiously at the structure I'm attempting to build, remembering where it took me before, the comfort it offered, the satisfaction. I've changed, has it?

p a t t e r n * t i l e * c o p y * structure * r e p e a t * p a t t e r n

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

10 December 2010

spontaneous crafting

Sort of like spontaneous combustion but without all the smoke and mess. (And definitely more fun...)

I admit that I am weak in the face of new crafty things. Even if they've been around for ages and I've admired them from afar but just haven't gotten around to trying them out yet.

I recently discovered Craft Sanity. Its an outstanding craft blog by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, a fellow Michigander.

I am apparently very late to the party, she's been around for a long while now doing wonderful crafty things. She has over 100 podcast episodes and just issued her first print issue of Craft Sanity magazine (you can also get it as a PDF but I love the feel of a magazine in my hand so I went that route):

I was happy to get it yesterday because I'm currently nursing a cranky back and it leaves me looking for entertainment (reading and word search puzzles are usually my addictions of choice).

Jennifer wrote an article on making an apron using English paper piecing:

I'm not so much about aprons (as evidenced by the paint spattered condition of my poor clothing) but those little hexagons are entrancing. I've long wanted to try English paper piecing, it seems like just the right amount of tedious and cool mixed into one.

Well, there was also a giftie included with the magazine - a package of small hexagons from Paper Pieces with pre-cut fabric. I found the large warning on the front of the directions to be humorous:

I keep my little owl sewing box next to the sofa so I dug around and found a needle and thread and figured, "Why not? I'll give it a go."

Fifteen minutes later...I had this:



I want to make it friends.

It was ridiculously easy. And incredibly cute. And I can see so many different ways to alter them and projects to make and...


I really didn't need one more thing to fall for...

After I got the whole thing stitched together, I got to worrying that I wouldn't be able to pull the paper pieces out. (I am a firm stitcher. When I sew something together, its for life. Which is probably not an admirable skill when doing this kind of craft.)

I snipped the basting stitches on the center one since all its sides are securely attached to neighbors and the paper piece came out like a champ:

I need to give the rest of it a good press and then I'll yank the other paper pieces out.

Here's another view:

Isn't it cute? And easy. Did I mention easy?

I can see this on pincushions and tote bags and scarves and christmas tree ornaments and...and...just wait until I can get up off the sofa - I'm going to make an army of them!!!

09 December 2010

the age old question

While decorating the Christmas tree, does one decorate the sides that no one sees (the ones facing walls) or just the ones everyone looks at?

Tonight, dear readers, that was my dilemma. I've asked many people this question and the answers are split nearly 50/50. Of course, there may have been a note of hysteria when I asked it, which often leads people to agree with me whether they actually do or not, so perhaps my sampling isn't all that accurate.

I am of the opinion that you only need to decorate those sides that you see. Here is my reasoning:

1) For nearly my whole life, my Christmas trees have always been placed in a corner or against a wall. This to me says right there, "I don't want you to decorate me all the way around." It just sets the stage from the get go and who am I to argue with the mighty Christmas tree?

2) I weigh more then fifty pounds and am wider then a sheet of paper. This makes cramming myself between the tree and wall an impossibility.

3) Trees have a built in defense system. Scraping up my hands and arms as I attempt to insert myself between the wall and the tree for the express purpose of putting an ornament in that space that no one will see seems like something you need medication for.

4) Yes, lights go all the way around. No, ornaments are not the same thing. Its a class system. Ornaments are more important. Its a cruel reality, sorry to be the one to break it to you.

5) It is a yearly tradition: bickering about whether or not the wall needs to view decorations as well. Why mess with tradition?

Since I am the one decorating the tree this year, I am drunk with the power of putting ornaments only on the visible sides of the tree. Its a small thing but I have embraced the duty with seriousness. I even purchased new ornaments and have strewn them about the living room in strategic piles so that they can be distributed on all visible sides of the tree.

The westie isn't sure what all my enthusiasm is about. He is mostly interested in stealing the fat chubby stuffed santas and making me chase after him screeching like a lunatic "Don't eat Santa! Don't eat Santa!"

That too is tradition.

