Printing-Along Progress and the benefits in printing a Strike Off

I am creatively bamboozled by the Printed Village challenge at the same time as Carol Soderlund and I are hosting a Playful Fabric Print-Along. The two goals have collided. Really, I couldn’t be happier! Working in this manner is exactly how I was taught to design when I attended F.I.T.

Stylists would gather a presentation of ideas and we were asked to interpret them. Then we worked together to make the artwork stronger, with the best use of color for each motif. 

The graffiti element I spoke about in my last post? I decided to use the StencilGirl Scroll Y100rev as a graffiti like element in my NYC MTA Subway carved rubber layer. You see above, I traced out a few of the scrolls from the stencil to fill the ‘negative space’ with a graffiti like spray of scrolls. At least this is my hope.

(Check out this post about using negative space and stencils in a journal).

Drinking coffee while carving is the height of relaxation for me. So I got to work. 

This is a first printing or strike off (Playful Fabric Printing, page 29). Strike off‘s are very important to the design of multicolor sets (especially when designing in repeat). It can get confusing to think through the best use of color, without the use of this step. Strike off’s reveal and highlight the carved (all techniques really)design in the printed format. This information is an education to applying dye color and using the Playful Fabric Printing techniques.

This particular strike off revealed a several things.

1. I found a mistake in the repeat. Because I hadn’t carved another area of the design, and was able to fix the mistake.

2. I had left the uncarved area for inspection in this strike off, just to be able to ponder whether a textural element might be called for. Because of this printing, I decided against. 

3. Revealed detail possibilities, like the roof of the subway train, and the lone tree in the bend of the tracks. 

4. I had been thinking my lines were to heavy while I was carving, but this printing is pleasing and thus acceptable to me.

So I applied my fix and completed the carving.

This will be a fun print to color. I am working on this now. 🙂

This weekend in Studio Melly

It started with tickets to Jazz at Lincoln Center , a happy couple, and some great lighting.

The show was amazing.

My weekend continued with a request by my Man to change my cellphone lock screen to this image of David Bowie. And I couldn’t agree more. I remain ever grateful to have walked the earth during David Bowie’s lifetime. When he died, all of them died.

Long live the many lives, and personal recreations of David Bowie.

I am working on my Threads of Resistance piece. It speaks to women and ‘the female body’, using recent news headlines to highlight matters of gender oppression. Decorative elements abound, of course.

This is a work in progress, I will update the blog about it as I progress it. It will measure 20″ square and will have a knife edge finish. It will have machine quilting, and (I hope) embroidered elements. I haven’t made a piece in this manner for a very long time. This is fun!

At the same time, I am printing up a storm with Melly Marks Kits.

Sunday, I gathered as many printed items that could be steamed together. By the end of this week, I will have processed a new batch of color triangle swatches, a Speed Print session related to all the Melly Marks repeats, and more. I love steaming, because it means lots of printed cloth, ready to use!!

So? How about you? What were you up to this weekend?

 

 

Out and about while binding a quilt

When I was a child, one of my favorite books was called, We Were Tired of Living in A House. Much like it sounds, the children in the family, packed their bags and headed out to make house in a tree, on the beach and so on. Ever in my life as an artist has this concept been of great favor. I do everything in my power to Gather my Sew-plies, or bucket as the case may be, and hit the town. 

And today, I must complete a quilt slated for a magazine article. 😜

What better way to drink a bit too much coffee and get out of the apartment, than this.

The sun will come out tomorrow.

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I am walking the city, doing my thing, enjoying myself as I go. I prepare for a full day of Playful Fabric Printing.  My dyes are mixed, my stamps, stencils and TFax screens are ready. I will begin printing as soon as I get there.  In the meantime, it is Thursday and I like to do self care on Thursday mornings.  

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I like that it appears I am growing out this clay persons head. This is my selfie for the day, so you take selfies?
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The above is a You Can’t Resist This! Soy wax batik sample.

Today is another dance in public day. I must say, dancing in public is a public service. It is a smile generator!

Last week I was dancing in the subway. Two men were listening to big bubble headphones. The tall black man, who was so stylishly dressed, took his ear piece off to ask what I was listening to. I told him, ‘Shamir. Go buy everything he’s done’. 

I asked what he was listening to, Beyoncé’s Lemonade.  He was sheepish when he told me he was going to class and hadn’t listened to the music yet. I asked if he was taking a singing or dancing class, his response- no, a Black Lives Matter class. Now I want to purchase the album!

There was a scrawny white man wearing big bubble headphones too. He took his ear piece off to ask what I was listening to and I told him too. When I asked in return, he told me he was listening to Howard Stern. (Double YAWN), no dance possibilities there.

David and I are going to our first silent rave this weekend. 4 DJ’s, everyone wears headphones and dances. This means if we want to talk, we will be able to hear each other! Pinch me! This sounds like heaven on earth.  And! Disassociated dancing!

Hey!! Have you preorder a copy of Playful Fabric Printing? Please do.  I am cooking up some fun over here and I want you to play with me. I plan to create a teaser today! Stay tuned  

 

Every day for a month?

I am happy to have come upon Cheryl’s blogging challenge. I am going to give it a heave ho. I won’t promise every single day, but I will promise, as often as possible. Even if all I do is post photos. 

