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!