I like to take my time with the tree, do a little bit each day. I'm late getting it up this year but I'm also one of those people that leave the tree up until the end of January. So there's still plenty of time to enjoy it and feel smug about the fact that the backside is naked as a...well...backside.

It is the little things I cherish....hee hee hee hee hee

07 December 2010

making nice with an old foe

One of the projects I'm working on mandated that I send in a head shot. (Which in a way sounds brutal, but I knew it meant they wanted a photo of my head.)

If you've been reading the blog for any length of time, you can probably count on one hand how many times you've actually seen my face amongst the posted photos.

It comes from a combination of being shy and...well, that's basically it. I've been working on getting over it, although I find it to be a somewhat mean process. I knew I needed a head shot, I knew it would become unavoidable at some point. So when the formal request for one came in, I sat down and gave it a little think.

Most of the head shots I've seen of other people are fairly formal. People dressed proper and pretty and smiling widely into the camera. They all look lovely. But in reality, the idea of it just didn't sit right with me.

I'm a casual gal. I couldn't see myself posing in a photo studio, looking all demure and frozen in a smile. I decided that if I was going to be comfortable with this whole taking pictures of myself thing, I was going to have to do it my own way.

In my studio.

Surrounded by printed fabric.

Dressed how I normally am.

So yesterday morning I worked at clearing off my design board (no easy feat, if you saw the state of that poor board, it borders on abuse) and digging through my fabric stash. Since I tend to print as I need things, it wasn't the easiest thing to dig out pieces big enough.

I set the camera on the tripod, figured out how to use the timer, and set about the task.

I'll be honest, there was cussing involved. I took photos of the top of my head, my neck, my chin. At one point the westie wandered into the studio and bumped the tripod so there is even one of me flying toward the camera as I attempt to stop it from falling into a pile of gook on my print table.

Its not as easy as I thought it would be. In the end, I came away with several that I thought came out okay:

See? I do exist.

I ended up going with the one on the far left of the bottom row. I still think I look goofy but less goofy then I normally think so that's probably a step in the right direction.

The camera and I are starting to play nice together. Which is a good thing because one of my major goals for 2011 is to set up online classes. I'm exploring a big website redesign (again, I swear it never ends) and that's a part I'd really like to add to it. I bought a flip camera, its a neat little thing. Packs a big punch for such a little object.

Maybe the camera and I can be friends after all...

05 December 2010

on the subject of change

1. door 212, 2. The Green Door, 3. An ill door, 4. An old door 2, 5. door to nowhere, 6. Colorful House Door- Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo, 7. Door III, 8. the yellow door, 9. Weathered Door - Bodie ca

I'm sure you've noticed that posting on the blog has been sporadic. Its because life has been full.

Full of change.

Full of excitement.

Full of big decisions.

Today I was searching through flickr, indulging my love of fine photography and my subject of choice was doors (you can see some of my favorites in the mosaic above). I love images of doors nearly as much as I love skulls - that gives you an idea of my affection for them. It occurred to me that they are a strong symbol of change.

Doors are decisions. You choose which side you stand on and that helps push you toward (or away) from certain goals.

I'm a fairly private person. I believe that many things don't belong on public blogs. I think some people don't keep that in mind, that everyone is reading so while I'm not going to spill my guts, I wanted to acknowledge that my scattered nature these days is because I'm working on stirring things up again. Much of it can be shared and will be when the time is right, but when I sit back and look at all that is up in the air, its amazing and exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time.

Which tells me I'm on the right track.

For the most part they are good things. Not every single thing is something I want to do, there's a few have to's tossed in there for good measure but those choices were driven by a desire to do what's right for me.

So I'll be missing my regular Sunday post again this week. I apologize, I'm taking the day to chill and relax and recharge.

Instead I wanted to take a second to say that change is a-coming again and I hope you'll all stick around for the ride...

The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
- Flora Whittmore

03 December 2010

all the trimmings holiday show - come see me!

I'm going to be here tomorrow:

I'll be selling art quilts, assemblages, felted items, thermofax screens (need more addicts to join me), screen printed items and much more.

