(StencilGirl) Stencils used imaginatively, plus a sale!

StencilGirl Products is hosting a Cyber Monday Sale! 25% OFF! So please, be my guest! Head over there, but read my pondering too. 🙂

I have come to love using Frixion Pilot pens for creating and/or transferring embroidered designs and ideas. The ink in these pens is affected by heat and disappears (almost entirely), when ironed. I have decided I am willing to suffer the consequences of the use of this fugitive and ever so useful, art supply. I love what it allows me to do. Some folks totally disagree with me on this point and I am OK with that.

Simply use the pen to trace an outline through your favorite stencil. Then, embroider. When finished, iron the ink mark away. The above photograph shows the design tracing -before- ironing. I assure you this will disappear soon. I still have some stitching to complete.

Of course, in the manner of Playful Fabric Printing, I love to print my own cloth for use in quilts.

I have found my StencilGirl stencils very easy to print when using a simple hand squeegee. I like to squeegee through stencils utilizing a padded work surface (page 76, Playful Fabric Printing). A hand towel will work just as well as our tested, June Tailor boards. But please check out that section of the book too. We have some neat hacks and upgrades to the board that will enable you to print in repeat using Thermofax screens too! But, hey, back to the stencils!

While the above photo shows me printing with thickened dye, this technique also works well with fabric paints. The one caveat is, you must wash your stencils well and often, if you want to maintain the sheer nature of the stencil plastic-which I do. Do not allow the paint to dry on the stencil.

I have designed 6 stencils with StencilGirl. Each stencil sheet contains a square repeat design, a few coordinating single motifs and one alphabet per stencil. There are just so many ways to use stencils, whether in your hand embroidery or by way of printing and painting!

And, well. I would really like to get my stencils into your hands! So please, head on over to Stencilgirl Products and get some swag.


My stencils are on sale!

Cyber Monday
Save 25% off all* stencils
Use code: cyber25 
Monday, November 27, 2017
from midnight until 11:59 p.m. CST (Central Standard Time) USA

PLUS 10% discount when you buy 6 stencils of the same size!

NEW THIS YEAR! Choose 1 FREE large stencil for every $100 spent (after discounts are applied). You MUST specify your choice(s) by L### code in the comments section of the cart when you check out or it will be StencilGirl’s choice. Sorry, no exceptions.

BONUS! Spend $500+ (after discounts are applied) and StencilGirl will send you an original work of art by Mary Beth Shaw.

SHOP: http://www.stencilgirlproducts.com/stencilgirl-products-s/1846.htm

Tuesday & Wednesday
Save 20% off all* stencils
Use code: cyber20 
Tuesday, November 28, 2017, & Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Sale ends at 11:59 p.m. CST (Central Standard Time) USA
10% off 6 stencils of the same size discount, FREE stencil(s), and Bonus still apply.

*Stencils only. Does not apply to DVDs, books, tools, wholesale orders, StencilClub, or gift certificates. The StencilClub exclusive monthly member discount does not apply.

 

 

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Printing with Intent

I plan to print 40 fat sixteenths in this carved rubber, buta motif, series ( for 2.5 yards). So far, I have printed 25 of the little fatties. So, I need 15 more. When I am finished printing these, I will use up the remaining dye with a single color all over print for another 2.5 yards, for a total of 5 yards of cloth.

I am happy with the results I see, so far! I have carved 7 different blocks, and color separated each of them. In printing these samples, I have been quite pleased with the crispness of each color applied. I have one more 4″ red rubber block to carve for the series to be complete! I think I will change the scale of the motif with this last carve.

I have also gotten to the point where I can close my eyes and envision whether or not the next color application will play nicely. Bonus!

For a long while, I applied color in a willy-nilly fashion. This helped me build color preferences and understand the use of value within the layers of the multicolor print set. But because I wasn’t conscious of what was occurring, I printed many duds. Usable, and even pretty duds, but you know.

When you want pretty, and you get…interesting…. well.

So this was a steam and boil sort of day! My color retention was good and everything is hanging to drip dry now.

This photograph was taken just before the steam and boil. I will update this post with a follow up, so you can see the difference.

Are you interested in printing fabric to be used in your own quilts? If so, please let me know if you have any sticking points that impede your abilities. I would like to trouble shoot this with you! Please leave a comment. And join our Facebook Playful Fabric Printing Community.

 

 

 

Floribunda! RJR and some Multicolor Print Sets

I am happy to announce the debut of Floribunda! by RJR Fabrics. A textile line geared to quilters, sprinkled with blowsy roses, tendriled vines, leaves and rich, deep colors. The line was created using techniques illustrated and explained within the pages of Playful Fabric Printing. The line will ship to stores in late March 2018. In the coming months, I will be making quilt tops out of this fabric, please stay tuned!

In the meantime, I have been playing with Inovart Eco Karve, which can be seen as red rubber in the above photograph. There are 5 multicolor sets made with the red Invovart Eco Karve, thus far. Each of these designs are 4″ square, and utilizes a ‘Buta’, a larger medallion like motif (the Buta measure less than 3″ tall), often found in Indian textiles, using a set repeat. Each motif contains a flower. With each subsequent carve, I was able to achieve a finer and finer line.

Soft Kut the grey stuff pictured above at the bottom of the image, has been my go-to carving material for years. I find the Eco Karve to be denser, which allows me to carve a finer line. Move over Soft Kut.

Each time I completed a multicolor print set, (the carved rubber along with the plexiglas mounted fun foam stamps), I printed a sample of each set using a similar palette. I did this in order to level the playing field in assessing them next to their fellas. 

As I just restocked on cotton print cloth, I am itching to begin printing enough of these beauties to start making a quilt! I have about 18 handprints in the hopper! My goal is to print at least 2.5 yards of the Butas in total, and to then print or dye supportive single colors to pad that out. That means I need to Salty Soda Soak at least 1.5 yards and to get printing!

I am, as ever, excited to begin!!

Learning, taking notes and repetition.

Recently my friend, Lisa Chin came to NYC and we had two art playdates. Lisa is a fantastic printmaker and carver. Check out her website and her insta!

In playing together, Lisa wanted me to try out Inovart Eco Karve (and some paints too, though that is a post for another day). So, I tucked in and took some lessons. As I did so, of course, I took notes in my Moleskine.

In the Moleskine, I printed a strike-off (page 31, Playful Fabric Printing), made notes about the carving rubber itself. Then in true Melly style, I decided to carve several similar designs so that I could further improve my skill set within this new carving medium.

Repetition helps build muscle memory and similar imagery gives me time to explore similar lines and carving approaches. I printed them off using the same colors in order to evaluate them side by side. I think the white serves this design well in both versions. I am partial to the white dots at top right, but think both benefit by judicious use of white. White is often a bully of a presence in printed fabric, I feel this use of white creates balanced ‘pop’. I will write notes about this too!

As I create motifs and print, keeping notes along the way allows me to keep up with myself. I have been doing it for long enough that I have 4 journals worth of juicy notes. As a resource, dipping into these journals is really helpful. It can help shift your perspective on current work, provide new ideas, remind you of a new art material or perhaps a playdate with a good friend.

Do you take notes and track your creative efforts? Leave a comment and tell me what you do.

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HST: My block of choice. Still.

I have created a quilt top using the Peacock Paisley prints I recently made with the help of my intern, Aishwarya (I miss her so, it was such a great experience). I printed a couple of yards of semisolids to go with them and sat down to consider what block I might use. I even asked my Facebook community to share what their favorite simple quilt block is. I found the answers to be intriguing and exciting, even. Especially the Snowball block. And Nine Patch.

But when it came down to it, I am not yet finished with my love of the Half Square Triangle. I like using a 8.5″ square, because I print my cloth in a 9×11″ size. I like being able to show off an expanse of the handprint, and I like being able to cluster the handprints together. And another thing? I like quick and easy, hardly-any-thinking-quilt-making. 🙂 I started cutting the fabrics over the weekend and completed the top this morning. Now, I just need to figure out what to do for the back.

I do feel some guilt in staying with my favorite block, as if I might grow and learn if I were to choose a different clock. But. No. I am still happy cutting my 8.5″ squares, pairing them with a lighter print and drawing the line corner to corner before putting them under the sewing machine needle. So, for now at least, I am sticking with this simple block. So there.

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Solids and Semisolids

Having recently created a great portfolio based motifs with an Indian theme, I found myself in need of a single color all over print. These prints help support and draw out the multicolor prints, they allow the eye a resting place within a quilt block. And needless to say,  if you want to make a quilt, you need a bunch of these.The above photo shows the single color design in-progress. I ended up blacking out the entire background of this print before burning it as a Thermofax screen. Now, I seek to print many, many, single color designs.
And although I think single color prints are boring to print…. I still need many of them… So I choose to put my reservations on hold until I print enough to make some pretty quilts! I just need to get past this part. Wish me luck.

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A post shared by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

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Women’s Health


Recently, I participated in an article in Women's Health magazine called How my Body Changed… And How it Changed Me. This is the September issue, whose theme is Strong, Sexy and Naked. For this article, the magazine interviewed three women in total, myself, Sarah Lee Strobel, an amputee and a Lindsay Washburn who has Crohn's disease and an ostomy.

Later in the magazine, the editors asked several women to complete the sentence, 'My naked body is…' to which I would respond, 'the best and most beautiful it has ever been.' Breast cancer facilitated my need to invest in body positivity and body love. And although I would not choose to be diagnosed with cancer, there is grace, there are blessings and there is beauty here.

I did not always think this way. Rather, I adopted these ideals. I faked it for a while, until it became my reality. I invested in finding beauty in all body types, fat and thin, black, white, yellow and red, female, male and everything in between. Prior to breast cancer my ideals were much more narrowly defined, less questioned; I made a conscious choice to embrace body positivity and body love, because my body would forever be changed. This is the blessing.

If you have found me through the Women's Health magazine article, welcome. I help run a support group called My Flat Friends. We don't care what type reconstruction you choose, but you must either know your BRCA status or have been diagnosed with breast cancer. You are welcome to join.

And as always, remember: Stage 4 NEEDS More. If you are inclined, please donate to Metavivor to ensure responsible use of money for breast cancer research that benefits those who need it most.

Modern Quilts Unlimited, Designer Spotlight and Ziggy Star Dots pattern!

Wow. I am in awe of this entire experience. I have never been featured in a quilt magazine, never had a pattern of my creation featured in a magazine and now, I can say both have occurred in the same magazine. Modern Quilts Unlimited did a fantastic job. I hope you have a subscription to this magazine, it is worth it. My quilt resides among other fabulous quilts by Melissa Dunworth, Sharon McConnell and more.

The feature article tells a far reaching story, from prior to going to FIT up until now, mentioning the books I have written, including an image of Playful Fabric Printing and sneak peeks of my upcoming line with RJR Fabrics (which will release in October). The article mentions my breast cancer advocacy work too. I think they did a great job with all of it.

And I am so happy to say, you too can make a quilt like Ziggy Star Dots. This quilt combines fabrics from Uppercase‘s first line of fabrics (Oh goodie, they are coming out with a second line!). I made the quilt specifically to show that you need not print all of the fabrics in a quilt, that pairing handprints with commercial prints really helps expand the quilt tops story. It takes some of the pressure off you as you learn to print your own fabric and helps you whittle your stash away too. It’s an all around win.

I hope you like the playful name as much as I do, what better way to honor your favorite rock and roll superstar than to name a quilt after them? 

TOR: Toxic Masculinity Must End

This is my entry into Threads of Resistance. I have named it, Toxic Masculinity Must End. It is printed using Procion MX dye on cotton broadcloth and silk organza. There are additional collaged elements like Meadowlark fabrics and tulle. I used the StencilGirl scroll stencil in its creation in addition to multicolor print sets . 

