Coloring a Print

The Playful Fabric Print-Along has been a boon and a learning experience for me. Today I share my work, here on my blog and also in our Facebook community page, Playful Fabric Printing.  I encourage you to join our community page to see what we have been up to! The Coupon Codes are to be found in this group and you still have time to use them!

Anyway, back to the ‘boon and learning experience’.

Above you see the background layer of the NYC MTA Subway multicolor set with a thin layer of two shades of thickened blue dye. This application of the two colors, in gradation-Light to Pale, adds visual interest to the sky in the design. It is as if the sky is depicted at dusk, at least that is how I like to think of it.

But really. Printing this background layer in this manner breaks up the background, which really colors a large portion of the design.

A greater learning experience for me, was in printing the carved rubber layer in Dark, Color #10, what appears brilliant green above. This green is a lighter value of Dark than many of the colors in the color triangle (Playful Fabric Printing, page 48). 

This fact made me think about and use color a bit differently than I normally would. I did not want to overpower the green or obliterate the carved detail of that layer. And this criteria encouraged me to print closely related values, Light with Pale, Light with Medium and so on. 

Thus far, I have printed 10 NYC MTA Subway prints, and I think I have just about figured out a methodical approach to both coloring and printing it, which is especially helpful when Speed Printing. 

In printing each one, I applied color judiciously. I began by coloring the subway itself, which was an easy choice, grey. I pulled a Pale and a Light grey from my mixed dyes. Knowing I would be overprinting the shading in the City Hall tunnel area of the print, I made the decision to print that layer one shade darker than the subway. It quickly became important to me that the MTA logo be colored blue.

And then the coloring of the word ‘love’ became a challenge. So, I worked and reworked the layers pertaining to the word and figured out how to color it to my liking. Putting words into a design is interesting and difficult. I am unsure I nailed this aspect of the design, but I cannot remove it either, so I am learning to color it to my liking. In my imagination this is graffiti, it also alludes to the 1970’s I love New York ad campaign. And I do enjoy riding the subway, so it fits.

It was great fun to combine the Printed Village NYC MTA Challenge with the Playful Fabric Print-Along. And please join our Facebook community! Folks are sharing great work in this group! Come see. 

I do hope my design wins the challenge, though, I may delete my current designs and upload better! Haha! 

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?

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.

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. 

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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.

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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.

#freerangetextileprinter

So this is a whole new dealio. 

I have taken my printing out and about, I am becoming The Free Range Textile Printer in NYC.

In our upcoming book, Carol Soderlund and I contend that all you need to possess in order to begin printing your own fabrics, is a bucket and a card table! And, well? I am here to tell you, you don’t need the card table!! Wooho!!!

You do need access to water.  But most major parks in NYC have a bathroom! 

See? Easy!!!

This is a fun short post, I will happily go into more detail about small space printing, if you re interested! If so, leave a comment.

I really don’t want to go on about things that are uninteresting!!

Busking! Two buckets, an apron, freedom.

I have always valued a good bucket.

Opportunity for creativity never strays far from a good bucket. I mean, when there is a bucket near by, you can rinse brushes, soak stamps, do low water immersion dyeing. And that’s not all! When I was a kid, my dad upholstered a lid that fit perfectly on a 5 gallon bucket providing us a cushioned seat to rest on while fishing. I have never lost sight of this ideal scenario and it seems, I have cottoned onto an adult opportunity to utilize and make a new padded throne!

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See the mad glimmer in my eye? I just spent upwards of 25$ on a:

5 gallon bucket

2 5 gallon bucket lids

1 2 gallon bucket

and a 

Bucket Tool Organizer Extreme

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And I am about to upholster my bucket lids with Melly fabrics….

So, what, you might ask, is Melly up to?

I am going to try busking, as a textile artist in NYC!

Sometimes, you get a weird idea, that just won’t let you go. And when it happens, you kinda just need to do it. So, I am.

I love public displays of art. I love doing art, embroidery, stitch work and drawing in public, so why not try printing while out and about? I mostly work solitary, staying in my studio, but, recently, I have come to thinking, “maybe there is a way to be less solitary, and to still be able to print!

I have scoped out Washington Square Park, which I think will be a good entry into doing this. I may need to ask some gal pals to come visit and help me, at least the first time. But, I am going to do it.

I have bought the items, and now I will whip up a quilted blank to upholster the bucket lid! Wish me luck. I will keep you posted.

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Selfies in Stitch

Self Portrait of Melly Testa

We currently live in the era of the ‘selfie’. Participating in social media is almost akin to sharing a life in photographs. ‘Selfies’, photos taken of the self, by the self, are the go to method of getting images out there.

As a young artist going through school to obtain a degree in textile design, I was encouraged to make artwork based on self portraiture. We were shown images of artists who had simply painted themselves as if looking into a mirror, we talked about artists who painted themselves into the periphery of the painting- as say, a member of a crowd, and we discussed depicting ourselves well outside the identifiable, as perhaps a rabbit or a monster, relying on emotion and myth rather than depicting a realistic clearly identifyable image. 

At first, it felt egotistical to use the self as inspiration for artwork. Do you hang the piece in your home? Sell it? Would anyone want to purchase an image of your mug? Do you make self portraits and store them for posterity? How do self portraits fit into the context of the artists overall portfolio of work? Does any of this matter?

