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!

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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! 

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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

 

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.

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.  😛 

Stitches pile up, life and CraftNAPA: an update

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It has been more than 2 weeks since returning from the magical event called Craft NAPA. I feel blessed to have participated. I stood among friends, watched their connection to one another, ate chocolate covered strawberries and drank deep cups of coffee while also teaching and meeting new friends.

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This is the view from Pokey’s art barn. Like so many of you, I have watched the blazing beauty that Pokey spins wherever she goes. To watch her build this barn, to see Crafting a Life unfold, to participate in her first event is an amazing endeavor. I feel gratitude, and I am honored to know her and to be able to lend my talents to her efforts.

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Indigo Perez is such a lovely person. I have watched her unfurl her wings and fledge the nest of my good friend Judy over these last few years. I have to say, Indigo is so talented, such a good person, I couldn’t wait to hug her. 

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Here are Pokey, Larissa and I. Both of these women are crazy mad talented. Larissa took my, You Can’t Resist This! soy wax resist with paint class. Her color sense and use is amazing. Not to mention, she now owns a class sample I donated to raise funds for Okizu, an organization that helps families affected by childhood cancers. 

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Jamie Fingal, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Pokey, Judy Coates PerezJane LaFazio and I recreated a photograph we took perhaps 8 years ago at MIU in Long Beach Quilt Festival. What an amazing group of people. This photo mash up was taken by Jamie.

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Midge and Libby became fast friends. I now own pieces of art made by each of these women. Happy sigh.

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Cheryl Sleboda and I were able to connect too.  She is a powerhouse. Smart, sassy and fun. Go check out her website! I bought one of her skull tShirts!

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You Can’t resist This!! Class photo.

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Journal Embroidery class photo.

Unfortunately I did not get a photo of my Small Works/Big Impact class. I am sorry about that. 

My take away from participating in this great event? I can see Craft NAPA being a creative home away from home, one that I look forward to visiting yearly. The food offerings, 8 Noodle, OxBow Market, the Napa Valley Art store? The community and commeraderie in this event sparkled bright. I hope I am asked to teach again, and I would love to take a class too.

There are so many more photos that I could have put in this post. I think I am going to upload them to Facebook instead. 🙂 Great fun, friendship, learning, and wine blending! So good, I still feel the glow of having had a great time.


 

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Upon my return and in wanting to establish creative balance after the participating in this great event, I have been stitching away the days. I am compiling a new class content for The Clever Guild. It feels great to be engaged with my creative process again and I look forward to providing opportunities to connect and learn from one another. I hope you will follow along as I dust off the site and start having some fun with it.

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I am hoping a few of you might volunteer to take the class (for free-of course), I would love some help in making sure the content is amazing. Stitch work, questions and participation is required. If you are interested, please leave a comment on this post and I will contact you with more information.

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I have been pushing the limits of layering and stitch and am quite pleased with my results. The Gather your Sew-plies purse is a great format to learn about and play around with stitch. The main purse piece is 6×14″, which makes it large enough to make a great purse, but small enough that filling it with stitch is an enjoyable affair.

Please speak up if you would like to be on my Journal Stitch crew.


 

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And then we get caught up to last night, when Joules Evans arrived in Brooklyn to attend the opening at Site:Brooklyn called American Road Trip. This is the first time Joules has had a piece shown in a gallery, and for it to be a great Brooklyn Gallery is no small feat. Congratulations Joules.

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To celebrate Joules’s accomplishment, Isis Charise photographer of Grace, Joules and I attended the opening and then walked over to Bar Tano to toast, eat and be merry. These women have been a strength and a balm to me. 

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Life is better than good.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

Loving Goodness

 

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Happy Holidays, all. May peace reside within each of us, this year, this day, this moment. Life is short. Let’s all enjoy every minute of it.

We have just returned from a holiday visit with family. We ate great food. Lasagna, salads, bread. Ham with all the sides. Nuts, a cheese ball. Shrimps. Hugs, family, TV and talk. We took a walk with my brother and Sister in Law. And received great gifts. A great cooking pan, a bracelet I have been wanting for a very long time. Some tank tops from Buy Me Brunch. And I am happy to say, my brother and Sister in Law will be visiting Brooklyn quite soon. Life is good.

