Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Textile Totes Tutorial....

Do you ever get an idea, a really great, awesome idea and have to just run with it? Right to the end to see where you'll end up? Maybe it comes in the middle of the night and all hope of sleep is lost? Or perhaps when you have another immediate, important deadline? And it stares you in the eyes and says DO IT! DO IT NOW!

Yup, it happened a couple weeks ago and I needed to try it out!!! I needed canvas - I live on an island - no canvas here! So a trip to the big city to the art store....several types of canvas - yikes! what to do? OK, buy some of each! Go home and test them all out. Primed canvas didn't work for my idea so paint the other types - the tight weave, more expensive canvas - not a success either. But the cheap, looser weave was perfect!

Did you know there's such a thing as clear gesso? Wow, I bought some and used it up quickly, had to buy more, damn that stuff is expensive! But it works equally well diluted with water! Who knew?

So I made a couple prototypes - playing with size and shape, which paints, brush strokes, markers and the, love, love them! And of course, I lined them with some of my ice dyed fabrics....

Two years ago when we moved to our Island, I had to give up both my large studio and a separate "wet room" where I could get paint all over and not worry. Now I use the top of my washer and dryer which is quite ok, but not nearly as large.
Here's my progress pictures as I laid down a dark background and then picking up the vareity of colours in the lining fabric - did more painting and screen printing, layers drying in between.

I like the relaxed "slouchiness" of them but I could add a stiffener in if I chose. There's lots of alternatives to the design and if you visit the "black hole" of Pinterest you'll find tons of them!

I have three different sizes and you can see the variety that I've made in my Etsy Store:

And I'm offering free North America shipping on these fabulous totes!

If you are inspired as well, I found this tutorial that is similar to my process:

And if you use Pinterest, just search for Fabric Basket Tutorial - if you disappear for a few days, we'll understand!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

HouseMade Cards - a tutorial

Since we've been home I've had a hard time settling on a long term BIG project...maybe because there's been lots  to do before Christmas - shopping, baking, errand etc. I'm excitedly looking forward to  January and staying in one place for a while! Because I've been so easily led astray I looked for a smaller project that I could do in spurts that might suit my mood.
So I got out my box of card blanks and set up a little workspace to make more of my HouseMade Cards.....

For this project you'll need the following:
  •  a box of card blanks - I use Strathmore Creative Card blanks with a deckle edge, they come in cream and white and in boxes of 10, 25 or larger if you get really enthusiastic! You might find some other kinds
  • a small 6" ruler. I can't find my metal ruler with a cork backing (the cork keeps it from slipping) so I've been using an Omnigrid ruler
  • an art knife with #11 blade. A few years ago I bought a box of 100 blades, best investment ever!!!! as a sharp blade is essential and I put new ones in as soon as the old one seems a bit dull
  • pencil - mechanical or whatever you have
  • a white eraser
  • a couple Pigma or fine tip permanent markers
  • a little watercolour set with brush or watercolour pencils such as Derwent.

Mark the placement of the roof, windows and doors:
  1. On the inside of the card front, using a ruler with light pencil lines, mark the placement of the roof and chimney first.
  2. Then draw the windows, try different styles, sizes and arrangements and layouts. I find that two different groups of windows work best for balance, sometimes beside one another or on top or below. Its fun to experiment and you'll find that one idea leads to the next and so on....

Cut out the roof and windows

Use the art knife and ruler to follow your marked lines. Cut slowly and watch carefully where you want to stop and start. Once you've finished cutting, use the white remove the pencil lines.


Turn the card over and using the fine tip marker, add details to outline and emphasize the roof, chimney and windows. Add some brick work, cracks, and details as desired. If you have a planned recipient, add their house number or other particulars. Have fun and be creative!

Add Colour

Keep the intensity quite pale and add colour with watercolour paints or with pencils. My approach is relaxed and a bit rough but you might prefer a little more control. You could also add ivy, flowers or bushes!
Once finished and dry, I put a label on the back and slip the card with the envelope into a plastic protective sleeve. Now it's ready to give to a special friend!

One more idea -  use a little battery light and put the card onto the mantle for Christmas.... These cards were made for my Etsy Shop but I couldn't photograph them properly...that task is planned for the new year, learning to take the best photos possible!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Inspiration from Marble...what???

While I haven't been in my studio during the last two months, I have been busy gathering inspiration with my iPhone while my husband and I toured through Portugal, Spain and Sicily. Because we were walking on the Camino and then hopping buses and trains afterwards, we didn't want to pack a lot - so my art practice was all about recording with an iPhone.
Beyond the regular scenic shots of buildings, bridges and wine I looked for interesting compositions that involved line, pattern and's a few:

I've been following a French artist, Fabienne Verdier who paints vertically in ink, standing directly on her stretchers, using giant brushes and tools of her own invention suspended from the studio ceiling. She studied calligraphy and art in China for over ten years and her art have a dynamism and flow that I find very appealing. Most of her work is in two colours, often highly contrasting and worked over several panels, sometimes vertically, other times horizontally. You might enjoy looking further:

During my time away and without having access to materials, I envisioned how my mark making might be produced on a larger scale and how I might work with developing marks on fabric and how it might evolve with the addition of stitch. 

