Teaching: Focus on Fiber Florida Style

I am very happy to say, I have been invited to teach two classes and give a lecture at Focus on Fiber Florida Style.
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My first class is called, Monoprint, Resist and Stamp: A Vibrant Still Life. This class is based on my Live your Brightest Life contribution to Yvonne Porcella’s tribute of the same name. While this may look complex, the class will break down the steps necessary to build and layer similar imagery while utilizing mono-printing, freezer paper resist and stamping methods together with Procion MX dyes.

And here is my finished tribute, to show what you might do with your printed works! 

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My second class is called You Can’t Resist This! and is a class that combines soy wax resist with the use of Procion MX dyes. This class is my most popular class, especially when I teach it with dyes. Soy wax is a great resist, easy to wash out, it’s inexpensive and provides great result! 

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I will be giving a lecture on what it takes to present a craft book proposal too!

I have only heard good things about this retreat. The facility is supposed to be great, the food gets positive reviews and they bring some pretty great teachers together. I do hope you will sign up!

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I need a little help getting the word out about this, so I am going to do a give-away!!! Maybe you or someone you know would like to take a class with me, maybe you have friends who live in or near Florida, or who might travel with you to attend the class!  I would love to work with you. And your friends.

This is a two step sign up:

1. Please share the link to THIS post to Facebook AND tag me in the body of the post.

2. Please leave a comment to this post too.

and well, here is what I would like to give away:

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6 pieces of Melly Prints! These are 9×11″ (or so) and all are original handprints! Please share and comment!

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.

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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Still Here, after all these years.

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I have been quiet for a long time. I am well. I am feeling better and better and have been sinking deeply into my creative process.

To be honest, recovering from cancer treatment and getting used to being a flat chested woman is not easy. There are the physical concerns, feeling as if I have a tight rubber band around my chest, feeling physically constrained from the cording or Axillary Webbing. And there is getting used to not having breasts in my relationship with my husband. All of this takes time and patience. I am not one to easily step back and allow time to work its wonders, I am a go-get-em sort of gal, so I am working on my own sense of timing while pouring myself into my work and feeding other aspects of my person.

This blog and The Clever Guild site have gone fallow during this period. While I apologize for this, it seems it is plainly needed and beneficial. Since I started this blog almost 10 years ago, I have never allowed myself the luxury of letting go and not checking in. While I hope to start investing in the blog and my virtual narrative soon, I would like to ask for your understanding while I gather my pieces, parts and selves back into a healthy whole again.

Luckily, I have found a Chinese medicine practitioner who will be helping me with my scars and range of motion issues.I had my first appointment yesterday and I have high hopes of feeling some relief in my body while working with his protocol. He would like me to do stretches, scar massage, and Chi Gong in addition to weekly visits for a few more weeks. It feels good to step away from western medicine doctors and take some more control back.

Miss Peach continues to fortify our hearts and illicit big love within our family and home. Today she will be having some blood work done in preparation for her next heat cycle and hopeful respay.

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 This is a strike-off of a multicolor set using paint on paper. I rather like the design, it taught me a bit more on setting up repeats and creating an all over feel for the eventual image. I have been delving into mediums that help create the correct texture for printing with a brayer. Initially I thought it would be tough to figure out, but I think I almost have that down too. I am just trying to figure out the proper ratios so that the paint dries as quickly as possible.

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See? I have been quite busy over here! I don’t know how many stamps, stencils and images I have made in the last two months, I could count them, but no.

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I much prefer to continue carving, cutting and figuring out the repeats as I go.

 

Printing, printing, printing.

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I have been printing away over here. Some pieces are batching, some washed, some on paper, some cloth. Today will be a continued day of printing. I find I like working small. These cloth pieces are about 8×12, or just a bit bigger. Previously I worked on fat quarters, 18×22″ or so. I find what works best for me now, is to rip those fat quarters into fat eight(?) or is it now, fat sixteenth? I will mix an interesting set of colors and then print as many sets of multicolor stamps, stencils or  jobbies as I possibly can. At the end of the day, I have entire groupings of cloth. It is almost as if I went to the quilting store and bought a full line of prints. Except I made these! This is very exciting.

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I really should do a pictorial inventory of all the projects I am working on right now, it would help me see the forrest through the trees. 