I would like to Thank You for your support and encouragement this year! I have begun blogging again and am enjoying sharing my artistic progress with you. Thank you for coming here and checking in. I am thankful to be able to teach at Craft NAPA, and I plan to blog about my adventures. I hope you will stick with me and enjoy it with me. If you want specific pictures or info, comment please!

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This week, I walked to Public House 61 and had coffee while stitching. I spent a couple hours enjoying myself, one stitch at a time. These last few weeks have been oddly stressful. After pulling a muscle in my back, I had an oncology appointment and, of course, my Dr. ordered scans, the first in the last 5 years. I knew it was nothing to worry about, but it did also worry me, to think this might well be cancer related. I was diagnosed 5 years ago, January 11. I do have fear of recurrence, so stitch, which slows time down to a single movement, a small action, that piles up and reveals itself over time, is meditation. It is the perfect antidote to stress.

And! No evidence of Disease at this time. I have a herniated disk, which requires much walking. Deal!! I will take it. 

The coffee shop is one mile away, they open at 7:30 A.M. So, I Gather my Sew-plies!! purses and a project, and go sew for a cuppa. And then walk home again. Win! In the photo just above this video, you can see my project bag and preferred stitching notions, wax and needles. 

I am working my newest Gather your Sew-plies!! purse. It is a class sample. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

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Journaling with Fabric and Embroidery at Craft NAPA

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As you can see from these photos of my class samples for Craft NAPA, the possibilities are exponential when Journaling with Fabric and Embroidery. The Gather your Sew-plies!! purse is a sewing chatelaine or purse that holds the essentials of what you will need to sew on the go. The purse is very small in size, making it a great ‘canvas’ to try out some playful and innovative embroidery techniques. 

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Embroidery thread is such a satisfying media. Six strand embroidery floss can be used as is, for a chunky burst of color, or it can be whittled down to three or four strands, two strands, or even just a single strand to make your mark. Marks, memories and a mixed media approach to embroidery is what this class is about. We will explore using stencils to create patterns, we will simplify and use imagery found in our surroundings, we will work to accentuate positive and negative space and experiment with sheer fabrics too. 

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All while making a purse that contains everything you will need to move about your sewing studio or better yet, to sew on the go. I would even go so far as to say, this purse is a productivity booster!

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I hope you will join me in Craft NAPA, January 7-9 2016, register today!!

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Here is a shout out to the wonderful CRAFT NAPA sponsors, BERNINA and Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Centers

BERNINA Made to Create Right

 

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Registration for Craft NAPA closes on Dec 15th. 

Comments to win the eQuilter 500$ gift certificate closes on December 10, which is today. For a chance to win off my blog, comment on this post <—–Click it. And please check out all the blogs on the hop!


Nov 30- Jane LaFazio – http://janeville.blogspot.com/

Dec 1 – Lynn Krawczyk – http://smudgeddesignstudio.com/blog/

Dec 2 – Judy Coates Perez – http://www.judycoatesperez.com/

Dec 3 – Jenny K. Lyon – http://quiltskipper.com/blog/

Dec 4 – Jamie Fingal – http://JamieFingalDesigns.blogspot.com/

Dec 5 – Melanie Testa – http://melanietesta.com/blog/ (Here you are!)

Dec 6 – Elizabeth St. Hilaire – http://www.paperpaintings.com/

Dec 7– Leslie Jenison – http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com/

Dec 8- Carrie Bloomston – http://www.carriebloomston.com/blog/

Dec 9 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://blog.muppin.com

Dec 10 – Pokey Bolton – http://pokeysponderings.com/

Craft NAPA 2016, soy wax, embroidery, small works!

We are blog hopping, and I certainly hope that you might jump over to every name on our hopping list and comment (list is at the bottom of this post). There are great prizes in store if you do, but you must comment! And! I am hoping you might consider registering at Craft NAPA and take one of my classes, or a class from another fantastic teacher in our ranks.

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You Can’t Resist This! is a class that uses soy wax as a resist along with paint on cloth for an easily accessible way to build layers of color, texture and line. Soy wax is a champion in the resist department. It is super easy to use, easy to clean up, and it creates gorgeous cloth with depth, beauty and vibrancy. 