Its going to be a great show so if you are in the area and are inclined, come on by and see us! :)

01 December 2010

12 Connected reveal day - icon challenge

Say It
Lynn Krawczyk

Today is reveal day for the 12 Connected group. The word issued to us for this challenge was Icon. I'm posting my quilt here (and there as well) but be sure to bop on over and take a look at the other work in the group, its always interesting what everyone is doing.

I had to give this one a little think. Its got a huge connotation to it, could go in so many different directions. I knew almost immediately that I wanted to do a person, a woman. An artist? A poet? A musician?

How about all three?

I chose Ani Difranco. She is a singer, song writer, activist, loud mouth, unabashed, tell-it-like-it-is, political woman. She says what she thinks and makes no apologies. I have been fascinated with her music for years now and often find myself playing her albums when I am in the studio, looking for the zone to sink into so I can get some serious work done.

She is the kind of brave that I hope to be someday.

You may not agree with her politics or what she has to say, but you have to admire that she stands up and says it without apology. She is an icon of the music industry.

I knew that I wanted to use a photo of Ani in the quilt but I didn't want it to be just plunked down and glaring. I wanted something that was scuffed up looking, rough around the edges - a prominent part of the composition but not bold all at the same time.

I found this photo on flickr and asked the photographer if I could make a thermofax screen out of it. I received a yes and was off and running.

I pulled brown fabric from the stash that was discharged in a folded pattern and some vibrant orange hand dyed cotton. Ani is not quiet with her lyrics and music and I didn't want to do a low volume piece.

I did three layers of thermofax screen printing. First up is a scuff print of the photo:

The second layer of printing was an all over text and then the third is an abstract coffee cup stain design.

I hand stitched the piece in a neon yellow perle cotton thread in bold graffiti like stitches.

I like the contrast, the push and pull of the colors against each other.

It was fun to explore a piece that expressed what I feel when I listen to Ani's music. I'm happy I got to honor her in this challenge.

30 November 2010

big news, little news & in between news

Its been a whirl wind of activity over here on this end. Its kept me scurrying around like a headless chicken and I've decided that today is my day to park my tush on the sofa and bond with my laptop. (I do love my laptop so. Is that wrong?)

I made a list of things that I want to blog about. Its becoming that hard to keep track - no longer can I just put it in my head and expect it to be there when the time comes that it needs to be tended to. (Not sure if that's a sign of getting older or just the fact that I find it easier to move through life with a schedule akin to a runaway train. I'll have to think on that one...I'll make a note to do that...)

Everything's been pretty exciting around here so let's get to it.

Big news!

I've been sitting on this one for a long time and I'm finally excited to be able to say: TA-DA! I've got another article in the latest issue of Quilting Arts!

I give you two guesses what the topic is (pretty sure you'll only need the one). Yup, thermofax screen printing. I am now bringing my obsession to the masses, I feel a little like Pinky and the Brain. Have a little looky:

Its a whopping five pages long and I am always so darn impressed with the beautiful layouts that QA puts together. They've got such a grand way of making everything looks its absolute best.

Don't forget that I've got tons of screens and paints in my etsy shop so if you are inclined to join me in my mad little world of screen printing, everything is there to initiate you. :)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Semi-big news!

I sold stuff.

Last Saturday was Running with Scissors' 2nd Annual Handmade Marketplace. Here was my set-up:

Business was decent. Its only our second year so we are still working on establishing a following and getting the kinks out. I'm doing another show this coming Saturday called All the Trimmings. Its in Chelsea, MI so if you are inclined to come on by and give me a little hello, I'd be happy to see you.

At the RWS marketplace I sat next to Kate. This is both a wise and dangerous thing. Wise because Kate is about a hundred different kinds of awesome and always fun to be around. Dangerous because as soon as she put these little fellows on her table, I snatched them, growled "They're mine!" like an obsessed banshee and hid them away in my display so no one else could claim them:

I am utterly addicted to her plush piggies. Can't get enough. The one on the right is a mini - a plush piggie piglet! (Say that five times fast!) These two bring my count up to five. Now I can stack them like a cheer leading pyramid, which amuses me to no end. They hang out on top of my thermofax machine so while I fill etsy orders, I can squeeze their chubby little bodies and chuckle.