Over time, I have come to see the value and the sheer possibility of connection or communion with self when working with imagery that is just so known-to me. It is almost as if I am journaling, digging deeply and using words to explore ideas. But because I am a visual person, I instead get to slow down, take a single stitch and use that time to explore a moment in my personal, visual herstory. 

 

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!! 

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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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Patchwork+Quilt Maker+Craft NAPA 2016 Blog Hop

It is so much fun to piece and use my hand printed cloth.

The nature of the printing process dictates that I print small pieces, fat sixteenths-I think, which is somewhere around 9×11″. I rip two yards at a time, and print all as quickly as possible. So when it comes time to begin piecing, I have many similarly colored squares, scraps really, all of which relate to one another color-wize.

But, they are small!

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My attention span for cutting and piecing blocks is short. This ‘attribute’, if I could call it that, plays into my ‘quilt building skills’. These skills are reprehensible by anyone else’s standard!!

My bottom lines:

  1. It must lay flat
  2. Use as much of the handprinted cloth as possible, even if this dictates wonky cutting or piecing… ‘techniques’! (Yeah, that’s it!)
  3. My quilt, my rules. My friend Teri reminds me of this often and I like it. 

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So I make blocks in batches, I might cut as many 3″ squares for Half Square Triangles as possible, given the tiny size of my scraps. I sew, iron, and join these together and then, maybe I will cut some 4″ squares for Half Square Triangles, in slightly different colors.

My process is willy nilly. And fun. My blocks never match up, or sometimes they do and I don’t care either way. I just build them out and keep on sewing! Because it is so much fun to do! I have been so deeply immersed in piecing, I am thinking deep thoughts. I like the term Quilt Maker. I am a Quilt Maker. I like this better than Quilter. What do you think? Do you think about this at all?


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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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I am participating in a blog hop that starts today! Comment on every post and your name will go into a hopper with great incentives. I will post my contribution on the 5th and will be giving away a copy of Dreaming from the Journal Page! Below is a list of participants, and it all starts with Jane LaFazio.

The grand prize is a $500 Gift Certificate from eQuilter.com! WOOT! And do not hesitate to sign up for a class!!!


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

Commenting closes on:

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

And do comment, because the prizes are snazzy!

Peacock Quilt, front and back.

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I know, the photographic color is off, the tops are piled up and are not shown to the best advantage, but I don’t mind. I am just having fun over here and this is the evidence! 

I started the weekend off by focusing on making a back for the Peacock Quilt. At first I thought this would be a using all my favorite Heather Ross fabrics, from my stash. But I have so many great Heather Ross fabrics, that it seemed to me, like it might be a distraction from the front. I spent most of Saturday sewing and admittedly enjoyed doing so, before deciding the back needed something else, something less, something simple. 

Sunday, I woke with vigor for the task and decided to use Meadowlark fabrics as a base for making a back. At first, it was going to be a 62″ square of the blue, with 12″ of the tile fabric on all four sides. But… I still had some left over blocks from the peacock quilt top and the woodblock ditty went to well with the Heather Ross strawberries… That, well.

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I love backs that have an element of love and satisfaction. Back’s need to play nicely with the front but also need to be fun, and pleasing. Heather Ross’s work does that for me. There is something sweet and fanciful in her illustrations and being able to see them along side my own handprinted cloth is a treat.

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!

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!

 

Printing we will go

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I have been happily printing, because I am on a quilt top mission!! Each year I attend a pretty awesome retreat with great friends. The next one will occur next weekend. The cloth you see above was printed using dye left over from printing the Breastless Beauties. And, although these printed fabrics are quite pretty, the color is not as sharp or boisterous as I would like to see. I am happy to use up as much dye as possible though!!

This morning I mixed new dyes.  😀 HAHA!

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Do you want to know how very exciting it is to print your own cloth and use it in a quilt top? REALLY freaking exciting.

I mean. Right at this moment, there is a completed quilt, using my hand printed cloth folded neatly and resting over the back of my couch. On a very regular basis, I pet and fondle that quilt and admire my handy work. I feel blessed to be able to do this work.

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The prints I am sharing with you today were made using wood block stamps bought from Coloricious. First, I stamped each image onto paper, scanned these into Photoshop, created a repeat, then for the Peacock image anyway, a background was created.

I burned a Thermofax screen with the images. This, not the wood block stamp, is what I am using to print the cloth you see here. Of course I am printing with my beloved Procion MX dyes on cotton, which is just gorgeous and cannot be compared to any other media.

I bought these stamps perhaps two years ago at Quilt Festival. I like the stamps a bunch, but until now they have been a decoration. I love -using- the stamps, and better still, I really like the cloth I am printing. It makes me daydream about how I might piece and create a satisfying quilt top! Great big sigh. I love this. 


 

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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!

 

One stitch and one day at a time.

I am happy to say, I have found my creative verve again. This year has been a challenge for me artistically. One where I totally lost my ability to create for a few months. This is not normal for me. Usually, when I become blocked and find myself unable to create, I will stop using the media I am focused on and start using a different media all together. This year, this did not work, at all. Instead, I stopped seriously making anything for a few months and did other work. 