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In fact, I find soy wax resist, and building layers of color and texture to be addictive, like eating potato chips. And it is a good thing, because I have begun making quilts out of my fabrics, you can see one here. Being able to both make pleasing cloth and use it, is instrumental to making more cloth!!

Small Works

Small Works, Big Impact is a one of my most favorite classes to teach. Working small has had a huge impact  😉 on me as an artist. Working small can help you create larger works, if that is your goal, but they are also easy to complete, they sell well, as most folk have a small wall available to hang a well chosen small work, and I think it is also a great way to learn new techniques. Working small also lends itself well to working in series.

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The techniques we will use in this class include using tulle and sheer cloth overlay, fusible webbing and collage, in addition to finishing techniques. And remember, small works do not limit the possible subject matter to explore! Check out my gallery and Breastless Beauties pages to see more small works.

I have been creating and updating a pattern for what I am calling the 'Gather your Sew-plies!!' sewing chateliane (which is free on my blog). In this purse in particular I used the 15 Minutes Play idea, my idea was to use new materials (wool batting, fabrics new to me, and embroidery stitching). It worked, this is not a purse or flow of fabrics that I would have used had I not played with this idea. melanietesta.com/tag/gather-your-sew-plies/

The Gather Your Sew-plies!! purse is a great sew-on-the-go item for the studio as well as the coffee shop. The purse has a back pack styling that remains close to your body, while carrying the essentials, needles, thread, thimble, pins, scissors and embroidery floss. The purse pattern will be supplied, and we will focus on using embroidery as a means to Journal with Fabric and Embroidery

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The purse I show here uses stitch to enliven a fantastic commercial fabric. If you would like to see more purses, click here and scroll downward.

I would love to teach and work from you. I very much look forward to meeting up, enjoying Napa, making new friends and enjoying old friends too. I do hope you will register!


Here is a shout out to the wonderful CRAFT NAPA sponsors, BERNINA and Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Centers

BERNINA Made to Create Right

 

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PLEASE comment on this post if you want to win great prizes. All comments go into one big grand prize drawing that will happen after Pokey’s blog post.

Comments close on Dec 10th. 

The grand prize is a $500 Gift Certificate from eQuilter.com! 

I will award one commenter on this blog with a copy of Dreaming from the Journal Page. So, please, comment. Also!! Check out all the blogs listed below and comment freely.


Nov 30- Jane LaFazio – http://janeville.blogspot.com/

Dec 1 – Lynn Krawczyk – http://smudgeddesignstudio.com/blog/

Dec 2 – Judy Coates Perez – http://www.judycoatesperez.com/

Dec 3 – Jenny K. Lyon – http://quiltskipper.com/blog/

Dec 4 – Jamie Fingal – http://JamieFingalDesigns.blogspot.com/

Dec 5 – Melanie Testa – http://melanietesta.com/blog/ (Here you are!)

Dec 6 – Elizabeth St. Hilaire – http://www.paperpaintings.com/

Dec 7– Leslie Jenison – http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com/

Dec 8- Carrie Bloomston – http://www.carriebloomston.com/blog/

Dec 9 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://blog.muppin.com

Dec 10 – Pokey Bolton – http://pokeysponderings.com/

Progress and the peacock

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Nope! I agree. 

This sign was recently pasted nearby and it is a great reminder, I had to photograph it. No, indeed, our dreams are not somnolent, but rather invigorating. 

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This weekend I gathered with my gal pals to quilt at retreat. I spent the last two weeks printing the peacocks, woodblock ditties and chevrons and I was prepared to begin a quilt top using the fabric.

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I had forgotten that Pickles, the peacock would greet us when we arrived at the retreat center. Pickles likes crackers, but we assume this is not normal peacock food. Pickles did get some crackers from us. He worked very hard for them.

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I began a quilt top. I love it so far. I think it needs a border, an asymmetrical border of medallions and woodblock ditties as seen in the upper right corner of this photo. My goal for this week is to complete printing fabrics that can be used in the border. Fun! I love having creative goals like this.

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This sign resides on a wall close to the gym and I could not resist a selfie in front of it. I hope you are feeling creative too. Creative in the very way that pleases you most.


 

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I will be teaching:

You Can’t Resist This, where we will use soy wax as a resist along with paint on cotton fabric.

Small Works, Big Impact, where we will make small works while exploring the use of the sewing machine and some pretty nifty techniques.

