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.....

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Tome, Tome, Tome

Have you ever worked on a project and reached a "sweet spot" almost by accident? When the piece turned out even better than you expected? Or maybe it was just a little remnant that you almost ignored and it became THE one?
I was practising  with some cotton organdie - thinking that these were definitely PRACTISE pieces and that I'd continue on with the 'good" stuff in a bit.....
and WOW ! I love that fabric! It is crisp, yet has a gentle drape without being stiff - mind you, its the good quality organdie - not the cheap stuff and so hard to find....I had bought a metre a while back and now that's its almost gone, I'm starting to panic if there's no more at my favourite store...

I tore the fabric into strips and began with some mark making - using Dye Na Flow paints - they don't change the hand of the fabric and are easy to dilute and can be heat set - perfect for this work. I also added some finer lines with gel pens - a little asemic writing!

I folded the strip, intending to press the folds flat into pages as you might find in a book, but stopped myself in time and fell in love with the gentle folds. I set up the table with a paper drape and take what I like to call my "glamour" shots -

The next strip I tore from the opposite end of the fabric and because it wasn't cut straight off the bolt, ended up with a long triangle - not one to waste, I folded it lengthwise and dipped the fold into Old Brass Dye Na Flow and let it dry in place. I then folded it up and stitched down the centre.....

I love the centre line where the fold was and think one of the best qualities is the way I can manipulate the curves of the book and move it into slight variations....

The third tome is  slight variation on the other two - it hasn't been stitch down yet, one corner of folds is held together by a small clip - I'm not certain how I'll manipulate it yet but I also like the "rosette" quality of the middle photo. I'd also like to add some stitching, perhaps in a fine black thread. the nice part of the series, even though they are so simple and basic - there's endless variations.....

So, there we go...more ideas for consideration in my Iceland Narrative - BTW, have you signed up yet? Just hit the top right button on the side bar and see what awaits you....

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Another Textile Tome

Be careful what you start working can become slightly obsessive! but I'm making these books as research for my Iceland residency so I think I can be excused....all in the name of research, right? Check out my residency:

The accordion book can be made in any number of formats and layouts and there are plenty of ideas on Pinterest and other websites....just try looking!

I had a piece of linen that was painted but I added more "text scrawl" with black Derwent Inktense blocks - oh I love those so much! They are highly pigmented and very, very intense. After drawing I put a water wash over top to make the marks spread. Let the fabric dry and then fused an old magazine page onto the back.

For this one I had in mind a spiral version where the cutting started from the outside and gradually went into the middle. My page was 9" and I was going to make the folds just 1", but decided that might be a little small so I scored the folds every 1 1/2".

I didn't worry about making the folds until I had cut the spirals with an art knife along the scored lines.

After the cuts I began folding from the outside edge, going back and forth and squeezing with my fingers. Once its all folded it looks so small! Another Teeny Tiny Textile Tome!

It's fun to have it uncurl and be rather flippy-floppy to take the photos. I'm still working on how to take the best pictures but am so happy with this little book! I want to make them much, much larger but not sure how I'll handle the size!

I'm considering how I'll add stitch to these, maybe before, maybe after fusing and cutting. I also think I could create collage with fabrics and/or paper, paint afterwards or even dip edges into a dye pot....