21 January 2015

More Artist Trading Blocks

As promised in this post about my own Artist Trading Blocks, here is a link to the post of my mentorship group, Fiberart Northeast, blog and all of the Artist Trading Blocks they've made so far. What an amazingly talented and creative group of women I am lucky enough to lead!

Here are a couple of previews, but head over to the FANE blog for the rest.

Carole Hoffman

Paula West

Christine Wilhelm

10 January 2015

New series - IKEA Hacks

I've always been interested in design - from endlessly rearranging my room as a teenager to building my own furniture, from renovating and decorating the homes we've lived in to helping my daughter decorate her first apartment. I read a myriad of design blogs and voraciously study architecture and industrial and interior design. I apply design principles and color theory to my own interiors, those of family and friends, and to retail spaces that I've designed (more on that coming soon!)

One of the best ways to make an original statement in your home is to customize, or "hack", an existing piece of furniture or accessory. I was discussing this with some of my studio mates at the NEST, Tracey Anderson and Susan Murray of Finished with Style, and we decided to challenge each other to hack something each month and show the results on our blogs.

Conveniently there's an IKEA about 15 minutes from the NEST. For our first month's challenge, we chose the ubiquitous Lack table - which enables us to employ a rhyme for January - Hack a Lack! We won't be able to keep the poetry going for the remainder of the year, so don't get your hopes up, ha!


Check back at the end of the month to see all three Lack Hacks and see some quick tutorials. We'll be announcing which item will be hacked at the beginning of each month and then showing the results at the end of each month. We're intentionally keeping the cost of each item low, with most being under $20 - the Lack table is under $10!

Have you hacked anything IKEA? I'd love to see them!

09 January 2015

Artist Trading Blocks

One of my mentorship groups, FiberArt Northeast (otherwise known as FANE) has been meeting monthly since 2006. Among many other things, I am constantly challenging the members with fun art projects, some for exhibition and some just to stretch creative muscles. Over the holiday break I offered them a quick little project that I had read about on the Gelli Arts blog, Artist Trading Blocks. A number of years ago Artist Trading Cards burst onto the scene. The size of baseball cards (2.5" x 3.5") the ATCs are a great way to collect and trade small pieces of art with others.


The artist trading block is a three-dimensional interpretation of this idea. The Gelli Arts blog suggests using 4" x 4" posts cut into 4" cubes for the blocks, but once I realized that I needed over 30 of these and I discovered how very much each one would weigh, I quickly dropped the size suggestion and tried to find a smaller, lighter weight alternative.

I wandered around the lumber department of Home Depot until I came upon what they call "square dowels", oddly, since aren't dowels by their very definition round? Lumber is weird, my friends, 2 x 4s are not 2" or 4", and dowels are apparently not always round. Anyway, the square dowels are 1.75" on a side and 36" long so I bought two. Using Carlos' chop saw I was able to cut each dowel up into 19 blocks, ending with 38 total. Some members took 1 and others took 2 so they would have one to trade. I took two so I could trade as well.




What a blast! Nifty little six-sided collages! Three dimensional accessible art! A great way to slide into the new year art wise.

One block is covered with different whites and off whites to start. I added pieces of an old book, an embossed paper Ganesha, colored art papers, a postage stamp, and then I stamped some letters, numbers, a word, and a chop over the papers.



The other block is a mixture of papers and fabrics, with other papers, a fortune cookie fortune, and more stamped letters, numbers, and words added. This block is in much brighter colors than the first.

I can't wait to see what everyone else has made and I'll be sure to report back. So what do you think? Will ATBs become a thing? Do you have a yen to make one (or three) now?





08 January 2015

Printed Fabric Bee's December Challenge - Old World Maps

The theme for December on the Printed Fabric Bee is Old World Maps, as chosen by Lisa Chin. I have to admit that this one was harder than I anticipated, partly because I didn't have the correct supplies at hand, and partly because I made the mistake at looking at some of the artists' fabrics before I tackled my own and I was really conscious of not repeating motifs.

I started with an antique street map, from the 1600s of somewhere in Europe. I painted a white fabric with a mixture of Liquitex acrylic inks (my favorites!). I traced some of the lines of the map onto my fabric with a black Micron Pigma pen.



I folded the fabric to represent the ways you would repeatedly fold a map over time and brushed the creases with a Distress Ink Pad.



Then I stamped the ordinals in one corner (or in the case of the giveaway square, just the N for North). The result is subtle and references the Old World Map inspiration without being literal.


If you'd like to a chance to win the set of squares by each of the Printed Fabric Bee artists, head either here or here to enter. My image isn't on the collage above because I was late getting it in, but as you can see, I wasn't the only one a bit stuck on this theme. What would you create for Old World Maps?