Please read it’s Artist Statement on the Threads of Resistance website.  
The imagery and ideas contained in this piece came to me in a torrent of creative engagement. I did not know quite what I wanted to express, or how I would present my message. I knew it would fall under the category of Women’s Rights. My artists statement sums up what this piece stirred within me. 

I praise the powers that be that I am able to express myself visually and that I live in a country where I can, indeed, express myself, my thoughts, my experience through art and otherwise. This is not to be taken lightly. Especially not now, when our rights are being questioned and reversed in what can feel like a daily onslaught. When possible political discussion is elevated to partisan name calling and bullying ends conversation before it can begin. 

For the last few years-one of my personal mantras is, “What would an artist do?” This helps me push myself beyond my own perceived barriers by externalizing what it means to be an artist. So why not transform my rage by encouraging us all to follow the $ and #resist. That’s what artists do. I hope you will head over to the Threads of Resistance and check out all the entries. The traveling exhibition will be announced soon. In the meantime, go see what our fellow fiber artists have to say on their chosen topics. 

Coloring a Print

The Playful Fabric Print-Along has been a boon and a learning experience for me. Today I share my work, here on my blog and also in our Facebook community page, Playful Fabric Printing.  I encourage you to join our community page to see what we have been up to! The Coupon Codes are to be found in this group and you still have time to use them!

Anyway, back to the ‘boon and learning experience’.

Above you see the background layer of the NYC MTA Subway multicolor set with a thin layer of two shades of thickened blue dye. This application of the two colors, in gradation-Light to Pale, adds visual interest to the sky in the design. It is as if the sky is depicted at dusk, at least that is how I like to think of it.

But really. Printing this background layer in this manner breaks up the background, which really colors a large portion of the design.

A greater learning experience for me, was in printing the carved rubber layer in Dark, Color #10, what appears brilliant green above. This green is a lighter value of Dark than many of the colors in the color triangle (Playful Fabric Printing, page 48). 

This fact made me think about and use color a bit differently than I normally would. I did not want to overpower the green or obliterate the carved detail of that layer. And this criteria encouraged me to print closely related values, Light with Pale, Light with Medium and so on. 

Thus far, I have printed 10 NYC MTA Subway prints, and I think I have just about figured out a methodical approach to both coloring and printing it, which is especially helpful when Speed Printing. 

In printing each one, I applied color judiciously. I began by coloring the subway itself, which was an easy choice, grey. I pulled a Pale and a Light grey from my mixed dyes. Knowing I would be overprinting the shading in the City Hall tunnel area of the print, I made the decision to print that layer one shade darker than the subway. It quickly became important to me that the MTA logo be colored blue.

And then the coloring of the word ‘love’ became a challenge. So, I worked and reworked the layers pertaining to the word and figured out how to color it to my liking. Putting words into a design is interesting and difficult. I am unsure I nailed this aspect of the design, but I cannot remove it either, so I am learning to color it to my liking. In my imagination this is graffiti, it also alludes to the 1970’s I love New York ad campaign. And I do enjoy riding the subway, so it fits.

It was great fun to combine the Printed Village NYC MTA Challenge with the Playful Fabric Print-Along. And please join our Facebook community! Folks are sharing great work in this group! Come see. 

I do hope my design wins the challenge, though, I may delete my current designs and upload better! Haha! 

Printing-Along Progress and the benefits in printing a Strike Off

I am creatively bamboozled by the Printed Village challenge at the same time as Carol Soderlund and I are hosting a Playful Fabric Print-Along. The two goals have collided. Really, I couldn’t be happier! Working in this manner is exactly how I was taught to design when I attended F.I.T.

Stylists would gather a presentation of ideas and we were asked to interpret them. Then we worked together to make the artwork stronger, with the best use of color for each motif. 

The graffiti element I spoke about in my last post? I decided to use the StencilGirl Scroll Y100rev as a graffiti like element in my NYC MTA Subway carved rubber layer. You see above, I traced out a few of the scrolls from the stencil to fill the ‘negative space’ with a graffiti like spray of scrolls. At least this is my hope.

(Check out this post about using negative space and stencils in a journal).

Drinking coffee while carving is the height of relaxation for me. So I got to work. 

This is a first printing or strike off (Playful Fabric Printing, page 29). Strike off‘s are very important to the design of multicolor sets (especially when designing in repeat). It can get confusing to think through the best use of color, without the use of this step. Strike off’s reveal and highlight the carved (all techniques really)design in the printed format. This information is an education to applying dye color and using the Playful Fabric Printing techniques.

This particular strike off revealed a several things.

1. I found a mistake in the repeat. Because I hadn’t carved another area of the design, and was able to fix the mistake.

2. I had left the uncarved area for inspection in this strike off, just to be able to ponder whether a textural element might be called for. Because of this printing, I decided against. 

3. Revealed detail possibilities, like the roof of the subway train, and the lone tree in the bend of the tracks. 

4. I had been thinking my lines were to heavy while I was carving, but this printing is pleasing and thus acceptable to me.

So I applied my fix and completed the carving.

This will be a fun print to color. I am working on this now. 🙂

Finding a purpose and applying my skills

I recently came across Printed Village, (did you know about it? And if so, why have you been holding back on me?) And? Of course, I have decided to partipate in one of their challenges. This site offers ‘story boards’ and deadlines for a surface design artists to create work on a theme, with prizes. Reread that last sentence. What more could a girl ask for? I have been wanting to design around the theme of NYC since I began Free Range Textile Printing, last summer. The theme of this challenge is specifically asking for artwork on the theme of the New York City Subway

At the same time, Carol Soderlund and I are hosting a Print-Along. (Please join in!)

So. I have decided to combine posts, because these two pursuits dovetail so nicely.


I love working with repeat. I have chosen to work with the 6″square because across the spectrum of art materials used, carving rubber, fun foam, and Plexiglas, all are sold in increments of 6″.

In addition, so much information can be depicted in this size and format, it is suprising. 

In Playful Fabric Printing we describe using a square repeat (Playful Fabric Printing, page 26) and personally, this has been a good, ‘go-to repeat’ since creating artwork for the book. It is an easy and straight forward repeat to do.

But, there are many types of repeat out there. Each provides attributes that work well for specific end goals. Florals can look really good in a five point repeat, for example. We all know the clamshell repeat and how we might use them in quilt tops. And of course, there is the all over repeat, which works well, over-all! 🙂

Of course, it does.

After compiling the above square repeat, I scanned, printed and taped 4 copies (Playful Fabric Printing, page 29) together, to evaluate the design.

And?

I don’t like it! I think it is heavy, clunky, and unappetizing. For the end goal of fashion wear, I think it needs a ‘visual lightening’, an aeration of motifs, if you will. I definitely want my design to illustrate iconic subway related imagery, which is what I perceive is being asked for. And, frankly, I would love to have an element of graffiti in there, but words make people read, and fashion-wise, not everyone wants to be read while-being-fashionable, so back to the design table I go.

I cleaned up the motifs that were holding me back and began to redesign within a Half Drop Repeat. This -I feel-, opens up design possibilities and gives space to drop in a new motif (or two). I need motifs that say ‘NYC Subway’ -to best advantage-. 

This repeat is, as yet, unfinished. I will update you on my progress throughout the next week or so.

I really look forward to carving it!! 

Lace Swirl quilt complete!

Here is my first entirely hand printed quilt top using my Melly Marks Lace Swirl Kit! I am loving it, I love the movement of the zig-zag half square triangles, the gradation of colors, the simplicity too. 

Later in the process of making the quilt top, I nabbed a few handprints created using Swirl Vine Kit to fill out the pattern and make a few more blocks. You can see these above. I just needed specific colors and a few more pieces of fabric, and these were quickly available.

One thing that I have totally fallen in love with because of this quilt is printing on Cotton Sateen. The peach pink at left is an example of this, though it is quite difficult to photograph the subtle visual difference and in blog post, it is impossible to illustrate how soft this fabric is. I printed just a few pieces of the cotton sateen, I don’t have much on hand, but wanted to use it anyway and think it a success. Having even a few pieces of this cloth in the mix livens up the top tremendously, lending a subtle sheen and a soft touch. 

I tried to stay within an analogous area of the color triangle, from purple, reds and yellows. I printed a total of 34 Lace Swirl Prints and 54 Chevrons. This means I printed about 5 yards of cloth! From start to finish, this quilt was printed, steamed, washed, cut, pieced, basted, machine quilted and bound in one months time! Wow. Pretty snazzy.

Getting from Here to There

Since taking this Free Range Textile Printers show on the road, I have printed about 80 Lace Swirl and Herring Bone fat sixteenths in total. In keeping with a recent love affair with Half Square Triangles, I went to work trimming them all to 8.25″, I like to cut them one at a time to maximize them as much as possible. After which, I paired them, right sides together, in groups of two, with an eye toward a light/dark pairing. I then marked them with pencil before piecing, cutting and ironing. 

This quilt has me thinking about the use of starch when ironing, so I went to Facebook to ask others for their experience. This interesting thread emerged. Check it out!

My love of the Half Square Triangles will not abate! The initial cut size is such that quilt tops quickly emerge, which is especially to my liking. I like making quilts, quick and easy. Large blocks help me do that. 

I really appreciate the back side of handprints too. The above print (the red) must have been a really juicy print to smoosh through the cotton print cloth like that! And it is so pretty to see how the printed layers of color interact with each other.The above quilt will be complete soon. I am excited about it so far. Can’t wait to show both sides, in good lighting. Normally I track these print jobs pretty closely. This time, I went about the entire thing in a much different manner. Tracking got cast to the wayside. I could track this lot retrospectively, by counting and comparing. I will see how far I can get. I could lead to a ‘printers must’ or pattern. 

To explain what I mean by a “printers must”, I need to harken back to my days as a sample cutter for a small women’s wear company. At the beginning of the day, I would be given a, “cutters must”, which looked something like this. From this, I could discern the path and needs of each cut sample on my docket for that day. Basically, I was given a pattern and the ‘cutters must’ were the directions. 

This in the hope of offering a Playful Fabric Quilt pattern. I have a bee in my bonnet. Goal #1 Make a downloadable pattern for Melanie Testa.com.

Print-Along preparation, Tips and Suggestions

In preparing to participate in the Playful Fabric Print-Along, I will address to the basic supplies you might need. First, please join the Print-Along in the Playful Fabric Printing Community, where we have discount codes to PRO Chem, StencilGirl and Melly Marks.

To start, you will need an inexpensive scale, this is a link to Amazon, which carries the exact scale that I use. This scale costs less than 10$.

I have put together a PRO Chem shopping list to get you started. There are two versions, a modest version and a robust version. In the modest version, you would need to find small jars-1 oz or larger with a tight lid in addition to enough of them to contain the palette of colors you choose to mix.

In the more robust shopping list, I include 28 1oz jars and the larger size of dye, so that you can mix all 28 colors in Playful Fabric Printing (If this is your intention, you will need to purchase the robust list, with 8oz size of the dye powders). After which, I  directly link to some other fun items. 

Pro Chem Supplies (link) Modest Robust
Soda Ash 1.75/1LB 6.50/5LB
Fabric 6.60/1Yard 33.00/5Yards
Pro Print Paste SH 6.14/1LB 27.65/5LB
28 1 Ounce Jars with lids   14.00/28 Jars
Dye Boats 2.95/12 2.95/12
Sun Yellow 108 4.95/2oz 14.14/8oz
Mixing Red 305 3.95/2oz 10.50/8oz
Intense Blue 406 6.95/2oz 25.28/8oz
Total:

30.34        

134.02

OTHER Items    
Scale (Amazon link)

13.00

13.00

You will also need to gather up a dust mask, a bucket, a drying rack, plastic spoons, yogurt cups, gloves and table salt. The drying rack that I use is Minky brand. I don’t specifically recommend it, but I do recommend a drying rack that is sponge washable so that dye can be removed with a wet sponge, the Minky rack is plastic covered, making it easy to clean. I keep a dedicated rack for use in the studio, so that there will never be fear of getting dye on our clothing.