This house makes me happy because of the daisies on the roof. 

This photo looks at my feet.

 

This photo looks at my head.

 

This is my view from my coffee cup at a shop called, Roots. 

I am in want of this print.

 

And I have found a new coffee destination. The grits are great. The coffee is dark. This is my kind of shop and it is less than a mile from home. I feel blessed. How are you?

#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!!

mixing for my bucket, while watching textile related documentaries

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Friday will be my printing in public debut, so today, I am mixing up a palette and packing up my bucket. I see one bucket apron modification that I would like to make before Friday. I need to make sure the lid stays attached to the bucket in transit. I also need to soda soak some cloth.

In other words, I am having a day in the studio.

In the meantime, I am watching The First Monday in May, which I highly recommend. It is the most perfect accompaniment to working with fabric in the studio. Unfortunately, I did not see the Met show connected to the movie, but I am happy to have watched tthe movie. I cried when they mentioned Alexander McQueen. I was riveted to see Bill Cunningham, who just passed away this year (and if you haven’t seen the documentary called Bill Cunningham New York, you should watch this too). And, I admire Anna Wintour and her wintery, cold presentation. So watching this documentary was a win! 

Oh, and if you have not seen The September Issue? Do.

If you have any suggestions as to what I should watch while working in my studio, please leave a comment.

 

 

 

Buckets’ debut, modest but impactful.


We honor Ganesh here at CASA M&D, so when I came upon his likeness this morning, I snapped this photo. The sun is just beginning to shine upon him. He gave a smile. I gladly took it. I am sitting in a favorite coffee shop to work and blog outside the apartment.  

It has so far, been a very productive day, and it is just past 9:15. 


I snapped this self portrait last night, and just had to share it here. It’s fun to see myself, inside a pig who is wearing a bow.

I have had my first outing with The Bucket. Me and my bucket are going to follow a rainbow together, a very colorful rainbow. This is just the beginning.

We walked a few blocks to Mazzone hardware. The bucket needs some carriage bolts, nuts and washers, so I took the little lady out for a spin. I decided to take the bucket because it helps me understand the weight of the bucket, while placing me in context -with- the bucket. 

Printing in public means I will need to –talk to people– about what the heck I am doing. (Crazy lady things!) 

I mean, I do question going out into the wilds of NYC to print in public parks! But you know what? When I was going through treatment for breast cancer, I kept asking myself, what happens if you don’t do-such and so. What happens if I don’t follow my passions and whims. I could die not having done them, that’s what. And rather than let that happen, I’ve decided to do the things! I can come up with some pretty wild ideas. And this one, printing in public, is pushing me outside my comfort zone. 


My neighbor Dee was sitting outside her place, so I decided to try my crazy out on her. It went really well. Dee wanted to know about my bucket even before I had placed it in front of her and introduced both myself and the item at hand. Phew. That was easy. Dee likes the bucket and the idea. Cool. 

Who doesn’t like a nice bucket?


So this is Mazzone’s hardware. I tried to get one of the employees to pose with me and my bucket, but that was a no go. I think this was a great success anyway! I spoke with the nice lady, told her about my project and I asked if she might want to be featured on my blog. She contemplated the idea, but declined and I went ahead with my recon mission. I feel this was very successful! Part of my mission was accomplished in this exchange. Nice.

I went on to photograph my bucket in front of the store instead.  


I don’t know how to utilize these just yet. I did not purchase them. But… Don’t you think Bucket needs wheels? 

My hesitation to include the wheel starts with the added weight, but it is also contingent on another factor, the bucket must remain viable to holding water. There will be no holes in this bucket. I think this means that I might need a wooden platform to apply the wheels to… And again, that means added weight to carry. But wheels mean movement and that sounds like fun. I could also see pulling my bucket like a pull toy.


And here is bucket in the bolt aisle! It looks comfortable, don’t you think?

The other question I keep asking myself is, what does it mean -to you- to be a textile artist, in NYC, in 2016? 

And to this, I continually respond, it is totally up to ME, what that means. 

So if I want to use NYC as my studio, alright. And if I want to use motif and textile design to explore my world, so be it. This is my art form.  But as I begin to print in parks around the city, I want to have a secondary goal. The secondary goal is that I want to design a print based on the entire experience. I want to see a NYC landmark in the print. I will take pictures at each park and use them as motifs in the print. 

I hope you will follow along as I do! This is going to be fun.

Overall this was a great first outing.

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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Stitches pile up, life and CraftNAPA: an update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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You Can’t resist This!! Class photo.

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Journal Embroidery class photo.

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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Life is better than good.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

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!

TV taping and Gathering your Sew-plies!!

 

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

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

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

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

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

So…

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

What more could an artist wish for in her lifetime?

Wear them close.

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

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

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

Small Works, Big Impact

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

Melly

More updates to come!

 

Everything in between

   

This chair, with its lovely patina, can be found at Rex, a coffee shop on 10th street between 56 and 57 in Manhattan. It is not the most comfortable chair. But it sure is pretty.

