Printing away the day.

This is a day of off-set printing and I am using the StencilGirl L498 Vine Swirl to do so. 

As an aside, when I was at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I took a screen-printing class. I loved it. My first print was a design based on shoes and I got to cut rubylith, which is such fun to do. My teacher was disappointed in my final print because he felt it would benefit by off-set printing. Or printing the same image, one on top of the other, but offset slightly.

He gave me a B+ for my effort. SD 181 (Surface Design 181) at left, its more recent interpretation (at right) went on to live among its fellas in the Meadowlark by Windham fabric line.I love seeing the original artwork alongside its current interpretation.

At the same time, I am playing with some hand cut stencils too. It was been fun to experiment with the many ways to apply dye through a stencil in order to color cloth. My current favorite method is by way of squeegee-ing dye through the stencil. I find this really saturates the cloth and allows for great penetration of dye.

So, I think perhaps I will be playing with value/color choice and off-set printing. (I would like at least 8-10 more of this print, so I gotta get busy.)

Using a white foam roller works well too. (Page 82 PFP)

Please note, I love using tags here on my blog. If you have questions on a specific topic, please search this blog, there is a search bar at right. A very handy feature.

And! Please join the Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook! It has been so much fun to see what my fellow textile design artists are doing while learning from Playful Fabric Printing.

 

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

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. 

 

Lynn K and her new line of stencils, a Blog Hop!

LynnK

I am really happy to be a part of Lynn Krawczyk’s Blog Hop announcing her upcoming line of stencils called ‘Marked’ by Artistcellar. While I wish I could have found my own set of Lynn’s stencils to play around and make some samples for you, moving and time constraints have gotten the better of me.

What I can tell you is this, I have long admired Lynn and have both been able to support, mentor and be mentored by Lynn. You may also remember that I reviewed a copy of Lynn’s book, here. The fact that Lynn was able to get a line of stencils with her name on it does not surprise me. Lynn knows how to print and layer cloth effectively and having a line of stencils is an extension of her commitment to printing cloth as well as her love and exuberance in being a surface design artist.

When I want to Quilt Market this last May, Lynn and I met up several times, she made an appearance in this video, I am happy to say I was able to get a signed copy of Lynn’s book, Intentional Printing, as she was doing an author signing in the Interweave booth, but I am happier still that Lynn stopped by my Windham booth where I had set up a studio to print and entice folks to get to know me and how I went about designing Meadowlark.

Lynn and I spent time talking and Lynn printed with dye using my tools, while I printed with dye using her stencils. As you may know, Lynn’s preferred media is paint, so having her in my booth, using the media I know and love was a special treat for me. More than anything else, I love having friends use my tools. I can only imagine what it might be like for Lynn to be releasing a line of stencils, and wondering how you might use them…


The participants in this blog hop are listed by order of date posted and one lucky commenter on each post in the hop will win a set of Lynn’s stencils, so please post comments on every post possible! I will choose a winner from my blog hopping post one week from today on July 6.

June 28th – Lisa Cousineau – www.artistcellar.com/wp
June 29th – Melanie Testa  – http://melanietesta.com/blog/
June 30th – Lisa Chin – somethingcleveraboutnothing.blogspot.com
July 2nd – Belinda Spiwak http://alteredbelly.blogspot.com
July 3rd – Kristin LaFlamme – http://kristinlaflamme.com/musings
July 4th – Ingrid Dijkers – http://ingriddijkers.blogspot.com/
July 5th – Guadalupe Cabal – http://guadasartplace.blogspot.com/

July 6th – Lynn Krawczyk – http://smudgedtextilesstudio.com/blog/

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!

Her name here:

 

I fell in love and I wasn’t even thinking about it. That is the way with love, don’t you think? It’s a backdoor experience.

I really must thank Libby for sending me all of those pockets. I love the small pre-constructed squares. Libby has some master rippers over there. These pockets have snips of thread left in the needle holes. Pockets as canvas. For painting, stenciling, stamping, embroidering? I am on a creative tangent and I am using pockets to explore artistic themes. Pockets are a quick and dirty size.