I have created a new video called ‘PFP Tips and Suggestions’, in the hope of helping you form methodical habits when you handle dyes. 

Here are some other items you might consider, I suggest you put these items on your wishlist. Blick has Soft Kut Printing Blocks and Linoleum Cutters. eNasco has our favorite Creative Hands brand sticky back craft foam. And just so you know, this is my favorite brayer and here is a link to the June Tailor Cushioned Quilters Square ‘n Blocker, which makes a great padded work surface following the directions in Playful Fabric Printing, page 76. And here is the link to the Black & Decker Rice Cooker Plus (Playful Fabric Printing, page 55). Honestly, I could go on and on and link to every single item, but I will hold off. Once you fall in love with the techniques, you will definitely want to revisit this portion of the list.

To participate in the Print-Along, you will at least need to modest list of items found above. The rest is icing on the cake. Remember, join our Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook to get the Coupon Codes and to Print-Along with us!

Announcing our first Playful Fabric Print-Along

I am really excited that Carol and I are announcing our first…

Playful Fabric Print-Along!

This is a  month long event. And just wait! We have gathered up some snazzy benefits to go with it!

What does this mean?   How do I participate?   What do I need to do?

Participation in this Print-Along requires the purchase and use of the Playful Fabric Printing book. Print-Alongs are participatory events. We will not be teaching you how to print, so much as printing along-side you. We will answer questions in the community group, of course, but we will refer you back to the book when necessary. 

We invite you to join our Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook.

This is a closed and growing group of ‘playful friends’, who are working with our techniques and contributing to great discussion. We share photos, tips, video content and friendship in this  fabulous and supportive community. 

Anyone can join, whether you participate in the Playful Fabric Print-Along or not. This is the place we’ll have discussions during the Print-Along and this is where participants share results.

Also, Carol and I will be blogging throughout the Print-Along covering dye and print related matters. 

(This quilt top was printed with the Melly Marks Lace Swirl Kit. I will be blogging about this one soon, so please check back!)


Guidelines:

Each of you will make tools of your own or use favorite tools to create between 1-9 prints.

It may be that you print one gorgeous print or you might choose to “speed print” multiples (Playful Fabric Printing, page 90). We suggest you begin by perusing Chapter 4, and choosing a technique to explore, like Double Stamping (Playful Fabric Printing, page 69),or maybe “Printing Photo-Inspired Multicolor Sets (Playful Fabric Printing, page 96).

And then, follow your fancy while printing one to nine! (or more)

On April 28 we will have a ‘Show and Share Roundup’ within the Playful Fabric Printing Community page.

Bloggers who choose to shout out participation and want to show samples of their work through their websites and blogs are encouraged. We would love to collect ‘Pins’ of your work and web presence to our Playful Fabric Printing Pinterest boards. Check out Carol’s Playful Fabric Printing board, then head over to mine. We hope you’ll want the Pins! AND, please use our hashtag, #playfulfabricprinting This will help us follow one-another on our socials.

Let us know you are joining the Playful Fabric Print-Along inside the Playful Fabric Printing FB community page. 

And it’s OK to share this blog post on your favorite social media platform! We would love help in getting the word out. 


BONUS!!!! Coupon Bonanza! This is the snazzy part.

During the Playful Fabric Print-Along our good friends from PRO Chemical & Dye and StencilGirl and of course, Melly Marks are offering coupons to members of our Playful Fabric Printing Facebook Community.

Thanks  to PRO Chem, StencilGirl and Melly Marks for making this event even more fun! 

Lets get printing together! I can’t wait.

 


Check out these StencilGirl and Melly Marks commercials:

 

Lace Swirl Quilt Top

This last weekend was quite productive. I took Bucket to my twice yearly quilt retreat and made great progress while #freerangetextileprinting. Then, I came home, switched out the newspaper and tinfoil I had been using to steam (this is a link to Pokey Bolton’s blog related to our Playful Fabric Printing blog hop-who chose the steamer as a topic), and got to work. I now have about 39 Melly Marks Lace Swirl and 50 Chevrons printed and ready to cut and piece!

This is why I love steaming and boiling. Steaming and boiling is a transformative experience. I love seeing the prints pile up, all stiff like potato chips, then, I like seeing the final shade after boiling and drip dry. 

I think this is a great coloring of the Lace Marks multicolor print set. The swirl is printed in Medium and the innards is Light value (I can figure out which color number if you want this info!) Combined with the pale pink ground, I feel this color way really highlights the lacey design. 

Here is a pile of ready to iron handprints. They look like potato chips to me. They act like it too. I am so excited to make a new quilt top, I could eat these like potato chips! If only they tasted as good.

I hope at the end of making this quilt to come out with a ‘pattern’, that states how many prints, provides a color way, and breaks down the making the quilt. I hope you might like this idea. I would love to hear your thoughts about this.


Here is the “Insider Info” portion of today’s program 🙂

I am offering my first Etsy Shop coupon code, use the code MELLYMARKS1 to receive 4$ off an order of 20$ or more, in my new shop! This code will be available until March 28.

And, join the Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook.

Additionally, comment if you would consider becoming a Sample Maker for my upcoming fabric line, to be release at Quilt Market!!!


I hope to teach at Schweinfurth Art Center in May, please join me. This class will expand upon the principle presented in Playful Fabric Printing.

We were tired of living in a house and the finer points in the life of a #freerangetextileprinter

I couldn’t rush my current Speed Print! I would really like some Chevron single color prints to fill out the use-ability of these hand prints in a quilt top. I had previously hoped to steam and sew this coming weekend, a retreat weekend.

But. I have decided to slow down and do it all.

Check out the last quilt I made at Retreat!! The Peacock Quilt is also on page 125 of Playful Fabric Printing!!

But, this time, I will be printing the fabrics for a quilt and not lugging my sewing machine. I have taken out and am dusting it off, the Free Range Textile Printers bucket. I am taking this show on the road!

Peach inspected all sides of the #freerangetextileprinter ‘s Bucket. She admits it lacks necessary tools and will require re-inspection prior to launch.

I love retreat group. I miss these gals and I look forward to getting away, even for a short while.

I don’t know how many pieces of fabric are in this Speed Print session, but when it comes time to piece and make a quilt top, I will be one content quilter.

Are you a member of our Playful Fabric Printing community page on Facebook? We post videos, answer questions and participate in discussion about member work! There have been some great fabrics printed and shared, recently! You are welcome. Please join.

Flat-Out Fabulous, the New York Post

Today, an article about my breast cancer journey appeared in the New York Post. The hard copy version is named Flat-Out Fabulous, which is, of course, my preferred headline. 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And just to brag? The quilt pictured in the article is my latest! I printed the dot fabric and combined it with commercial prints and it is slated for a feature article in a fabulous quilting magazine. You have seen it first, here!

All of this aside, I would like to say, it is important to me to tell my story. I do it for myself, it helps me heal. But I also do it for those who come after me. I am glad to be strong enough to withstand what I did during my diagnosis and time of need. But no reconstructive option should be weighted more heavily than any other. Bias should not play a role in the options a doctor presents.

I want the words, ‘flat reconstruction’ to be part of the breast cancer lexicon.

If we start using this term, doctors will use it, if doctors use it, insurance companies will use it-and pay for it.

Also? Flat is reconstruction, it takes skill to deconstruct breasts and create a flat surface. When we ask to forego (breasted) reconstruction, we do not mean that we want skin sparing mastectomy, we mean ‘Flat Reconstruction’. Flat. Too many of my friends have asked for ‘flat’ and gotten skin sparing mastectomy (which, in my estimation, is unethical). Neither do we want ‘dog ears’, or flaps of skin under of arms or in the center of our chest. We want flat.

It’s hard enough to come to terms with a changed body, chemo brain, medications and the effects cancer treatment takes on a person. Struggling to accept surgical results should be the least of this equation.

Between the Post article and the CBS Sunday Morning piece, ‘my secret’ was revealed (I hadn’t intended to maintain a support group, but CBS caught on. So there you have it! ).

I have begun a group called, My Flat Friends. This group is intended to support women (we are LGBTQ inclusive) who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, or have been made aware of their BRCA status and are also artists-whatever that means to them. Although the name of the group references ‘flat’, ALL reconstructive options are welcome in the group, because we all have flat friends. 

If you need or want support and you fit these criteria, friend me on Facebook and Private Message me through FB, and I will add you to the group.

Check out the My Flat Friends Pinterest Board

And thank you for standing present to my needs and wishes for the breast cancer community at large.

 

Great big thanks to Bethany Kandel, the reporter who worked doggedly to present my story in such a great light.

 

CBS Sunday Morning +


This week on CBS Sunday Morning they presented a themed show on the topic of cancer. A group of women, myself included were interviewed for a subsegment named, “The flat movement”. Read the CBS article related to the segment, A Matter of choice: Mastectomies without Reconstruction.

And watch the individual segment here.

I love the women I am surrounded by in this piece. Rebecca Pine of the Breast and the Sea is a gentle giant. Read this New York Times article, ‘Going Flat’ After Breast Cancer, where Rebecca is pictured. Thedra Cullar-Ledford is an amazing artist!  Samantha Tiger West is a local friend as well as audio and visual artist. Marianne DuQuette Cuozzo is an artist whose big heart can be seen alongside Debbie Sue (here is her FB page, no website) in this video:

 

I took this photo, last month, after filming for this segment. Samantha West had to cut out before we took this photo in front of the Equinox ad which is featured in the CBS Segment. The ad features Samantha Paige, of Last Cut, whom I follow through social media. This ad is epic! It is an epic contribution to the ‘flat narrative’.

If you have arrived here due to the CBS Sunday Morning show interview. Welcome. Poke around. Check out my art galleries and my breast cancer advocacy resume. Soon, I will resume my regular program of art making here on my artist’s blog. 🙂 Until then…

 

 

Take a long sigh, steam and boil.

This week in Studio Melly, processing has been happening, it is time to steam and boil fabrics! I kind of think about these things as, designing, printing, processing. And right now, I am at the processing stage. The studio needed some clean up and neatening too. So I went through my backlog of printed fabrics, and liberally placed as many pieces in the steam pile as possible. I got through most of it. I have one more soak and boil, and I will be done for a while. Phew.

I boil fabrics, I prefer it. I am an apartment dweller and we do not have a washer and drier. It is just easier to soak and boil fabric, if you ask me. 

While sorting through my back log, I came across this gem, it is a ‘rag’ or trial piece. A piece of fabric where I try out dye viscosity, stamp ideas, ghost printing, whatever crosses my mind. I curate these pieces and tuck them away from myself judiciously. 🙂

I think it will lend itself nicely to embroidery! …Do I feel an embroidery fit coming on?

I came across this print, featuring a Loggerhead Shrike. I drew this bird, originally, from the pages of Birder’s World magazine. I have used this image in so many different and varying pieces, I love working with the same image over time and in series. This Shrike print was featured in a quilt seen in the link above.

And I have a Speed Print session drip drying in the shower. The tiles make that snapshot a bit yellow, but I assure you, the colors are much more bright and snappy than what you can see here.

You know, this is part of processing!

This weekend in Studio Melly

It started with tickets to Jazz at Lincoln Center , a happy couple, and some great lighting.

The show was amazing.

My weekend continued with a request by my Man to change my cellphone lock screen to this image of David Bowie. And I couldn’t agree more. I remain ever grateful to have walked the earth during David Bowie’s lifetime. When he died, all of them died.

Long live the many lives, and personal recreations of David Bowie.

