Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dragon Fly Discharge

I've been working with discharge paste lately and worked on a quilt technique that was suggested in Laura Kemshall's latest Thr3fold Journal http://www.thr3foldjournal.com/ I pieced the fabric with curving lines and inserted a very narrow strip of fabric, the seam allowance were pressed to the outside which made the edges raise up a bit.
I layered the top with two layers of batting to make it quite thick and then did some undulating quilting lines. After that I painted discharge paste on and let it dry. The first picture shows it after the colour was removed, a rather dull and uninteresting grey! But my next step was to paint Lumiere metallic paint, gently over the surface. This gave the quilt a lovely luminosity, a little like dragon fly wings! I love the effect and plan to work on some more pieces.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stamping Monday

I'm back again with another stamping idea. This one may be familiar to many of you but it's so much fun and easy to do that I'm sure you wouldn't mind a little review!
You will need an image that has texture, it could be a stamp, string, leaves, nuts, peas or almost anything. I'm using the little blue foam print blocks that you can get at most art supply stores for under $1.00.
Place the foam block near to (but not ON) a heat source. I use my iron and hold it there for about 10-15 seconds. Then I quickly press the block onto my textured surface and press down for another 15 seconds. That's it, the image is ready for stamping! The image on the blocks can be removed by holding near the heat again and letting the block reform. Images can be erased and replaced almost immediatley. Just remember to clean the block before placing near the heat each time.
In a couple pictures I've made a reverse image in the foam from a stamp and played with layering the image in different colours. I think there's lots of possibilities for creating unique designs on my fabrics!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Print Tables

Yesterday I mentioned that I would post instructions on how to make your own print tables. They're easy to make and essential if you want to do any printing or stamping on fabric. The "firm softness" of the print table gives much clearer definition and sharper edges to your printing and stamping and since they're so easy there's no reason not to make at least one! I have five of them because I take them when I'm teaching, they're portable and easy to lift in and out of the car. I would love to have a dedicated table at home, just for printing but these are the next best thing as I can lift them on and off the art table and store them upright in a corner of my room. Since I have a few of them I can print a piece of fabric, put it to one side to dry, then go on to make another and another on the other tables.

I've purchased plywood already cut to 24" x 24" (good for fat quarters) and 24" x 48" (good for 1/2 yard cuts), its about 1/2" thick, and rough finished on both sides. Check the weight of the plywood and make certain its not too heavy to lift easily. You'll probably want to move it around your studio from time to time.

I stretch 3 layers of cotton batting over the plywood and staple gun the edges on the back. Make certain you have a good 2" extra on all four sides to bring around to the back. Its really much easier to have someone to help you with this.

I have used pieces of batting that I've joined together with a butted seam (don't overlap edges or you'll get bumps on the top). You can also use industrial felt, old blankets or towels. Just make certain that the product is absorbent and will stand up to heat and steam. Avoid anything too bouncy such as polyester batting or synthetics.

The top layer is a medium-heavy muslin or unbleached cotton. A lighter coloured fabric is easier on the eyes and you can see if images are running through your printing fabric. Avoid thinner fabrics as they can rip too easily. Staple this layer (or two) separately to the back of the plywood, again stretching well but not straining the fabric. By stapling the batting and the muslin separately it is easy to replace the muslin when it becomes too stained. You can also try using the stained muslin as an interesting piece of art cloth!
Now you are ready to use your print table, the thick batting means its easy to pin your fabrics into the table (I use T pins so I can print right over them). They are portable and you'll probably want more than just one!

In my perfect world, I'd love a 4" x 8" sheet of plywood made up into table for larger printing, but what I have works well for me. You can also make a table from foam core (Michaels has 1/2" thick sheets), thicker sheets of styrofoam or heavy cardboard. Try it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stamping Monday

