Thursday, April 1, 2021

Making a Silk Screen

I love adding a silkscreened image to my pieces when it seems to fit...I was fortunate to purchase a Thermofax machine many years ago and it remains one of my prized possessions...But even if you don't have a Thermofax.....there are many places who will make you a screen (more on that later) but you have to do the prep work.
First you have to have an image....millions of those all will be hard to choose. I have a picture of an Hibiscus from my garden, loaded into a photo editing program. I use Photoshop Elements but I think many will do the trick.
It is cropped as I only want the image of the flower.....
I also wanted to clean it up a little by lightening the image and making it a little cooler by adding blue. This is easy to do but not necessary...Some programs will have extensive options and others very limited but to start, you can do the basics.
It is necessary to have a line drawing for a silk screen so this image has to be turned into that. In PE, under filter there is an option for Stylize which will lead you to a line drawing.
In Stylize, there is a drop down menu with "Find Edges" which will do exactly that...just hit on that and 
Voila....there you have your flower that now looks like a drawing.
I turn it into a black and white...another option in any photo editing program....Mine is under Enhance.
In PE, it does show you what it will look like as a black and white...yup....I approve and click to make the change.
Not done yet...this has to be printed on a laser ink jet. The screen is burned because of the toner in a laser printer. You will get the best results if the image is clean with lots of differentiation between negative and positive space - dark lines and white space. This is not the best one for a silk screen which I found out the hard way...but more on that later.
Before printing...resize your image to the size you want your screen to be. If you're using a Thermofax, there is a limit on the size of the screen material.
Way too small...2.22 x 2.4 so easy to fix...
Just type in the size you want ...... I typed in 6" for height and it automatically moved the width to 5.5...hit OK
and print.

The copy would be the place to clean it up before making a laser copy...This particular image has too many gray areas and didn't make a good screen. I really like the image so I'm going back and clean it up; I'll cover up the gray areas and "dust" with a white pencil or white out.
Here is one that came out very good...another flower from my garden...which is printed on fabric also but the same process to make it into a line drawing. This image had so many clean edges...
here is the silk screen which is finished using duct tape on the edges.
Another little trick which can be done with many printing techniques is to print/screen the image on clear plastic so you can lay it on top of your work in progress to see how it works. This is a great "peace of mind" technique to be able to preview what it will look like before the final screening. I buy the plastic at a chain sewing store..usually in the drapery dept and often used to lay over cloths on picnic tables. It runs @ $3 - 4 a yard....
 I also screen the image on a file folder, tuck the screen inside along with the clear plastic copy....and there you have it.  If you are interested in making a screen a good source for having screens made is Jane Dunnewold and her website is  She will get you started!

Until next time...stay happy and safe!

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Story of Three Silks

A while back, I had the great fun of a play day with friends to do some eco printing on silk...we used a solution for boiling the fabric while it was rolled up with various foliage inside. We had mixed results but always got color. I felt the silk needed more so days later when at home,  I wrapped the silk in some rusted items and a vinegar solution and left them "batch" for a while...probably overnight and had some great results.
I had 3 different types of silk....above is organza which is very sheer. It is also doubled so you don't get the right effect....but it is easy to dye and rust and do other surface design techniques on. It gives a very different look than many other silks because of the sheerness. I use it a lot, especially in layering techniques in quilts.
The piece above is a crepe du Chine and one of my favorite silks. It has a beautiful texture and takes a dye beautifully along with anything else you choose to do with it.
And a detail where you can see the paleness of the eco printing and the boldness of the rust. The touches of blue (upper left) are blueberries which were one the things rolled up in the silk when boiling it.
And last is the China or Habotai silk which is a very popular silk used in scarves...not the best quality nor my favorite, I must say, it takes a dye extremely well and comes in different weights.
I didn't have enough of any one kind to make an entire scarf so I pieced 3 together and made it into an infinity scarf. It's very light and fun to wear.
Til next time...stay safe and happy

Sunday, March 7, 2021

A Mess Will Lead to Something

 Well I knew it had to happen...any of you who know me, know I'm a bit of a neat-nick and somewhat organized...When I work in my studio, I start the day by straightening up my room so it is not cluttered....don't care if I make a mess during the day but my mind and space has to be clear when I start. The trouble is, I don't have an easy time finding options in fabrics etc when everything is so neat and put away. Sooooo, I allowed myself to get down and dirty - really messy and see how it would work for me. 

