Printing with Intent

I plan to print 40 fat sixteenths in this carved rubber, buta motif, series ( for 2.5 yards). So far, I have printed 25 of the little fatties. So, I need 15 more. When I am finished printing these, I will use up the remaining dye with a single color all over print for another 2.5 yards, for a total of 5 yards of cloth.

I am happy with the results I see, so far! I have carved 7 different blocks, and color separated each of them. In printing these samples, I have been quite pleased with the crispness of each color applied. I have one more 4″ red rubber block to carve for the series to be complete! I think I will change the scale of the motif with this last carve.

I have also gotten to the point where I can close my eyes and envision whether or not the next color application will play nicely. Bonus!

For a long while, I applied color in a willy-nilly fashion. This helped me build color preferences and understand the use of value within the layers of the multicolor print set. But because I wasn’t conscious of what was occurring, I printed many duds. Usable, and even pretty duds, but you know.

When you want pretty, and you get…interesting…. well.

So this was a steam and boil sort of day! My color retention was good and everything is hanging to drip dry now.

This photograph was taken just before the steam and boil. I will update this post with a follow up, so you can see the difference.

Are you interested in printing fabric to be used in your own quilts? If so, please let me know if you have any sticking points that impede your abilities. I would like to trouble shoot this with you! Please leave a comment. And join our Facebook Playful Fabric Printing Community.

 

 

 

Lace Swirl quilt complete!

Here is my first entirely hand printed quilt top using my Melly Marks Lace Swirl Kit! I am loving it, I love the movement of the zig-zag half square triangles, the gradation of colors, the simplicity too. 

Later in the process of making the quilt top, I nabbed a few handprints created using Swirl Vine Kit to fill out the pattern and make a few more blocks. You can see these above. I just needed specific colors and a few more pieces of fabric, and these were quickly available.

One thing that I have totally fallen in love with because of this quilt is printing on Cotton Sateen. The peach pink at left is an example of this, though it is quite difficult to photograph the subtle visual difference and in blog post, it is impossible to illustrate how soft this fabric is. I printed just a few pieces of the cotton sateen, I don’t have much on hand, but wanted to use it anyway and think it a success. Having even a few pieces of this cloth in the mix livens up the top tremendously, lending a subtle sheen and a soft touch. 

I tried to stay within an analogous area of the color triangle, from purple, reds and yellows. I printed a total of 34 Lace Swirl Prints and 54 Chevrons. This means I printed about 5 yards of cloth! From start to finish, this quilt was printed, steamed, washed, cut, pieced, basted, machine quilted and bound in one months time! Wow. Pretty snazzy.

Considering Color and Placement

In learning to use the concepts Carol and I present in Playful Fabric Printing, I have done a lot of experimentation (we both have). In retrospect, as I ponder  my approach to using dye paste and printing as is described in our new book, I would say, at first I was exuberant, I threw caution to the wind, I tried every combination of color and value. And I made many printing errors and color missteps in the process. All of this experimentation has had the effect of helping me build color preferences and forge an understanding of how value adds a visual pop to a print.

In Playful Fabric Printing, we illustrate how to mix color in four gradations, Dark, Medium, Light and Pale (Pale is my favorite). In the above prints, (using this Kit), the purple print uses color much more judiciously than the right red brown print. For one, purple and orange are complementary colors, they reside opposite one another on the color wheel. Because of this, the color sizzles, the purple and orange push one another around, seeking dominance. Also, where the purple is a Medium, the orange is a combo of Pale and Light values, which adds to the zing.

The red brown print is quite nice, but the color choice is a bit flat. These colors are analogous and close relatives in the color wheel. A more effective background color, one that pushes the daisies to the forefront of the design would make this print even better. I am not saying that you ought to work on opposing sides of the color wheel in order to make a great print, though. Rather, a cleaner color choice within the analogous range or a more effective use of value might help propel this design forward.

These two prints, (using this Kit) are both quite pleasing, in my opinion. The differences in color choice are quite interesting. The left most prints’ background is a crisp cheddar while the print on the right is an earthen ochre. The print on the left is bright and chipper, with its flash of light green, while the print on the right has a bit more muscle. Would I use them in the same quilt? Perhaps. It would depend on their fellows. Just looking at them side by side though, the print at right makes me want to create a quilt top with an autumn appeal, and the two would not go well together, if that were to be the goal.