I am working on my Threads of Resistance piece. It speaks to women and ‘the female body’, using recent news headlines to highlight matters of gender oppression. Decorative elements abound, of course.

This is a work in progress, I will update the blog about it as I progress it. It will measure 20″ square and will have a knife edge finish. It will have machine quilting, and (I hope) embroidered elements. I haven’t made a piece in this manner for a very long time. This is fun!

At the same time, I am printing up a storm with Melly Marks Kits.

Sunday, I gathered as many printed items that could be steamed together. By the end of this week, I will have processed a new batch of color triangle swatches, a Speed Print session related to all the Melly Marks repeats, and more. I love steaming, because it means lots of printed cloth, ready to use!!

So? How about you? What were you up to this weekend?

 

 

Out and about while binding a quilt

When I was a child, one of my favorite books was called, We Were Tired of Living in A House. Much like it sounds, the children in the family, packed their bags and headed out to make house in a tree, on the beach and so on. Ever in my life as an artist has this concept been of great favor. I do everything in my power to Gather my Sew-plies, or bucket as the case may be, and hit the town. 

And today, I must complete a quilt slated for a magazine article. 😜

What better way to drink a bit too much coffee and get out of the apartment, than this.

Considering Color and Placement

In learning to use the concepts Carol and I present in Playful Fabric Printing, I have done a lot of experimentation (we both have). In retrospect, as I ponder  my approach to using dye paste and printing as is described in our new book, I would say, at first I was exuberant, I threw caution to the wind, I tried every combination of color and value. And I made many printing errors and color missteps in the process. All of this experimentation has had the effect of helping me build color preferences and forge an understanding of how value adds a visual pop to a print.

In Playful Fabric Printing, we illustrate how to mix color in four gradations, Dark, Medium, Light and Pale (Pale is my favorite). In the above prints, (using this Kit), the purple print uses color much more judiciously than the right red brown print. For one, purple and orange are complementary colors, they reside opposite one another on the color wheel. Because of this, the color sizzles, the purple and orange push one another around, seeking dominance. Also, where the purple is a Medium, the orange is a combo of Pale and Light values, which adds to the zing.

The red brown print is quite nice, but the color choice is a bit flat. These colors are analogous and close relatives in the color wheel. A more effective background color, one that pushes the daisies to the forefront of the design would make this print even better. I am not saying that you ought to work on opposing sides of the color wheel in order to make a great print, though. Rather, a cleaner color choice within the analogous range or a more effective use of value might help propel this design forward.

These two prints, (using this Kit) are both quite pleasing, in my opinion. The differences in color choice are quite interesting. The left most prints’ background is a crisp cheddar while the print on the right is an earthen ochre. The print on the left is bright and chipper, with its flash of light green, while the print on the right has a bit more muscle. Would I use them in the same quilt? Perhaps. It would depend on their fellows. Just looking at them side by side though, the print at right makes me want to create a quilt top with an autumn appeal, and the two would not go well together, if that were to be the goal.

I am happy to say, all the the experimentation I have done has lead me to a more purposeful and considered use of color. Being exuberant has helped me to understand the difference between printing green on top of a crisp yellow-even before I apply dye paste to tool and then print the cloth. Which is why I encourage you to play, experiment and try out every combination you think up.

Printing away the day.

This is a day of off-set printing and I am using the StencilGirl L498 Vine Swirl to do so. 

As an aside, when I was at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I took a screen-printing class. I loved it. My first print was a design based on shoes and I got to cut rubylith, which is such fun to do. My teacher was disappointed in my final print because he felt it would benefit by off-set printing. Or printing the same image, one on top of the other, but offset slightly.

He gave me a B+ for my effort. SD 181 (Surface Design 181) at left, its more recent interpretation (at right) went on to live among its fellas in the Meadowlark by Windham fabric line.I love seeing the original artwork alongside its current interpretation.

At the same time, I am playing with some hand cut stencils too. It was been fun to experiment with the many ways to apply dye through a stencil in order to color cloth. My current favorite method is by way of squeegee-ing dye through the stencil. I find this really saturates the cloth and allows for great penetration of dye.

So, I think perhaps I will be playing with value/color choice and off-set printing. (I would like at least 8-10 more of this print, so I gotta get busy.)

Using a white foam roller works well too. (Page 82 PFP)

Please note, I love using tags here on my blog. If you have questions on a specific topic, please search this blog, there is a search bar at right. A very handy feature.

And! Please join the Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook! It has been so much fun to see what my fellow textile design artists are doing while learning from Playful Fabric Printing.

 

Lace Swirl print job (almost) complete.

There is some crazy mad Speed Printing going on over here. Thus far I have printed 29 Lace Swirl. Not all are pictured here, there are reds and purples that didn’t make the photograph. I need to round this job up to 30!

This multicolor set has proven to be an easy 3 layer color application. It was easy and meditative to print this many. I think printing is extremely medative. Repetition is satisfying. New approaches to using tools reveal themselves easily. There is exploration and release all at once.  It is easier to print 12 than 1, if you ask me. 

Earlier in the week, I tore through swatching all 28 colors in the Playful Fabric Printing color triangle. As such, I have gads of newly mixed custom colors. My goal has been to keep this printed grouping mostly in the reds, orange, purple and yellow area of the triangle. I did throw in two turquoise and two Kellie green(, also not photographed). But I can withhold them if/when it comes to making a quilt top with this.

I may steam and put these samples in my new Etsy shop! (Even if I am also feeling greedy… and wondering what quilts could be made with them.)
I just need to say, I am so excited about my emerging store front! Please bear with me as I learn how to input, weigh and manage the shipping of items. I will always refund overages when they occur and as quickly as possible. I have been daydreaming about supporting myself as a textile printer and designer and this initiative is part of that effort. I hope you are interested in my wares. I don’t know if you will want my handprints, but I honestly hope you do. I will soon post some watercolor prints for sale too. 

I look forward to sharing all of this with you. 

 (I am thinking of hosting a Motif-along, soon-ish. Please leave comments about what you would like accomplish or learn in joining and doing such a thing. What you think of this idea? Do you have a blog? Insta? Do tell.)

 

Stencils, Stamps, Thermofax, oh my!

Earlier this week, I started a Speed Print job using my Lace Swirl Kit and I spoke about the difference between using the L498 StencilGirl stencil and the Thermofax screen to color the swirl portion of the design.

So, today, I wanted to update you and show you the difference between the two.

The StencilGirl stencil allows us to color a single swirl. This gives these prints a bit of a unique appeal because they take longer to complete than the Thermofax layer (speed print-able), but this very fact also means, that I can use a diverse selection of color to complete each print.

And as such, these prints stand out when it comes to using them. (I get very excited to use these unique prints when it comes time to sit in front of the sewing machine needle.) 

But you know? Squeegee-ing two colors through a Thermofax repeat layer is a pretty snazzy way to add visual jingle too! 

This, is Playful Fabric Printing. Where we push the limits of our tools by printing sparkling, playful and surprising bits of cloth, that is so much fun to use! 

(Please use our hashtag #playfulfabricptinting , that way, we can find you and your work.

Carol and I are keeping Playful Fabric Printing Pinterest boards and we would both love to pin your posts into our boards (we want to build community)!!! Please check check our boards out!

Also! Please join our closed Playful Fabric Printing Facebook Community page, we now have 200+ members and many are doing great work, asking interesting questions and uploading photos of their work! And its some really good work too!

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

Threads, Resistance and being an art blogger

I am really happy to be a member of the group calling themselves, The Artist Circle.  We are concerned people, also artists, who think civic duty is admirable. At the same time, being artists, we often depict our experience visually.

These two ideas merged in this Call For Art on the topic of resistance.

Threads of Resistance <——- Click it!

We have a Facebook page too.

I consider myself an art blogger. I have recently come out with a book. And, I am a political person. I am also an outspoken person; I post nude photos of my body and I challenge societal norms by doing so. I do all of these things through my blog and web site, melanietesta.com. Briefly, I considered refraining from putting my name in the footer of  this Call For. I wondered if, because I have just published a book, perhaps I should remain neutral. But ultimately, I decided, art is a perfect medium to explore ideas of resistance, and Procion MX dye is the perfect media to do that, and well, I am an artist in need of goals.

After thinking all of this through, I placed my name on the list of organizers.

It is frightening to live out loud, to express our opinions and then remain present to the experience of having done so. Cancer in particular has shown me, it is time to live, out-loud-proud. In-all-respects. In light of this, I would like to say, let us please find the means and the self restraint to speak to one another and express our views without reacting to our fellows, so much as seeking to find common ground, learning to laugh together and trusting that full understanding will unfold. 

Let’s all be civil, and have discourse.

And please, let us all make art, like our lives depend on it. It does.

 

 

Lace Swirl: printed & book giveaway winner announced

First off? Julie H, comment #37, won my giveaway copy of Playful Fabric Printing!!! I am waiting to hear back from her now, Congrats Julie!

As you know, I have released a line of stamps and am working with StencilGirl products to release a line of stencils. I am selling Kits (and soon individual stamps) though my Etsy store. In the coming weeks, I will feature and talk about the use of these tools, the printing of cloth and the making of quilt tops. I do hope you will stick around. 

The above stamp is called Lace Swirl and it has relationship to the StencilGirl stencil L498

L498 contains a single motif, seen above at lower right, which can be used individually or to color a portion of the Lace Swirl print.  

Conversely the Melly Marks Lace Swirl Kit utilizes a Thermofax screen to color all the the swirls at once. In this way you could use the stencil to color intermittent swirls, or you could use the Thermofax to color every swirl.

Later this week I will post images depicting the difference between these options. 

For now, I am really happy to have opened up a speed printing session using the Lace Swirl Kit. I have printed 29 (9×11″) pieces thus far and colored the background of just 5 of those. In all I have printed just under two yards of cloth. I like this print so much, I think it would be a good idea to print even more. Perhaps 2.5 yards of the Lace Swirl in total.

I would like this batch to be super chipper as well as bright and tingly in color choice. I see some light blues and greens in my printed future too.

It may take me a while to close out this print session, but that does not worry me. In the meantime, I will take notes on color use, day dream about the additional colors I would like to use, and explore how I might go about using these prints. Already, I have begun to ponder what textural tonals and semisolids might help push these prints forward. This is my favorite part of the print session, it is the the moment when all the possibilities swirl and eddy, before settling in becoming an established idea.

So tell me, have you begun to read Playful Fabric Printing? What excites you? What do you want to try first?

Melly Marks Kits, StencilGirl stencils and my new Etsy Store!

 

I am quite happy to announce that I have opened a store through Etsy, called Melly Marks Playfully.

At-the-same-time? StencilGirl is releasing a line of stencils in my name!!!!

In the coming days, we will announce a print-along in the Playful Fabric Printing Community Facebook page. I would love to print along side you as you learn -to use- Playful Fabric Printing. And Carol is excited about this too!

So please, join us!

This print along will not be akin to an ‘online class’, but rather, remain reliant on your ability to work through the pages of Playful Fabric Printing on your own while being able to draw upon a community of playful fellow printers and textile designers alike.

At the same time, I am offering Melly Marks Kits, coordinated textile designs offered through stamps, stencils, and tFax designs. All, for your printing pleasure. Video content in support of this will be provided through the community page, so please join!!

I am selling Kits, StencilGirl sells individual stencils. 

(You are encouraged to make your own tools for this print-along, rather than use the offerings I present in this post. Purchase is not required. I would love if you worked with my offerings though!) 

I take pride in saying, I am manufacturing with companies who employ American people and work on American soil. As a result, my retail price points are not as low as I would like them to be, but if you show me that you like my offerings by purchasing these kits, I promise to do everything I can to lower these prices as much as possible with my next offering.

