30 November 2011

i'm a paint girl

I was asked recently what kind of surface design artist I am. I didn't understand the question and when I asked for clarification, I was asked again, "You know - what do you use most? Paint? Dye? Bleach?"

Ah yes, that one was easy to answer - I'm a paint girl.

95% of the time, I use paint when I do surface design. Why? Lots of reasons - I can buy it at the store if I don't want to mail order it, there are as many varieties as there are colors on the rainbow, I don't have to batch it, I can use it straight from the bottle, its ease of use means I can work in odd moments when time allows.

I think its pretty much the ideal surface design medium. (I'm a fan, can you tell?)

Imagine my glee when Jackie pointed me toward the Profab paint that Pro Chem sells. I'd heard of it, hadn't used it yet but they take it a step further. Take a lookie at what's on my print table right now:

They offer you the ability to mix your own colors from the color concentrates.

I've always dreamed of having my own paint line, rich with the colors that make my heart sing. Now I can create my own personal palette straight away and the possibilities buzzing in my head are keeping me up at nights.

I didn't get a chance to dig in this past weekend but its on my radar for this upcoming weekend. I expect there to be some work to get the colors and tones that I want but right now, this paint girl is absolutely in love!! :)

29 November 2011

whacking stuff with a hammer

This past weekend was incredibly mild weather here in Michigan. To the tune of fifty degrees. If it had been sunny, wearing a coat would have been a debatable thing. 

I was outside in the backyard doing some fall clean up chores and kept stepping on these pesky things:

I don't really know what they are. They look like cherries (clearly they are not) so that's what I call them. Crab apples? Too small for that? No idea. But I have LOT of them milling about on the ground and I noticed that when they pop, they spit out colored juice.


So I gathered this together and mosied out to the blacktop driveway:

 I've kind of got the whole natural dyeing thing on the brain, just as little experiments and these seemed like they have potential.

So I layered the fabric, one layer on the bottom, dumped the cherries on top and then a second piece of fabric on top:

 Commence the whacking with the hammer:

Funny thing about the cherries - they roll incredibly far and shoot out like little bullets when hit just so. I ended up rolling the fabric like a little burrito to keep the buggers inside and I was able to completely pulverize them:

 Kind of pretty. A little stinky since they are busy rotting. But still kind of interesting results anyway:

There are a few things about this that go outside my normal way of working. #1 is that I rarely work on white fabric. But I knew whatever pigment was left in these wouldn't stand a chance against a color fabric so I yanked out some off white Kaufman solid I had in the stash.

The other thing that is different about this for me is that its got pink on it. Pink. My least favorite color in the world. I tend to approach that color much like my sewing machine these days - we're getting used to each other. I'm curious to see if I can work with this color in a way that jives with everything else I do.

I want them to dry out before I rinse them. My theory being that the longer it has to stain, the better the stain will hold. I could be totally wrong. I'm hoping I come away with nifty marks after a water rinse (I know better then to run this through the washer) and then I can start building a piece for the show I'm in in April.

I left them in the garage to dry since its supposed to rain. Wanna bet me the garage smells like a compost pile? ;-)

I'll post what becomes of them, hopefully something interesting.

28 November 2011

creative pause prompt #11

Creative Pause Prompt #11:

Write down every single thing you love about being an artist.

Make the list huge, silly, serious - whatever you think best suits your artistic style. When you're done, put it up in your studio so you can remember how awesome it is to be a creative spirit.

Creative Pause Prompt is a weekly blog post series that delivers a low key, no stress prompt to help you keep creativity in your schedule no matter how busy you are. You can read more about it here.

27 November 2011

where i stand sunday

Color and abstract design lessons are everywhere. My eye traces the slow easy curves of the branches, lingers on the earthy greyness and shadow. I can loose myself in studying these small mazes, beautiful and still in its quietness.

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. 

adding a few details

This weekend saw me cleaning the studio. Again. For the billionth time.

Its okay, I've come to accept that I will never be done with the task. (Although I secretly hope someday that someone will start an art studio cleaning service and all I'll have to do is hand over some money and they sweep in like fairies and make everything sparkly. Or get fairies. I'm good with either one.)

Upon cleaning and tidying, I unearthed a bit of odds and ends and I began to eyeball this fellow:

I mentioned back in this post that I wanted to super size him, really make him something over the top. But slowly, kind of as a treat when I need a break from all the have-to's.

I discovered that cleaning is a perfect time to do that.

My friend Took had a de-stash and I came away with some pretty nifty things. One of the things I grabbed were a set of wood blocks that are painted to look like cards. Had no idea what I would do with them but it was one of those deals that you see it and think, "I can do something with that."