I am happy to say, all the the experimentation I have done has lead me to a more purposeful and considered use of color. Being exuberant has helped me to understand the difference between printing green on top of a crisp yellow-even before I apply dye paste to tool and then print the cloth. Which is why I encourage you to play, experiment and try out every combination you think up.

Stencils, Stamps, Thermofax, oh my!

Earlier this week, I started a Speed Print job using my Lace Swirl Kit and I spoke about the difference between using the L498 StencilGirl stencil and the Thermofax screen to color the swirl portion of the design.

So, today, I wanted to update you and show you the difference between the two.

The StencilGirl stencil allows us to color a single swirl. This gives these prints a bit of a unique appeal because they take longer to complete than the Thermofax layer (speed print-able), but this very fact also means, that I can use a diverse selection of color to complete each print.

And as such, these prints stand out when it comes to using them. (I get very excited to use these unique prints when it comes time to sit in front of the sewing machine needle.) 

But you know? Squeegee-ing two colors through a Thermofax repeat layer is a pretty snazzy way to add visual jingle too! 

This, is Playful Fabric Printing. Where we push the limits of our tools by printing sparkling, playful and surprising bits of cloth, that is so much fun to use! 

(Please use our hashtag #playfulfabricptinting , that way, we can find you and your work.

Carol and I are keeping Playful Fabric Printing Pinterest boards and we would both love to pin your posts into our boards (we want to build community)!!! Please check check our boards out!

Also! Please join our closed Playful Fabric Printing Facebook Community page, we now have 200+ members and many are doing great work, asking interesting questions and uploading photos of their work! And its some really good work too!

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

#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.

 

 

 

Selfies in Stitch

Self Portrait of Melly Testa

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

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

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

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

 

An Exciting Reveal: Crafting a Life LLC, Carol Soderlund and Melly Testa

It has been pretty quiet here and today is the day to break that silence.

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A project I have been working on, with my good friend Carol Soderlund, is coming to fruition. And better still, we can now reveal, we are working with Pokey Bolton and Crafting a Life, LLC to bring this project to life!

We are writing a book on multicolor printing using Procion MX dye, our favorite medium! My smile is so big, I can hardly stand it.

Carol and I are both fiends for color, we love quilting, cloth, printing and motif making. And we seek to lure you into our printed fold! In writing this book, we strive to present a seamless and easily approachable foray into printing cloth and using it-in your next quilt. (I would love to go on making puns, but, I will stop there. It gets tiring!) But it is true. Carol and I have been ironing out the descriptives to some pretty awesome techniques! (The puns!!!)

Soon, some time soon, we will have a printed book to show for our efforts. And Crafting a Life, LLC is printing our book. Can I say, OMG? Pinch me, please! 

We are all quite excited to tell you about this project!!

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This book will discuss motif making, loose and formal repeat printing and many other printing techniques. And it will act as a printers workbook. 

The materials used to print the cloth are readily available; carving rubber, fun foam, stencil plastic and Thermofax screens. We present a simple method of working with color and gradation that is both unique and accessible. Basically, we have removed the learning curve related to mixing and using color and set the stage for you to begin printing your own unique textile designs with ease.

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We’ve been diligent in finding solutions for those who have little space, but are still drawn to expressing themselves creatively by printing unique and personalized cloth. And we present methods to enable you to print yardage too. 

Fabrics combined with commercial fabrics

To say this makes me happy is an understatement. To work with Carol is an honor. To have finally figured out how to print in repeat without a fancy studio or special equipment? Priceless. The fact that Crafting a Life, LLC and Pokey are supporting our efforts by printing, what I believe will be, hope will be, the surface design book of a generation? This is a complete and total blessing.

Thank you Pokey.

As we come closer to day when you can hold this book in your hands, we hope you will visit our blogs and social media accounts. I will be printing and piecing a quilt top as blog content, with updates to my personal FB, my Melanie Testa-Artist page and my Instagram page.

Follow Carol’s blog, Living Color, here. FB. Insta

Read Pokey’s Ponderings, and her post about Publishing Again. FBInsta 

Gathering my color.

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The Gather your Sew-plies!! purse is just the right size to stitch, explore and complete. It is 6″ wide and 14″ long and given how it folds to make the purse, that can mean that you can stitch just the front area, making the stitchable area 6×7″ or so.

