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. ūüôā

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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.  ūüėõ 

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. ūüôā


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.

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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.