  

I have a thing for chairs, if you have not noticed. Artistically speaking, chairs equate to nudes for me. When I started writing Inspired to Quilt, I was asked to cut back on placing nudes within the book. This was in the hope of attracting the broadest audience possible. So, I moved to depicting chairs (and birds, always birds).  Chairs allude to the human form, we rarely walk into a room without coming upon a chair. People recline, rest, wait, gather while sitting in a chair. So when I come upon an interesting chair, I draw, or in this case, photograph it. It is good form to do so, taking notes, snapping pictures, keeps items and ideas accessible.

  

There are two color ways of this chair print in my first fabric line, Meadowlark by Windham. If I get my way, there will be more. Once we alight on motifs that impress us, spark the imagination, it is a good idea to honor it and continue on the quest of expressing your appreciation of the idea. In the photograph that follows, you can see a bit of hand printed chair in the lower right.

  

While sitting in the aforementioned chair, I worked this piece. It is my goal to make my small work art quilts as similar in style and nature to my journal pages as I am able. When working with different media and hoping to carry ideas over from one format to another, we must realize there is quite a difference in media. Applying paint with a brush to paper is much different that applying dye to cloth, paper is smooth and has finishing agents that hold the paint in place, where cloth is much more absorbent, and I haven’t even mentioned the difference between paint and dye. What I am trying to suggest though is, there is no direct correlation between mediums. We need to bridge the gaps we experience as we come across them.

The journey to finding these parallels began to occur prior to writing Inpired to Quilt, and continues to this day. For example, in the piece above, the finches were drawn using a ruling pen and paint, on silk organza. Silk organza is the equivalent to tracing paper in my journals, it is sheer, it can be layered and allows what appears underneath to show through. The ruling pen itself is a parallel to a pen, and allows for fine line drawing on cloth or paper, using any color you are able to mix in either dye or paint. 

I have a good handle of the tools needed to cross media. What I am working on is creating imagery that can flow and jump off the page and find a continuum on cloth, my preferred medium. This is the fun of being an artist and following where the visual and artistic journey brings us. I continued this exploration within Dreaming From the Journal Page: Transforming the Sketchbook to Art. And honestly, I think this will be my journey for many years to come.  

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Today I went to my 4 month check up with my oncologist, all is clear. I am good to go for another four months. 

I need to ‘talk cancer’ for a moment and I hope you are ok with this. Cancer sucks. I am happy that I seem to be in remission, I have the ability to beat this and I know that not all folks do. Within my support circles, I read and keep in touch with folks who are experiencing stage four cancer, where keeping the cancer in check is the only option and some of my friends and acquaintances have passed from this disease. I do not mean any disrespect in talking about something as trivial as hair, but I find I need to.

It has been about four years since I lost my hair to chemotherapy. I was bald, I didn’t wear a wig, I didn’t feel the need to. When my head was cold, I wore a hat. I was told that my hair might return different than it had previously been, it might come back thicker, curly, it might change color, or come back thinner. Secretly, I hoped it might come back curly, as I have always had poker straight hair. Instead it came back super thin. I used to struggle to wrap an elastic around it twice, now, I bet I would need to wrap an elastic 5-6 times. I have had to change the part in my hair so that my head does not show through as much. I have been trying to grow my hair out and I realize, my hair has become my krytonite. I can handle being breastless, I had to make a choice, I did, I went with it. But my hair? Not so much.

I saved my life, I exercise, I am eating healthier, I am alive. Now, I need to accept, this is the way my hair is now. I am glad to have hair. It sure beats being bald, or dead for that matter. I don’t know if I can grow my hair out-I have gotten tired of cutting it and haircuts are expensive, here in the city, I am going to give it to the end of the summer and decide at that time. Whatever I do, I need to stop the conversation in my head, the negativity and disappointment I feel, when I look at my reflection and see how thin my hair is. The experience of breast cancer and its treatment has made me shine a fresh and bright light on beauty ideals, how they affect me (and us), and has encouraged me to break down my assumptions and become a stronger more vibrant woman. It is time to apply what I have been learning to my feelings and thoughts about my hair. 

Thank you for sticking with this post, it was a long one.

allow, welcome, be present

   

I have been sewing on the subway and beyond. It is interesting to sew in public, it is not done very often, I regularly see knitters, I know I have seen crocheters, I have seen people drawing. Of all of these activities, knitting happens most often. But even still, not as often as you might think. I feel tentative about sewing in public.  I started using my Gather your Sew-plies purses to sew on the go a few years back. I remember feeling much more open and present to sewing in public at that time. I look forward to feeling more ease while whipping out a needle, cutting a length of thread and putting needle to cloth.

The Gather your Sew-plies purses are pretty secure and hold all of the essentials, thimble, a spool of thread or two, scissors, wax, all attached to my person due to its backpack styling. I carry my projects, along with the Gather your Sew-plies purse in in my everyday backpack. All of it is really easy to gather up and put away, if I loose myself, and forget to listen to the subway announcements. It is a tidy package. 

The Quilting Arts Holiday issue that contains this latest pattern for the Gather your Sew-plies purse is on sale half off, click here)

 

I look forward to beginning to stitch this piece. I printed the left most portion this last weekend and sewed it to the right portion yesterday. One of my overarching goals in working with cloth is to make my fiber art more akin to my painted work. So, I plan to invest in intuitively placing new motifs, lines and secondary patterns by way of embroidery and stitch. This will be fun to watch unfold.