Of course, I like to stitch the entire purse.

The above blank, which is what I call these before they are heavily stitched, is a combo of my own quilted work and some previously stitched Indian cloth (at least that is what I think). The colors are rich and compatible. I seek to amp up the textural element, meaning my stitchwork, to integrate the Indian cloth with my own quilted fabric and soften the difference between the two. I may need some new thread colors…

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You may remember that Carol Soderlund and I collaborated on an article called Thread Dyeing 101 for Quilting Arts magazine last year. In the article we took two approaches to dyeing thread, we offered a color wheel, solid dye approach and a more fluid and playful manner of dyeing threads too.

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And while I think this thread is a bit bright for my current piece, I do like having all my threads ready to be used and accessible. Getting these floss off the StitchBow makes me want to wind some new hanks and dye some more thread in appropriate colors! I would love to have some browns, beiges, tans and soft, earthy colors in my thread stash!

Patchwork+Quilt Maker+Craft NAPA 2016 Blog Hop

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

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

But, they are small!

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

My bottom lines:

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

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

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


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

BERNINA Made to Create Right

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting closes on:

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

And do comment, because the prizes are snazzy!

Peacock Quilt and the border print.

This is a video update, no words needed  🙂

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!

Printing we will go

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

This morning I mixed new dyes.  😀 HAHA!

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

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

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

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

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


 

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I will be teaching:

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

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

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

 

Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1

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Today I stitch a Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1.

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

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

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

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

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on


 

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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.

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

Melly

More updates to come!

 

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!

Gathering, an introspection.

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When sewing on the go, it is necessary to have a project bag. This bag, for me, serves a function. It serves as a place to embroidery reminders, occurrences, important dates, I love a project bag! It should be -just- big enough for a project, and a few choice supplies.

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The Gather your Sew-plies purse ought to contain, a thimble, a small array of hand and embroidery needles, an embroidery scissor, spool of sewing thread-I love Aurifil, each of my Gather your Sew-plies purses are kitted with it. The #12 cotton?? A gorgeous hand sewing and embroidery thread. Capital -L- Like.

And it dyes beautifully!!!

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Ok. Here is a debate that rolls around in my head. I like the Pilot Frixion Ball Erasable Black Gel Ink Pens for their immediacy, and when embroidering words onto cloth, it imparts a realistic look. But. 

Ok, wait.

The Frixion Pen can be ironed, which ‘erases’ the original mark.

BUT!!!

With cold, the mark will return. Cold as in, stored for an extended period in color storage or left on a metal tabletop over a few days time. I do not know if washing the item will have an effect in either direction, further study is needed.

But, I am using it in the meantime. It has advantages that I appreciate.

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 More to come on the Gather your Sew-plies Sew-along!!

And expect a Paris romp o photos! The graffiti? Awesome.

A little of this, some of that.

I have been happily printing away over here. I am now even piecing a simple quite made of the printed samples like you see above. I adore printing in repeat, creating repeats, seeing the pieces of cloth come to life. And now, they are becoming a quilt! I am simply sewing these squares together, photos will be forthcoming.

Peach is a complete wonder. We are learning to communicate. We love each other and the three of us, the Man, Peach and I are a happy family. We finally found Peach’s favorite food. She asks for three feeings a day when we feed her Wellness Select in the chicken flavors. She has put on a little bit of weight and I love her little plump.

I have been playing with the idea of commemorative cloth. I took an image of Repose, the one that inspired my 2007 entry into Quilt National, and made a mirror image of it without breasts, but with scars instead. I will be coloring this image soon. The ribbons that circle the image are as close as I will get to acknowledging ‘pink ribbon culture’. I despise the commercialization of breast cancer awareness, we have enough awareness, we need a cure. Beside which, there are other cancers that need a leg up.
But enough of that.
I am unsure weather I am commemorating my breasts or my lack of breasts. I do know that I want to offer beautiful imagery of non-reconstruction, of flatness, for flatties, I want to help normalize this decision for women around the world.
I daydream of having these bandanas printed and offered for sale to raise money for a pamphlet campaign. It was so tough to decided against reconstruction at my care facility that I daydream of having pamphlets in oncologist offices across the nation that show the beauty and viability of this simple option. These pamphlets would discuss how to go about talking with doctors, how to get beautiful results and offer support to women, so that if they choose to opt out, they know they are not alone.
For now though, if you have found my blog by searching bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction, check out the Flat and Fabulous group on facebook.