In the meantime. pick up a copy of Playful Fabric Printing, make an order at PRO Chem or Dharma, and let’s get ready to have some fun!! 

NOTE: In the upper right corner of my Nav Bar? There is now a tab that opens to my Easy Store! I hope to sell handprints and artwork though this store too! Please, stay tuned. 

Round Up: Playful Fabric Printing Blog Hop

As you know, Carol and I are hosting a blog hop to celebrate the release of our book, Playful Fabric Printing. Today’s post is a Round Up of each participant on the hop, with stories of how we met, why we chose each person to participate with links to their websites and social media hubs. I highlight four hoppers on my blog and Carol is highlighting the other four on her blog


Lisa Chin and I met through social media and have become in-person friends as a result (who doesn’t love making friends in this way?). Lisa’s web presence is called Something Clever about Nothing, a pithy and fun name for the great explorations found within it. Lisa has published articles on topics pertaining to Gelli Plates and Sun Printing, has contributed to books on Zen Doodles, and made an appearance on QATV series 1700. I have been watching Lisa grow and expand her skill set and I am amazed by her commitment to the progress, she has made such strides in such a short time. Please follow Lisa on Facebook, insta and Pinterest.

Judy Coates Perez and I met in the green room on the set of Quilting Arts TV many years ago. We have become teaching roomies whenever we travel to the same event. I have come to love her like a sister and can honestly say her daughter, Indigo, is just as talented as she is (Indigo Perez was the photographer for Playful Fabric Printing and her photos are luscious). But, back to Judy… Judy’s art is amazing. Although I have visited Judy’s home twice, this last visit was the first time that I have touched both these pieces of art. The detail Judy is able to convey is amazing. Judy has self published two books, both of which I highly recommend, Alternatively Bound and Stitched and 10+ Techniques with Acrylic Inks. Please follow Judy on Facebook and insta

Judy Coates Perez

Judy Coates Perez

Chris Dodsley, whose brand is Made by ChrissieD, is a local friend and fellow member of  NYC Metro Mod Quilters. Chris is a firebrand of creativity and is quick to contribute to Call For and requests for help. Each time I have made a call for help in our community, Chris is ready and willing. Her work is strong, her voice sings through and her presentations and images are tight and professional. Well they should be, as Chris is a sample maker for fabric companies that we all know and love! Chris has been blogging for a long while and has some great tutorials on her site. Please friend her on Facebookinsta and Pinterest too!

Chris Dodsley


And now, we turn to Pokey Bolton. Patricia Chatham Bolton, that is. For this stop on the blog hop, I may just go a bit poetic. I first met Pokey while attending Quilt National 2007. Where Repose had gained entry. While there, Pokey asked to speak with me and proceeded to ask if I might be interested in writing a book based on the techniques used in my winning entry. I said yes, and Inspired to Quilt is the result.

 

Similar to Charlie's Angels

In preparing to write this post I asked each Blog Hopper for two photos to feature in this post. I told each that it could be of a connection between us or it could be a favorite project. Pokey sent this image of ‘The Gang’, or rather from left to right: Jamie Fingal, Judy Coates Perez, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Pokey Bolton, myself and Jane LaFazio. This is a small grouping of Pokey’s Angels. Pokey’s Angels, as I am currently calling all of us, is an ever growing, expansive and amorphous group. 

I am unsure, but I think this is Long Beach 2009? Correct me if I am wrong.

See where I am going with this? Pokey’s Angels makes me think of Charlies Angels. Maybe because we are all gorgeous? 😉

Anyway. Pokey brings together people of diverse artistic background. She gathers people up and creates events, publishes magazines and books, Pokey is a passionate whirlwind of great accomplishment. When Pokey asked if Carol and I might be interested in publishing with her, we felt honored. Honored to earn Pokey’s loyalty. Honored to trust that Pokey would make our content shine. I am confident in saying that every person in the Long Beach photo would say the same were they in our shoes. 

Last year Pokey had her inaugural Craft Napa event (January 2016):

and we recreated the photo from so many years ago. The second annual Craft Napa Retreat just unfolded, read Pokey’s recap here. I am happy to say, I want to return to Napa to experience Craft Napa retreats for years to come.

In the meantime, Pokey began publishing again! Playful Fabric Printing, coauthored with Carol Soderlund is Pokey’s first title under the name, Crafting a Life, LLC.

 

Playful Fabric Printing by Melanie Testa and Carol Soderlund

I know as an author, I am tooting my own horn here? But tootin’ needs to happen.

This book is photo and content rich. There is a 28 color triangle of repeatable color, in 4 values, combined with thoroughly tested techniques including the use of Fun Foam, Carving Rubber, Stencil and Thermofax Screens. We present all of the information with an eye toward small space printing, because we know that many of us do not have gads of studio space in work in. Then we go on to present six quilts made with handprints! 

Melanie Testa's quilt

This book is huge! And pretty. And it feels nice. It’s a dream come true.

Also? Playful Fabric Printing is published in the U.S.A. <—— This is really important. Pokey has chosen to employ U.S. workers to provide her content. A win for everyone!

Pokey and Melly Hug

This tender photo was taken at Houston Quilt Festival a few years back, when a group of ‘Angels’ honored Pokey’s 40th. We met up for a dinner that included friendship, dressed up Barbie dolls, wine, awesome food, and a whole lot of love. Every time I look at this image, I mist up.

It was my first Festival after a year long slog of breast cancer treatment. I went for no other reason than to be among friends and give myself a treat. And to heal. Because that is what we do for one another. As friends. And community. The very thing Pokey is so good at creating. 

This picture, these memories, and so many more, encapsulate what Pokey means to me. Thank you Pokey.


Blog Hop Schedule

Remember, each blog hopper will give away a copy of Playful Fabric Printing, you must comment on that post to enter your name in the giveaway. Comment on every post!! (Most hoppers will close comments in one weeks time, which brings us to February 7. Check each blog for specific dates. My blog comments will remain open until the 7th). Please keep hopping!!

ALSO: Carol and I have also begun a Playful Fabric Printing Facebook Community page and would love for you to join. This will be a space for you to share images of work inspired by the pages or our book, ask questions, receive feedback and participate in print-alongs. 

January 23: Melly Testa
http://melanietesta.com/blog/

Jan 24: Carol Soderlund
http://www.carolsoderlund.com/blog/

Jan 25: Lisa Chin
http://somethingcleveraboutnothing.blogspot.com

Jan 26: Julie Fei-Fan Balzer
http://www.balzerdesigns.typepad.com/

Jan 27: Judy Coates Perez
http://www.judycoatesperez.com

Jan 28: Carrie Bloomston
http://www.carriebloomston.com/blog/

Jan 28 Chris Dodsley as made by ChrissieD

Jan 29: Lynn Krawcyzk
http://smudgeddesignstudio.com

Jan 30: Leslie Tucker Jenison
http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com

Jan 31: Pokey Bolton
http://pokeybolton.com

 

Playful Fabric Printing Blog Hop!

 

Please join us in celebrating the release of Playful Fabric Printing through a blog hop! Scroll down for a complete list of blog hop participants. Each hop participant will discuss motif making, quilting with handprints and/or review Playful Fabric Printing itself. Each blog hop participant will be giving a copy of Playful Fabric Printing to a commenter, so please comment for a chance to WIN.

Carol and I have also begun a Playful Fabric Printing Facebook Community page and would love for you to join. This will be a space for you to share images of work inspired by the pages or our book, ask questions, receive feedback and participate in print-alongs. 


There are many ways to go about making multicolor cloth and there are no right or wrong ways to go about it. While we discuss the creation of nestled multicolor printing sets that fit one inside the other, this is not always the way you might want to proceed. Instead, you might choose to create free-form motifs and to print them in a tossed pattern.

As you can see, working in this manner leaves a bunch of white fabric. Never fear, on page 86 of Playful Fabric Printing, we discuss Monoprinting with Masks.

In this case, I chose to use freezer paper, whose shiny side makes a temporary bond to cloth with ironing. I traced the motifs I wanted to reserve, cut and ironed the cutouts in place before preparing to monoprint. 

After rolling thickened dye out in a pleasing manner, a texturizing comb was used to create a grid like pattern in the thick dye.

The cloth was laid atop the texturized surface and pat in place, before lifting the cloth off the print surface.

Freezer paper is the first resist I began to explore upon learning to print with dye. It is quite a versital crafting material that can be found at grocery and big box stores. Freezer paper comes in several widths, my preferred width is 18″, which can sometimes be difficult to find. While freezer paper is a great resist material, we also discuss some much more ingenious ways to use flat objects to make multicolored prints.

However you choose to make marks on cloth, there is always a way to reserve specific areas, color the background, overprint, and add more design elements. It’s the experimentation that’s the fun part.


Next, I discuss ‘hacking’ your copy of Playful Fabric Printing in order to make it a user ready workbook. 

Most of the books I love and use often, get a spiral binding. I bring them to the copy shop, ask that the binding be removed and a spiral binding be placed in its stead. In the case of Playful Fabric Printing, I wanted to push the idea further and make the book even more studio ready.

First, I took a trip to the office supply store to purchase Better Dividers and Corner Lock Three Pocket Binder Pockets. I specifically wanted to place a tab at the color triangle on page 48 and a pocket at the back of the book in order to store tracking sheets. Additionally, I bought Expo Dry Erase Markers.

Then I took a copy of Playful Fabric Printing to my local copy shop, additional items in tow, to have them remove the binding, place the tab and pocket and laminate both the front and back covers prior to placing a spiral binding. I know this book will receive lots of use and I think the spiral binding turns Playful Fabric Printing into a very useable workbook that is ready to be wiped down when spills and drips occur.

In retrospect, I wish I had asked for the 1.25″ plastic spiral, rather than this tight fitting metal binding. I did not know there was an option, and although this works perfectly, I would have preferred to have the larger spiral.

Another change I made to my copy of Playful Fabric Printing was to move pages 57, 58, 59 and 60 (the Value Bands) to follow just after the color triangle on page 48. This will cut down on flipping back and forth between the pages when choosing color palettes. 

Then I asked the copy shop to make a two sided print out of the tracking pages (pages 138 and 139) and a two sided print out of pages 130 and 131 (the dye recipes) prior to lamination. Used with the dry erase markers, these laminated sheets provide a temporary surface to write notes and track your mixing adventures. Later, when your print session is complete, you will want to transfer the essential information gathered to a hard copy.

OR, if you would rather not have separate sheets that may get lost, you might consider placing a second tabbed Better Divider between pages 138 and 139. My one hesitation with this idea is that the Better Divider pages are textural. The dry erase maker does indeed erase from this surface in a preliminary trial, though a very slight smudge remains. While this is not a problem immediately, I do wonder if, with time and repeated ‘off-market’ use like this, the page will become much more smudged and blurry. I cannot answer this question as yet.

And, of course, tracking pages and design notes can be tucked into the added Binder Pocket at the back. 

Perhaps you too might consider moving into and making your book wet studio ready! I think this is pretty snazzy.


Blog Hop Schedule

Remember, each blog hopper will give away a copy of Playful Fabric Printing, you must comment on that post to enter your name in the giveaway. Comment on every post!!

January 23: Melly Testa
http://melanietesta.com/blog/

Jan 24: Carol Soderlund
http://www.carolsoderlund.com/blog/

Jan 25: Lisa Chin
http://somethingcleveraboutnothing.blogspot.com

Jan 26: Julie Fei-Fan Balzer
http://www.balzerdesigns.typepad.com/

Jan 27: Judy Coates Perez
http://www.judycoatesperez.com

Jan 28: Carrie Bloomston
http://www.carriebloomston.com/blog/

Jan 28 Chris Dodsley as made by ChrissieD

Jan 29: Lynn Krawcyzk
http://smudgeddesignstudio.com

Jan 30: Leslie Tucker Jenison
http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com

Jan 31: Pokey Bolton
http://pokeybolton.com


Also, I would like to announce that Judy Tucker has won the fabric giveaway I announced on the Focus on Fabric Florida Style post.