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I did many things to try and lift the block. I Gathered my Sew-plies!! and sewed around the city, I made a quilt after printing all the fabric for the top, I posed for breast cancer awareness articles, and traveled to Germany for an exciting photoshooting. I know it sounds like I was super engaged creatively. And I was.

But what really gets up my gander is challenging myself to try new things. Like printing a series, which I have never done before. And while working with the same image multiples of time might sound boring, I don’t find it that way at all! Actually, quite the opposite. With each printing, I see differences in print quality, different color combinations, with each stitch I see the work individuate from its fellows. I guess sometimes, creative blocks really just need time. 

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I have just uploaded and completed 5 of the embroidered Breastless Beauties. Breastless Beauty 5, Breastless Beauty 6, Breastless Beauty 9, Breastless Beauty 10, Breastless Beauty 11. I hope you might like one! 


 

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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!

 

Meadowlark by Melanie Testa

I am so very excited to announce my fabric line, Meadowlark. This is a dream come true and I could not be happier. Windham Fabrics has done a sensational job of interpreting my designs. The texture, color, and whimsy of the designs shines through beautifully.

If you have been reading this blog and you know me, you know that my ‘main squeeze’ in the art department is printing with Procion MX dyes. The subtlety and beauty of this medium is exquisitely captured in every print in the Meadowlark line. There are 26 designs in all. 11 main designs, in two color ways each and 4 semi solids. All were created using our favorite art materials, like fun foam, carving rubber, stencils and thermofax screens. I have been having so much fun creating this method of printing that using these humble materials contributes to my excitement in showing them to you. I hope you like them as much as I do.

I have been working with my design team, awesome friends who want to help Meadowlark succeed, and we will be having a blog hop giveaway of fat quarters in a few short weeks. More importantly, we will be showing off the many projects made that highlight what can be done with the Meadowlark line, and believe me, I couldn’t put every project in this teaser video.

Please don’t hesitate to ask your local quilt store to carry my line, and I know I am tooting my own horn, but I believe these designs are like nothing you would normally see in your favorite quilt store. Beside, there are birds, dots, fruits, high heeled shoes, all very iconic and fresh. 

I am just squealing with excitement to finally be able to talk about and show you what I have been up to over here. Once you get some of these fabrics into your creative paws, PLEASE show me what you do with them. I have been busy presenting these fabrics and now that they will be released into the world, they will begin to have a life of their own. That is amazing! 

Introspection and Organization

DSC_0021 This little being teaches me quite a bit. Peach is very adaptable, she seems to accept what is, she does this with a strong sense of self possession. Peach knows what she likes and dislikes. Peach is learning to trust and love and become calm and confident about her surroundings. I love watching her release the traumas of being an outdoor city cat. I can say without hesitation that Peach really dislikes the sound of snow plows, trash trucks, and any of the other large metal monsters. I cannot imagine her out in the city wilds, and I am oh so glad we found each other.DSC_0022

Because Peach spent a few years on the streets, had some kittens and then came into human care and was spayed improperly, I feel, we both feel, that is David and I feel, Peach is a precious being who may not live as long as other cats with an easier start. And this too is a special point of connection for me, for us. Having been diagnosed with cancer, I now know that my time here on earth may be shortened, I am now more prone to recurrence, my morality has been shown to me and I no longer think I am invincible. Staying in the moment and cherishing my time is really the only way to live. Peach teaches me the age old lesson to Be Here Now, and to release the traumas of treatment, of daily life and to consider the tenacious beauty of this moment, no this one, no…

And she does this by unfolding slowly and with great aplomb. Peach came to us on January 4, 2013 and it took just one year for her to begin to see the value and feel able to ask, then settle into my lap for a nice warm sleep. Every small step is cherished and appreciated. I love this little being. We love this little being. Peach helps us heal and love one another. Peach is amazing. 

Watching Peach take her time helps remind me that everything takes its own time. I tend to be an all-in type person, I give my all to everything, I work fast, I have lots of ideas, I work hard, I want things when I want them. Cancer has put these attributes to the test, and I find I need to slow the churning of the wheels, I need to hold back a portion of energy, keeping some in reserve. And this is ok, good even, a welcome change.

Maybe, it is just great to have an animal, and relate to it. I love being Peach’s animal. I love watching her relate. I am learning more Peach talk, Peach words with every day.

In the meantime, I have been enjoying my studio time, I am working with a great friend to (hopefully) publish another book. My fabric line is going to be released in May, I have been working it! I know, I need to slow down and smell the roses. 

Ah, life!

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Printing is interesting. When I open up a print session, I want everything to be neat, clean and tidy. I want to know where all of my tools are, I need them to be clean, I need all previous unfinished print jobs to be organized (I like to visually colate what needs green, what yellow), so that when I mix up color, I am prepared with knowledge of how many pieces might need a bit of yellow.

It takes a good half hour to prepare, clean and colate color/print needs. As soon as that is done, the fun begins. 

I love process, love organization, printing my own cloth caters to both these loves and it gives me pretties to fondle and use in quilts!! It feels good to settle into a print session! When I make things, I settle into the most quiet, enjoyable mental place. I allow myself to work, I love seeing the pretty bits of cloth pile up. It is another way to slow time down to its essential element. 
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This is a piece whose process I would like to expand, streamline and improve. I have since washed it and am underwhelmed with my color retention. I think this is a great idea though, so I wonder if upping the values used to print the background scribble would do the trick. 