And I did:

I knew that the bigger box needed feet because its not a box at all but a drawer. It has a lip around the one side so I needed to put something beneath it to make it sit even. The big giant card blocks did just the trick (and I was super happy that they got used straight away instead of being stashed - thanks Took!)
I also added some paint circles:

I toyed with the idea of painting the entire inside one color but in the end decided I didn't need to think about it that hard. I'll just add as I go. The thing that appeals to me is the grunginess of  the wood so painting the whole thing would defeat the purpose. 

And lastly I added some red jingle bells to the top:

I set them up there to add later, thinking I would drive nails into the edges and hang them from them. But I liked the way they looked just sitting there and the idea of something that is supposed to make noise not being able to because they are stuck in place appealed. They're glued down now.

So here is what it looks like now:

Not an enormous difference but the process of adding to it a little bit at a time is something I'm really enjoying. There's something to be said for slow and steady. :)

26 November 2011

doing the prep work

I woke early this morning, a habit ground into me from the day job. But if I'm being honest, I love the light at that time of day. Its strange, almost like a dusk that peels back slowly and steadily. It seems like it has secrets.

I've been working on building the list of things that I want to accomplish over the next month and a half and its growing to proportions that need some beating back. The only way to tackle it is to do as much prep work as I can in the little spaces of the day. Those times when it doesn't seem like five minutes would be enough time to accomplish anything are the key to meeting deadlines like these.

On my list was washing and tearing this fabric into fat quarters:

These are destined for something quite special, something I have been holding in my mind for the past year. Hopefully it looks as good in reality as it does in my imagination.

I think beginnings are the best part of creating art, the depth of possibility inspires nothing but confidence and curiosity. There's no end to what you can do with it.

Now that the fabric is waiting to be ironed and made into its finished product, I can tick that off the prep list and move on to the next thing. Even though the to-do list seems endless some days, I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

24 November 2011

the thankful day

I try to remind myself every day to be thankful for the life I lead. Its not always easy, stress is a fierce opponent. But if I were to write down all that's good in one column and all that's bad in the other, the positive things would kick stress' butt down the street in a nano second.

I love Thanksgiving Day. Of course partly because of the food, who doesn't like that? Its also the time of the year, the slow sleepy transition of nature into winter. And being with family, spending the day focusing on the good in life.

Doesn't get much better then this. :)

Wishing you and your's a lovely day full of smiles and food and love.

21 November 2011

new column for Quilting Arts - and YOU could be featured!

I am incredibly excited to make this announcement - I'm writing a column for Quilting Arts magazine in 2012 and YOU could be featured!

The column seeks to showcase fiber art groups from around the globe. Its goal is to highlight the strong sense of community in the fiber art world in the form of artist gatherings. It doesn't matter if you meet in person or online, if you are in the U.S. or international, if you have a hundred members or ten - I want to hear about you!

If you belong to a group and are interested in submitting, please send the following information to my dropbox:

1. What kind of fiber art does your group focus on?

2. What makes you unique from other fiber art groups?

3. List any activities or exercises that you think would be an interesting feature for the column.

Your answers to the above questions can be sent in the form of a word doc or a pdf. You may send up to five low resolution images with your submission. If you are chosen, high resolution photos will be requested. If you have a website, please include that link with your submission.

Please designate one person from your group as the contact for the submission.

There are a limited number of slots open for the column so please be sure to send all the above requested information with your submission. I'm always available for questions at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net  (please do not send your submissions to my email address, use the dropbox link above).

Please give me a few weeks to get back to you if you submit.

Thanks and look forward to meeting all of you! :)

19 November 2011

book review - "inside the creative studio"

by Cate Coulacos Prato

I picked up "Inside the Creative Studio" recently and I've been slowly working my way through it and thought maybe we'd have a little chat about what a good book it is. Because I'm all about books and this one is a darn good one.

I was intrigued because I have a thing for seeing inside other people's creative spaces. Its pretty clear pretty quickly that they carve out a special niche that reflects their creative spirit and its like getting to stand inside their head.

Cate has packed all of that into this book - a good solid view of each artist's state of mind. You've got all varieties in here - artists who built their own studios, converted rooms in houses, little nooks. 

I was struck by how authentic and honest the artists are that are featured in the book. I particularly love Lesley Riley's description of "fabric creep" which pretty much sums up every fiber artists fabric collection (I admit to laughing out loud and having the urge to rip the page out of the book and tack it up in my studio because truer words have never been spoken).

There's a section in there full of oodles of organizing tips (always a good idea even if its just something we dream about) and I appreciated the chapter on using re-purposed items as studio furniture. My studio has gone through so many versions I can't even count so budget is important when you have a fickle heart like mine and I'd never thought of visiting flea markets for items to use.