I find that even though I no longer have breasts, I miss the trappings of womanhood, seeing the outline of a bra under my shirts, taking it off at the end of the night. For women who had bilateral mastectomy, there are a few bra options out there or maybe just one. There are ‘bralettes’, though I think these are generally geared to teenagers (cheaply made in bright colors), camisoles, half camisoles, but really not much in the way of ‘under clothing’, and hardly anything that doesn’t push prothesis down your throat, as if you want to wear them. So I have been playing with the idea of making my own under things. The piece at the top is a trial sample, and I have to say, it works well. It looks good.

Seeing as I made my own pattern (and it worked), I figured I would go ahead and start using Natalie Chanin‘s techniques from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book. I look forward to seeing how this piece turns out. The ‘bra’ at right, the one being stitched is smaller (less coverage) than the finished one it rests on. Perhaps I can perfect the pattern and make a set, so I can wear them whenever I want to! Perhaps I should make a printed and patterned bra (now we are talking).

I do need to shop the notions stores in the city and find suitable connectors and fasteners. Oh, darn!

Relearn

Procion MX dye on cotton broadcloth

I have become lackadaisical in my use of Procion MX dyes, so I asked a fabulous teacher, who has had a profound effect on my own work with MX dyes to help me troubleshoot and identify my issues. If you know me, you might know who I am talking about, but because I have not asked permission I will leave her name out of this post. The piece you see above has been printed and batched, not washed. I look forward to seeing what my washout results show me. 

In the meantime, I can tell you that batching seems to be a large part of my problem and although I have identified a problem area, I still have lots of questions about how to work in my style while following the tenets needed for colorful success with MX dyes.

The above cotton broadcloth was printed using a mix and match of stamping techniques and the stamps are created in a loose repeat. My training as a textile designer has been making itself useful in this respect. Putting a design into repeat in a home studio is not easy, so I am using the term loosely.

One of the effects of working in this manner is the ability to maintain areas of white, which seem to glisten and sparkle. Saving areas of white is so important and often goes missing in our frenzy to dye, print and play. 

Scored Rose pattern

 I like this print a bunch. I see additional layering possibilities but have not figured out what I would like to see, so it remains a lone rosey stamp.  

Multipass

MTestaDittyThe title of this post refers to the movie The Fifth Element, with Mila Jovovich. Mila’s character wants to travel and needs a multipass to do so (a multipass is a sort of passport). She goes to the airport and looks at the gate keeper and repeats the word, ‘Multipass’ in an accent that has stuck with me since watching the movie. As I delve deeper into multicolor printing, I keep repeating the word, ‘multipass’. I know it is a thin connection, but, I loved that movie and the elastic band outfit that Mila got to wear. 

I am carving this ditty of daisies within ovals and this is the last time you will see this plate looking quite this way. My task for the morning is to remove the background of the stamp, making it more of a simple line drawing. My hope is to print it as a background of the blue cloth pictured underneath the stamp, above. I don’t know if I will print it in Procion MX as the cloth is printed now, or if I will embrace another layer/texture in paint. I do like combining the luminosity of dye with printing in opaque paint. I think it elevates the cloth to a more commercial look. 

 

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For my own records, I printed the stamp the way it appears right now. Perhaps I will have this made into a thermofax. 

 

On my desk

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I am happy to say, I am on a creative roll, an amazing stint, where all I have been thinking about and doing in the last few years is coming together in new and exciting ways. It seems I am no longer concerned about what media I use to express my vision, cloth, paper, it does not seem to matter and better still what I am working on translates to both substrates. I am off and running on the concept of multicolor printing. And it seems that with each success, another avenue of exploration opens itself up to me. 

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This is a strike-off, a ‘trial and error print’ that failed to make the grade, that is why you see the red x’s in the lower right (Red x’s mean NO!). I like it a lot, but this printing taught me the order the different layers need to be applied in. As you know, if you have been following me, my blog and creative process, I like clean lines, fresh ideas and a pristine presentation. This print appears gritty and slightly blurry to me. I like the grit and can work from that, but I don’t like the blur. So figuring out the order to the printing process was invaluable. 

Now I want to try printing it with thickened dye on cloth. And just to let you know, I am working through my Procion MX whoas, so I will be printing in a new and improved manner soon.