I have been loving Instagram (click and follow me!) and the ability to search hashtags! My latest fun find is #subwaytalents. There are many musicians who play in the subway, and I think it would be great to add stitching to all the underground talent. I think the person who owns the subwaytalents page found me through my use of the hashtag #NYC, or probably more accurately, #nycsubway. I daydream that perhaps I will start a public stitching trend, silly, perhaps. But who knows? Anyway, I am posting videos and photos to Instagram, I often cross post to facebook, but I also post images solely to Instagram. I hope to see you there as well.

meadowlark, design, cut and sew?

I have been using, and loving, Quiltography for iPad. It has ‘potato chip factor’, which means, I open it, start designing and cannot stop. I think I have designed over 40 quilt tops using Meadowlark. But it is now time to begin making quilts using the information the app provides. As I have been doing this, I realize that, I have never designed, cut and made a quilt top in this manner before. Previously, I have done improvisational piecing or have used an established pattern. 

 

After designing the quilt top, I started by making a few sample blocks. This helped me to understand that the Half Rectangle Triangles used on the star block (photo below), were somewhat tricky. To get the HRT sewn well, it seemed that I should either paper piece or perhaps purchase a ruler specific to the task.

Although I continue to want the Bloc_Loc Half Rectangle Triangle, for whatever reason, I chose to use paper piecing this time around. Paper piecing is accessible and easy to do. I drew out my block, scanned that into my computer and printed as many as was needed to complete the stars in the upper left of the quilt top. As you can see, there is a bit of waste with this method, but it seemed to me by watching the video related to the ruler that waste is part of acheiving an elongated triangle, no matter what approach you use.

So I bit the bullet and proceeded with paper piecing. At the moment, I have all of the star blocks complete. Yeah!!

Today I will begin cutting asymmetrical border #1, which is all straight line stitching. I am excited to have found a Bloc_Loc Half Square Triangle ruler at my local quilt store, The City Quilter (which also carries my line-and sells online), so I bought in the 6″ size. If they had the Half Rectangle Triangle, I would have bought that too.  😉 

The yellow in this photograph appears a bit too bright, I will work on getting the color better in future photographs.

It will be quite interesting to see the entire quilt upon completion. It is interesting to use the Quiltography for iPad app to design, but as I make the quilt blocks, I keep thinking about the size of the screen and the images you are able to see as you design within the app, compared to full sized, made in cloth quilt. 

Designing a quilt from start to finish with the intention of making blocks to a specific measurement has been a very interesting experience. I like it! And, with my affection for two sided quilts, I may well be making quilt top #2, to back this one!

I look forward to spring, don’t you? And because I need distraction, if you are making something you are excited about, I would love for you to share a link to your blog. Please show me what you are up to!

 

Working Large

As you know, I have a tendency to working small. I live in a small New York City apartment. My studio, if this is what you call it, resides within my home. My ‘wet studio’ consists of a 2 foot by 4 foot workbench. So, of course, the fabrics I print need to be sized appropriate to the space I have available to me. Working small does not seem to be a limiting factor to me. But it sure is nice to be able to print on a bigger scale.

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So, to stir things up, I decided to take a class and check out the Gowanus Print Lab, a studio that focuses on screen printing. The Print Lab offers many options for people like me, they rent space by the hour, day, week and month. Being able to print yardage, in a workable and functional studio space outside my home seems like a pie in the sky treat! I can see myself utilizing this now and again.

But let me back up. Above is an image of the vacuum table that helps burn screens. I took this photo while my design was burning. It is hard to tell what is happening, but off to the left a light fixture is shining its light onto the table, which you see, tipped upwards to reveal my screen to the lamp.

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This is the design I have been working with in class. I have soda soaked this cloth and will be printing and adding additional color using Procion MX dyes soon.

Working larger is exciting! I have been printing pieces of fabric that measure about 9×11″ for over two years. I love figuring out how to use these scrappy bits. I love the variety of color I can print when printing small, but being able to print yardage?

E-X-C-I-T-I-N-G!

There is nothing wrong with this!

General rambling, + winner announcement.

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It has been a rough ride these last few weeks. A roller coaster, really. It is taking focus and drive to stay above the ‘frustrated fray’. Luckily, there is a new hand made ice cream store, open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and they have Muscavado Brown Sugar Caramel ice cream.

I mean, that makes everything better.

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I have been studiously working to make this a viable creative space. I know the photos is blurry, pardon me on that. My thoughts and feelings for this creative space are somewhat blurry as well. It really is time for me to rent a studio away from home but monetarily, I cannot yet afford to. This space, is in my kitchen. I have very mixed feelings about this. On the other hand, I am very grateful to have a space to make things in. I can’t complain too much. But this is a mixed bag.

I had very similar feelings when we first arrived in Brooklyn and lived on Nelson street. And, I thought that apartment was so small. This new apartment is tiny, comparatively. I remember feeling angry that I did not have a ‘studio’, but rather, an area to create in. I remember feeling resentful that I could no longer, feasibly make large pieces of art. But then, I remember too, breaking large imagery into smaller pieces and creating large work in a different manner. So, I have hope. I hope my elastic-side-view-make-it-work-self steps in and makes good soon.

