30 December 2011

just a crack...

Open just a crack, peer at what's on the other side. The unknown is the thrill, the uneasiness.

Its the beginning that I love the most, the time when everything is new and without limit. The time when the door is neither open or closed...

28 December 2011

gelli arts gel printing plate - a review

Today was designated as a play day in the studio. My friend and talented toy maker Kate came over and we visited and messed about with fabric and paint. Kate busied herself with some thermofax screen printing, plotting away at the things she could do with it (clothing and accessories for her little friends were on the list).

I took the opportunity to experiment with a new product I picked up a couple of weeks ago, the Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate. (This post is pretty photo heavy.)

Its intended to monoprint fabric and paper without the fuss of having to make the gelatin plate first. Which is a grand thing because your's truly is handicapped when it comes to making the gelatin plates -  don't ask, no idea why it never wants to set up for me.

I have to be honest, I went into the experiment with trepidation. I've never really been super excited about the results that I get from this kind of surface design. I fully understand that its more to do with how I'm executing it then the process itself. So I decided to give today's trial my level best to find a way that I can learn to love it.

The plate that I got was 8" x 10". The reason I say was is because its now 8" x 8". I much prefer squares to rectangles so I hacked an inch off both ends. (Taking 1" off each end as opposed to 2" off one end meant that I eliminated the rounded corners on both sides to get a truer square.) I can without reservation say that this product is really really well constructed. Me and xacto knife had to put our best foot forward.

(As a side note, this thing smells really nice. Its kind of weird. But it smells very pleasant, like spices. And it wasn't just me - I made Kate sniff it and she agreed.)

Here is what the plate looked like after I adjusted the size:

I read the insert that came with it and took note of the fact that it says it doesn't like dyes. But I was curious to see how it would handle very fluid paint like dye-na-flow and something with a chemical kick like decolourant.

I cut a hunk off the one inch strips and tested both things out:

The plate held up like a champ. Didn't mind either one. (And for the record, I let the decolourant sit on it for a good ten minutes before I wiped it off to see if it had eaten a hole in the gel. It hadn't. Made me happy.)

I decided to use a hunk of this fabric from when I beat up the crab apples that were in my backyard:

One of the things I've struggled with when it comes to gelatin plate printing is getting patterns down on the plate that I like. I decided to see if a thermofax screen print could help me along the way. I put the screen over top of the plate and printed just like I would if there was fabric beneath it:

Then I splattered some chartreuse dye-na-flow over top:

I got this:

Has some promise. I gave it another go with Jacquard paint and more dye-na-flow. This time I used a palette knife (gently since the instruction sheet says that the surface is easily nicked) and mushed the two about.

It produced a strange, kind of unexpected effect where the two blended together:

I got this:

And just a quick note about the dye-na-flow - since its so fluid it soaks clear through the fabric. (Duh, right?) Be smarter then me and plan accordingly when you are printing the fabric. I recommend a second piece of fabric over top of the one you're printing or paper towel. My hands are not exactly their normal color at the moment.

The third print was with the decolourant applied (gently) with a palette knife and I got this:


I'm most excited about that one! See those little bubbly patterns? That's unique to the plate since it allows me to move the medium around like I never could directly on the fabric. Super cool, if you ask me.

While I was not unhappy with the other two prints I got, I decided that they needed more layers. I think the biggest mistake I've made with this kind of printing in the past has been expecting it to be a final product. Not so. Its a wonderful beginning but you really need to move beyond it if you want a more complex print. Whether that is another monoprint from the plate or application of paint through another process, its an important thing to remember.

I took the sewing machine and Martha Stewart paint (with the fine tip attachment on the bottle) to the first print and ended up with this:

For the second print, I used a small chunk of the plate that I cut off at the beginning as a mini plate to stamp squares in white across the print:

I think I might have gone too far, though, when I put the orange circle on at the end:

This print may end up going into the "please help me, i'm ugly" pile of fabric. Not sure yet.

All in all, I can say that I really like the plate. There are good videos on the Gelli Art website that show the basic ways of printing with it. I really encourage you to go beyond it and see how you can push it to get the prints you really want.

Happy printing! :)

make your photos vintage

I have a weakness for all the cool photo altering apps that are out on the market. I just discovered a new (to me) one and thought you might like it too.

I took this photo from my last post (which I realized I uploaded upside down, I was obviously in need of more coffee when I was blogging):

And tortured it in the Vintage Scene app to get this:


What making thermofax screens would look like if someone was doing it back in the 1800s. ;-)

I did mess around with the color levels in photoshop after I aged it to get things a little more saturated.

As I have a love for all things old and worn looking, this app has earned a place on my dock on my laptop. Super easy and super fun - give it a shot!

26 December 2011

25 December 2011

where i stand sunday

 quiet. still. contemplative.

a serene day, a well deserved rest.

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. 

24 December 2011

warmest of wishes

It is with great warmth and a heart full of love that I wish you all the happiest of Holidays and a beautiful New Year. So precious is the creative life that we've been blessed to live - let's make 2012 even more artful and full then then 2011.  :)

22 December 2011


This came in the mail the other day:


Its my contributor's copy.

That means I'm in there. And it feels surreal somehow.

When I made the decision to take my art to the next level and try to establish a career, my expectations were not very fancy. I thought I would write a few articles and sell a couple of thermofax screens and see where things would go from there.

Here's where it landed me:

On page 68 in a book full of artists that I have long admired and respected. Other artists include Melody Johnson, Sarah Ann Smith, Francis Holliday Alford, Belinda Spiwak, Melanie Testa, Jane Dunnewold, Jane Davila, Judy Coates Perez and many many more. Its a special collection of articles from the past ten years of Quilting Arts magazine.

You can get your very own copy here. Its a wonderful resource, I already have a couple of articles marked with post-it notes to sit down and spend more time with as soon as I'm able.

I can't express how fortunate I feel to have had such a full and wonderful year. And to have gotten to know all of you so much better - its truly an honor.

Thanks!!! :)

21 December 2011

book review : create your own free form quilts


I've been a big fan of Rayna Gillman ever since I discovered her first book in 2008. In that one she makes surface design real, easy for the everyday average artist. She does the same thing again in her latest book, Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts.

Rayna breaks down the process she uses to create her stunning quilts in a way that inspires and does not feel intimidating at all. Her easy way of writing makes you feel like you are sitting next to her drinking coffee and chatting.

I also love that Rayna mixes her commercial fabrics in with her hand printed ones. I'm a big proponent of this too - if you got it, use it. No need to go out and start your stash all over - its the artist that makes the artwork, make that fabric do your bidding. (That last bit was me, not her, but she says pretty much the same thing.)

You should know that this is not a book of patterns. Instead, Rayna teaches you how to look at variations of arrangements, how to conquer your color hang-ups, reusing old projects and lots more. In other words, she teaches you the skills you need to make your own original work.

Doesn't get much better then that, if you ask me.

I can't recommend the book enough. I've had it sitting on my print table in my studio, perusing it every time I wander by it. Its an excellent tool for the artist that wants to take the leap into independent design but wants to keep their own voice.

Great gift for an artist friend as well as yourself - a great book all around! :)