This time you can take a run to your local plumbing supply store for a product called "plumbers gasket". It comes in a 12" square sheet and is about 1/8" thick (about the thickness of an Omnigrid ruler), its reddish in colour. It's easy to cut with an art knife into any size you want to use. I keep my sheets unmounted and you'll see why later.
I've used a lino cutting tool to carve into it. Its like lino to carve, a little harder that the Speedy-Cut but I know my stamps will last forever with this stuff.
I've used a brayer to apply paint to the stamp and then stamped onto my fabric. I prefer to use a softer printing table under my fabric, the stamped images come out with finer details that way. I use the heel of my hand to press down on the stamp to get a really good image.
Try multiple images one right beside the other for interesting effect, or space and stagger them for other ideas. I also like to bend the stamp as shown to get partial images and twist and turn them around for a whole other look. I couldn't do this if the stamp was mounted onto a block!
I've had some questions about the kinds of paint to use. I prefer paint that is specially formulated to use on fabric. My favourites are Jacquard Lumiere and Neopaque as well as the Setacolour Opaque and Metallics. They are very versatile, easy to wash up, can be diluted with water for special effects and only need to be heat set to make them permanent. They can be purchased at most art supply stores or try http://www.dharmatrading.com
Tomorrow I'll be posting instructions on how to make your own printing table, so check back!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Deer Me!

We had some 'honest to goodness' snow this week, more than we usually get. If you're not familiar with the 'wet' coast, ours usually falls as rain, rain and more rain. but Mother Nature had a giggle and we got...and are still getting the white stuff. I took this picture outside our living room window on Pender Island. Mr Buck has a lovely set of antlers and was willing to pose for me while I snapped his picture.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stamping Monday

Once in a while I find missing bits of veggie at the back of my fridge a little the worse for wear. Often they can be turned into delicious bits of soup but sometimes they make it to my art room instead! This time I used a section of cabbage, cut right through the core. It has some fascinating texture with the multiple layers of leaves all crushed together. I think a Savoy Cabbage would be amazing. Mushrooms and peppers are great too. I find there are never two peppers alike. I think there would be a number of fascinating vegetables that one could use....think of the possibilities!
Here are some points to consider:
-cut the vegetables a couple of hours before they are needed. This gives them a little time to dry off, the ink or paint will adhere better.
-never use the vegetables for eating afterwards, but I do put them into the compost pail once I've finished.
-the more firmer vegetables are better for stamping but don't forget their stems and leaves as well.
-make a few prints on paper to keep as a record. Try white paint on black paper or fabric, very dramatic! I'm planning on stamping with discharge paste next week to see how that might work.

As usual, send me an email to sign up for my monthly Design Notes newsletter and I'll send you a Stamping Handout with other tips and tricks.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

OH, Baby!

I'm pleased to announce the safe arrival of "Baby"! I'll be sharing joint custody with my friend Gloria Daly http://www.studiogart.com/. We're ever so pleased with our Thermofax machine and hope for a long and happy relationship!

I had to get started right away and made a couple of screens with some images I found in a Dover book...I'm going to LOVE this!

I'll be offering a screen imaging service, so if you are interested just email me: info@susanpm.com This might be of particular interest to fellow Canadians as I'm located in Victoria, BC. Check back often and see what I'm up to with Baby!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stamping Monday

Welcome back, you know what day it is! This time I pulled out some plastic foam that comes wrapped around books and cd's that I get by mail order. You're proably quite familiar with it and put it in the recycling, right? Now you can trace on it with a Sharpie marker and cut it out easily with scissors!

I use that wonderful double sided carpet tape on a piece of wood about the same size. Make certain that you cover the entire piece of wood with the tape. Place the foam shape on the tape and its stuck there forever!
Roll some paint onto a flat piece of plastic or a plastic page protector to get an even, thin film of paint on your brayer and brayer it onto the stamp. Then stamp away!

I like the textured surface of the plastic foam, it adds a lovely quality to the paint on the fabric surface, not a flat image but one with some dimension and depth. Below is the stamp on some painted and batiked silk I've done.

As always, if you sign up for my Design Notes Newsletter I'll send an instruction sheet with some stamping hints I like to suggest. Just email me at info@susanpm.com

Monday, December 1, 2008

Stamping Monday

It's Monday again and I'm ready with a new stamp idea for you. This time you may even have the supplies in your home....just look in the kids' room!

I bought a huge container of these foam shapes at my local Michaels store and everytime I go back there I can find more containers of different shapes. Right now they're big time into Christmas shapes, so check those out. I've shared lots with friends and that one container still has lots in it!