I want to feel comfortable in my making area.

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David and I have been going out and doing new things recently. This week our good friend left town and offered us his apartment. So yesterday, we went into the city, had a great walk in the park, fantastic pizza, bought a bottle of wine and a pint of…ice cream, and enjoyed that while watching TV. We do not have TV, we rent shows, we watch series, but do not have paid TV. 

TV is interesting, I like to watch it when I am away from home. But I always feel relieved that I don’t pay for it or have access too it on a regular basis. We watched baseball and food channel. I love Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and there was a marathon showing! But watching TV means watching mainstream ideals in action, as we were flipping through the channels, I heard sexist remarks, racism, was immersed in consumer and mainstream culture. I much rather live without that. TV is fun in short bursts, but for me, not much else. Renting movies and shows works much better, if you ask me.

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We are working together to settle into life in a new apartment. It has not been easy. My normally positive attitude has taken a few hits these last few weeks, and David has been hit hard too. We are still piled high in boxes and I suppose this will continue for a while longer. We will need to indulge in ice cream and long walks more often. And we will need gentle reminders that we are not mad at or constrained by one another so much as, ill at ease in our new surroundings. 

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Who won, you ask? 

Patty S!!

Patty, please respond to your email and I will make sure to get your mailing address to Lynn and Lisa, who are organizing the give away.

The Goodness

I recently went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw an installation by William Kentridge called The Refusal of Time

I don’t know about you, but when I go to museums, which are like candy shops for me, I give myself an ‘out’, which goes like this, “Go ahead and wander around until something ‘sticks’.” This version of ‘candy’ takes up mental space, I figure I should not apply my full attention to anything in particular until my internal bells and whistles begin firing. I really do not want to give my energy away before I have had my moment.

So I wandered around, predominantly on the second floor, where I stumbled on a show called Jewels by Jar. I like sparkly things, not a lot, but I do, I meandered through the gallery, which was very dark, I looked at the amazing jewel encrusted sculptures, they were really neat, Jar has major talent and imagination. But what I really liked, was seeing the New York dames, elder women, neatly dressed, holding the print-out closely and trying to figure out what metals, jewels and fibers were used in each piece. I have always loved elder people and I fall in love easily. 

I fell in love that day.

Then I stumbled into a furniture exhibit, centered around the dressing table. This was a low key gallery as far as I was concerned. It held my interest long enough to take a fun selfie.

But soon after this, I entered into the installation by William Kentridge ( the top most phot in this post). I really like the art this man makes. Every piece I have come across satisfies me, touches me deeply and this installation did not disappoint. Surrounded by projections on all three walls, sitting on a chair affixed to the floor along side an active bellows of some sort of machination, while listening to some really ingenious music, I became immersed in this 35 minute experience. 

It brought tears to my eyes, I was amazed. I love that. I love when good art makes me cry. When good art makes me think and pulls me away from what I think is true and relevant and fills me with wonder and anticipation. 

I want to see it again.

And whenever I go to the Met, I always seek out the gallery just outside the Antonio Ratti Textile Center which had an exhibition of William Morris fabrics and wallpaper. This is just food for the soul. This textile lover, up and coming textile designer, loves William Morris. Being able to lean in and really look at printed cloth and wallpaper? Being able to see the ‘thuck’ of the block printed paper (the texture that the ink leaves), oh my goodness. That was a treat beyond measure.

I left the museum with a lightness, an airiness that had not been there previously.

What museum, show or gallery have you been to that has rocked your socks? Tell me in the comment, please.

Learning to quilt again

MultiPatchwork

 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.

 

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 podcast, breast pockets, todays ramble.

This week Ricë and I recorded a podcast on ” Going Flat and the Breast Pocket Project” and if you have an hour, please listen to it.

 


Studio Melly is up and running, hand dyeing embroidery floss. I ran out of cards to wrap thread on, and so, began making my own. I am crazy. It takes as long to make your own floss cards than it does to dye the thread (not really). And I do love seeing all the colors lined up in their boxes. I lament they are plastic, but can’t live without the orderliness. So I am ordering these.

I can tell you, I am learning a thing or two, dyeing all this thread. It is an interesting process. 

I have been gifted with an entire set of Havel Scissors. I like them a lot. They are a nice compliment to my sewing shears, but don’t replace them. The blades have a serrated teeth that has the effect of being grippy. I like these scissors for their accessibility, they are in high use right now.  Because I have an array to choose from, each having  specific use, I can confirm, I like the embroidery scissor, it is a bit too big for my Sew-plies purses, but it is lightweight and has a nice grip.

I don’t have an affiliation with Havel scissors, I am just giving my own opinion.

This is a set of pockets that I started working on last night. They will have graffiti stitching. 

We walked into Dumbo, taking photos and talking. The morning was magical and we began our walk just before the hustle and bustle of ‘family wake up time’. We had our cappuccino, we walked, paused, took pictures, it was great.

 I don’t know what this building is called. I will find out.

Saturday, oh saturday.

I bought this: Six Strand Embroidery Cotton, 500gm, White and I have no regret. I am falling in love with embroidery, and I mean head over heels in love.  And Procion MX dye has some part in the picture. 