More to come on this idea. 

I am off to have a full day of printing. I hope you are enjoying your day, wherever you are. I hope that you too have some moments of reprieve, where you experience exactly what you are doing and enjoy that feeling.

Commemorative Cloth Making

A few years ago, I took an indigo printing class by Dorothy Caldwell, which, if you are able, I would highly recommend. In this class Dorothy showed us some African commemorative cloth that she had collected while traveling. I instantly fell in love with the idea of using cloth as a means to explore current day topics or even topics of a personal nature. 

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David and I will be married for twenty years this coming August, a date to commemorate if ever I have experienced one. My love for this man is extraordinary, he is my best friend, my lover, my husband. I learn from him and with him. David is a phenomenal being and our relationship reflects the work and focus the two of us are committed to doing ‘for the couple’. I could not wish for anything more. David is a dream come true.

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Twenty years of married life is nothing to sneeze at these days, so I choose to commemorate this milestone by printing 20 portraits of David and I (10 portraits each), which I will make into a quilt. I have not decided if this will need sashing, or how it might go together as a quilt, I like the idea of sashing to separate the portraits. In terms of it being commemorative cloth, I think that at least some of the blocks will need to be dated, a bit more information needs to be attached to the images in order to make it truly commemorative.

It is interesting to print portraits, to see the images come to life. And also to remember the moment of inspiration.

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I found this exquisite pair of goggly eyes on the street and had to bring them home. One night, David and I started goofing off and we each took a snapshot of the other wearing the goggly eyes. So you see, there are portraits within portraits here. I love that the difference in our heights is shown in the photographs and the eventual printed portraits. I always see David from this angle, as he sees me, so the image orientation is perfect. I also love that the image of David is one where he is actually happy, David does not show his cards very often.

I am printing these portraits in pairs, I want each pair to have relationship to the other. I want to see more color, and although I do not want to print ‘skin tones’, I want to play with the color of the figures to mix it up more. The style of this set of portraits at the very least nods to Andy Warhols‘ portrait series, and because of this, I want to see some brighter more cheerful colors used in the faces, at the very least. More to come.

 

 

Dragon Lair.

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Let us take a moment. Above. You see a 13″ MacBook Pro, custom. Wealth. 

I am wealthy. And wealthy beyond measure, because…

Now, I can go mobil. To my favorite coffee shop. And you know what? I need to get out! I know how to work, head down, for hours, which has the tendency to turn into days, and… I find myself in pajamas for days on end. I love my pjs, don’t get me wrong, but. You get what I am saying.

David and I bought new computers this year. I am moving in! And moving on! Literally. Yahoo!

Watch out!

So anyway, my new Mac Book Pro 13″needed a tight fitting, Melly Made case!

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I am on a mission to learn to use the cloth I am printing. I have criteria, or maybe I should say, I am forming opinions, on how I want to use my cloth. I am focused on motif, color, ease of creation. I like to think about using my cloth with ingenuity and sometimes, striking differences in color and texture. I want the cloth to be the focus and not the quilt block design. Motif as communication device. Motif as story telling. 

So I made this MacBook Pro 13″ carry case! I am quilt savvy that way! You see, we already owned a zippered, padded case for David’s old 13″ MacBook, but they keep making these dang things smaller and smaller, so my new computer needed padding to kit out the zippered case. I made this as tight fitting as I was able. I actually like it better than the zippered case, but computers need packaging when in transit, and a snug fitting transit is better than loose. And now, I have a creative case using my own printed fabrics. Tada! I like being able to make do.

Now, I can easily travel, update my blog, write (hopefully) my next book and I do not need to be plugged into my desk and tiny apartment. I can get out. 

Oh and? The dangly eyeglass necklace? Do any of you wear and/or make these??? And if so, do you have a favorite finding to attach the glasses to the necklace? Please leave a link in the comments! I am interested in your opinions on this. I am going into the fashion district on Monday…

Findings Field Trip!

 

Of friends, jelly roll quilting and embracing long unused skills.

DSC_0002This last year I have been in deep and total immersion into multicolor printing using Procion MX dyes. I have printed about 50 yards of cloth, believe it or not. And when you print that much cloth, it goes to say that you should also try to use as much cloth! At the same time, I have a back log of cloth that I have been printing and gathering for the last 10-15 years! I don’t consider myself to much of a stasher, not compared to my friends anyway, and I would love to get to the point where I am not stashing at all, but rather, making cloth per project/quilt and acquiring materials to fill out and finish said project.

I have been sorting, cutting and stacking, cut squares. I mean, Damn! Look at these fat stacks!

What you see here is  my backlog fabrics, not the ones I printed this year. These older pieces of cloth work really nicely in padding out my current multicolor printed cloth and they also show me my progress as a dyer and artist. Win!!

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This quilt, a jellyroll quilt, I put together a few weeks ago, while at my twice yearly quilt art retreat. This quilt is filled with girlfriend love. We put aside our personal projects to exchange strips of fabric with one another and bang out a usable quick and dirty beauty. This quilt has one piece of fabric from each member of the group and then then some (!!!).

Yesterday, Teri came to Brooklyn to help me bring my machine in for repair and to help me with the many, many projects that are piling up, with ‘just one last thing’ needed, before being able to call them complete.