(P.S. You can click on the images to make them bigger.)

Print, print, steam!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

One happy printer.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Printing up a storm

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

Yardage

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

Polkadots

 

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

So, I have been printing up a storm!

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

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

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

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


 

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


 

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

Tig Notaro is one of my heros.

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


 

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

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

QSDS

This last weekend I took a trip out to Columbus, Ohio to teach at QSDS, and boy was it a great experience. I worked with women who were focused, ready to learn, open to new information, and each and every one of them made really good cloth. I found companionship in Denise and Susan, who are pictured in the video above. We ate meals together, took a walk, talked and bonded, one of my favorite parts about teaching. Christina and Tracy and I bonded over Becky’s bead table (The owner of St. Theresa’s Textile Trove, and a fellow teacher). We laughed so hard! I fell in love with all of them. I met so many new and great people. Like Diane Muse, who prints the logo’d tshirts for QSDS, I now own two and also bought a printed kitchen towel. I met up with other teachers like Elin Nobel and Rosalie Dace. I met  Bob Adams for the first time, a great man (I like his art a lot), who was traveling with his lovely wife. I feel blessed.

It was Ab Fab.

I enjoyed every minute of it and I am happy to be home too.

P.S. Don’t miss out, Lyric Kinard is giving away a copy of Dreaming from the Journal Page and I would like you to win it!

Frittering my time, and enjoying every second.

It is that time of year again… Time to Gather your Sew-plies!! It is warming up. Time to sew on the go.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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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working out the kinks

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

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

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

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

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

And, OMG. Thank goodness I did!

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

What a resource!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. 

 

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.

 

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. 

Breath of Fresh Air

Last week I took myself out for a much needed day on the town. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I stumbled upon what is probably the smallest exhibit there, Gems of European Lace. It took me about 5 minutes of trying to locate room 599 before asking a guard where the room was. When I finally found the room, I was quite pleased to be alone in it.

OMG. Usually when I go to a museum or gallery, it is my hope that something will affect me deeply. I hope to be able to have a physical response to what I see. I shed some tears, I was so deeply affected. 

One of the pieces on display was presumably used and worn by Marie Antoinette. I took photographs of every single piece. I tried to imagine who might have made the lace, man or woman. This needle lace piece? Those hexagonal supportive stitches that hold the piece together? 7 stitches per bar. Um. Wow. 

Ever since I was a child, I have held textiles, lace, embroidery, crochet, cloth, the items that are considered ‘feminine and female’ in the art world, in high reguard. I mean, just look at the story told in the lace above. Angels, a fountain, birds, flowers, tassels, bugs. All the good things, represented as a story and wearable too.

Experiencing a hand made item like this, one that is as old as it is, makes me want to be a better artist. It gives me something to  strive for. It might also suggest that I need to employ an army to get all the things I want to, done!

I am dyeing threads and trying to work all of the kinks out. See the threads in the box? The manner that I dye threads creates these white undyed spots (that show up as lightly colored flecks), which occurs every 6 inches or so. This week I am working on eliminating that undyed spot. It takes alot of time, because I am dyeing thread in groups of 48 colors. I think I figured it out, but, I need to wait for this last batch to soak and dry before I can confirm this.

And because I need something to embroider, now having gads of colors and thread options available to me, I started making what I am calling Breastplates. The rabbit from earlier this week is part of the Breastplate at lower right. I will stitch, sew and print these plates for some time to come.

The party begins.

Hello Father.

Great things are accomplished only by the perfection of minor details. 

Will you please cook a special meal for me on a Friday night in the very near future? (Ask Mom the date).

Hand stitch

Stitch, hand stitching is such a quiet endeavor. I love it for that reason. I love keeping the apartment so quiet that you can hear the needle break through the cloth. Over and over again. I also love the way stitch changes the nature of the cloth you work. 

This is a set of breast pockets that I am making in my own name. This will be a dense mix of thread and imagery, hand stitched ‘paint’ (no paint will be used, just hand dyed thread).

