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.

dsc_0234

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

dsc_0235

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

dsc_0236

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!

dsc_0233

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! 

img_6869

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. 

Soy2

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.

img_7002

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.