Teri Lucas helped me complete the jellyroll in many ways. 1. Teri helped me with trimming the quilt down, teaching me how to square it and what to square it to. 2. Teri cut and attached the binding (teaching me her methods all the way through, this is a 2″ French straight grain binding, I usually cut 2.25″ bindings [the straight grain part was my idea and is related to the cloth I wanted to bind it with]). 3. Teri gave me the fantastic idea of utilizing my local quilt store to cut quilts down and possibly even baste- NYC apartment living can really crimp a large quilts style! 4. Teri got me out of the house and made me re-member how important it is to hang out with friends, I tend to be a bit of a recluse and artistic shut-in.

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 And then!! Last weekend, Stephanie Forsyth and her best friend Sally came to New York City. Beside walking up a storm, going to the Statue of Liberty, going to Carnegie Hall to see Handel’s Messiah, and eating and drinking while basking in our shared friendship, Steph hand sewed the binding on this quilt, made of my own printed cloth.

Do I have awesome friends, or what?

Want to know what I love best about both Stephanie and Teri, in addition to my retreat gal pals? I learn from these women. First, I learn what love, affection and friendship means, and I get to do it while dishing about cloth and fiber. I learn (relearn) that it is OK to ask for help. And my soul becomes fortified to what it means to have and be a friend.

Teri put forth a challenge to me to try sewing the finished edge of the binding she applied by machine. I have never done this before. I usually sew that last bit by hand. Elizabeth (a member of my retreat group) did this and I liked the ‘Done!’ factor! I mean, that is quick! Do you think I should take her up on it? Let me know in the comments.

Learning to quilt again

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 I have finally gotten to the point where I am using the cloth I have been printing all year long. I am very excited about this for several reasons. The most surprising of which is, I forgot how very much I like piecing and quilting. For years I have been ‘art quilting’, using thickened dye to create one of a kind wall art in a figurative style, as I wrote about in Inspired to Quilt . Over the years, I stopped making surface designed cloth for the fun of it, while looking at my storage bins and wondering for what or why I should keep them. Now, I look at those bins and I see potential. I want to tear through these bins and make throw quilts. I want a stack of throws, folded, stacked, pretty and ready for use! 

The photos you see here are the back of a quilt. I like two sided quilts and I think the backs should be as fun as the fronts, although I think backs should also be quick and easy.MellyQuiltsBernina

Because I have been focusing on multicolor printing this year, I have a criteria for what I would like to accomplish while piecing and quilting my cloth. I want the cloth and my designs to really show themselves off, it takes commitment and time to print cloth and I want my quilts to really show my cloth off to its best advantage. I am exploring different quilt blocks and settings to do this. Right now I think it is a good idea for me to work with bigger blocks of a simple nature, like 6″ half square triangles, 1000 Pyramids. I bet as I cut, piece and quilt the throws I am working on now that I will begin to see my way through the quilt block forrest a little better.

I am oh-so-happy to say, today I am heading over to Victoria Findlay-Wolfe‘s house for a day long class in 15 Minutes of Play . This book has been following me around for weeks, if not months. Victoria uses a technique she calls Made-Cloth, where she sews cloth together improvisationally, and figures out how to use it later. For my part, this is useful in that, because I have printed all of my own cloth, I want to use every last bit of it. Many of my multicolor printed cloth pieces are quite small, so I have been making Made-Cloth with it, but I am sticking with the same prints and colors, rather than using many prints in one Made-Cloth piece. Brilliant.

I will post and let you know about what I have learned in Victoria’s class. I look forward to meeting quilters, I can’t wait to see the synapse connections I make. I love learning.IMG_2583I uploaded this image because I like the hash marks. I also really like graffiti and poster art, so there! Enjoy.

 

Dots, Patterns, Quilts and Inspiration

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I have been seeing pattern and dots everywhere. I love them. It started because I bought a copy of Victoria Findlay Wolfe‘s book 15 minutes of Play, and I fell in love with one of the quilts displayed in her book. The quilt is called Dot Calm, and was made by Karen Griska

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I have been seeing dots everywhere! Today while traveling the subway, I saw a man wearing a printed purple dots in an irregular pattern and then I saw a woman wearing dotted tights! And being a Mad Men fan, I have to say, Season 6, Episode 5 had Peggy wearing a red polka dot pattern seen here (scroll down). I have been daydreaming about those dots since I first saw them.

Anyway, dots are all the rage in the land of Melanie Testa.

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This graffiti could be considered a dot. I know it is a stretch, but as I said, I have dots on my mind. Lots and lots of dots. This week, I strolled the aisles of Mood and I saw more dots. 

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So, I have been printing dots, and have begun to sew and quilt while using them. I have not honestly quilted in years. I love to seam and piece. I love sewing a scant quarter inch seam. I love the meticulous nature of wanting to do a good job, of compensating of a short seam, I love trimming the cloth and ironing the seams open. I love the smell of the iron, even more I love the smell of the sewing machine after hours of having it on-it smells like warmed oil. I love piecing. I forgot all of this.

I have been visiting The City Quilter and hesitantly looking at the newest books on the market. Books with a modern quilting flair. I am hesitant because I do not want to be too heavily influence in the direction of another persons style. I would like my own style to emerge and formulate. The overarching current day method, from what I can tell, is improvisational. So, I embrace dabbling and trying this block, that stripe, a little bit of solids, lots of printed cloth.