Quick and Dirty Breast Pockets <———————Um? I like those 5 words together.

The above pocket was stenciled and embroidered. This pocket needs a name, anyone know a uniboober who needs representation? Leave a comment, first names only, all names considered! I will be making pockets for the foreseeable future.

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.

A Brooklyn day plus reconstruction!

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

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

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

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

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

Yup, I like her.

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

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

How could a girl resist?

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

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

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

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

Move those labels.

 Eucalyptus dyed silk satin over linen, replaced label. Soon to become a strap for a Gather your Sew-plies purse, hippie style. I am moving labels around within my wearable art pieces. Very excited by the idea.

My medias are mixing, it can be quite confusing. My orderly nature rebels, but the stuff I am making? Awe-some. I love when I feel good about the stuff I am making.

It is difficult to remain tidy. Maybe the definition of tidy changes per project. Stencils on top of embroidery floss, works for me.

Brown glass buttons sold along side chocolate, I don’t understand the connection, perhaps the color brown? Both yum.

Kailey, my intern, helping me prepare for Quilting by the Lake next week. Can I tell you how much I admire and like Kailey? She is a sweetheart. Really, I just wanted her here, I hope she got as much out of coming as I did in having her. A few months back she came and we made cloth for her final high school project, this month, Kailey came to help me. I Lurve her.

New haircut! I look spankin’.

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!

Flash Card Friday: Stencils

One Flash Card for every technique in the book!

Here is the scoop, Chapter 3 of Dreaming from the Journal Page contains a lot of the techniques I use to play around in my journals. I encourage you to mix and match these ideas by engaging with the concept of ‘Throw Downs’, A Throw Down is a challenge or a creative ‘Double Dog Dare’, where you will take 1, 2, 3 or more techniques and use all of them on a single page of your journal. This is a way to get you layering and building imagery.

What better way to learn about each technique that to make a set of Flash Cards for yourself. I am not going to go into detail about how to do each technique (I wrote the book and would love for you to get a copy) but I will talk about each technique and how I go about using them.

The card up above is an image of Arrow, my supercat. I created the image by making a stencil inspired by a photograph. I have been using stencils in some really creative ways and I will share samples of each  technique and its use, here, on my blog on fridays, Flash Card Friday.

You may also be interested to know that my first Clever Guild class is called Stencil Magic, please sign up today!

A sample from the Stencil Magic Class.

This is a sample from the Stencil Magic class. I fully illustrate how to create this piece of cloth in the Stencil Magic class.

Find inspiration where you are.

Here is an example of a stenciled image photographed on a walk in my neighborhood. 

I am about to use my Arrow stencil in my journal, and will post the image later in the week.

If you would like to purchase a signed copy of my book, please check out the sidebar on the right hand portion of the blog. And. Um. I was thinking of charging a small fee to create signed Art Sticker for those of you who would like a ‘signed copy’ but have already bought your copy elsewhere, is there interest for this idea out there? Leave a comment.

Finding Inspiration

Books I find inspirational.

Textile Design and its history is fascinating to me. I would love to gather more books on the topic, but in the meantime, I would like to share a few books with you just in case you haven’t heard of them before.  Textile Designs: Two Hundred Years of European and American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout, and Period has been in print for more than 20 years. It reads like a catalog and each section and page is focused on a style, type of repeat and motif. Flipping through this book is pure eye candy.

Twentieth Century Textiles is a gorgeous book. The cover is a printed cotton design described within the pages of the book, each design is described in detail and artists are discussed. I think we easily forget that artists design the fabrics we use and wear, so when I am able to read about the artist, inspiration or even techniques used to paint the textile design, I get happy.

Boro – Rags And Tatters From The Far North Of Japan isn’t a ‘textile design’ book so much as visual inspiration in the realm of hand sewing. Whenever I take out my favorite textile books, Boro-Rags and Tatters comes out too.

I would like a few more tomes and if you have a suggestion, I would love to hear it.

I take these books out at the start of a creative day and page through, looking at color inspiration, motif, texture, any detail that pops out and says hello. Then I close the books and go on my way. All that history and color is bound to affect me somehow and I welcome it.