I am extending the deadline for the Breast Pocket Project, right now I need about 800 pockets to meet my goal. 200 pockets are a great accomplishment, and I did ask that you send the pockets during the week of the 22nd, which is today or now. I know many more pockets are on their way to my neck of the woods as I type, but if you have it in you to make more pockets, please do.

Neutralized Color

 

I am preparing for another Clever Guild class and these are some of the samples that I have been working on. I may be changing the name of that class, I am bot sure. I think the focus has shifted from being a boro inspired class to a embroidery and mixed media style class.  As I continue to create samples, I will work that part out.

When I dyed the threads shown in this post, I began thinking about dyeing a neutralized 4 step color wheel gradation of thread and I needed to work out the recipe to do so anyway. This seemed like an opportunity to expand my thread collection. And you know what? I still have not gotten the recipe down! So I will be dyeing even more thread in the next couple of days! My collection of thread is growing by 48 colors each time I dye. I see nothing wrong with this! What you see here is DMC 6 Strand Cotton, which is a favorite of mine. If you know where I can purchase bulk multi-strand silk, embroidery floss, PLEASE comment on this post.

I am a bit tired today and wanted to release a post about the podcast I recorded with Ricë, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I will be conserving my energy for the rest of the day.

 

 

Sewing, Stitching, Embroidery.

The Little King has been doing quite well. He loves Chicknbits. Arrow can no longer hear well, his sight isn’t 100%, but he knows Chicknbits. He will lead me to the cabinet when he thinks of them. He has been a snuggle bunny, lap focused. He is warm. He smiles a lot. We put an old bed pillow on the floor, under my sewing tables and he loves it. You should see his happy baby, buddha smile. I treasure each moment with this little cat.

Speaking of Arrow, look who made it onto a Sew-plies Purse? Do you remember this stencil?

The owl, vaguely seen at upper right was copied from a bottle of Haden Fig wine. That was a good bottle of wine! We drank it over dinner one night in Seattle. It was a bit too much to drink and we enjoyed walking for a few hours afterward, it is fun to get too tipsy now and again. It is especially fun to get tipsy with David when we have the time to really enjoy one another’s company.

This Sew-plies purse will be a memory catcher, or a stitched journal, of sorts. Because if the nature of hand sewing (it takes a little longer), I have a bag of receipts and a pile of papers and cards that have logos, times, dates and ideas for further exploration here. I would love for this bag to be dense with stitch and the story of our trip to Seattle.

In the lower left you see a metal box. I am quite an obsessive compulsive person when I cotton on to an idea. The Sew-plies purses are really opening the way for me to sew wherever I go. But sometimes I just don’t want to be strapped into one. So I introduce, tiny sewing kits. The idea is that you can throw them into your purse and never be without something to do!

I am buying candy tins left and right, the smaller the better. I throw the candy out, rinse the box and gather a few choice items and ideas. This box has everything needed to create tags or labels. The white paper tag you see up there came from the scissor sharpener, when I brought my scissors for sharpening and I would like to use the written words from that tag to create some cloth labels. This box has cloth, a needle, pins, embroidery thread and a few scraps of cloth, for ‘just in case’.

And, of course, breast pocket production is in full swing. Kathy York has been making some. Will you? I need 1000.

Thread Dyeing and other Fun. Also a Call For:

Yesterday, I was making coffee and who ran past the window? A black Squirrel. I immediately grabbed some granola and put it on the sill. Grey Squirrel quickly ran over and started eating.

It is funny! At our subway stop there is a transgender person and a shoe shine man who both ‘beg’ change, the shoe shine man is new to the stop, he has priced his shine at 1$ hoping his customers will give more. I gave some change to the transgendered woman and she asked me to give the shoulder to the shoe shine man as I walked by!

Grey Squirrel didn’t ask, he just shouldered right in!

I am dyeing a color wheel gradation of embroidery thread in four steps for each color of the color wheel, 48 hanks of thread in total. I am doing this in preparation for the upcoming Boro Bag/Hip Bag class at The Clever Guild.

And Look! what just fell into my cart over at Amazon. I have been doing lots of embroidery over here and I find that I like 6 strand floss the best! I love the look of a single strand of floss, I like the ability to use all 6 strands, three strands, two, I am forming preferences related to embroidery threads.