After printing so much cloth over the years, I find using the cloth to be invigorating and inspirational. I remember printing each piece, the studio I used to print it in, I track the learning progression from one piece to the next. I am wowed. My brain is quiet. This is good.

SpainGraffitiI am putting this image back up on the blog. I took it while we were in Barcelona, Spain. This image has changed the trajectory of my creative life. This helped me to see the possibility of multicolor printing and I am forever grateful to have seen it, had a camera and to have taken a photograph of it.

 

Print, print, steam!

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Today is a day for steaming, soaking and washing finished work. I will print as I am doing this. I have the windows open, the high will be 77 degrees today and printing in warmth is a good thing.

What you see here is 4.5 yards of cloth (layered, three deep in newsprint). I love seeing my sample pile grow larger and larger.

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But honestly, it is time to start thinking about quilt block patterns and how to use the cloth I am printing. Last week I went to The City Quilter with Teri Lucas. I leafed through books and magazines and I realize, I am out of the loop. I have not quilted in quite some time and I feel like I need a refresher course in quilt blocks, settings, styles.

My fabric bits are small, measuring about 9×10″. I want to feature the prints but also want to use every inch of cloth. I have not yet decided on a block, and do not know if I will even try to create a specific block. I love the look of lots of white or light colored fabric alongside bright and cheerful prints, I like darks with bright cheerful prints. I also love busy prints side by side. I just don’t know! 

When Teri and I were hanging out, I threw several of my least favorite prints her way. This week she has been my ‘Tricky Quilt Fairie’ and has been making the cloth into a 9 patch blocks and setting them on point (she has been updating her facebook page with pictures). I love seeing the cloth in this way and it is helping me to get to the cut and sew stage. 

Hey! Help a girl out! If you know a quilt block or quilt that you think would show of my printed cloth well, please comment and leave a link! Pretty please?

 

One happy printer.

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For years I have wondered how to print cloth in repeat, at home, using readily available art supplies without being super technical. I have day dreamed about it, pondered the question, gotten frustrated by it, given up on it. And now, it has come together. The ball got rolling when Pat Gaignat wrote an article for Cloth Paper Scissors on ‘Faux Screen Printing’ (this is a download link, it is a great technique and one she allowed me to use in my book, Dreaming From the Journal Page). 

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This technique rang creative bells and whistles in my mind. All of the sudden, printing in repeat became manageable. My mind made the leap and I came to understand how I could push the technique even further. I can visualize how to layer, how to preserve white areas, and I figured out that I wasn’t limited to using just fun foam, I can use whatever materials make sense for the type of imagery I want to print. I can overprint to apply textures, and I no longer needed to design the entire print set in one session, I can fill in needed colors, textures and add design elements at any stage of the multicolor printing process. 

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I have also begun to print fat sixteenths! Lots and lots of fat 16ths. This means I print as if eating potato chips (which are my favorite junk food)! I can’t stop at just one, I need many! I feel as though I am printing scraps. This makes me want to quilt more than ever. As my tidy piles of 9×10″ pieces of printed cloth pile up, I feel so darned accomplished. 

Conversely, if I flub up? No worries! Toss the flub aside and keep printing. The size makes these pieces expendable. Luckily, I don’t make too many mistakes, but it feels great not to feel COMMITTED to the work I am making.

This weekend I will be printing with friends, outdoors! I have measured my dye powders, mixed thickener, tore up all my soda soaked cloth, and am ready to have a long weekend of printing many, many potato chips. Life is good. Really, really good.

 

Printing up a storm

This week has been great by way of multicolor printing. I am working out the kinks of putting images in repeat, carving rubber, cutting foam and making stencils. 

Yardage

I love upholstery yardage sheets, whenever I see them, I nab one. I love the tiny drawings of chairs, chaise lounge, sofas, sectionals. Such great shapes cultered together. The above is inspired by a yardage sheet and is printed on paper, using Tsukineko inks. Working in paper before moving to cloth seems to be crucial to my design process right now. It is a quick way to make sure the print set is working together, allows me to figure out which segment of the image needs to be printed first, and shows me how to align each print. Getting to know an image on paper also allows me to play with color choice. 

Polkadots

 

On a side note, I bought a copy of Victoria Findlay-Wollfe’s 15 Mintutes of Play. I L-O-V-E this book. I am inspired by it. Love what the book discusses. I love the mechanisms that Victoria suggests to get your quilts flowing, like I said, I really love this book. These polkadots are a direct result of Polka Dots Squared on page 43 of the book. I need many variations of polka dots, from dark to light. I want to make a throw using my own cloth.

So, I have been printing up a storm!

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Yep. True to my obsessive compulsive self, I have been stamps in every size, shape and variable that I can imagine. All that I learned while getting my Associate’s Degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology is coming to fruition. It has been fun to experience and great to grow visual and technically while doing so.

The work I am doing with Carol Soderlund is helping me grow and expand too. When me moved to Brooklyn, I convinced myself that working with dye is not possible given the constraints of apartment life. Carol has shown me how to compact the process, while really getting the results I want to see. I feel reinvigorated in my use of Procion MX dye!

I have signed up to take Carols Color Mixing 2 at ProChem October 21-25. There are 4 more spots open (I just signed up and a friend is going with! The web site has not been updated yet and still says there are 6 openings).

