The Final Carve?

This has been an interesting repeat to carve. I love floral motifs and roses printed on cloth. Carving a rose by hand is a great challenge.

Drawing and depicting roses is not easy, there are so many curved petals! Then, you need to figure out how to carve it in an elegant hand. I like to carve in stages, printing a copy at each major stopping point. In this case, I printed on both copy paper and cloth, so that I could evaluate the printed artifacts. It turns out, I want to see some shaded areas on the dark half of each rose.

Now, I prepare to remove the last bit of shading in the rose. I am plotting my course and thinking through how to go about it. I really like this carving and I do not want to mess up!

Wish me luck. 

 

Finding the lines through the drawing.

I love carving rubber. My mind and body reduce to nothingness as I watch the blade slip beneath the surface of the rubber, butt up against the pencil mark and lift the rubber away. I become calm and centered, my mind lets go, and I am free. It is bliss.

I begin by carving away the ‘bright’ half of each rose. I have not resolved how I would like the ‘dark’ half of the flower to be carved. I will leave that alone until I have a vision. So, there is tension and hope for a great outcome.

Life is good. How about you? Tell me about you.

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Bird Buta Motif Making

This week, I finished steaming and washing the Buta prints. Then, I went and bought a magnifying glass, which makes me want to design and carve! This is a perfect opportunity for me. It means I can cut and piece a new quilt top, but also design and start thinking about my next my next print job.


I am not quite out of the woods, in wanting to work with the Buta motif. A Buta is a small medallion shaped motif, which is often, but not limited to, a floral type design. It usually repeats in a tight, strict repeat. Rather than continuing to work with floral Buta motif, I decided to try placing a bird surrounded by a ‘medallion’ shaped branch.

The above image shows the carving at the half-way point. The background needs to be removed. I always stop at just the point, make a strike off and print a few on cloth, before proceeding to the finish mark. This has been so much fun to carve. I look forward to completing this!

 

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One more thing. So often, folks will ask, how long did it take you to carve this? I started this design on Saturday night. It will probably take 8 hours, in total, to complete, and I am being generous. It can be used for years, though! So the time it took to carve really means nothing, especially when compared with what I might make of it. 🙂

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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. 🙂

An Exciting Reveal: Crafting a Life LLC, Carol Soderlund and Melly Testa

It has been pretty quiet here and today is the day to break that silence.

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A project I have been working on, with my good friend Carol Soderlund, is coming to fruition. And better still, we can now reveal, we are working with Pokey Bolton and Crafting a Life, LLC to bring this project to life!

We are writing a book on multicolor printing using Procion MX dye, our favorite medium! My smile is so big, I can hardly stand it.

Carol and I are both fiends for color, we love quilting, cloth, printing and motif making. And we seek to lure you into our printed fold! In writing this book, we strive to present a seamless and easily approachable foray into printing cloth and using it-in your next quilt. (I would love to go on making puns, but, I will stop there. It gets tiring!) But it is true. Carol and I have been ironing out the descriptives to some pretty awesome techniques! (The puns!!!)

Soon, some time soon, we will have a printed book to show for our efforts. And Crafting a Life, LLC is printing our book. Can I say, OMG? Pinch me, please! 

We are all quite excited to tell you about this project!!

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This book will discuss motif making, loose and formal repeat printing and many other printing techniques. And it will act as a printers workbook. 

The materials used to print the cloth are readily available; carving rubber, fun foam, stencil plastic and Thermofax screens. We present a simple method of working with color and gradation that is both unique and accessible. Basically, we have removed the learning curve related to mixing and using color and set the stage for you to begin printing your own unique textile designs with ease.

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We’ve been diligent in finding solutions for those who have little space, but are still drawn to expressing themselves creatively by printing unique and personalized cloth. And we present methods to enable you to print yardage too. 

Fabrics combined with commercial fabrics

To say this makes me happy is an understatement. To work with Carol is an honor. To have finally figured out how to print in repeat without a fancy studio or special equipment? Priceless. The fact that Crafting a Life, LLC and Pokey are supporting our efforts by printing, what I believe will be, hope will be, the surface design book of a generation? This is a complete and total blessing.

Thank you Pokey.

As we come closer to day when you can hold this book in your hands, we hope you will visit our blogs and social media accounts. I will be printing and piecing a quilt top as blog content, with updates to my personal FB, my Melanie Testa-Artist page and my Instagram page.

Follow Carol’s blog, Living Color, here. FB. Insta

Read Pokey’s Ponderings, and her post about Publishing Again. FBInsta 

The Peacock Quilt by Melly T

Big contented sigh.

It took energy and focus to prepare for Craft NAPA and I am glad to say, The Peacock Quilt is helping me transition back into studio life. And as it comes to completion, I am beginning to think of my next project. I am not as excited about finishing the Peacock Quilt as I am to start printing the fabric for NEW quilt!! 

Pinata

My next quilt is going to be a baby or ‘craft’ sized quilt, because I won some wool quilt batting from the BERNINA sewing machine piñata at Pokey’s Art Barn party. And I feel assured that it will be an extra special quilt because of its emergence from the piñata. I mean, just look at that thing. It is and was magic. And, I have never used wool batting before.

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Even though I am excited about moving on to a new project, I do have some more straight lines to quilt. I am using Aurifil Mako 12 weight cotton to machine quilt. I love dense ‘straight line’ machine quilting (None of my lines are anywhere near straight!). This thread shows off the sheen of its cotton fibers wonderfully at a lengthened stitch of just under ‘4’ on my BERNINA 1001. This stitch length is pretty long, but it’s a perfect length to show the thread off!

I will just keep swimming, and get this quilt finished! I look forward to snapping a photo and doing a finished reveal!! Soon.

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In the meantime, it seems like it might be a good time to flip through my design journal and see what designs are calling to be printed, expanded upon and colored. I love what I am learning about printing cloth.

Evaluating how big a quilt I would like to make, comparing that to the motifs I would like to use, then beginning to print those designs, is a magical process. I have come to understand how important tonal, textural and single color prints are. These simple, often single colored prints are work horses in the design of the quilt top, they provide a resting place for the eye and they contrast well with the more densely designed and multicolor prints. 

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