Learning, taking notes and repetition.

Recently my friend, Lisa Chin came to NYC and we had two art playdates. Lisa is a fantastic printmaker and carver. Check out her website and her insta!

In playing together, Lisa wanted me to try out Inovart Eco Karve (and some paints too, though that is a post for another day). So, I tucked in and took some lessons. As I did so, of course, I took notes in my Moleskine.

In the Moleskine, I printed a strike-off (page 31, Playful Fabric Printing), made notes about the carving rubber itself. Then in true Melly style, I decided to carve several similar designs so that I could further improve my skill set within this new carving medium.

Repetition helps build muscle memory and similar imagery gives me time to explore similar lines and carving approaches. I printed them off using the same colors in order to evaluate them side by side. I think the white serves this design well in both versions. I am partial to the white dots at top right, but think both benefit by judicious use of white. White is often a bully of a presence in printed fabric, I feel this use of white creates balanced ‘pop’. I will write notes about this too!

As I create motifs and print, keeping notes along the way allows me to keep up with myself. I have been doing it for long enough that I have 4 journals worth of juicy notes. As a resource, dipping into these journals is really helpful. It can help shift your perspective on current work, provide new ideas, remind you of a new art material or perhaps a playdate with a good friend.

Do you take notes and track your creative efforts? Leave a comment and tell me what you do.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Melly Marks Kits, StencilGirl stencils and my new Etsy Store!

 

I am quite happy to announce that I have opened a store through Etsy, called Melly Marks Playfully.

At-the-same-time? StencilGirl is releasing a line of stencils in my name!!!!

In the coming days, we will announce a print-along in the Playful Fabric Printing Community Facebook page. I would love to print along side you as you learn -to use- Playful Fabric Printing. And Carol is excited about this too!

So please, join us!

This print along will not be akin to an ‘online class’, but rather, remain reliant on your ability to work through the pages of Playful Fabric Printing on your own while being able to draw upon a community of playful fellow printers and textile designers alike.

At the same time, I am offering Melly Marks Kits, coordinated textile designs offered through stamps, stencils, and tFax designs. All, for your printing pleasure. Video content in support of this will be provided through the community page, so please join!!

I am selling Kits, StencilGirl sells individual stencils. 

(You are encouraged to make your own tools for this print-along, rather than use the offerings I present in this post. Purchase is not required. I would love if you worked with my offerings though!) 

I take pride in saying, I am manufacturing with companies who employ American people and work on American soil. As a result, my retail price points are not as low as I would like them to be, but if you show me that you like my offerings by purchasing these kits, I promise to do everything I can to lower these prices as much as possible with my next offering.

In the meantime. pick up a copy of Playful Fabric Printing, make an order at PRO Chem or Dharma, and let’s get ready to have some fun!! 

NOTE: In the upper right corner of my Nav Bar? There is now a tab that opens to my Easy Store! I hope to sell handprints and artwork though this store too! Please, stay tuned. 

Kitting, playfully. A secret revealed.

dsc_0234

I have a secret to start talking about!

I am working to release a line of stamps, stencils and Thermofax screens, all designed to coordinate and print interactively with one another (of course each tool can be used on its own too, which when you think of it-exponentially helps to print a huge and varied stash).

As a kit.

In support of the release of Playful Fabric Printing

dsc_0235

I will debut these kits at Craft Napa. And boy am I excited to be going there! The people! The classes! The food choices! OMG, the food.

I can honestly say, I am really excited to begin showing -you- the possibilities tucked into the awesomeness that is Playful Fabric Printing

dsc_0236

I am working on the release date for my upcoming stencil line now. I believe this will be in February. My stencil line is with a well loved and respected stencil maker in our community! Stay tuned!

At the same time, I am working to manufacture clear plastic stamps and I plan to release these kits to you, good reader, at that same time. This has been a huge leap of faith for me. I have never ‘manufactured’ anything before. I am happy to say, I am employing Americans to bring you these items. I am crossing my fingers that you see the value in them!

dsc_0233

The thing I am most excited about? For a limited time, each kit will contain a hand printed fat sixteenth, printed by me! A Melly Print! I believe it is important for you to have an example of the possibility contained in the tools I am offering.

Through the years of working as an artist, whose primary media is Procion MX dye, I am amazed at what Carol Soderlund and I have created in Playful Fabric Printing. It is my hope, that in offering coordinated stamp, stencil and Thermofax kits, it will jumpstart your love of the dye application, and provide you the opportunity to learn about motif making and repeat design, through a backdoor approach. 

More to come on this topic.

In April, I will be teaching at Focus on Fiber. I am excited about the possibility of using these kits in the classroom because I believe it will free us to experience dye tendencies and its interaction with the tools we use to print it. We will discuss motif making and make some tools of our own too! Of course! 

img_6869

It’s all a playful plan to get you printing along with us! 

I am working feverishly to complete the kits, gather the items, print cloth and create the packaging, I will address the cost of the kits and how you might obtain one of your own in the coming weeks. Please let me know if you are interested by posting a comment. 🙂

Thank you.

Nothing is black and white

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

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

The20MultiStamp

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

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

A New Day

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

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

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

DSC_0062

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.

DSC_0066

 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.

DSC_0069

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.

DSC_0071

Fruit

FruitMTesta

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

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

 

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. 

 

MTestaDitty2

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

 

On my desk

MTestaDesk

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

MTestaMultiNo

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

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

SleepyPeach

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

Oh, it is lunch time and I am hungry!

Continued Story.

PeachYawn

 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.

IMG_0370

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.

IMG_0377

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

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

 

Printable Daydreams

IMG_0344

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

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

IMG_0346

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

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

IMG_0347

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

American Bittern

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

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

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

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

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