I bet you want to go! I hope you do.


 

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Would you like to know how much I love this little bundle of Peach-y goodness? This cat is a badass. I am sorry to swear, but this word sums up Peach to a T. She is soft, gentle, centered, intelligent, curious, amazing, belligerent, athletic, pretty, satisfied and awesome.


 

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I saw Tig Notaro at The Green Space/Sound Check a couple weeks back.. Just being near Tig, who is also a Flattie, was like being a kid in a candy shop. I crave connection with other women who have been through bilateral mastectomy, without reconstruction and who choose not to wear breast forms. 

Tig Notaro is one of my heros.

I got totally flustered and couldn’t say any of the smart or sincere things I had rehearsed in my mind prior to forcing her to take a photo with me! She doesn’t look much worse for the wear, so I think I can forgedaboudit. But geez does it make me happy that I got the photo!


 

By the way, that Tshirt I am wearing? It says

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underneath the machine and was given to me as an ironic-flat-pride-type statement. It was printed by and can be bought from Diane Muse. I love this tshirt and am going to wear it to tatters.

Nothing is black and white

Earlier this week Angelina Jolie wrote her op-ed piece about her decision to have bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction due to a positive test for the BRCA1 gene. I admire Angelina for her bravery and honesty in being open about her choice. I am sorry she needed to make it, of course. But happy that she has offered her talent and power to the cause. If you want to inform yourself about gene mutation, Force is a good place to start. The facility where Angelina had her tests and operation has written a recap of her treatment, which can be helpful as well, I was surprised to see some of the protocol that Angelina received.

I wish that non-reconstruction was acknowledged as an option and I think it is high time that us ‘Flatties’ had an advocate, but I understand that Angelina is doing the best she possibly can and I am ever so grateful that she is as courageous as she is. Here is a decent discussion of the types of reconstruction spurred by Angelina’s decision.

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My work with Carol Soderlund continues, I am so glad to have initiated the work. Carol has been opening my mind and perspective on using dye. She has opened up a new approach to applying dye, and has been cleaning up some bad habits that I have accrued over the years. I took Color Mixing 1 from Carol through ProChem years ago. Carol has since begun calling this class The New Color Mixing for Dyers. What I am learning from Carol now uses the book we made together in Color Mixing 1 and expands upon it, and she call this class her Color Mixing for Dyers Part 2. So, I am learning to use the book from Color Mixing 1 to apply the colors I would like to see in my work, and all of the information has begun to ‘click’. Learning is hard work and for a week or so there, I was Ms. Grumpy Pants. Carol’s teaching skills and patience is commendable.

I don’t know why the blog went centered, sorry about the formatting.
Yesterday I took a walk, bought a breakfast sandwich and a cookie (for later in the day) and then went out for press pot coffee at my favorite local dive. I have not yet gone there for a beer and sandwich, so far this is a favorite morning coffee joint, but they have great beer and I would like to try it out. Problem is, my Man doesn’t like beer! So, I will look for a gal pal who needs a night out.
I really like this piece of street art. I will have to check it out again, I think she is carrying a music mixer. When I see this type street art, art applied with wheat paste, I always want to go back on a rainy day and peel it off and take it home. I find it interesting to have found two wheat pasted pieces of street art within such close proximity. I wonder if there is an insurgence of applied street art right now. I also wish I could find out who the artists are.
I would like to create a multicolor print of birds that is stylized, like this dress, photographed through the window of a local boutique, The store isn’t my kinda thing but they do have some great prints right now and I love me some prints. I struggle to get myself to loosen up to the level of this print. It seems my comfort level is realistic looking. But I will push myself past this and try my best to loosen up and get playful. This weekend I plan to make multicolor print patterns during every free moment.  This may be a challenge as it is a long weekend and David’s birthday weekend to boot! However it goes, we will have fun this weekend, it will start with a meet up at Moma in about 2 hours.
I continue to read and research ideas related to gender and found this interesting article called Who Owns Gender, which I think is quite interesting. If you have the time or interest in reading it, I would like to hear your thoughts.
Deborah Boschert brought this article to my attention and I love it.
I am going to respond and communicate through the comments in the blog. I enjoy this, so check back if you want! Now I am off to let the fun begin.

My week in review

In all available time, I have been printing, batching and steaming. I keep daydreaming new images, but have not yet had time to gather my thoughts.

I came across a how-to make your own citrus cleanser on the web and am trying it out. I soaked orange peel in vinegar for two weeks. I am trying it out, it seems to work just fine, the vinegar is a bit tiring to smell.

Peach continue to beguile us. This little being is a treasure.

Hon~E~Lixr, oh yeah! I purchased this at the farmers market at Union Square, from Tremblay Apiaries. This is the smoothest, yummiest honey I have ever eaten. I make herbal tea and eat this honey on the side!

Got my hair cut again. I love getting my hair cut.

I visited my Dad and Mom this week. We had a great time. I ate ice cream with my Pop, we all took a drive over to Domestic Possessions in Madison Connecticut where my Mom has some of The Captain’s Chest items. My Pop and I made pasta and we chewed down some tasty eggplant and mushroom marinara.

I went to the City of Hope luncheon, where Carmen Marc Valvo was being given an award and had a fashion show. Oh my, it was so much fun to see.