These ‘100 calorie’ zip tight bags, all in a row, happy sigh. I am so glad you can’t eat the content of these bags! That would be a lot of calories.

I don’t think I got the recipe for the gradation down pat. I will be washing these samples today or tomorrow and I will need to tweek it a bit.

The 4 red thread samples you see here, told me the middle two gradations were ‘too close’. But they are so pretty all the same.

Who doesn’t like a gathering of good stuff to get the juices flowing.


 

I now have a fascination with breast pockets. I have been making breast pockets, not the blouses to go with them, just the pockets. I am changing my wardrobe to printed, button down blouses and pockets are key! Really, I like the name breast pocket, I no longer have breasts, but I can wear breast pockets!

When breast cancer survivors wear breast forms or prothesis, they need pockets sewn into their bras, camisoles and bathing suits to hold the forms in place. And flaps? Some reconstruction techniques use the word flap in the description of the procedure. I am not interested in any of that, but I like thinking about parallel ideas. In talking about clothing, when breast pockets have buttons, I think of them as nipples. When they have snaps, those too are nipples, with the added benefit of the actual shape (the male portion of the snap is nipple shaped). And with breast pockets on shirts, you can be prepared to stuff them full and change out the size of your ‘breasts’ in minutes flat (pun intended)! It is always good to have some useful pockets! In fact, I was putting embroidery floss in my breast pockets while laughing my head off in this in this post.

Do you know anyone who has had a mastectomy without reconstruction, unilateral or bilateral? Say you or aunt (mother, sister, friend, wife, coworker) was diagnosed with breast cancer and didn’t have reconstruction? In her name or memory, make either a single or a set of pockets and flaps appropriate to her choice, unilateral breast pocket or bilateral pockets and send them to me. I would like a huge pile of of pockets, in effect creating actual ‘awareness’, with a physical object that represents a real person.

And in preparation of the ‘pink month’, I figured I would ask for some help in creating awareness that does not exploit, or misrepresent me as a survivor and to go further, to shed light on us half/flatties! Some of the half flatties call themselves uniboobers! Funny, right? So, I invite you to make pockets and help raise awareness and pride in a choice I hope none of you ever face.

You can make them out of cloth, paper, I don’t care how or what you make them with, just make them. If you are interested in helping me out, please comment on this post. I will let you know where to send your pockets.

Here is a pattern for  a BreastPocket, if you feel you need one.

Edited to add:

Here are a few examples of the pockets I have been making, showing some pockets with flaps and just flaps:

Small Work: Swan

I have been having some fun and experimenting. I am not ‘finishing’ the piece when I paint with dye. I am bringing the piece to an interesting place and allowing for the call and response of possibility.

I originally thought this might be a Sew-plies purse in the Inspired to Quilt style, but it says, ‘No’. Small work it is.

Loosen Up, Melly!

I have been questioning what do do about dye. Should I continue to us it? Do I have the space to use it? Can I use it in a different way? I love working with dye, I love the vibrancy, the hand, the way it lays on cloth as you apply it. But being diagnosed with cancer makes me question the efficacy of its use. I know using dyes did not cause or (directly) contribute to my having gotten cancer. But as a human being living on this planet, I find it difficult not to think that the waste, toxicity and pollution in the world, caused by humans, isn’t the cause in some way. 

I use all precautions when using and mixing dye and always have. Dust masks, gas masks, gloves, the works. But I still own powders and I have concentrates mixed and ready. I also have yards of white cloth. So I don’t think that I will stop using it just yet. It is different using dye in our tiny apartment, but that can be worked around by.. well… working small. Tiny apartment, tiny works of art.

I snagged some stencils when I was at the Great American Scrapbook Convention. In an effort to get my creative juices flowing in new ways I am playing with my supplies. I used a ruling pen and a dauber to print the abc stencil.

This swan was originally drawn in my journal while traveling in Luzerne last year. Now it is getting a workout in thickened dyes. I would love to make a Sew-plies purse using Inspired to Quilt techniques, while playing, having fun and seeing what I can do with dye, in my tiny apartment, with the supplies I now use. Ruling pen, freezer paper, stencils…

Here I play with thickener and liquid dyes.

I want to get back to it but wanted to show you what I am up to. Let me know what you are doing this weekend, Comment and if you have a blog or Flickr, show me what you are up to!