I could list everything I love about the book - the section on color and light and how to make small spaces work if that's all you've got available - but I'll just say this: pick a copy up for yourself. It really is a great read, I enjoyed it and its a resource that I'm sure I'll head back to again and again.

16 November 2011

fabric owls gone wild part 2

I swear, these little fellows are just having one grand party!

Their latest appearance is in a column by Sherida Warner of Colorado's The Daily Sentinel:

Pretty cool, huh? :)

And I got these photos from Vivika DeNegre:

She made these little fellows as thank you gifts for a fundraiser (she said they've raised $140 so far - yay!), you can read more about in her blog post. (I especially love the word "hoot" stitched across their little fannies.)

Will there be a "fabric owls gone wild part 3" post? Who knows, could be - send along photos of your little guys if you make some, I'd love to share them on the blog! :)

15 November 2011

from the studio

I got some good studio time in on Sunday. What was nice about it was that I went in there without a huge agenda. I've got stuff to work on but I wasn't feeling super attached to any one idea.

I decided it was a good time to make parts.

My Remnant Collages require a lot of elements and since I don't keep a stockpile of printed fabrics, it takes some effort when I'm faced with needing to make several of them. (I need a bunch for the show in April 2012 that I'm doing with Jackie, lots to do.)

I've been experimenting a lot with this lately:

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you - that's a sewing machine being used. (And I'm using it, thought I should clarify that.) If you've been around the blog for a while, this may shock you for a couple of reasons: (1) The sewing machine and I have an uneasy relationship that usually revolves around me cussing it out and (2) I'm a staunch supporter of hand stitching.

So let me explain - I decided that since the machine takes up space in my studio and cost me money, I needed to find a way to make it earn its keep. I've been stitching art cloth lately to add a different element to it, particularly texture.

The fabric you see up above is a reject that never found its footing - the color combination grossed me out when I got done with it and I just didn't like the almost pinkish tone of the orange base of the fabric. So it seemed a good candidate for this experiment. 

Here's the end result of the stitching portion:

 I like it better now. It still needs a lot of work, I'll probably attack it with some paint again and calm the first layer of paint down. Its got potential, it will get there.

My interest in using machine stitching to add texture came from this challenge piece that I did:

 If I'm being totally honest, I machine stitched it because I was running low on time. I didn't expect to like it so much. Its been nagging at me ever since and I'm tentatively letting it in, still feels a bit strange.

I stitched a little bit on a couple of other pieces of fabric too:


 I've nothing but affection for the off white piece. These two pieces are also far far far from done, just in their beginning stages but they give me the warm fuzzy feeling. Yum.

I also decided that since I'm going to be doing work for the show, I wanted some more table space to work on (don't we always want that??).  I goofed around with nudging some stuff out of the way and opened the other half of my print table and I'm super excited about the extra space:

 Now I need to get some really wide fabric to cover the entire thing. I learned the hard way that seams in the base fabric aren't always your friend. (And can make you say bad things when they show up in your printing.)

It wasn't an epic amount of work done but it felt good to putter.

And the view from studio window has changed significantly in the past week:

Just a week ago the trees were burning with color. The season change is in full swing, I love it. The energy it puts out is almost manic and there's something instinctual about it, makes you feel alive.

14 November 2011

creative pause prompt #10

Creative Pause Prompt #10:

Take a look through your UFO (Unfinished Objects) pile and pick one out.

Don't assess the entire pile (should you happen to have more then one), overwhelm is your enemy. Put it on your design board or out in your workroom and consider bringing it back to life. 

What would you do different with it? Why don't you like it? Why did you stop working on it?

Do a small amount of work on it this week, even if its just taking a picture of it and writing down ideas of what do to it.

Creative Pause Prompt is a weekly blog post series that delivers a low key, no stress prompt to help you keep creativity in your schedule no matter how busy you are. You can read more about it here.

13 November 2011

where i stand sunday

 The color on the ground speaks volumes to me, beckoning to look closer and learn. Smudged with decay and breathtaking in tone as the fruit slowly dies away, leaving a brilliant display of the cycle of life and death. The sky above leaves a sharp contrast, grey and colorless and settling into the winter season. I'll hold the orange and red and brown in my mind over the next few months, drawing ideas from its gift.

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. 

12 November 2011

etsy shop closing schedule for 2011

Just a quick little service announcement for all you thermofax screen printing addicts out there.

I'm closing my shop down for 2011 on December 3 at 10pm EST. Just for the remainder of 2011 and then we'll reopen again on January 7, 2012.

My primary reason for closing at the beginning of December is because I have big huge grand plans for new screens and products and contests and offers and its going to be easiest to get it all together with everything shut down and quiet.