Kitting, playfully. A secret revealed.

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I have a secret to start talking about!

I am working to release a line of stamps, stencils and Thermofax screens, all designed to coordinate and print interactively with one another (of course each tool can be used on its own too, which when you think of it-exponentially helps to print a huge and varied stash).

As a kit.

In support of the release of Playful Fabric Printing

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I will debut these kits at Craft Napa. And boy am I excited to be going there! The people! The classes! The food choices! OMG, the food.

I can honestly say, I am really excited to begin showing -you- the possibilities tucked into the awesomeness that is Playful Fabric Printing

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I am working on the release date for my upcoming stencil line now. I believe this will be in February. My stencil line is with a well loved and respected stencil maker in our community! Stay tuned!

At the same time, I am working to manufacture clear plastic stamps and I plan to release these kits to you, good reader, at that same time. This has been a huge leap of faith for me. I have never ‘manufactured’ anything before. I am happy to say, I am employing Americans to bring you these items. I am crossing my fingers that you see the value in them!

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The thing I am most excited about? For a limited time, each kit will contain a hand printed fat sixteenth, printed by me! A Melly Print! I believe it is important for you to have an example of the possibility contained in the tools I am offering.

Through the years of working as an artist, whose primary media is Procion MX dye, I am amazed at what Carol Soderlund and I have created in Playful Fabric Printing. It is my hope, that in offering coordinated stamp, stencil and Thermofax kits, it will jumpstart your love of the dye application, and provide you the opportunity to learn about motif making and repeat design, through a backdoor approach. 

More to come on this topic.

In April, I will be teaching at Focus on Fiber. I am excited about the possibility of using these kits in the classroom because I believe it will free us to experience dye tendencies and its interaction with the tools we use to print it. We will discuss motif making and make some tools of our own too! Of course! 

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It’s all a playful plan to get you printing along with us! 

I am working feverishly to complete the kits, gather the items, print cloth and create the packaging, I will address the cost of the kits and how you might obtain one of your own in the coming weeks. Please let me know if you are interested by posting a comment. 🙂

Thank you.

Focus on Fiber Florida Style

I will be teaching at Focus on Fiber Florida Style this coming April 4-8, 2017, and I would love to see you there!

The You Can’t Resist This! class explores the use of soy wax as a resist, combined with Procion MX dyes and mono printing, to create vibrant and uniquely textured prints. Soy wax is a food grade product, it’s biodegradable and it needs no special care to remove it from cloth. It’s a pretty savvy resist. Combining soy wax resist with mono printing allows for some pretty neat variation in textures and layering too. And of course dye leaves the fabric soft and supple, so your cloth will have a nice hand and be easy to use. 

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Soy wax has magical qualities that can be easily pushed and manipulated to great effect. The attributes of soy wax are quite different from the traditional paraffin wax, but can yield very similar results with tweaks and hacks that I would love to share with you.

Monoprint, Resist and Stamp: A Vibrant Still Life is a class based on many of the processes contained in my new book, Playful Fabric Printing. We will make our own fun foam stamps while learning about printing and over-printing. We will explore preserving specific areas of the design by use of freezer paper resist while playing with mono printing. And, we will use some of my multicolor print sets to print in repeat too. This class has a bit of everything in it.

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You will walk away with an understanding of how to plan and print your own designs while learning to use a multitude of techniques.

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I do hope you will join me and take a class with Focus on Fiber, the center is very highly regarded, the food is great and the artistic community will be fabulous.

The sun will come out tomorrow.

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I am walking the city, doing my thing, enjoying myself as I go. I prepare for a full day of Playful Fabric Printing.  My dyes are mixed, my stamps, stencils and TFax screens are ready. I will begin printing as soon as I get there.  In the meantime, it is Thursday and I like to do self care on Thursday mornings.  

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I like that it appears I am growing out this clay persons head. This is my selfie for the day, so you take selfies?
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The above is a You Can’t Resist This! Soy wax batik sample.

Today is another dance in public day. I must say, dancing in public is a public service. It is a smile generator!

Last week I was dancing in the subway. Two men were listening to big bubble headphones. The tall black man, who was so stylishly dressed, took his ear piece off to ask what I was listening to. I told him, ‘Shamir. Go buy everything he’s done’. 

I asked what he was listening to, Beyoncé’s Lemonade.  He was sheepish when he told me he was going to class and hadn’t listened to the music yet. I asked if he was taking a singing or dancing class, his response- no, a Black Lives Matter class. Now I want to purchase the album!

There was a scrawny white man wearing big bubble headphones too. He took his ear piece off to ask what I was listening to and I told him too. When I asked in return, he told me he was listening to Howard Stern. (Double YAWN), no dance possibilities there.

David and I are going to our first silent rave this weekend. 4 DJ’s, everyone wears headphones and dances. This means if we want to talk, we will be able to hear each other! Pinch me! This sounds like heaven on earth.  And! Disassociated dancing!

Hey!! Have you preorder a copy of Playful Fabric Printing? Please do.  I am cooking up some fun over here and I want you to play with me. I plan to create a teaser today! Stay tuned  

 

Pre-order your copy of Playful Fabric Printing!

Playful Fabric Printing has been placed for pre-order in the Crafting A Life, LLC shop! From now until January 10, the release date, you will receive the book free of shipping cost (within the U.S. using the code SHIPFREEUS at check out), and at a discounted rate. 

It’s quite the deal!!

This book is like no other book on dyeing in the market today. We present a color triangle of 28 colors, in four gradations. What this means is, we give you the recipes to mix exactly the color you choose. Repeatably!

We explain the use of motif or designs- printed in a free-form manner. Then we help you put those motifs into a repeat, which is a methodical way to build a stash of fabrics, we call this Speed Printing. Of course, we push these ideas further by showing you how to play with our ideas to make fabrics that pair well with one another. 

While you might think you need lots of space and technical equipment to do this? You don’t. In the book, we say you will need a card table, a bucket and some tenacity. This summer, I took to the streets of Manhattan and printed in public with nothing more than a 5 gallon bucket and lid, a spare few tools, and the will to do it! I call this Free Range Textile Printing. We understand you may not want to sit on a bucket to print, so we’ve made suggestions on how you might utilize the least amount of space, while still doing some great work, while using Procion MX dyes.

We want you printing the fabrics for and making quilts that are as unique as you are. And we feel assured that you will.

This book has been a long time coming and we are all really happy that the release will soon come upon us! We hope you take us up on the discounts and order your copy, TODAY!

 

 

 

Being inspired.

Sometimes I love nothing better than to open my eyes, and create the ability to see. What I mean by that is, when I go for a walk, I hope to see things the average ho-hum day might not reveal. I try to see peripherally, as if my sight was a one hundred and eighty degree bubble. I open my perception to what is all around me. I listen far, high, below and over. I challenge myself to remain fully open.

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When I came upon these bird prints in the sidewalk, pigeon prints, I assume, I was struck by how deep the imprints are. I imagined the surprise the bird must have felt as its feet sunk and smushed into the wet cement. As ever, I imaging similar footprints randomly printed on cloth.

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Our favorite local wine store is called Smith and Vine. We have been going there for years, they give us the local discount. 😉 We know the people who work there and laugh and joke around as we pay. Smith and Vine is moving closer to us. When the guy behind the counter told us about this, the painted tin walls popped out and became exciting again. I will miss this and I hope the next tenant values it.

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My good Man and I took a nice walk to Green-Wood cemetery this weekend, it’s my favorite place right now. We have spent many a great moment enjoying the quiet beauty of cemeteries, this is  a streak of calm within the realm of memory. Green-Wood is a particularly nice cemetery containing some historic remains, beautiful mausoleums, and interesting head stones. 

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The above two photographs were taken from the same head stone and we delighted in it. The oldest headstone (pictured in detail) was tightly surrounded by familial stones dating to today. This cemetery sprawls, gives great views of Manhattan, and provides quiet.

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I couldn’t resist the colors in this twig arrangement, olive green, salmon red, taupe and density. Being inspired is an activity. It is something we conjure, it is magic, fuel, faerie dust. It is no small thing.

What and how do you go about being inspired? How do you lean into inspiration and open your person to magic? Inquiring minds want to know.

Every day for a month?

I am happy to have come upon Cheryl’s blogging challenge. I am going to give it a heave ho. I won’t promise every single day, but I will promise, as often as possible. Even if all I do is post photos. 

This house makes me happy because of the daisies on the roof. 

This photo looks at my feet.

 

This photo looks at my head.

 

This is my view from my coffee cup at a shop called, Roots. 

I am in want of this print.

 

And I have found a new coffee destination. The grits are great. The coffee is dark. This is my kind of shop and it is less than a mile from home. I feel blessed. How are you?

Playful Fabric Printing Cover Partay!

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Playful Fabric Printing is going to be available in less than 2 months time! #PlayfulFabricPrinting 

WOOT!

Carol and I have been working hard to ensure the techniques we present are ready to go when you get this hot title in your hands. 

I have to say, this has been an exciting time, creatively. I have loved learning to use our process to print fabrics for use in quilts and quilt tops! Usable, functional hand-printed quilts! I have been designing, printing, piecing and quilting up a storm, in these last months. I am ready to begin sharing these works with you.

I say this with nerve wracking excitement.  I love what we are about to unleash. This book, this offering has been coming to fruition for such a long while and I am amazed it is coming to life! We are amazed.

This is the first coauthored book I have worked on. I can confidently say, Carol and I are really excited about -the whole shebang-.

For the record, here on my blog, I will speak just for myself, not both Carol and I. Unless it is generalized as above. Carol will be updating her blog , so please keep checking there too. I could not have done this book without Carol. We really worked diligently to curate the pages of Playful Fabric Printing. We worked like mad scientists, really. We could even say this book was written by way of FaceTime! I am ever grateful to you, Carol. I think we’ve done great. Thank you for working with me to present this title.

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In a nutshell, we have broken down the multicolor print process to such a degree as to assure your success in using Procion MX dye and printing colorful fabrics, easily! We use easily obtained art supplies; carving rubber, fun foam stamps, stencils and Thermofax screen printing, some quick and easy textural explorations and more. We wrap it up with a gallery of stunning quilts. This is so exciting. 

I will be setting up a Thermofax Screen Print service accessed through MelanieTesta.com in the next month and more!

I will dust the web site off too. And as ever, The Clever Guild will open soon!!! I promise. I have been working as fast as I can. My email from The Clever Guild is broken, and I -just- figured this out. I need to tighten up the ship over here! Please excuse me as I fix and primp.

I have so many great initiatives in the works!! I really look forward to unpacking all the awesome things I have been working to bring to fruition. I hope you are interested!! Please let’s begin using the comments function here on my blog. I would like to keep my blog active and social media secondary to it. 🙂

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This jewel of a photo was stylized by Pokey and Indigo Perez. I love the vision of this grouping of fabrics. This would make for a very pleasing group of fabrics to both piece and quilt! It’s total eye candy.

Pokey Bolton has a new look and domain name to her personal website. AND!

Today she launched a cover contest for Playful Fabric Printing. Do not pass go! Vote! OH. Pokey will be giving 5 copies away, so make sure to leave a comment on her blog!.

Inspired Journaling

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Make no mistake, I love keeping a journal. I have years worth of journals, some with spines broken, some half filled, some with every page painted. I keep no specific rules about my journals, if I don’t like a drawing or spread, I feel no compunction to keeping it for posterity or the ability to prove to myself that I have grown in talent or skill.

Nope.

I paint over that stuff! They are my books, it’s my time, they are my supplies. 