Love me the plush piggies.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

{{ In between news }}

Today was the take down day for the assemblage show Leann, Joan and I had up at the Coffee Bean for the past two months.

My kitchen table now looks like this:

Its like bringing home old friends. I'm glad to see them again. I'm bringing several with me to the show in Chelsea to maybe see if I can get them adopted out to new homes. After that, I'll get them up in the etsy shop.

The exciting news is that as a result of this show, we've been offered two more exhibits. You should see the way our eyes light up at the idea of being able to make more assemblages - bring us the weld bond!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Little news

The thing that gets to be problematic when so much is going on is that (1) I usually can't find the time to make art and (2) domestic duties tend to suffer - which then results in a mess of impressive epic proportion.

Luckily, I have a deadline that forces me to work a small amount of art making into my schedule. I'm part of an online art quilt challenge group called 12 Connected. Every two months we post art quilts that we made based on a challenge word.

The latest word is Icon. I can't show you my whole piece just yet (it will be posted in detail tomorrow) but here is a little peek:

Layers of thermo printing. Ahhhhhhhhh...does it get any better? Check back here tomorrow for a full view and then I'll kick you on over to the group's blog to see everyone else's work. There is such a wide range of styles, diggin' it.

And yesterday I just couldn't stand it anymore, I had to clean. The first area of attack is my shipping/paint supplies for the shop. Holy cow, they manage to take over and tromp all over my OCD tendencies like you wouldn't believe.

I shifted around things on my bookshelf so I could contain the little devils:

The paint inventory is low. I have a bunch more coming. I have pretty much become one with the paint. While doing laundry yesterday, I found only a few shirts that didn't have some kind of splatter on them. No amount of aproning seems to help and since I'm not about to do screen printing in the nude, I'll have to figure something out.

I also started decorating for Christmas yesterday. My dad got me this:

The whole sleigh rocks back and forth as a music box plays Christmas music. Dr. Seuss definitely has it going on.

Okay, time to go visit my email inbox. Its taking some bravery to get in there and tackle it but I'm tougher then I look. I've got skills...

25 November 2010


Its that day, isn't it? I sat down last night to make a list of things I'm thankful for to post on the blog and at first, I was a little stumped at how short the list is. I mean, I've got a full life, and a pretty darn good one if I do say so. With all its bumps and curves, its still pretty stellar and I've got no major complaints.

And then I realized that the list doesn't have to be long, it can be short and sweet and still incredibly meaningful.

Here it is:

* family and friends who love me - and who I am incredibly fond of as well

* a creative life and the ability to indulge it to its fullest

* peace of mind and knowing that I am doing what I am meant to be doing

That's an awful lot to be thankful for. I include the blog and all of you in the first one, my life is fuller and richer because of this little place that we get together and visit at.

I hope you all are having a lovely day, little man hopes so too:

Happy Thanksgiving!

23 November 2010

a little parade

I am doing two holiday markets this year, the first one is this coming saturday. I'm a little nervous that despite all my efforts to make sure that I'm drowning in stock (my poor studio is about to stage a protest, its growing weary of the abuse) that I won't have enough for both shows.

I've cleared everything out of my schedule (even going so far as to buy frozen meals from Trader's Joe for the week) so that I can hunker down and work and make sure that there is plenty to go around.

It makes for dreadful blogging. It would be a lot of me waving things at the blog saying "Hey! Look at this!" and "Hey! I took a couple stitches on this! Isn't it thrilling?"

Yeah. Not so much.

So I've been quiet and so has the blog and the whole circle makes me all twitchy. (I do love the blog so.)

In an effort to keep things alive and well here, I decided to do a mini parade of a couple of the things that I'll be selling. The things being shown are getting a little mention here because they have, in one way or another, managed to torture the snot out of me over the past week. In fine fashion, I have turned my studio time into yet another I Love Lucy episode and I figured that in itself is entertainment enough.

Wishing owls:

I made these little guys last year. I love their chubby stumpy little bodies. They are small, about the size of your hand. I've been hauling them around between the sofa and the studio, stitching and fussing over them like you wouldn't believe.