18 December 2014

The Printed Fabric Bee - October's Science Fabric

I think I forgot to tell you that I was invited to join the Printed Fabric Bee earlier this fall. If you aren't familiar with this dynamic group, check out their (our!) blog for all the deets.

The first fabric I made was due the end of October and the theme was Science. Fun, but a little challenging until I decided to USE science instead of depicting science when making my fabric!

I decided to try a new product that I've only played with a few times before. It's called SolarFast from Jacquard and it is a water-based dye that reacts with UV light to "develop" based on what masks you place on the surface of your fabric.

The dye paints on in one color and the exposed areas develop into a different color.


I painted the first fabric with a combination of the pink and orange SolarFast dyes. For masks I used some of my smallest rubber gyotaku fish. The more opaque an object is, the more contract there will be from the masked to the unmasked areas. 


I set the wet fabric in front of one of my studio windows and sat back to watch it.


Less than 5 minutes later you could definitely see some developing of color going on. Because the light was from a sharp angle, I noticed that the shadows the fish were casting was developing at a different rate than the uncovered fabric.


15 minutes total had passed by this point and the process was complete.


I removed the fish and decided that the contrast was a little TOO stark for me so I left it in the sun for another 3-4 minutes so the covered areas would have a chance to develop slightly.


After those few minutes I ran to the sink to rinse out the rest of the dye to stop the process as I quite liked how it looked at this point.


The completed, rinsed and pressed fabric! That was a blast - I definitely need to play with this more. The fabric is just as soft as it was before I started the project. It took about 30 minutes from beginning (opening the bottles and cutting a square of fabric) to end (the final press and squaring up).

Here is a collage of images from the other Printed Fabric Bee members and whaT their Science fabrics look like.



Have you tried Jacquard's SolarFast yet? What do you think?

14 December 2014

Review - Fabric Printing at Home

I want to tell you about a cool new book that I've just read - Fabric Printing at Home by Julie Booth. As you know, I love printmaking, almost any kind of printmaking, but especially printmaking with found objects and produce. This book has tons of creative ideas for both - and it goes way beyond the potato prints we all remember from elementary school! Julie describes in detail how to take every day objects that most of us already have in our kitchens and pantries and use them to create gorgeous, sophisticated printed fabrics. She gives in-depth instructions and suggestions, and provides lots of inspirational photos.


There are lots of things I've never thought of before, like creating texture plates with baker's clay (she includes a recipe), printing a nifty background design with corn on the cob (put the cob in the same holders you use to eat it, daub on some paint, and roll the paint-covered cob across your fabric, ta da!), creating "marbled" designs with cabbage, and making printing plates with wax paper and flat objects like string, leaves, and paper clips. Broccoli may not be your favorite vegetable now, but it just might be after you see how you can print with it.

Fabric with a corn cob printed background

You can bet that I'll be scouring the produce aisle on my next trip to my local super market for fruits and veggies to print. It'll be a toss up on whether this book ends up in my studio or my kitchen. I'm much more likely to be printing in the kitchen than cooking and this book is the perfect recipe book to get my creative juices simmering.

04 August 2014

Printmaking and more at Create Mixed Media retreat in Chicago!

I had such a great time teaching at the Create Mixed Media retreat in New Jersey in July that I'm doing it again in Chicago this month. I'd love for you to join me!

I'll be teaching four workshops. First up is the 4-color block printing class. You'll learn about design, registration for perfect prints, marketing and selling prints, and even cut your own mat. You can add some stitching by hand and/or machine. Everyone works on their own design and New Jersey's students came up with some stellar ones!


On Saturday I'll be teaching a class called Art Websites for Beginners. All you need is a laptop with wifi capability and some images of your work. There's no software to buy or download, no special knowledge needed. By the end of class you'll be well on your way to a beautiful website you can maintain and update yourself. We work on the websites in real time, one step at a time, until everyone is confident and ready to move onto the next step. In New Jersey we joked about having a hacker party with pizza and beer in the hotel lobby after class to keep working on our sites together. Fun!

Saturday night we jump into the Live Tweets class. This is a great introduction to soft sculpture and the results are delightful. Make a bird with fabric and paper that you've painted or printed yourself. What a fabulous way to show off your handiwork!




And on Sunday morning join me for a great inspirational exercise that ends up as a house with a bird on it in the Bird:House workshop. Randomly choose a "bird word" and create a collaged and stitched house to illustrate it. We talk about inspiration, the principles of design, and many construction techniques. The houses can either hang on the wall or sit in a wooden stand when complete.



The Create retreats are great fun, inspirational, educational, and a wonderful way to connect with our "tribe" while trying new things and meeting new people. I hope to see you there!