I have been having a post cancer dialog with myself as to whether I would continue to use Procion MX dye.

Pros and cons:

It is a synthetic chemical.

It isn’t conducive to apartment living/studio space. 

I still drum up projects using Procion MX dye  for at least a portion of the project. 

I own a full set of colors and all of the equipment to go with it.

So what I have decided is, I am going to use the dyes I own and I am going to use it sporadically, as I see fit.  Embroidery is my current obsession and I want a full array of color gradations in every color of thread, so I prepare to dye them. I am on a mission to use the cloth I have been making for the last 10 years. Some dye use here and there, if tidy, succinct, and abbreviated is OK.

Discussion closed. 

 David and I walked through Red Hook this morning. There was a tag sale. I bought this set of stamps for 5$, no wait, 15$, oh, I mean 10$. It was a confusing negotiation. The cigar box had a 5$ sticker on it. I told the guy I wanted it, he said, “15$, please. You get the idea. We settled on 10$. I wanted the set. It also has a full set of numbers. The box they are nestled in, not the cigar box is the original.

Great find.

We also found a brand new wash board. I have been wanting one, we hand wash a lot here at Casa Testa. This washing board is metal, has two textures, one flat, one grated. It really is Dubl Handi.

Breast Pocket production is in ull swing around the world. I have spoken to folks in Hong Kong, Australia, Finland and all over the U.S. Someone read about the project over at Craft Gossip, which I have never heard of but I like very much. Great name, too.

Here you see the western pocket. I will Kantha Stitch this piece, dense straight rows in the negative space around the ribbon. Can you see it in this picture? For no particular reason, I am stitching this pocket for my paternal Grandmother. Maybe it is because she used to enjoy watching Westerns on Sunday afternoon television.

I love the Kantha Cloth that uses stitch along with pictorial story telling. I will be researching more about Kantha.

Sewing what I see.

I have been making the Gather your Sew-plies purses obsessively. I am on #8 and I have set a goal of making 30 of them. Really I have made 9, but I gave one away. 🙂 I have also been at home and focused for quite a few weeks, and it is time to stretch my creative muscles and to see what change will bring. So I packed up the latest Sew-plies purse along with some buckram and thread and I walked up to the Promenade to ‘sew (I mean draw) what I see’.

This little drawing took about 3 hours to do. The buckram provided a ‘grid’, which helped in ‘drawing’ straight lines. I brought two types of thread, straight sewing machine thread and #12 Aurifil Mako’ (which has become my favorite hand sewing thread), both in black. I don’t think this drawing is complete and I would love to try using the #12 Aurifil thread in this drawing. The two different sizes of thread will compliment one another nicely, I think.

On the walk home, I began to wonder if I need to paint the sky a light blue… hmmm.

I will be doing this again. I would love to stitch/draw some people, crowds, horizon lines. I need more buckram.

A Brooklyn day plus reconstruction!

Oh my goodness have I been having fun making stuff. I am exploring the concept of deconstructing, reconstructing and constructing. When we reconstruct our bodies after breast cancer, we can have procedures where you move fat from one part of the body to another, you can cut a flap of muscle and rearrange it, who knew? Flaps. Moving. Buttons. Pockets. Closures. My idea of cloth, clothing, textiles and medical procedure lingo are colliding. Clothing has become my canvas.

I am sewing wherever I go. Seen here with my Gather your Sew-plies purse in action. You can also see my Boro Bag/Hip Bag. I am preparing a new classes centered around embroidery and bag making. We will dye our own threads and use the inspiration around us to embroider our stories, circumstance, and daily lives on cloth.

I am designing a new hip bag, one that can be worn  along with the Sew-plies Purse and will hold a small project-I have to enable this creative tangent. It is a tangent. Graffitti is a tangent, don’t you think? So why not embroider in a graffiti like fashion all over my clothing. Soon, I won’t be wearing a backpack at all, I will have small art bags, holding my sewing essentials, strapped to my body.

I don’t think these two bags really go together, but they are helping me to define a criteria for the next bag.

Lady Liberty. I love me some her. What a beautiful female symbol she is. In the middle of our harbor. A gentle womanly soul, hand held high.

Yup, I like her.

I spied a stencil and David snappend a photo of Mr. T? Who is that? 

Boy did I walk alot yesterday. I met up with my good friend Erin, and we wandered. We sat at the promenade and talked. We looked at the skyline, we shot the breeze. Then I met up with David and we walked down to the beach in Red Hook. I sat and sewed in front of Lady Liberty. David took photos of his shoe laces and asked me to use one of the images, perhaps just the shape as a motif.

How could a girl resist?

We got Limonata, too. That is my sinful indulgence right now. I love them. They are tart. Almost freeze them, and drink straight from the can.

On our way home, David and I stopped at Union Max. And NABBED two printed blouses. But look at that collar, my goodness. I have already deconstructed it,

changed the collar to peter pan styling, reattached it. And just because I was there, removed the bust darts.

By the way, this shirt is printed gaberdine. When I was growing up, I remember people talking about gaberdine, it was very exciting at the time. Do you have memories about cloth like this?

Noodles, eat, shop, play.