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Sometimes, I gather items together with no plan about how I might use them. This page began in this manner. When going through my ephemera, I came across a hand typed page with the date, July 2, 1937 on it. A quick trip into the land of internet showed me that Amelia Earhart went missing on this -same day-. I have always admired Amelia for her unconventional nature and beauty, it was an exciting connection to tuck into and explore visually.

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And sometimes, I just want to play around with a page, see where it goes without focus or a will to make the page balanced, composed, or meaningful in any way. These pages are like a stew of All-The-Things! Scribbling, stencil use, written words, playful patterning all contribute to completing the page.This type page will often help me open up to new methods of using the same old tools.

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This page is a complete and total cover up!! Twice over! I like to daydream about what a forensic restoration artist would find, were they to dig deeply into my journals and paintings. But I already know. They would find drawings under paintings, under collage with some more paint on top. 

This page must have been awful, originally, because I first collaged newsprint, then boldly applied black paint atop that. I remember thinking, ‘where do I go from here!’ Well, when using acrylic paints, the sky is the limit! All the while, Arrow, my cat at the time, was putting his glamour on. It was easy to ascertain my subject matter from there!

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And you know? Sometimes, I just draw! Because it feels good. Because I need something to do. Because I like to. 

When I am creatively stymied, looking through my journals helps to bolster and shift my perspective. Some journal pages serve to inform new pieces of art. Some help me create new motifs. Some are studies for larger works. Others are just crappy meanderings in the funk of my brain. And that is OK! So long as I pick up the latest journal and continue to get ideas on the page.

Interested in learning from me and with me? I have 8 spots left in my Inspired Journaling class at Craft Napa.  😛 

Teaching: Focus on Fiber Florida Style

I am very happy to say, I have been invited to teach two classes and give a lecture at Focus on Fiber Florida Style.
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My first class is called, Monoprint, Resist and Stamp: A Vibrant Still Life. This class is based on my Live your Brightest Life contribution to Yvonne Porcella’s tribute of the same name. While this may look complex, the class will break down the steps necessary to build and layer similar imagery while utilizing mono-printing, freezer paper resist and stamping methods together with Procion MX dyes.

And here is my finished tribute, to show what you might do with your printed works! 

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My second class is called You Can’t Resist This! and is a class that combines soy wax resist with the use of Procion MX dyes. This class is my most popular class, especially when I teach it with dyes. Soy wax is a great resist, easy to wash out, it’s inexpensive and provides great result! 

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I will be giving a lecture on what it takes to present a craft book proposal too!

I have only heard good things about this retreat. The facility is supposed to be great, the food gets positive reviews and they bring some pretty great teachers together. I do hope you will sign up!

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I need a little help getting the word out about this, so I am going to do a give-away!!! Maybe you or someone you know would like to take a class with me, maybe you have friends who live in or near Florida, or who might travel with you to attend the class!  I would love to work with you. And your friends.

This is a two step sign up:

1. Please share the link to THIS post to Facebook AND tag me in the body of the post.

2. Please leave a comment to this post too.

and well, here is what I would like to give away:

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6 pieces of Melly Prints! These are 9×11″ (or so) and all are original handprints! Please share and comment!

Playful Fabric Printing


All the work we have been putting in is coming to fruition! My coauthored book with Carol Soderlund has a name, Playful Fabric Printing, and release date (January 10, 2017!!! With the ability to preorder soon), I am in Houston hoping to find editorial placement for what feels like a boatload of goods. In true quilterly fashion, I went to the NYC Metro Mod Quilt guild and asked my fellow members to help me make quilt tops from my hand prints. I am so grateful!

I have also been busy making my handprints into quilts! In the last two years, since we started writing Playful Fabric Printing, I have accrued quite a lot of printed cloth. And why print cloth, if you don’t make something out of it! In preparing for Quilt Market my main goal in quilt making was to show how to combine hand printed cloth with commercially available fabrics. Above you see Leslie Tucker Jenison’s Urban Artifacts line combined with my prints. Of course Leslie’s new line goes well with my handprints! They both have a fabulous painterly feel.

And I am really happy that the Genderless Fae Quilt is complete!

Breast Cancer And Taco Shots

It has been five and a half years since my breast cancer diagnosis. Little did I understand the impact and changes that would occur within my person and my life because of this. In many ways, it has made me into a better person, fortified my beliefs, made me stronger and more confident. It has also challenged me to my core, stirring uncomfortable emotions that can be difficult to reconcile.

There are the physical changes to my person, my breastlessness. But there is also the side effects of the ongoing drug treatment, depression and anxiety that do not abate. As I have stepped away from acute treatment, and begun to resume life with cancer as one aspect in the over all picture of who Melanie Testa is, I learn to manage these ‘side effects’. Even if I wish I didn’t need to experience them.

My choices related to breast cancer have an effect in my primary relationship too.

In the last few years, I have embraced my overarching goal to help create space for women like myself, who choose not to reconstruct by participating in awareness raising campaigns and photo shoots. I did it because I believe that visual representation for all body types is important.

Melanie Testa photographed by Esther Hasse for perfektUNperfekt

And I have done this while my Man, beautiful person that he is, has floundered to understand and grasp his place in this story. To grasp -his loss- of my breasts. Breast cancer and the effects of treatment are long lasting and far reaching, you see.

Last September, I traveled and met up with 13 other breastless women, people, all seeking to participate in a photoshoot highlighting the diverse beauty and sexuality that we continue to possess, no matter the bodily changes breast cancer has forced upon us. I allowed myself to be the sexy, beautiful person that I am, while striving to take back my own sexual prowess after breast cancer treatment. 

Photography by Esther Haase

We had individual portraits taken, small group photos, and we took to the streets of Berlin, smoke machines, photographers and video cameras in tow, as we made a scene. We dressed as gang members, we didn’t smile, we embodied our toughest persona. We were and are a gang!

Photography by Esther Haase

It was empowering and exciting, to say the least. I balled my eyes out, it was such a huge experience. I met awesome people too. We got some gorgeous photos out of it. Me, in nothing but thigh high leather boots. Never in my life would I have thought I would do anything the like.

So, as we are diagnosed at a younger age, sex and sexuality-post breast cancer treatment, is becoming a necessary field to explore. Our mates and partners need a pathway into this discussion too. They need visuals. Visibility is key in every respect. For the survivor-of course, for our partners and mates, for all of us, really. 

Historically speaking, our sickness has been kept secret, prothesis and reconstruction replace our loss, wigs cover our bald heads until our hair grows back, we move on quietly. This is an acceptable way to go about it, of course. 

But thankfully, in recent years, we have begun to break down this barrier of silence by embracing our changed bodies as simply, the vessels that they are. Intrinsically beautiful. We are questioning and removing the ‘binds’ that stop us from talking about our changed bodies, while we adamantly refuse to be ‘quiet and move on’, because cancer is serious, and we need to find a cure.

And we become good friends as we reach deeply into the wealth of our very person, the beauty of who we really are, while a camera catches it all. Thank you good people, thank you for being my flat friends. Thank you for helping me find my sexy.

photography by Esther Haase

This is perfektUNperfekt, photography by Esther Haase.

P.S. I named this post provocatively, using the slang ‘Taco Shot’ because I don’t seem to shy away from full body nudity. You may remember my Grace portrait. 🙂


One more thing, the larger picture to the above body-positive-post-cancer-treatment essay? Stage four needs more attention. Our stage four sisters and brothers need our help in turning the tide from ‘pink profiteering’ (Komen) to funding research that saves lives.

Check out METAvivor, if you want to donate to breast cancer research.

#dontignorestageiv

#freerangetextileprinter

So this is a whole new dealio. 

I have taken my printing out and about, I am becoming The Free Range Textile Printer in NYC.

In our upcoming book, Carol Soderlund and I contend that all you need to possess in order to begin printing your own fabrics, is a bucket and a card table! And, well? I am here to tell you, you don’t need the card table!! Wooho!!!

You do need access to water.  But most major parks in NYC have a bathroom! 

See? Easy!!!

This is a fun short post, I will happily go into more detail about small space printing, if you re interested! If so, leave a comment.

I really don’t want to go on about things that are uninteresting!!

Art Quilt Collage: A Creative Journey in Fabric, Paint and Stitch, Book Release Blog Hop with Video Chats!

First, I just want to say, I love Deborah Boschert, her art and her person. I feel blessed to know her and great gratitude that her talent calls her to write about her process. Deborah is just releasing, Art Quilt Challenge, A Creative Journey in Fabric, Paint and Stitch.

Deborah asked me to read Art Quilt Challenge and to have a discussion with her about symbols, which really turned into an eye opening endeavor for me.

Deborah and I both use symbols and symbolism in our work. Deborah clearly lays out how to find and access symbols that resonate with you, helps you attach meaning to those symbols and then illustrates different methods to using those symbols in your work. 

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Within the pages of Deborah’s book she uses chairs, a bowl, a ladder. These all have very different meanings to Deborah, than they do for me, or you-probably. Symbols are a means of visually communicating idea. As we learn to express ourselves artistically, it is a good idea to apply meaning to the symbols we use, even if we never tell anyone what our intended meaning is! And, of course, the viewer of the artwork brings their own history, interpretations and personal connections to what they are seeing.

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Chairs, in my own artwork, speak to the human form. Chairs are made for humans. Walking into a room with chairs lets you know, you can relax. There is symbiosis between people and chairs. And so, when it comes to my art, when I use a chair in artwork, I am working with ideas related to people, bodies, and -who- might use that perch.

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Deborah thinks about the -activity- that can be done in a chair when she describes ‘quietly embracing the opportunity to be restful, but not idle or inactive’. This was an ‘aha moment’ for me, that illustrates, symbols really do have a wide array of meaning, artistically speaking. And each of us applies meaning in ways that are meaningful to us individually.

So, if you are feeling like you would like to explore your own use of symbols, and would like to unpack and use some innovative and fresh techniques, I do hope you will purchase a copy of Deborah book. Deborah’s book covers design, composition, collage, surface design, stitch by hand and machine, as well as finishing techniques, walking you through the entire process, while helping you understand it with deeper meaning. Beside which, Art Quilt Collage is eye candy!

I am happy to be giving away a copy of Deborah’s book! Leave a comment here on the blog telling us about symbols that you often use in your artwork. I will choose a lucky winner on October 7. ________________________________________

Check out the other participants in the blog hop:

September 19: C&T Publishing and Editor Lynn Koolish

September 20: Teri Lucas, Generation Q Magazine

September 21: Susan Brubaker Knapp 

September 22: Sue Bleiweiss

September 23: Lyric Kinard 

September 26: Lori Kennedy

September 27: Maria Shell

September 28: Jane LaFazio

September 29: Judy Coates Perez

September 30: Melanie Testa

This Shrikes my fancy!

I really can’t wait for The Book that Carol Soderlund and I have been working on to come into print! While I can’t go into specific detail about this, I can give broad overviews as to what you might expect to learn. So here goes.

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As artists, it is suggested that we find a subject matter we are passionate about and to apply ourselves and our artwork to this. We do this in order to work in series and to show continuity of subject matter. I have chosen birds and even more specifically, the Audubon list of Common Birds in Decline as my focus. (Unfortunately, Audubon has not updated their web site in such a way that all the links work properly, the above link shows the full list of birds, at least).

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Loggerhead Shrike is number 18 on this list. Delving deeply into acquiring knowledge of this bird began by drawing a Shrike from the pages of a birding magazine. From there I went on to inform myself about this bird, learning that it is a meat eating songbird who uses tools, like barb wire to kill it’s prey. This bird can sometimes be misidentified as a Northern Mockingbird, because of its color and size. It can also be mistaken for a hawk because its meat eating beak is sharply curved, to make it all the easier to eat its prey.

