Silk Hankies, METAvivor, Anaono Intimates and #cancerland

Beth Fairchild is a woman to admire. She works with METAvivor, is a tireless advocate for breast cancer patients,  she is a mother, an artist and a mermaid.

Last summer we met at a rooftop bar in Manhattan to watch the sun set with friends. It was a magical night (and the first time I met Dana-the owner of AnaOno). At that time, I brought Beth a token gift of my affection, in a handprinted silk hankie (seen above). I love a good hankie. A small piece of fabric with a hemmed edge, to stuff in your pocket, to fuss and fiddle or tie back your hair. 

So when Beth contacted me to ask if I might provide some handprinted swag as a VIP Offering at the AnaOno and #cancerland fashion show, I jumped at the chance.

Here is a short trailer about the project.

I get these 11″ silk hankies at Dharma Trading. They have a nice rolled hem, they take Procion MX dyes beautifully, they can withstand a rigorous washing cycle and they make a great gift.  I printed 48 of these hankies using a three color polka dot design (seen in my first line of fabrics, Meadowlark by Windham Fabrics) using the techniques described in Playful Fabric Printing.

I also used this as an opportunity to record  live video chats about the printing process for our Playful Fabric Printing FB Community page. If you are interested in these printing techniques, our community is perfect for you. Please join.

I chose Procion MX colors that most closely matched the METAvivor ribbon colors, pink, green and blue. (If you want to get technical, in respect to Playful Fabric Printing, I used Colors 10, 11, 27 using Lemon Yellow as my yellow, Fuchsia as red and Turquoise as my blue. I mixed all 4 thickened values for a total of twelve colors and I Speed Printed until complete.)

And here they are atop their silver FedEx swag bags just before the show. 

To see this show was to be inspired by the sheer joy, and utter beauty of real women, real people, who have embraced a difficult diagnosis with badass grace and fierce resolve.

I shivered to my toes and stood present to what an individual, a group of individuals, can do to make real change in the world. I screamed, hooted and cheered. I cried. And it was great.

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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!

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.