The Park Plaza hotel is very pretty.

Short and sweet!

A New Day

In the Many Mellys post, I stepped quite squarely into a hornets nest. I would like to apologize if I have upset or harmed anyone by my use of the words gender queer. While I think there are many similarities and points of connection between being a flat chested woman (as a result of breast cancer) and to be confronted with expectations about my body from anyone other than myself and the ‘spectrum’ of what it may mean to be gender queer, I understand that transgendered people may feel angry and resentful at the manner in which I used the words and for that, I apologize. I mean no disrespect.

If you get to know me in a personal way, you will know that I sometimes PUT my foot in it, I can be quite a bull in a china shop. I do not have a problem sussing through my mistakes, or apologizing if need be. I will continue to talk on the topic of opting out of reconstruction, what that can mean as a woman in our society and my feelings about being flat chested when appropriate. I am not an intellectual and my discussions will, for the most part, be from a personal stand point. I appreciate discussion and remain open to your thoughts.

And this is where I will leave the conversation for now.

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My work with Carol Soderlund is progressing.  We are narrowing the controls of our study. I want the color I want to print and Carol is helping me sift through the media and materials so that I can print the color and value I intend. The work we are doing together is amazing. I am seriously considering taking her ProChem workshop on the topic. I don’t know that I will NEED to take the class after I finish my work with Carol, but I do love the work she does and would like to have the experience.

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 We are working through the ideas and methods of batching, seeing if steaming is a good approach to setting the dye while using my current obsession of multicolor printing. I did get a bit excited last week and made some printing errors, this week, I don’t want to make any mistakes, although mistakes sure do help with the learning process.

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I love the pace of the work I am engaged in. I cut one yard of cloth into 16 pieces, which ends up being about 8×10″ each. This size is very easy to complete and I am blowing through cloth. When we are done establishing a methodology to get the results I want to see, I am going to have a boatload of cloth to use. And I have been wanting to make easy-peasy, jelly roll sized quilts, because who doesn’t want a stack of quilted pretties to snuggle up with? Having several Jelly Roll sized quilts, being able to switch them out and create a new, quick look in the living room? Priceless.

I guess I need to measure the Jelly Roll quilt I made last year. This quilt won’t be strips, so I guess I am just using the size as a reference and not the name or style of the quilt.

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Fruit

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Last week I carved this fruit set. I don’t know how many stamps, stencils and carvings this set is composed of. I am batching today. My result so far are very interesting A full report to come.

I will be printing this image again this week. Check back in!!

 

working out the kinks

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I am working hard behind the scenes here, at Studio Melly.

A few months back, I was printing some birds from The 20 only to find that my wash out rate was too high while printing with Procion MX dyes on cloth. I wasn’t getting the intensity of color, or the bold, bright colors I had come to expect. All printing with MX dyes came to a halt as I looked for help. 

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I contacted Carol  Soderlund, telling her of my frustrations. I have been a student of Carol’s, I took her Color Mixing 1 course and have and use her book of 1000 repeatable colors. I use the nine colors she uses so that I can mix and use colors from her book if I choose to. Beside which, I understand the usefullness of working in a limited palette and the 9 colors Carol gathered together and uses in her classes have equivilents in the other media I use, so, she did the work of gathering the colors and I use them! I am a good student that way!

I connect with Carol as my teacher, and happier still, as a friend.

I reached out to Carol, seeking help in identifying and applying solutions to my lapses in Procion MX dye use.  

And, OMG. Thank goodness I did!

Carol is tutoring me through most of  Color Mixing 2 class ( which she will be teaching at ProChem this October, and, even though I am being tutored, I want to sign up and take!!!).

What a resource!

Carol is leading me through ‘Procion MX bootcamp’ (I made that up, I am reading too many fitness blogs!). It is fantastic. I am now getting the results I expect to see. And it wasn’t that I didn’t know all of these things before, I got lackadaisical. Not a good idea, Procion MX dye requires our full attention when we use it. 

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It seems I need Tune Ups all over the place: One of the things about cancer or living with the effects of treatment, is facing the need for acceptance. Self acceptance. I accept I had cancer. I accept my energy levels, intentions, focus, abilities have changed as a result of cancer treatment.

I have never had to manage energy before! And as a result, accepting these changes as I experience them is interesting to say the least.  Contemplating these changes can be a burden, and sometimes even a joy, I suppose it is down to the moment and whatever emotions are present at that time. But even still, I now have discussions with myself about my abilities and limitations. (and yes, I understand my output is above average, so I am mourning the loss of a small percentage of ability but this does not mean that I don’t continue to hold myself up to previous standards). I am able! Thank my lucky stars. I am just changed. 

My cognitive function is just, well, different. I hope that mental function in those realms will increase, open, expand and think that working with multicolor printing from start to finish is great mental food. Creating these images is like mental candy, they are very stimulating to make. I love figuring out what needs to be white, how I might add shading, what needs to stay and what needs to go. And it does not escape me that I am building little puzzles. Little intricate puzzles, I am thinking from the back, forward. I am mentally stretching.

In fact, this is intentional, I want more and better brain function! And I figure, if I can nudge the process along while having some good visual fun, why not?

So, not only am I learning proper printing technique with Carol, I am hoping to expand my brain box at the same time! Not too shabby.

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