See their adorable little eyeballs? (Click the photo to make it bigger so you can admire them.) They are fabulous in every way humanly possible - except when you accidentally bat them off your work table and watch helplessly as they fling themselves across the room onto some freshly screen printed fabric. (My fault really, I lay things out on the floor to dry. I need a better system...)

The up side? The paint I use truly is water based with easy clean up...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mini tote bags:

I've been itching to get some tote bags into the shop for a while. I've debated dyeing canvas ones to print or sewing up my own. In the end, I decided to give these charming little fellows a try.

They are 13" square and sport 14" long handles. They are made of simple cotton fabric. They won't be hauling all your groceries or other heavy fare.

But they are friendly and sweet and just the perfect thing to fold up and keep in your purse for when you have something small that needs carrying. They do also work well for smaller scale knitting projects (I've forced myself to test this over the past month. It was a hard task to take on but I endured.)

Since its my habit to lay things out to dry on my studio floor, it became crowded quickly. (I've got 18 printed up and going to the shows. If they get a good response, I'll bring them to the etsy shop.) You see where this is headed, right?

The really impressive part is that I managed to walk across one and not notice it. The paint was not quite dry and tacky enough that it stuck to my sock so I drug it down the hallway before noticing it was there.

Graceful, aren't I?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Crocheted scarves:

I found a really cool vintage ripple scarf pattern and since I have a healthy yarn stash, I decided to put some of it to work.

I knew which yarn I wanted to use. Finding it was another matter. As I couldn't find the yarn I wanted, I employed another kind but could never quite warm up to it. But you know who did like the second choice yarn? The westie.

I came downstairs one afternoon to find little man carrying around a half crocheted scarf in his mouth. He was rather proud of himself as he tripped over it and then proceeded to hack from all the fuzz he managed to inhale.

I guess I should thank him because it forced me to go back into the stash (not a place for the faint of heart) and find the yarn I wanted to use in the first place (which is what the scarves above is made from). Even the westie knew better that the second choice sucked. See? He's looking out for your well being too, I've trained him well.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


You'd think that after this I would have had enough but nope, I can't help myself. And yes, that is screen printing on the background. Honestly? Are you surprised? If I can screen print it, I will. Rock on. :)

Several people have asked me what the obsession with birds and eggs and nests is about. Dunno. Your guess is as good as mine. Truth is I just like them and sometimes that's good enough.

I discovered that my tube of Weldbond glue was nearly empty when I sat down to glue the eggs in. In my effort to see if it was simply clogged or if there was nothing left to be had, I can now offer you this advice: don't point the tube opening at your face while checking. (Glue and glasses don't mix that well. Neither does glue up the nose. Just sayin'.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Felted bowls:

I dig these. I made some last year too. All things wool make me happy. I decided this year to shape the bowls a little bit differently and add a penny rug detail to the bottom. I still need to stitch the circles, that's my activity after this post is done.

The only real challenge these fellows posed is the fact that wet wool smells like wet dog. A lot. No matter what you do. So the felting process was loads of fun.

I plan to burn a bunch of screens to take along too. Its my personal goal to convert everyone I possibly can to screen printing. Come on, you know you want to...

I have several other items but for the most part, they were behaved. I'll grab a few shots at the marketplace, I'm hoping we have another good turnout like last year. The group worked hard to promote it and there's going to be tons of cool stuff there.

For all the hard work that goes into it, I do have fun making the stuff. I am, however, looking forward to getting back to making some artwork that isn't for anything particular.

But for now? I've got more stock to make, time to get back to work!

21 November 2010

craft tutorial: the art of gift wrapping part 5

Well, here we are, at the end of our art of gift wrapping series. Here's a recap to the other four parts in case you missed them:

the art of gift wrapping part 1: Screen Print Your Own Ribbon!

the art of gift wrapping part 2: Fabric as Gift Wrapping

the art of gift wrapping part 3: Screen Printing Your Own Paper

the art of gift wrapping part 4: Sprucing up Brown Kraft Paper

Part 5 of our art of gift wrapping craft tutorial series takes a look at Easy Decorations for Gift Bags.

I love gift bags. You can cram any kind of odd shaped gift into them and its neatly "wrapped" without giving away what it is.