I'm super excited about everything and want to just blab it all out but I don't want to ruin the surprise. :)

But here are some hints about what's coming - new screen designs from new designers, new screen designers from your favorite current designers, special edition screens, kits, projects and a truly exciting contest that I'm giddy to get moving!!!

So if you want to get any more screens in 2011, be sure to get your order in by Saturday December 3 at 10pm EST.

08 November 2011

printed fabric rolls for sale - free shipping! :)

UPDATE 11:39am - All the fabric rolls have been claimed - thanks everyone!!! :)


Remember these?

These are fabric rolls that I made for sale during my Remnants Collage class. I have only a few left and they're kicking around the studio complaining that they want to be used up.

Since my schedule is full to the brim right now, I thought I'd offer them here for you guys to give a good home to. :)

They are $15 and FREE first class shipping within the United States (sorry, can't ship free to international artists, email if you want a rate quote). They are on a first come first serve basis so don't wait too long. If you want one, just email me at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net

I unrolled them (you can see them all in the pictures below) from what you see in the first picture above so you can see what's in them. The strips range from 1"-3" wide and 13"-18" long. They include thermofax screen printing, soy wax batik and are printed on hand dyed fabric (there's even a rust dyed one kicking around in there). They are all cotton and recommended for wall art and non-washable projects.

Many of these fabric strips were cut from fabric I made for my appearances on Quilting Arts TV and for magazine pieces. In fact, these are the kind of strips that I use when I make work like what my DVD, Print Design Compose, demonstrates. Here's a little preview of the video:

I'm not offering these in my etsy shop, only here so if you want one, grab it while you can! :)

 Roll 1


 Roll 2


 Roll 3



 Roll 4



 Roll 5



 Roll 6



Roll 7



07 November 2011

creative pause prompt #9

Creative Pause Prompt #9:

Designate a page in your notebook as a doodle page. Visit it whenever you need to give your mind a rest this week.

Doodle or scribble whatever you like. Don't worry if its good, no one will see it. Just mess around and remember what its like to be a kid in kindergarten when the only goal was to make something, not to make something good.

Creative Pause Prompt is a weekly blog post series that delivers a low key, no stress prompt to help you keep creativity in your schedule no matter how busy you are. You can read more about it here.

06 November 2011

where i stand sunday

The Japanese Maple in the front yard draws my eye every day, especially in the evening when the sun is heavy and clinging to the color burning through it.  I want to freeze this time, hoard the brilliance and collect the color for my very own.

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. 

04 November 2011

the best spot in my studio

That would be my print table of course.

Truth be told, its kind of the "everything table". I write there, I fill etsy orders there, I plot and scheme and make big messes there. 

Here it is:

 Incredibly clean at the moment. I just replaced the top layer of fabric. I thought maybe I'd show the nitty gritty of it in case you were thinking about setting up one of your own but you weren't really sure where to begin.

Having a print table doesn't mean that it has to be big and fancy. Mine is pretty small, very basic. Its actually this cutting table from Joann's. Right now I only have one side up (they are both collapsible) but I can put up the other if I'm working on something larger.

Its got a layer of plastic taped over top of it (I use black garbage bags cut open) and then a layer or two of fabric:

I normally use a heavier canvas for the top layer fabric but I ran out and had this muslin on hand so I'm using it double layered. It kind of sucks, not nearly absorbent enough. The purpose of the fabric is so that if anything goes through the fabric I'm printing, it will get absorbed into the fabric underneath and not create ghost prints on new fabric. (Wow, how many times can I say the word "fabric" in one sentence? Fabric, fabric, fabric, fabric, fabric.)

The space is big enough for me to comfortably layout a fat quarter to print at a time:

 Since I only print what I'm using for a particular project, I don't normally print fabric much larger then this.

Now you might be thinking that the stuff I have stacked up on the back edge is wasted printing space. I'm really short (5' 1") and I can't easily reach across the table (little short arms) so having stuff back there doesn't get in my way. And if I need to take advantage of all the table space, I just move it out of the way, no worries.

Some people pad their printing tables. Its something I've considered but I'm not wild about it and I've always been happy with the results I've gotten from using it just the way it is. The only part that gets tricky is that sometimes whatever tool I'm printing with drags the fabric up with it when I go to pull it off.

If the table was padded, I could pin the fabric into it and then it would stay put when faced with a bossy print tool. I've gotten pretty skilled at using my elbows to swat the fabric back down and if I'm not in the mood to deal with the fusiness of that, I weight the fabric along the corners and wherever I'm not printing to keep it down.

Where there's a will there's a way.

Its funny - I have other work surfaces but I rarely use them. 99% of the time I drag my chair up to my print table and get busy with whatever the task on hand is.

We do tend to choose our favorite spots, don't we? What's your's?