Well, we're still in isolation until we're vaccinated so no one is coming and I'm not going anywhere so why not. I literally pulled out everything and used every surface to get a good look at what I had.
The ironing board, the design wall...
I moved my one machine onto the floor to use the table space....
My marbled fabric came out in another area
and another table...
I even brought up a card table for all my deconstructed screen printed fabric....
My cats are in Heaven...not being able to decide if it will be the bin of silk..
or the hand-dyes...
Or just curling up knowing all those luscious, soft fabrics are a paws length away...
My lint brush will be getting a work-out but the fluffs are happy and hanging out with me while I'm here...
so.... happy, happy....all around. I did put together around 6 small pieces....pinned onto fabric. They still have to be sewn and lots of surface design added like screen printing or paint but having everything available in full view was very helpful. 

The clutter is still here and it's starting to get to me so I might be winding down this messy marathon I've been on but it's been fun...totally not me....but very fun....AND oddly enough -  productive!

Til next time...stay happy and safe.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Taking Care of Our Fine Feathered Friends

We are a bird loving family and enjoy taking care of these sweet little feathered friends in the colder months, knowing that there isn't a lot of food for them to find.

We have lots of little plastic dishes of seed tied to the back railing on the deck and some on the front porch railing. We also have bird feeders around the yard. My son put these together...a log with giant holes (made with a very large drill bit), filled with peanut butter and seed. The nails serve as perches. 

Another way we feed them is to cut bread into small squares, fry it in lard and sprinkle with quick oats....They seem to gobble this right up. I used to watch my mom do this all the time during our very cold winters in NY...She would throw it on top of the snow and those that decided not to fly south for the winter got some warm nourishment.

We have one of our log feeders in the front...
 and a couple hanging off our deck. This is where we have the small dishes attached to the railing and we see a lot of birds eating from them....
so we hope they'll be brave enough to come to this log feeder. 
We also read somewhere that certain birds love oranges and apples so we hooked them onto several trees....
high enough for them to feel safe.
We've seen them nibbling at it...
They are so much fun to watch and we have such a variety of beautiful birds....It's also heartwarming to know we're helping them get through a cold winter. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Fabric and Images

I have this small piece of wonderful fabric...great imagery.... so I scanned it and put it in Photoshop Elements to see if it could be manipulated into something interesting for a silkscreen. I'm not sure of the copyright laws on scanning fabric even though you can use the fabric itself for commercial purposes....

so I will be careful to change the image considerably or just use it on my own personal art...not for sale. It was just a fun thing to try...I do love Photoshop Elements and the many different options and filters for manipulation of an image.

This was a filter "find the edges" which is one I use a lot...closest to the original image only in line form.
I don't remember this one but don't think it would make a good screen.
This is just the image itself turned into a black and white print....I would remove the "dust" before making it into a screen.
I think this was "wind" as it moved the image around...
And this filter was "twirl" and a great candidate for a screen as the image is completely changed and interesting.
Til Next Time....

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Where the Twig People Dwell

I recently finished a piece that's been sitting on my design wall for quite some time....
It uses a lot of different surface design techniques. I often create fabric and then stash it away and forget about it....
and then while thinking of a new piece, I usually find one piece that strikes me more than others and work around that, pulling from my design wall is covered with bits and pieces of everything until I start eliminating. The piece of fabric above is a brick wall with color changes and printed in Photoshop E. The printing is a silkscreen of a recipe from my grandmothers "home made" cookbook. Adding her writing keeps a little of my past in the present. Below left is an eco print of leaves done on silk and on the right is a silkscreen of trees from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

An organza overlay of a page from my mother's autograph book from the 1930s...
and my "twig people" - little people made out of twigs and made into a silkscreen. 
The twigs are one of my favorite silkscreens....
Time for quilting using a very thin batting.
And the finished piece...I could not for the life of me come up with a name...forests, trees, writing and twigs ....nothing worked and then the Aha moment...probably in the middle of the night...but it came to me none the less and I think it fits..."Where the Twig People Dwell".  I do think Twig people would most likely be found amongst the trees and leaves....Take a look and see if you can find time you're on a hike in the woods...
Til next time..Stay safe and happy!