Friday, October 31, 2014

The Printed Fabric Bee - Science

This month all the busy Bees made fabric for Jackie Lams with the theme of "Science". Now thats a pretty wide open subject so I had to narrow it down somehow! So what does fabric and surface design have in common with science....well, its some of those chemicals that we use to make the water, dye and fabric get to know each other....chemicals such as soda ash, urea and sodium alginate!
I made Thermofax screens from those formulas:

And them printed them on a beautiful clamp dyed cotton. I think I had used a combination colour of brown and black but its pale and sets off the printing very well. But I decided to use the reverse side of the fabric, its a bit softer!

I also drew on a science symbol.......any idea what its called? Plus a few dots and stuff! Generally I'm pretty happy with it!

If you'd like a chance to wine a package of the 6" squares then trot on over to the blog and make a comment. You can find the blog here:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Come and Learn with Susan!

Do you like exploring different ways of putting design onto fabric? Maybe you've been inspired by The Printed Bee posts I've done? Or is fabric dyeing something that you just can't do at home?
Then come to one of my Studio Workshops that I've set up for 2015!

I've developed several surface design workshops open to small groups of students in my own studio, located in Victoria, BC.
There are a variety of topics and techniques that we will explore together and I would be happy to tailor a workshop to meet your needs. Workshop size is limited so you can be assured of comprehensive and dedicated instructional time!

Here's the schedule, registration will open on November 18th!

Colour Play
9:30-12pm - January 13 & 20, 2015  $75+GST

Colour Blocking
9:30-12pm - January 15, 2015 $60+GST

Print It, Print It
9:30-12 pm - February 3, 10, 17th, 2015 $90+GST

Screen Print with Success
9:30-12pm - February 5, 12, 19, 2015 $110+GST

Gelatin Plate Printing
9:30-12pm - February 26, 2015 $60+GST

Super Simple Shibori
9:30-12pm - March 3 & 10, 2015 $75+GST

Workshops  include all dye recipes and excellent written step by step instructions and there will be a focus on safe studio habits.
Fee includes all dyes and chemicals, plus most additional supplies. Your supply list will be sent when registration is complete.

I hope to see you in a workshop! You can get further descriptions here:

Plus, if you sign up for three workshops, you get a 20% discount, great news! And if you sign up before November 25th, you'll be eligible for a FREE workshop of your choice!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Roaming in Rome

The first part of our holiday was four days we spent in Rome. Even in mid October it was hot and humid, but the evenings cooled down and a bit of wine at the end of the day certainly helped!
One part of travel I enjoy is to just wander around the neighbourhoods and it had been suggested that we should stop in small churches whenever the opportunity arose. This is the interior of a very ordinary looking church that we happened across on our first morning:

What a special treat it was to sit quietly and listen to the chanting of Hail Mary, repeated over and over again. And the beauty of the art surrounding us made it even more special.
In the afternoon we had a tour of the Colesium, Forum and ruins. Our guide was knowledgable, it's worthwhile to get some local information and be able to ask questions, then wander on our own if we choose to later on.
I got some great photos that I know I'll be using later for design inspirations!

A couple days later we toured part of Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica of St. Peter. Again, I found so much inspiration with curves, colour, shapes and ceilings! I may be the only person ever to be totally uninspired by the Sistine Chapel.....that's right, UNinspired! Part of the reason is the lack of good lighting, because of preservation of the paintings. The colours were dull and the area was packed with people, really packed. We were asked to pay proper respect by keeping quiet and not taking photos. That part I understood, but I was disappointed that so many other people ignored the rules.
Anyway, there were many other opportunities to stand with my eyes turned up to the ceilings and checking out the floors.......

There's more to come!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Doors, Doors, Doors

By now you may know that I'm in Italy, travelling through Rome, Venice, Florence and a cruise thrown in for fun. I've been going in and out of doors a lot, into churches, museums, historical sites, hotels and more. Some doors have been huge, some have been rather short, even for me.
So I've been thinking a bit about doors and what meaning they could have in our lives. Often they are a passage through, from the light into the dark or dark to light. They can offer promises or suggest danger or the unknown. Think of the scary movies that involve a creaking door, opening slowly........
Or the door of your first home or apartment as an adult....what excitement and plans for the future were involved with that!
So I've been taking pictures of some doors that interested me and hopefully get you thinking of some possibilities......

What ideas come to you? I love the rich patina, peeling layers of paints and brick work. I'm planning on some photo collage work putting different brick and plaster images together.
If you'd like some higher res. images of these, let me know.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Colour Blocking - Quilting Arts Magazine

If you are a subscriber to Quilting Arts magazine, then you've seen my article titled  
Colour Blocking - with Thickened Dyes! It's a very versatile technique that I'm super excited about!

One of the many advantages of using fiber reactive dyes is their versatility, they can be used in dye baths, flat dyeing,  and when thickened, can be used as a paint. Thickened dyes are suitable for screen printing, stamping, working with stencils and freeform applications. 