Journaling with Embroidery, where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, so you can sew, wherever you go!

Soy Wax, Paint and Teaching: Craft Napa

I will be teaching, You Can’t Resist This, a soy wax resist and paint class at Craft Napa in coming January 7-9, and I would love for you to join me. In this class we will explore what resists mean, how to layer and build color stories that work with your chosen motifs, and we will explore differing methods of working with paint to achieve pretty, layered, vibrant, unique and textural results. 

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You may wonder what the differences are between paint and dye. A basic definition is that dyes bond with the very fibers of the cloth, while paint sits atop those fibers. Both are a good way to apply color to cloth, the biggest difference between the two being that with dye, the original feel or ‘hand’ of the cloth is retained because the dye binds with the fiber of the cloth at a molecular level. Paint, on the other hand, needs binders to adhere to the cloth, these binders can lend a stiff or heavy ‘hand’.

Oh, that green!

Paint binders have improved tremendously over the years and there are some paints out there that are really quite good. Paint also allows for easier access to workable, beautiful cloth without the learning curve associate with the use of dye. Don’t get me wrong, I love dye, it is my medium of choice, but as a teacher I understand that paint is a great entry into making original surface designed cloth, and that students have great success in using it.

Reminds me of eggs.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on


 

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I will be teaching:

You Can’t Resist This, where we will use soy wax as a resist along with paint on cotton fabric.

Small Works, Big Impact, where we will make small works while exploring the use of the sewing machine and some pretty nifty techniques.

Journaling with Embroidery, where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, so you can sew, wherever you go!

 

 

A year of returning.

Last year I was given a glimpse into identifying too closely with yourself through the making of art. I had not previously been forced to assess the role that making art had in my life or that it was so closely identified with how I think of myself as a person. 

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I lost my ability to connect with and do my art for months at a time, I have never been as blocked as this and I hope never to become blocked like this again. There were a few days when I threw my arms up and asked myself, ‘what and who are you without the ability to make?’ All my normal jogs and pushes didn’t work, trying out new media, going to museums, hanging out with friends, I did these things, but they did not lead me back into the making!

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So, rather than to look at my art as a means to connect to self, I have decided that making is a fun thing I do. One of the many things I like to do. And sometimes, you just have to do those other things.

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Buying Dragon, my Thermofax machine, sure did help. That gave some extra luster to wanting to make the plunge and delve deeply into printing enough cloth to make something with.

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Rather than create new motifs, I looked to my collection of woodblock stamps for inspiration. These motif have the effect of being even more exciting to me because they are nothing like what I would design otherwise.

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This week, I hope to print some semisolids, some cloth that will allow for visual relief, a break from all the colorful clutter and motifs that you see here.

All, while I revel in the fact that my creative drought has broken and I am able to return to doing the creative work that makes me happy. I may yet become blocked again. I may suffer a creative drought, where I wonder who I am without the ability to access my creative center, I hope not. But at least I will know, it does come back! Even if I just have to let it run its course.


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I will be teaching:

You Can’t Resist This, where we will use soy wax as a resist along with paint on cotton fabric.

Small Works, Big Impact, where we will make small works while exploring the use of the sewing machine and some pretty nifty techniques.

Journaling with Embroidery, where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, so you can sew, wherever you go!

 

Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1

UBBB1

Today I stitch a Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1.

The Uniboobers are the ‘hardest’ Beauty to print. They aren’t actually difficult to print, it is just that… they are a combination of two printings, a Breastless Beauty is printed along side a Breasted Beauty, and the organza layer from each is switched with the other.

The hard part is keeping the layers together during steaming and washing! And not even that part is hard (!), it is just that it requires memory and I often loose that during the wash out process and end up making either a Breastless or a Breasted Beauty instead! 

Anyway. My favorite of all the Beauties is the Unibohbber Beauty for several reasons.  1. I feel women who choose unilateral mastectomy are the bravest of us all. For me, this choice would require that I wear prosthesis, because symmetry and ease of finding clothing that fits is essential to me. Knowing I did not want to engage with this, has made me open my heart to those of us who have chosen this option. 2. I so often forget to match the organza to the printed cotton layer after the wash out, that the Uniboober Beauties are a rarity. 🙂

I particularly like this Beauty because the organza falls upon the cotton in such a way that the dark area is crisp and stark. In the video below, you can see how the layers shift and can change the look of the piece. I think this is just plain magical.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on


 

craftnapa-color1

I will be teaching:

You Can’t Resist This, where we will use soy wax as a resist along with paint on cotton fabric.