Some of the statues had the most beautiful folds in their clothing and I was intrigued by the lines that were formed, especially when cropped or photographed at an angle.

I am not an expert at PhotoShop but I'm always willing to experiment and push a few buttons on the keyboard. And my results might be great or they might sit on the computer until I get around to deleting them....

But working with layers, cropped, over lapping and rotating has produced some positive ideas that might work into further development.

I used a filter called Threshold which have the strongest contrast.

I repeated the image four times with the same orientation

I took a slice of the previous arrangement

Then the slices were repeated and two were flipped.

More slices were taken and repeated....
 As you might guess, the design options are limitless and each time something else might appear, depending on the cut, orientation and the repeat. I'm excited and looking forward to more experimentation. Now, if I could just get used to being on a different time zone!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Quiet - Not Quiet!

The last couple months have been quiet in some ways...I've not being creating a lot of new work, mostly getting small items ready for summer gift shops, finishing some half started work, entering a few shows and having a ton of fun with our grandchildren! Swimming, walking, kayaking and just hanging out at the beach.
But....after a long hiatus of teaching due to some amazing travel opportunities, I returned to the classroom and spent three wonderful days at Quilt University with the Ann Arbor Quilt Guild.
My first workshop was Colour Blocking - using thickened dyes through a silk screen and printing onto prepared fabrics. It was so much fun - enthusiastic students, a great workspace and wonderful printing!

You can see the wonderful combinations possible when mixing the dye on the screen.

Lana marked the fabric with yellow before screening on top.

We pin the fabric on a print table to keep it stable.

Arlene has a great colour combination going! Analogous colours are a great way to start.

Dee Dee is drawing onto the fabric prior to printing - another technique choice!

It's possible to move the scraper to create patterns!

I supplied the students with fabric that I'd painted with black paint. since the workshop was just one day it worked out very well to have something extra to print on!
On Days 2 and 3 the students worked in Squiggle, Line & Dot Mark Making, learning a few of the limitless ways to put pattern and texture onto fabric and paper.

We begin by using just one tool to find as many ways as possible to apply black paint to white fabric...

Here's some of the ways you can mark with just one tool!
and here's a few more ways....
And still more....
Remember that there's such beauty in simplicity....repeating the same over and again creates timeless patterns!

We worked with black textile markers, they are so versatile! Did you know that you can buy refillable ones?

Sometimes we had to wait and let the fabrics dry...that was hard to do!
And not just black on can work with white paint onto dark fabrics too!
I think all the students would agree that the most fun was working outside. Students taped their brushes to yard sticks or poles and let their movements make their marks! First we practised on paper...

And then we worked on two yard pieces of fabric!

Doesn't that look like fun!

On the second day we focused on using some of the fabrics for small books, cards, folios and such. I like students to leave class with more skills and ideas for creating their art!

I am excited for my students to see some of the options for making art!
If you like to join me...why not take my Squiggle, Line & Dot Online Workshop HERE:

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Where in the World??

I was slightly surprised and embarrassed....when I noticed my last blog post was dated the end of February. Oh well, I'm always willing to start afresh and have another beginning! Plus, I have been on a different adventure and I have lots to share with you!

Fellow residents from Canada, US, Lithuania, England and Australia

 Where do I begin? Well, so much of my work in the past few months has been taken up with preparing for my textile residency in Iceland during April. Guess what? It was fantastic, amazing, wonderful and so much more!
If you were part of My Iceland Narrative then you were actually on the adventure with me - photos, videos and so much more, I'm thankful for your participation!

Selfoss, this is the waterfall you can walk behind!

There were nine other artists at the residency and we had several conversations about where and when and how one might apply for a residency - there are literally dozens of opportunities out there just waiting for you!

The view from our workroom

Here's some tips on finding a good fit:
  • Research it well, make certain its a place you'd like to go - summer in Arizona? Maybe not! 
  • See who else has gone there - I emailed several former residents with questions about the Icelandic Textile Centre - what the place is like, facilities, what in the town etc.
  • What art does the centre focus on? Many places are looking for specific mediums or want a selection of artists working in different mediums. Textiles are often unknown to others in the art world, are they open to fibre arts?
  • How many people/artists are there at any one time - there's probably a sweet spot in numbers. Do you prefer to work in isolation? Or do you want people around for ideas and conversations?
  • What is provided? Food? Accommodation? Transportation? Be really clear about this!!!What is in the agreement, what do you need to provide and what does the residency provide. This can make or break your time away.
  • What is the cost? Some places charge per week, others are funded for differing amounts - make sure you know before you go!
  • Expectations during your residency. Are you expected to teach? Or to take a workshop? Will there be an exhibition at the end? Are you asked to leave artwork behind.
  • Can you bring family/friends? Several residencies offer companion space - do you want someone there with you?
  • Would you stay longer in the area to tour around? I spent an extra week in Iceland with my daughter and it was a lovely time to spend together showing her parts of the country.

Here's some links for possible places to consider - I already have a couple in mind for future applications!
a huge list that you can search through for a good match
search through for possible places - also good for exhibitions, grants and much more
more interesting places to visit!
another searchable database

Maybe you'll find some that appeal to you! I know that I'll be looking!
Next time....maybe the best residency is.....