Their advantage over acrylic paint is twofold, they do not change the hand of the fabric, allowing the fabric to remain soft and supple despite repeated applications, plus thickened dyes are transparent, so layers of dye will change intensity, value and colours, giving the artist a wide range of possible uses for their created cloth.

 These fabrics, silk organza and cotton are layered together, then printed with thickened dyes.

 Great effects are achieved when you use many colours for printing!

Intrigued? Then pick up a copy of the latest Quilting Arts magazine, or learn at one of my Studio Workshops I'm teaching in early 2015. You can read further details here: 
I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Inspiration to Design

I have often looked at art or art quilts and wondered how the maker has come through the design process. What was the beginning of the concept, where did the ideas come from and how have they changed over the works execution?
I've worked in the art field for many years and the path we work along from the first glimmer in our mind's eye to a "resolved" piece is often a long and winding road. Over the past couple years I've been working with a technique that involves strong linear design within a piecing and stitching method. I didn't invent it but I have taken it on as a form that I want to fully explore as part of a series of work.
My first piece was this one:

I used my own fabric that I had printed and enjoyed this new process that I was exploring.

Since then I've made two more pieces that I'm happy with and that have done well in shows:

Window # 2

Remote Viewing

The next piece I didn't like at all, it was a little bit too pink for my taste:

 I tried some selective dyeing but it turned too it hit the trash!

In looking inspiration for my next piece, I had taken some pictures from my kayak of the rocky outcroppings by the waters edge:

I played with the image in PhotoShop using different colour combinations and loved this one: 

So it became my inspiration for the quilt I'm currently working on.....there's a heck of a lot of quilting to do! Here's a sneak preview with a close up shot: 

I'm loving it! And that is a quick summary of the evolution of one of my latest pieces. 

Now if you've been wondering why I haven't posted in quite a while, here's my excuse: 

Meet Cullen Sean, born September 19th! I'm loving this!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Colour It, Fuse It! - a NEW Online Workshop

I'll bet you are often wondering what else you can fling paint onto and create wonderful effects on your fabrics? Did you know that you can paint, stamp, glitterize (is that a word?) and generally add colour to fusible web and interfacing products? Yes, you can!

Isn't this gorgeous? Would you like to make something like this?

 All you need is a few fusible products.....

Some paints and tools.....
You can paint, splatter, sunprint and more.....

Make sunsets......
And seascapes.....

Would you like to learn more? Then check out my introductory video:

My online workshop is open for registration here:
Join in the fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How Old Is the Oldest.....

So, just how old is the oldest thing in your studio? I'll bet you've never given it much thought, right? Well, I'm not sure if these books are the oldest in my studio but I have had them a very long time and judging by the topics on the cover, they date to the 1940's....Mend and Save for Victory, On the Home Front...... I'm not that old, they belonged to my mother and I cherish them!

I love some of the topics in the books (they are a series of 10 different ones) about making a foot stool from a wooden crate, lots of embroidery stitch diagrams, making curtains and bedskirts and so many other topics.
You can make a sunshade, I make one last summer, but it didnt look like this:

Braided rugs, with suggested colour combinations: 

There are some wonderful ideas in these little books, we don't do much work like this anymore! What is the oldest item in your studio?

So my purpose in showing you these, is that I've made up some great little Thermofax screens from some of the images. You can order them here: 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bowker Creek Art Show and Gelatin Printing

Last Sunday I was part of the Oak Bay Artists Society's outdoor show known as the Bowker Creek Brush-Up, what fun it was! Set along one of the major creeks in our neighbourhood, visitors could ramble along the path and visit the different art displays. The weather was perfect and it was a wonderful day for all!
The artists are asked to demonstrate their work when possible, so I decided to work on some gelatine plate monoprints, a technique I often return to when time allows. Since the day was so warm and in the later afternoon, I was set up in full sun, the paint dried quickly!

 Here are some of the items I had for display, they include a variety of techniques such as screen printing and stitch!

If you like them, they are available here:  and include mats.

I worked on making samples through the day and here are some that I completed. I think I will add more colour with dyes and perhaps some paintsticks!

The one above was done using willow leaves as masks, I just had to reach up and grab a few!

These will be great for collage or stitching.

 And I like the ghost print on the left, that I got with this one.....
If you would like to learn more about Gelli or Gelatin printing, this is a great book to use as a resource:
Did you know that its not necessary to buy a Gelli Plate for great printing? You can make your own quite easily! Try this link: for instructions. A plate that is made with just gelatine and water will eventually break down, but can be revived by melting in the microwave for a pot on the stove and reformed.
If you'd like a more permanent homemade printing plate, you can make one by adding glycerin, here's a recipe plus lots of great tips:

Are you excited yet? If not, here's more great news! I'll be teaching a Gelatin Printing Workshop on Sept. 30th in my studio. I'm just in the middle of getting the information on my website, so stay tuned, its going to be lots of fun!