Yesterday I went to the Fashion District to poke around in trim shops. This was the first time I brought my video camera and I was shy to whip it out. M and J Trimming was all for it, I asked if they were OK with my filming, yes. No questions. In fact it was almost as if they were saying, ‘No need! It is all on the web anyway!’ 

I love M and J, they have so much stuff packed into that store, it is arranged and managed beautifully. It is where I go to find stuff, then I try to source it elsewhere to get a better price. Yesterday I went for the clip closures I am using on the Sew-plies purse. They also have these snaps that I have my eye on. But I think I can find them at Pacific Trimming at a better price. Pacific trimming had these safety pins that I find adorable and have been using in the Sew-plies purse, so those came home with me too.

Both stores had stuff that I would like to mull over. I like to mull over and process how I might use a thing before I purchase.

I would like to do this again, let me know if you think it is fun.

When I was flying to Arlington Texas last week, I traced off an image on an airplane and embroidered it to the center back of the Female Magazine blouse. The blouse is piling up the embroidered stitches. The fabric is changing to the touch. Very nice. I will post overall photos soon.

Last week I went and played with Victoria Findlay Wolfe (whom I love and sorta have a crush on, she is creative, gentle, awesome, smart and she is coming out with a book!!). She keeps a site called 15 Minutes Play (also the name of her upcoming book). She sat me in front of a machine and got me sewing without specific purpose in a playful way. Oh my goodness! This was so good for my soul. I have been moving away from intense dye use in my work and using cloth in this way-piecing and playing, really helps to loosen a girl up.

So this weekend I put the idea to the test. I gave myself 15 minutes to play (it turned into hours and hours). But. Here were the ideas I applied to the 15 Minutes of Play:

Use new materials, in this case wool batting

Use stitch in an unexpected way

Combine one piece of hand made cloth with mostly commercial prints

This sew-plies purse is so yellow, it glows! As I have said before, I want to make one for everyday of the week. I may need one for each day of the month. I think this is going to become something for me. I want a piece of clothing to embellish, embroider, print and surface design to go with each purse! I am going to take the Gather your Sew-plies purse off the web and update and fix it, so if you want version 1, download it now.

Please don’t feed the hipsters.

Once a week my Man and I walk up to our favorite coffee joint and help open it. And now, as the weather improves, I have begun to walk afterward. I love walking. I walk fast enough that you might call it running, I can’t slow it down.

Brooklyn, NYC

But when I bring my camera, that will make me stop long enough to enjoy cobblestoned streets.

Brrooklyn, NYC

Oh! Pigeons meet wet cement.

Brooklyn, NYC

And, please don’t feed the hipsters. That stencil looks like Woody Allen, right? He is the ultimate hipster. And that red down there? Roses? I am inspired by this.

Brooklyn, NYC

This church door reminds me of the embroidery I am doing on the Female Mag blouse

Brooklyn, NYC

And finally, the reason for walking down into Red Hook, this Duke Riley poster. Maybe a year and some ago, I went gallery hopping with the Journal Study Gals. Pat pulled a strip of paper off a telephone pole, tore it in half, handed me a section. I went home to glue it in my journal and made a page featuring it (see the last image in this post).

But I had no way of connecting the scrap of paper to the original artist. And you know I have a thing for posters and poster art, you can’t restore vintage posters for 6+ years without acquiring an affection for paper, posters, and wheat paste.

Brooklyn, NYC

So this morning I went back into Red Hook, photographed the poster in-situ and then took it off the wall. 😈 I brought the poster home, in pieces, and washed it in the tub, it is drying now. I don’t know what I am going to do with it, but I like this man’s work and I think I might need to meet him. I bet he lives in Red Hook. He is a tattoo artist, he makes me want a tattoo.

Different poster, collaged and completed in my 8" journal, melanietesta.com

I saw a real rat today, running from a dumpster into a building that is being renovated. I love seeing rats in the city. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Beside which, they clean up after us!

_________________________

So, there is a blog hop going on and I am just now catching up with it, you should too.

April 30 – Tracie Lynn Huskamp
Stenciled & Stitched: A Special Occasion Greeting Card

May 1 – Traci Bunkers
Gelatin Printing

Script Lettering/Tattoo style using Sakura Calligrapher Pens

Fun Little Resist

May 4 – Melanie Testa
Thimble Cinch Sack

May 5 – Lyric Kinard
PSE for Thermofax Screen Printing

May 6 – Jill Berry
Pop-Up Heart Map


 

Jelly Roll gives Soul.

We bought a couch. For years we have had chairs, or more recently a sofa and none of them were flat out comfy or inviting. After I was diagnosed I started thinking about the ‘nesting habit’, and I began thinking how very important having a comfortable, let it all hang out, home is. Then I started thinking about what I like in hanging out with my Man. And the bottom line is Snuggle Time. At night we watch rented movies and TV shows and we love nothing better than putting our heads in each others laps and getting strokes and attention as we watch. 

With Jelly Roll peeking.

So when I walked over to a furniture store near us, I had criteria for a smaller couch, one that could be laid-on with a flat surface, one that could take a flop and a nuggle. You know, you see couches in the movies and they look so lush and comfortable. This ‘couch’ is really two chairs-I think it is actually supposed to be a ‘sectional’, we could have bought them in a single color, the delivery guys were quite confused, but why not have a multicolor couch? The pillows are fabulous too, they are sturdy and they act as arm rests that are more comfortable than the back rest pillows. And the open end? Fabulous for a small apartment.