There are also the sheets of foam that you can cut up into whatever shapes you decide. Look for the sheets and shapes that have the paper on the back that comes off to reveal a sticky backing. The stick on those is strong, my stamps have stood up to repeated washing and scrubbing and I've not lost any shapes.

I stick the shapes onto small blocks of wood that my DH has cut and sanded for me. You can also use pieces of foam core, plexiglass or anything else that will give a flat surface and stand up to a bit of abuse>

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Culture Crawl

I spent the weekend in Vancouver, BC with my family and we had a great time on Saturday touring the Eastside Culture Crawl http://www.eastsideculturecrawl.com/ We visited many different artists in their studios. There was a great variety of artists, painters, sculptors, in their studios, lots of art work for sale. The weather was perfect and the coffee shop came in handy for warming up.
In one garden I found some delightful arrangements that were lovely, have a look, I'm inspired for spring.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stamping Monday

You'll never look in at lace the same way again! I bought a piece of unusual lace a while back, knowing exactly what I wanted it for! I hunted around in my husbands bin of wood off-cuts until I found a piece exactly the right size.
I used that wonderful invention....double sided carpet tape and honestly you can stick just about ANYTHING with that stuff! If you want to make stamps, you really need to invest in a roll of the stuff! I rolled the entire surface of the wood with the tape, stuck the lace in place and there it was!

I used a brayer to roll paint onto the lace and stamped onto some paper. I had to make sure I laid the paper on my printing table ( it really needs a softer surface with a bit of "give" to it). Don't lay your fabrics directly onto a table, floor or other hard surface.

Some of the great aspects: the lace is a "larger than normal" stamp, lots of scope for borders and larger images, the lace has a strong thread running through it so it should stand up to a lot of wear, the image is asymmetrical so each of the long sides is different. That gives me many opportunities for designs.

You may need to brayer a little more generously with the paint, it took a while to apply enough paint to the stamp.

Don't forget to sign up for my monthly Design Notes newsletter by sending me an email at: info@susanpm.com

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Little Experiment

I've been waniting to try this for a while, ever since I read about it in the the thr3Fold Journals from the Kemshalls and Catherine Nicholls. http://www.thr3foldjounral.com/ I made a little quilt sandwich with some fabric I had dyed and stitched a wavy quilting design through it. I used cotton variegated thread.

I then painted discharge paste with a brush (I tried a roller but it was too uneven). I let it dry and then steamed and ironed it thoroughly. I wear a respirator for this as its so stinky.

Its definitely a very cool thing to play with and I have lots of plans to make more. The best part is that it took very little time to make a sample. Love it! The top one is the discharged piece.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And More Batik!

Actually I think this is the last of the samples from my workshop a couple of weeks ago. I finally got all the wax out on the weekend and I'm very pleased with these two pieces. The square one is linen and would be perfect cut into applique or for a small quilt. The longer piece is silk charmeuse, lovely, soft and drapey....scarf, maybe?

I layered the fabric for waxing and dyeing, the linen below the silk. Iused a foam roller that I had wrapped with string for applying the wax and used a pale blue and yellow dye. I then applied more wax and painted on royal blue to get a greater depth to the colour. Yummy and lovely.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stamping Monday

This week I have a slightly more traditional stamp-making method to show you. I like to use SpeedyCut from Speedball, it is soft without being too pliable and I can cut it into any size shape that I want, small or large. However it does tend to break down over time and if the carved lines are too deep the entire block can crack into pieces and then I lose my design.
Its possible to draw a design directly onto the SpeedyCut with a pencil. I begin by drawing the design on paper, then reverse the paper so the image is touching the SpeedyCut. Rub over the back of the design and the lead from the drawing is transferred onto the Speedycut and its ready for cutting. this is good when using letters as the image comes out the correct way.
I use a lino cutting tool from SpeedyCut and have the following blades: Liner (1), V-Gouge (2), Large Line (3), U-Gouge (4), Large Gouge (5), Knife (6). Keep them sharp, it is possible to buy replacement blades quite inexpensively. I like http://www.dickblick.com
I keep a separate sketchbook for all my stamping images, I can try out combination, colours, multiple images and more. Its fun to play with different combinations and see what patterns I can develop.
I have a handout to send you when you sign up for my Design Notes monthly newsletter. Just email me at info@susanpm.com