When bringing these facts to the design table, it is important to illustrate just the essentials. As you can see, when looking at the stamped image of the print, above, I chose to illustrate the curved beak and this birds propensity to use tools to kill it’s prey. These are two things that distinctly differentiate the Loggerhead Shrike from the Northern Mockingbird.

Note: A ‘strike off’ is a first printing of a stamp or tool.

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I love printing cloth to be used in quilts, so the Loggerhead Shrike print was paired with two differently sized feather prints and some commercial solids to help fill out the yardage necessary to make a quilt.

Melly quilt

And while, I have not illustrated how to make the tools for this particular design, the above quilt will be featured in our upcoming book with Crafting a Life, LLC. Directions on how to place your own most favored subject matter into repeat will be covered-in detail.

I know that I often choose some pretty detailed imagery to work with, so I followed Carol’s suggestion to teach the effective use of motif and repeat by using more simple and approachable motifs than Loggerhead Shrikes! That is what working with a coauthor and friend does!! I hope you are as excited to learn these techniques and ideas as we are in being able to share them with you!

mixing for my bucket, while watching textile related documentaries

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Friday will be my printing in public debut, so today, I am mixing up a palette and packing up my bucket. I see one bucket apron modification that I would like to make before Friday. I need to make sure the lid stays attached to the bucket in transit. I also need to soda soak some cloth.

In other words, I am having a day in the studio.

In the meantime, I am watching The First Monday in May, which I highly recommend. It is the most perfect accompaniment to working with fabric in the studio. Unfortunately, I did not see the Met show connected to the movie, but I am happy to have watched tthe movie. I cried when they mentioned Alexander McQueen. I was riveted to see Bill Cunningham, who just passed away this year (and if you haven’t seen the documentary called Bill Cunningham New York, you should watch this too). And, I admire Anna Wintour and her wintery, cold presentation. So watching this documentary was a win! 

Oh, and if you have not seen The September Issue? Do.

If you have any suggestions as to what I should watch while working in my studio, please leave a comment.

 

 

 

Buckets’ debut, modest but impactful.


We honor Ganesh here at CASA M&D, so when I came upon his likeness this morning, I snapped this photo. The sun is just beginning to shine upon him. He gave a smile. I gladly took it. I am sitting in a favorite coffee shop to work and blog outside the apartment.  

It has so far, been a very productive day, and it is just past 9:15. 


I snapped this self portrait last night, and just had to share it here. It’s fun to see myself, inside a pig who is wearing a bow.

I have had my first outing with The Bucket. Me and my bucket are going to follow a rainbow together, a very colorful rainbow. This is just the beginning.

We walked a few blocks to Mazzone hardware. The bucket needs some carriage bolts, nuts and washers, so I took the little lady out for a spin. I decided to take the bucket because it helps me understand the weight of the bucket, while placing me in context -with- the bucket. 

Printing in public means I will need to –talk to people– about what the heck I am doing. (Crazy lady things!) 

I mean, I do question going out into the wilds of NYC to print in public parks! But you know what? When I was going through treatment for breast cancer, I kept asking myself, what happens if you don’t do-such and so. What happens if I don’t follow my passions and whims. I could die not having done them, that’s what. And rather than let that happen, I’ve decided to do the things! I can come up with some pretty wild ideas. And this one, printing in public, is pushing me outside my comfort zone. 


My neighbor Dee was sitting outside her place, so I decided to try my crazy out on her. It went really well. Dee wanted to know about my bucket even before I had placed it in front of her and introduced both myself and the item at hand. Phew. That was easy. Dee likes the bucket and the idea. Cool. 

Who doesn’t like a nice bucket?


So this is Mazzone’s hardware. I tried to get one of the employees to pose with me and my bucket, but that was a no go. I think this was a great success anyway! I spoke with the nice lady, told her about my project and I asked if she might want to be featured on my blog. She contemplated the idea, but declined and I went ahead with my recon mission. I feel this was very successful! Part of my mission was accomplished in this exchange. Nice.

I went on to photograph my bucket in front of the store instead.  


I don’t know how to utilize these just yet. I did not purchase them. But… Don’t you think Bucket needs wheels? 

My hesitation to include the wheel starts with the added weight, but it is also contingent on another factor, the bucket must remain viable to holding water. There will be no holes in this bucket. I think this means that I might need a wooden platform to apply the wheels to… And again, that means added weight to carry. But wheels mean movement and that sounds like fun. I could also see pulling my bucket like a pull toy.


And here is bucket in the bolt aisle! It looks comfortable, don’t you think?

The other question I keep asking myself is, what does it mean -to you- to be a textile artist, in NYC, in 2016? 

And to this, I continually respond, it is totally up to ME, what that means. 

So if I want to use NYC as my studio, alright. And if I want to use motif and textile design to explore my world, so be it. This is my art form.  But as I begin to print in parks around the city, I want to have a secondary goal. The secondary goal is that I want to design a print based on the entire experience. I want to see a NYC landmark in the print. I will take pictures at each park and use them as motifs in the print. 

I hope you will follow along as I do! This is going to be fun.

Overall this was a great first outing.

Nudity, Art and Quilt Art

Recently the quilt world was aflutter with talk of penises, and I became embroiled in the discussion-of course.

The American Quilter’s Society, known as AQS, chose to pull Kathy Nida’s artwork titled, I Was Not Wearing A Life Jacket, from a SAQA show because of a complaint that there was a penis depicted. In Kathy’s own words, ‘There was no penis‘. Abby Glassenberg wrote a great essay on How AQS Mishandled the Online Fallout After pulling Kathy Nida’s Quilts, which is a great introduction to how the story unfolded. SAQA responded with this statement, which, in my opinion, is serviceable with a noticeable wish to connect and explain. AQS, on the other hand, buried its head in the sand.

In an effort at full disclosure, I am hesitant to speak about SAQA’s part in this debacle, because I stopped renewing my membership with the group years ago- and I feel my points would be stronger, were I to be an active member. Even still, I have been reevaluating what groups, magazines and venues might help me get my work seen while also helping me connect to our shared community. I have not yet renewed my membership to SAQA, though they are top on my list of possibilities.

I would like to back up to 2007 or so, when I put the label on Gentle, seen below.

Gentle

When I began making Gentle, I was a member of SAQA, and I was showing a lot of work with my local group. It was fun, I met great people, we were able to find some great venues, and my confidence bloomed while my resume grew. This is everything an artist could want in a membership of this type. 

While quilting Gentle, a friend remarked, “Why make an image of a nude male with penis visible, it will never get shown in the quilt world”. 

And alas, it never did.

I entered it into as many shows as I could, both through my SAQA group and in the larger quilt show community. But it never gained acceptance into a quilt show. Conversely, Repose and Wandering in the Garden have not had any problems with gaining visibility or acceptance into shows or magazines. But, we are conditioned to see and accept the female nude body, so it is easy to see why they both gained acceptance.

I understand that AQS has their own agenda, one that does not seem to be aligned with embracing artistic expression to the degree that Kathy’s artwork might require. SAQA, at least, took ownership of their part by admitting their contract allowed for this to occur and suggesting that they will continue to look for galleries and museums to show works.

But, the fact that the artwork was taken down?

That is censorship. 

Women and women’s art isn’t always pretty, it’s not always easy to view, but it -is- pretty hard to see (this Gorilla Girls poster was created in 2012). Head over to the Gorilla Girls website for more interesting but sad facts about women’s art getting seen. 

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I must acknowledge, the quilting world does a great job of getting quilts seen. So when a show instantly backs a single viewer and removes a piece of art without question, it’s it is both startling and disheartening. And for them to remove a piece of art for containing -a nonexistent- penis, is questionable (and sad too). 

I don’t really think the censorship we have experienced with AQS has much to do with male nudity but rather with difficult, uncomfortable, and devisive subject matter within a predominately female artistic media. To remove Kathy’s work based on the false premise of a penis depiction, is tantamount to saying, ‘that is not pretty enough’, ‘that makes me uncomfortable’, because there was no penis

I love and appreciate that we quilters have made a huge community of traveling quilt shows and venues. We have created our own subculture and we are making sure that quilts get -signed and seen- as the art they are. But I would hope that we would think long and hard before censoring the subject matter we see at these shows.  All it takes is -walking past work that does not resonate with you-.

Kathy’s artwork was removed because of a false accusation. AQS did not question the validity of the claim, did not contact the artist, and it refuses to acknowledge the issue through social media. This type action can result in questioning the content we choose to explore as artists, forcing us to answer difficult questions like, ‘Do I make this piece, even if I won’t be able to get it shown?’ ‘Is this subject matter too difficult?’ ‘Do I follow where my muse takes me, or do I make work that is safe and acceptable?’

I know from personal experience that these questions have great impact. I have not made another male nude because I was so bummed about not being able to get Gentle seen. 

Fortunately, this will soon change. Spool owned by Maddie, Flaun and family, have invited me to show Gentle along side Kathy Nida’s two pieces, I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket and Fully Medicated, during AQS Quilt Week, September 14-17 2016.

Social media has had a unifying affect on the quilt world. I have been really excited, invigorated and happy to be a member of the quilt world in the face of these happenings. The rift created by Modern Quilt Guild (I am talking about the derivative discussion) paired with this AQS debacle have shed light on the passion, connection and strength contained within our diverse community. It also serves to illustrate introspection and a willingness to grow and change. 

All great stuff!

Because of all of this, I want to stress, DO NOT allow the censorship of Kathy Nida’s artwork to have an effect on your willingness to discuss difficult subject matter in your quilts and quilt art. It is not our job as artists to appease our audience or to make our work palatable to venues (and viewers) who do not have our best interest in mind.

And, you never know, you may find an advocate for the beauty of the human body, wanting to show your work, during the same week as the AQS show. All because you showed up, voiced your thoughts and opinions, and you care.

And to that I say:

Spool Kertay Penis

Please stop by Spool to see Kathy Nida’s two works, I was not wearing a Life Jacket and Fully Medicated and my own piece, Gentle! Say hello to Maddie and Flaun.

AND! They will have pins with the above sentiment to wear to the AQS show! 

I would love it if you wore a pin, photographed yourself in front of Kathy’s work and post it to social media with the hashtag #AQS. You might also choose to point out the penis in Gentle, to give them an anatomy lesson. ♥

Busking! Two buckets, an apron, freedom.

I have always valued a good bucket.

Opportunity for creativity never strays far from a good bucket. I mean, when there is a bucket near by, you can rinse brushes, soak stamps, do low water immersion dyeing. And that’s not all! When I was a kid, my dad upholstered a lid that fit perfectly on a 5 gallon bucket providing us a cushioned seat to rest on while fishing. I have never lost sight of this ideal scenario and it seems, I have cottoned onto an adult opportunity to utilize and make a new padded throne!

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See the mad glimmer in my eye? I just spent upwards of 25$ on a:

5 gallon bucket

2 5 gallon bucket lids

1 2 gallon bucket

and a 

Bucket Tool Organizer Extreme

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And I am about to upholster my bucket lids with Melly fabrics….

So, what, you might ask, is Melly up to?

I am going to try busking, as a textile artist in NYC!

Sometimes, you get a weird idea, that just won’t let you go. And when it happens, you kinda just need to do it. So, I am.

I love public displays of art. I love doing art, embroidery, stitch work and drawing in public, so why not try printing while out and about? I mostly work solitary, staying in my studio, but, recently, I have come to thinking, “maybe there is a way to be less solitary, and to still be able to print!

I have scoped out Washington Square Park, which I think will be a good entry into doing this. I may need to ask some gal pals to come visit and help me, at least the first time. But, I am going to do it.

I have bought the items, and now I will whip up a quilted blank to upholster the bucket lid! Wish me luck. I will keep you posted.

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