Back of Jelly Roll Quilt showing.

When I gathered up the fabric for my Jelly Roll Quilt, I was super happy that it pulled all the colors in our living room together. This is the first time in my life where I feel like our home matches our intentions. And it is so good to have a throw that ups the Nuggle Ante. I had enough fabrics to piece a back, so our Jelly Roll is two sided, I am not sure which I like better! In less than 3 week, I made the top, sandwiched, quilted and bound this easy and fun quilt. It made me fall in love with quilting again. In fact, I love this brainless project so much, I think we might need another throw. A pile of them.

But, Mom gets one first.

Texture and fun in the Brooklyn

We Brooklynites like texture in our landscaping.

A symbol or response?

This is the shadow of a fence on gravel/cement.

Van Horn sandwich shop, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Yeah, yum.

From Messy to Clean and Back

6x6 Journal, hot press watercolor paper

I don’t know how it works for you but at Casa Melly, the studio gets messy as all get out, I can’t stand it anymore, I can’t clean while in the middle of project. Then, just when it is driving me batty, I clean it up, spic and span. 

Highline Drawings

While my studio was clean and approachable, I opened a journal to find gentle little drawings that I did while walking the High Line. I drew this last fall, while I was going through radiation treatment, I had gotten to the cancer care center too early and so took a walk on the High Line. The great thing about New York City is that New Yorkers are not generally, morning people, but I am. So I sat down next to some pretty flowers and drew. I drew in pencil and painted when I got home. I used pen later still. My journal pages are completed over time, not in one sitting or in one place. I don’t think this page is complete even still.

JJ Made these.

I asked a friend to make me a set of tiny sanding blocks and this is what she came up with. It turns out, when I paint with acrylics on pine board that I love debride, sand and deconstruct the surface of my work. What better way to get in small places than with tiny little sanding blocks? Super cute, right?

The Wonders

This weekend my Mom came to town and we hung out and, come on! Neither of us brought our cameras! I can tell you we went to see Porgy and Bess, I have been humming the tunes all weekend- we loved it. We had a glass of wine at Morrell, went to Nintendo World (where I want to go with my Man). When I was first diagnosed we bought a Wii, thinking it would help keep me active, even when I was at my worst and needing to stay home. I must say, we were right and Oh! Is it fun, we both really love it. Mom has one too. Then we ate at Gaby. When I brought my Mom to Grand Central Terminal, we did this goofy thing. It was great.

You may have caught on that I will be teaching online workshops soon! I hope you are interested in working with me in this way! I know that I want to get your creative juices flowing to to get inspired by you! That is the great thing about teaching, it goes both ways. As I reorganize my virtual life, I am shutting down the Inspired to Quilt Facebook page and centralizing my social media efforts in my main facebook account, please friend me there! I am sure you understand the challenge of keeping up with social media, I for one would like to simplify and concentrate my efforts.

 I few weeks back I met up with Victoria Findlay Wolfe who has two blogs and a web site. Blog 1 <—-Click it, and Blog 2 <—-Click that! Victoria is a genuinely nice person. Artistically I like what she is doing and I feel inspired by her. Afterward she sent me a  few linens and hankies through the mail. This odd piece of lace was part of a sachet that I have since taken apart and plan to use in a dress I am making.

 I have begun to paint on pine board, and love it! The two photos in this post are the same painting, or the start of the same painting. It doesn’t look like it, does it? I will show an overall photo when the painting is a more established visual.

And look at this little king. So happy.

Mom is in Town!

Mom does NYC!My mom is here in town and we are doing a dinner and a show. I will bring my camera and document my day in NYC, stay tuned!

Welcoming myself back!

 

Welcome to my new blog, it feels spiffy here! It has been one heck of a month. I moved my website to a new server, worked with Holly Knott to create the new structure and look, and here I am. My old blogging platform took a hit in the move, but it was so old and cantankerous that I don’t mind. I am happy enough to have an archive of the old blog to reference now and again, I doubt anyone but me would do this. What does all of this mean to you? Please update your RSS feed, if you use one. This new blog will be friendlier, will show its photos and play nice.

studio Melanie Testa

I have been on blog hiatus for a long time, the longest period since I started blogging, maybe eight years ago! It has been interesting to make things without talking about it. I see value in this, where I never had the chance to experience the difference. 

I am stretching my way out of having a frozen shoulder, so I am keeping oft used things up high above my head. When I need my pins, embroidery scissors, glasses and other small items, I need to stretch in order to grab these things. ‘Motion is lotion’ when it comes to frozen shoulders. This has not been the easiest problem to deal with, tissue stretches at a very slow rate and I may have 75% of my mobility back, so I have a bit more to work through. I never want to have this problem again.

Hand sewing, Rockstar Boro, Melanie Testa

I have been madly creative over here. I am making clothing, the Rockstar Boro (see I link-referenced my old blog already) project has spurred movement within me. Sewing, clothing, construction and reconstruction are going to be a focus for me in the world of fiber, cloth and art for the foreseeable future.

And now that  you are done reading my first WordPress blog post, why not go check out MelanieTesta.com!