My mom's birthday is coming up soon. If you have a birthday around the holidays, then you know that sometimes its hard to separate the two celebrations. I think birthdays are special so I like to make sure it stands out.

She loves pink and lace and all things girly so I made sure to indulge her likes in making this:

front and back view of stuffed heart

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 1

I used a brown kraft bag for this. You can use any paper bag you like but steer clear of the ones that have a shiny surface, the paint doesn't stick real well to those.

I chose the daisy doodles screen and the cosmopolitan pink paint from the shop:

We talked a little bit about using Simply Screen on paper in Part 4 of the series. The textile medium in it can sometimes leave a tacky feel when you use it on paper. I decided to give it a shot here since I wanted the metallic pink color.

It did stay a little bit tacky but it was minimal, not enough to make me want to ditch it altogether. So I chose the color over a perfect print for this project. Whether or not you can live with it is up to you, there are many other paint options for printing on paper.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 2

Gift bags are not nice and flat like fabric or a sheet of paper. They have some bulk to them that can cause them to spring back when you are trying to print on them. This can cause your print to come out blurry - boo!

But there's a real easy solution. Put the screen on your bag where you want to print it and then weight the corners of it down so there is less spring in the bag:

Go ahead and print your image:

Set your bag aside to dry while we make the tag for it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 3

One of the things I like best about gift bags is that you can hang things from the handles. I like lots of danglies on bags. :)

I decided to make a unique tag for the bag (since its for my mom and all) - a little plushie heart.

Back before Halloween I did a tutorial on making a screen printed plushie skeleton. I used the same process for making the heart here. I'll touch on some of the steps for this tutorial but if you want to see every step in detail, be sure to go and check out that post.

I started making my plushie heart by using the nested heart screen and printing it on some osnaburg fabric:

I printed up a whole bunch while I was at it so I can make some little plushie ornaments for the Christmas tree. The process for that would be the same, just don't tie it onto a bag. :)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 4

Put right sides together and give your heart a little sew on the machine:

I like to sew around completely and then cut a slit in the back for turning and stuffing. (I show all this in the skeleton plushie tutorial.) But you can leave an opening in the edge if you prefer and turn / stuff it that way.

I stuffed the little cutie lightly, I wanted it to hang nice. I thought that if I stuffed it a lot then it would sticking off the side of the bag like a wild thing trying to flee so I went for slightly understuffed this time.

I also cut a rectangle from the same piece of fabric I printed the heart on. I used perle 5 embroidery thread for stitching on the label and making the hanger. Since we are doing a few things with the thread, make sure its a fairly long piece.

Here we are with the heart turned and stuffed and ready for me to stitch the slit on the back shut:

If you do this step, don't cut the thread once you are done with this part.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 5

Since I need a label to cover up the slit in the back that I stitched shut, I decided it would be a good opportunity to personalize the heart for the occasion. (You can do a label even if you don't need one. If you plan to leave an opening for turning/stuffing along the seam, you could even write your message before sewing.)

I like Identipen markers, they work great on fabric and are permanent:

I gave my label a little trim to make it fit on the heart nicer:

Since we didn't cut the embroidery thread after stitching the slit hole in the last step, we can just continue on with it for attaching the label. Whip stitch around the edges to attach it. I started stitching at the bottom, middle edge of the label. This will come in handy in a moment. Stitch all the way around it:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 6

When you are done stitching down your label, don't cut your thread!

Squish the heart a little bit so you can run the needle up underneath the label and out the top of the heart:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 7

Take the thread out of the needle and tie a couple of knots to hold it in place:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 8

Tie your stuffed heart onto the bag:

CUTE! :)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 9

I think the bag looks pretty darn adorable with the screen printing and heart but knowing my mom and how much she loves lace, I took it one step farther and decided to add some on.

I cut a strip of lace and put a few dabs of tacky glue on the back:

And laid it across the bag to dry:

And there you have it!

A very girly gift bag full of personal touches!

I had a lot of fun writing these tutorials - hope you enjoyed them too. :)

I've got tons of other projects in the works right now so the blog will be going back to a mixture of tutorials and regular posts.

Happy Printing!