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 And here is my studio kitteh. She is a merp button, a cutey-pie, a love dove. She has a sassy personality and will fake a little nip when she does not want to be pet. Other times, when she is ready, she lays on the butter! And I love butter.

Oh, it is lunch time and I am hungry!

Continued Story.

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 It seems Peach has done another awesome thing. She found David and I, specifically. 

Last week I had several conversations with the veterinarian who ‘spayed’ Peach. It turns out, the spay was incomplete and uterine tissue was left inside her body. This tissue is producing estrogen. Peach needs to go into heat again, so that a specialist might be able to find the tissue and remove it. There is no guarantee that Peach will make enough estrogen in order to go into heat, but as this is the best case scenario, we hope that she does. If she does not, we need to regularly screen Peach for mammary carcinoma, in other words, breast cancer. Sigh.

I know that there are no guarantees in life, we have, just this moment, to live as fully as we are able. I love this little being and honestly hope she goes into heat again, that the surgeon can find the tissue, that we are able to lower or obliterate her odds of getting breast cancer. I am happy that she found us, that I can advocate for her. I am happy to love her. I wish that breast cancer could take a lesser seat of prominence in my life, but I accept what life has given me and us.

The veterinary office that helped Peach through her Trap and Rescue ordeal is shrugging off monetary responsibility for this portion of Peach’s care, though the vet who did the work, has said that she will pay for Peach’s re-spay out of her own pocket. I am glad that the doctor has taken an ethical stand, I am considering how to let the veterinary office know of my dissatisfaction. Speaking out is a new path for me and is directly related to my cancer experience. I have less tolerance for bad behavior now, and I want the world to be a better place, so speaking out is called for. There are many gifts related to the cancer experience and I bet part of the reason Peach found her way into our hearts, apartment and life.

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As I make more and more multicolor stamps, I am finding new and interesting ways to build images. Previously, I would draw the image, cut it out of a single piece of fun foam, mount and print the image. Now I am doing more of a call and response, I might cut a simple drawing in two colors, then cut additional layers to darken or shade an area of the image. Next I will work on incorporating textures into the background.

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 Creative flow is interesting. I work away at an idea as if a hound on a mission. Then I run up against a learning curve, as I did while working on The 20. This is when I switch gears, trying to access the intuitive thoughts that might solve the original creative conundrum. This post has two cogs in that wheel.

As I try to workout the Procion MX dye wash out troubles, I began making multicolor stamp portraits (the image of David in the middle of this post, and also this self portrait). Now, needing a break from the portraits, I have decided to carve a set of alphabet stamps. It is at times like this when I need to complete a project or two so that I can get back to what is really bothering me! This week will be geared toward finishing up my side projects and solving my Procion MX whoas.

 

Printable Daydreams

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 The lovable Peach (Little Miss has settled into her name quite well) has been settling into life as a companion animal quite well. She is a cardio kitty, she loves to be chased, and she is an UP cat, she like to be up high, looking down at life around her. She also likes to eat plants, so I am going to have to re-home some of my green babies. But check out these cat shelves! Peach is shy to make the final jump to the top platform, so we may need to lower it. This morning, I encouraged and helped her to get up there. She is quite acrobatic.

Peach has been a blessing. I mourn the loss of my good Arrow, while at the same time, I honestly feel I need cat-energy in my life. I need to pour love into a furr being. I also believe that David and I share a bond based in our love for animals, specifically cats, that heightens and enhances our relationship.

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I am on a stamping mission right now, my creative synapses are firing and I am finding new and creative ways to get images out of my mind and onto the page. I am still working on The 20, but I have come to a halt because the Procion MX dye is washing out in an unacceptable rate-an so need to find a solution to the problem. Additionally, I need to find a new ink or manner to print on paper, as the Memento ink pads I am using are insufficient to the task.

If I were totally honest, I don’t like cheap art supplies like this very much, which seem like little plastic items, whose refills are expensive, I just keep thinking, there has to be a better way. But at the same time, I use these things and am getting some really good results. This particular stamp is too large for the Dew Drops, and so is actually insufficient to the task. Maybe I really just want to hear the the-thk-thk of rolling ink out. And I daydream about using watercolor pigments and rice starch, so I will find a solution, it will just take some time.