Small Works, Big Impact, where we will make small works while exploring the use of the sewing machine and some pretty nifty techniques.

Journaling with Embroidery, where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, so you can sew, wherever you go!

 

The Breastless Beauties

Breastless Beauty 1

You will soon find a sales gallery of what I am calling ‘Breastless Beauties’ on my website. I am very excited about this work as it integrates my advocacy work for body positivity and flat reconstruction due to breast cancer with my artistic, multicolor printing endeavors. I have not previously printed so many pieces in a single go, nor have I worked to bring so many pieces up to a salable point as a group. 

The Breastless Beauties are based on my 2007 Quilt National entry, Repose. Seen here:

Repose

I would like to tell the story of sharing one of the Beauties to a flat related peer support group of mine. The Beauty I showed them was what we fondly call in the breast cancer community, a uniboober, (or a single breasted woman). The first response I got after showing the piece was, ‘Wow. I never thought I would see my body in a piece of art!’

And I must say, I was touched beyond measure to hear this.

Throughout the last few years, I have worked to create visual representation within the media for the bilaterally flat chested women like myself. I have done this because I understand  the importance of having our bodies reflected back to us, and for those images to be positive, strong, fully embodied and filled with hope. Beauty is not the end all in life, but when we are forced to make bodily changes due to cancer diagnosis, self esteem can take a big hit. Seeing our changed bodies in the media and on the wall, reflecting our new reality, serves to heal the soul. 

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For the most part (there are still a few projects that will be released), I feel I have done enough breast cancer advocacy work. It is time for me to step away from the public eye and back into my artistic endeavors. Printing and stitching the Breastless Beauties has been a great segue in this respect.  I hope you will follow me in this more artistic form of visual representation.


 

craftnapa-color1

I will be teaching:

You Can’t Resist This, where we will use soy wax as a resist along with paint on cotton fabric.

Small Works, Big Impact, where we will make small works while exploring the use of the sewing machine and some pretty nifty techniques.

Journaling with Embroidery, where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, so you can sew, wherever you go!

 

TV taping and Gathering your Sew-plies!!

 

Check out the blog post related to this video: http://melanietesta.com/2015/10/tv-taping-and-gathering-your-sew-plies/

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

This week, I found myself in the unique position of needing to Gather my Sew-plies!! on the quick! I was asked to tape a video segment for a major media outlet. The original idea was that they would come to my home and film me while I was printing the Breastless Beauties. But at the last minute, they had a change of plans. (I was excited that they would come film me printing!!! Their loss. Haha!!)

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So, 15 minutes before needing to leave to get to the meet up spot, I grabbed a Gather your Sew-plies purse, some thread and all of the printed Beauties I had made so far. Wow!! Talk about thinking quick on your feet! Talk about needing your supplies at a moments notice!!!

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It is strange, I can’t really talk about this project yet, but I can share vaguely.

So…

To be honest? I feel blessed to be able to have done this video shoot!! It seems I have made waves this year. My perspective and the narrative I am speaking to; body positivity in the face of breast cancer diagnosis and its treatment, or even more broadly, loving your body no matter if you had a cancer diagnosis, is being considered, discussion is occurring.

What more could an artist wish for in her lifetime?

Wear them close.

So, what do I carry in a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse? Embroidery/thread snips, thimble, thread, a hank of hand dyed embroidery flosses, needles and a few pins. That is all. The purse has a backpack styling, fits snuggly against the body. Does not swing or make its presence known, as you work about in the studio or wherever you may be. I have been known to wear them on the subway, it is a great sewing in transit purse! 

I will be teaching at Craft Napa January 7-9 2016 There is a stitch class where we will begin making a Gather your Sew-plies purse. I hope you will join me! I would love to work with you. Throw knowledge nuggets, share laughter and have fun with you. I need a teaching retreat and I am ready to teach again! Please join us.

craftnapa-color1

 

I will be teaching You can’t resist this, a soy wax class.

Small Works, Big Impact

and the Stitch Journaling class where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse. PLEASE Join US!

Melly

More updates to come!