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 This set of stamps is loosely printed, I could print it ‘tighter’, but I like what is happening here. This is, of course, a self portrait, using this photograph, I have not quite figured out how to get the ‘goggly eyes’ to look right. I am still working on this. Stay tuned.

American Bittern, thought differently.

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 A few years back Pat Gaignat taught the Journal Study Gals her Faux Screen Printing technique. I remember feeling overwhelmed and not quite knowing what to do with myself or how to use it. Then I went home and started thinking about it and the technique just bloomed and became something quite interesting and useable. I have been working steadily with The 20 series, and have for the most part, used Pat’s technique step by step. But then, I started wondering how else I might use and expand upon the idea. 

And Oh-My-Goodness, I think I have come up with something very interesting. The American Bittern image, above, can be printed using any of 13 different stamps, and I still have a stamp or two that I want to make for the set. I really look forward to trying the stamps out, and will have time later this week.

And the interesting thing about this is, I can use any of the 13, some of the 13, or all of them. It is as if I can build each  image separately of the last. The image here uses 7 stamps to complete the image, so I have 6 more stamps to add shadow here, a compositional element there. I have to say, this is quite interesting.

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 Peach is settling into apartment living quite well. She did go into heat last week, which was interesting. The vet says they spayed her but that it must have failed. I don’t want her to have to have surgery again, but she does need to be spayed. She will go to the vet tomorrow. 

 

Four more for The 20

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I am plugging away at the images for The 20 Common Birds in Decline, in fact, I have 10 more images to go-I am half way there. But they are small, measuring 2.5×3.5″, so it won’t take very long. I am making them in groups of 4 and printing them onto cloth in one session. It is fun, in a very obsessive, compulsive way. I find a photograph that I like, I draw the image, scan and resize it, cut it out of Fun Foam, print it on watercolor paper, then using the printed card as inspiration, I print using procion MX dye on cloth. All while taking notes in my inspiration journal. 

Today I printed (from left to right), Little Blue Heron, Rufous Hummingbird, Common Tern, and American Bittern.

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This is an American Bittern, a private bird of marshy areas. Its coloring and mannerism can make it fade right into the landscape, making this a challenging bird to experience in the wild. I printed at least 4 of this image and I could probably print it again, to get it just right, the color is not fully realized. 

It feels good to work with images of birds again. I love birds and want to affect change in the way people think about them. This list was put together using citizen science by the Audubon Society. Chances are, you will recognize many of the birds on this list, if you are interested in helping them secure viable habitat, check this page out. Or maybe you have a bird feeder and would like to contribute to a citizen science project, check out Project Feeder Watch by Cornell or the Great Backyard Bird Count by Audubon (which happens in April and February respectively). 

Many of the 10 images that are in my future are tough birds to make images of, the like Whip-Poor-Will, a bird most often heard, but not seen, at night. And the Whip-Poor-Will is a primal looking bird too! So finding an image that will say, “Whip-Poor-Will” is a challenge. There are four Sparrows on this list, and I look forward to learning about and identifying them. Making art, exploring imagery that is interesting to me is a way of learning, I love taking out books, reading, searching the web and helping the data settle into my knowledge base. I have worked with so many images of birds, I now recognize them as I read my favorite birding magazines, because I am, for the most part, an armchair birder who longs for a feeder (and backyard) of her very own. 

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I have begun making my Deep Cleaning interview, but got distracted by The 20, so please-stay tuned, the interview/fugly giveaway will occur this week.

In the meantime, let me introduce the American Bittern. This bird is a marsh wader, from the Heron family of birds. This is a secretive bird, confident in its ability to camouflage itself by stretching its neck upward in a reed like fashion, the stripes on this birds body really help make it look reed-like. I am in knowledge expansion mode, and am keeping notes, drawing, perfecting the images I draw and documenting my process.  In effect, I am making a map, creating a learning journey for myself. Exciting stuff.

 You can also see that I am cutting a multicolor stamp (page 58-59 of Dreaming From the Journal Page). This is an ATC sized image 2.25×3.25″, as are each of the printed bird images seen in the last post. I love working small, so this too excites me. 

This American Bittern image is #7 out of the 20 Birds in Decline. I have 13 more birds to go. I really look forward to seeing all 20 images together.

More to come. I am going to be meeting with a friend today and need to workout, shower and get out of the house!