Saturday, January 29, 2011

Making "texture" silk screens

I've been wanting to make some silk screens using texture to serve as a backdrop or liven up an otherwise flat looking fabric. So the fun was finding odds and ends in my studio that might work.
 I came across this very wide piece of lace purchased ages ago at Clothworld - remember that store.    They used to have a sale twice a year, lace was a penny a yard and the limit was 600 yards. You had to measure and cut yourself. I always arrived when the doors opened, armed with a yardstick and scissors and always managed to come home with the full 600 yards. I don't know what I was thinking - all that lace but I can't resist a bargain and now 30 years later, I'm still wondering. Well I found a use for 1/2 yard of it - make a silkscreen from the image.
I laid it flat, scanned it and copied it, but thought it was too flat looking, so I rippled it and like it better.
I scanned the image into my computer and manipulated it in Photoshop Elements.
I also found some interesting netting that I rippled and made an image of.
There are steps you can do in Photoshop Elements to make the image clear, dark and with good line definition before bringing it to a lazer copy. Here is the original copy which I put in PE for manipulation.
The first thing I did was to make an "auto color correction" under enhance. There is still not enough strong line definition to make a good screen.
Next I hit enhance, adjust color and then remove color which will make it into a black and white but still not enough definition.
Next I went to filter, sketch and then photocopy which gives an even-ness to the image but still not dark enough.
Then came enhance, contrast, color correction and remove color - I think it looks good now and will make a good screen. In order to use this image on my Thermofax, I had to have a lazer copy of it. The special screening used in a Thermofax will only react with the toner used by lazer copiers. And the screens did turn out nice, will be fun to use them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Sheila Jacket

A while back I posted about my student - Sheila - a wonderful sewer, designer and jacket maker extraordinaire. She made a great jacket in my weeklong workshop in Greenville, NY and the added plus of being able to wear them to work everyday, which her co-workers greatly appreciate. She emailed me pictures of her most recent jacket made during the Christmas break! The jacket is called "Albany Autumn" - how appropriate, inspired from the beautiful autumn foliage in Greenville (near Albany). The base fabric is an interesting black and white tree print which works well for highlighting the bright colored leaves on top.

Sheila chose a light colored tree print fabric to use on the sleeves and jacket bottom.
Notice the wonderful subtle decorative stitching - adds a lot to the surface.
Sheila's choice of background fabric was a good one and easy to see in this detail - a great combination of fabrics and buttons. Enjoy wearing it Sheila, I know others will love seeing you in it and thanks for sharing! Coming Soon... Bear tracks and Murder on Bridge Hill (my aunts property in Greenville, NY where there was a murder many years ago - SPOOKY STUFF)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sewing Projects

I have a few sewing projects for the winter. I used to make clothes all the time but have turned to quilts - no bodies to fit. The things make for myself now are fast and easy, notice the patterns - Fast and Easy!
Very Easy Vogue, Another Fast and Easy.
There was a sale going on at a local sewing store; all patterns were $1 and Vogues were $4 so I stocked up.
This pattern is for jammie bottoms. I have a problem with jammie bottoms. I'm average height so nothing is ever too short to begin with but when I buy jammie bottoms, they shrink to a ridiculous length - first washing! I feel like a little kid who's just gone through a growth spurt with ankles showing. I'm not that particular about what they look like but my ankles get cold. So to that end, I started making my own - super easy, elastic waist, no pockets and made them super long to allow for shrinking.
I've had this silk charmeuse for a very long time. I used to be a silk-aholic - bought lots when I lived in Atlanta from a wonderful store and great prices. My stash of silk has accumulated over the years so it's time to use it. I love this piece - obviously there was a plan in mind that never came to be so now they will be jammie bottoms, and I will probably enjoy them more than the original intent.
This piece of light weight drapery fabric will be a simple jacket and maybe some thread embellishment following the lines of the pattern.
And my favorite plaid - a piece of Black Watch wool plaid. There's a lot of yardage here so haven't decided yet but I'll get more than one thing out of it.
So the one pair of jammie bottoms is done and they do feel so nice to wear. I feel very luxurious!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rings and Rings and Things

What do you do with with the many rings you've collected over the years. You don't wear them but they're too sentimental to part with - like my mother's high school ring and her Eastern Star ring, my dad's wedding ring, my high school ring and my first ring - I was 5. There's also a ring in this pile dated 1929, don't know who it belongs to but it was amongst the family treasures.
Years ago, I made a charm necklace of all the charms from bracelets and necklaces I didn't wear. It was great fun, brought back memories and got lots of comments so I thought why not a "ring necklace".
Here's my mom's highschool ring - a bit blurry, but it's such a great ring with lots of sentimental value.
And my first ring - I feel fortunate to have parents who valued these sentimental items and saved them over the years.
I am working with a silver chain and using the larger links for placement of the rings.The design of this chain provides the perfect spacing as the rings don't touch each other. I wouldn't want it to be overpowering or too "clanky".
I laid out the rings trying to mix size and design. I found I liked the lighter ones at the bottom - it seemed to feel better on me. I also found I couldn't use all the rings; it would have been too much.
I used little jump rings to attach the ring to the chain. The triple loop rings which are so secure wouldn't work here as the ring bands were too thick.
I purchased a little soldering iron from a chain craft store. The tip gets very hot (950 degrees) but it has a stand to hold the iron, keeping your hands far enough away while you work. I tried the necklace on to see placement, how the rings laid and felt on me and then I soldered them in place.
What a great variety. The first (far left) is a ring my father had made for me from a stone he found on the beach, next - a pearl ring from younger days, also the mystery ring from 1929...
my dad's wedding band (left) and my mother's Eastern Star ring. My first little ring is at the very bottom along with a garnet ring from my grandmother. And it's done! This was a fun project along with a trip down memory lane - family treasures are the best!

Friday, January 14, 2011


It was 1 DEGREE outside when I got up this morning. I don't think I've ever seen it that cold here. There was no wind though, not that it matters, I'm not going out in this anytime soon - well maybe for a second to take some pictures of the sunrise on the snow. 
It really was a beautiful scene, everything so still and peaceful.
My husband went out a little later to take some pictures of the icicles on the trees.

Hard to tell, but this tree was glistening with ice. I love winter....I love snow but am ready for this to be over!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Small Works - S'hrooms and Trees I

Back when nicer weather prevailed and I was able to walk outside, I collected mushrooms to use in Deconstructive Screenprinting - a wonderful technique I learned from Kerr Grabowski.
Currently, I'm working on a large piece using prints made from these mushrooms, nowhere near completion but in the meantime, I love doing these little studies with leftovers. They go together quickly and a good break from the designing process of a larger piece.
I was able to make quite a few of this print, all a little different as each print changes as the amount of dye released changes. I also had these smaller mushroom prints made from some different mushrooms both using the same color dye.
I used some blue fabric I dyed, then discharged using a silk screen pattern of cheesecloth.
I love to include writing in my pieces and screen it with an old family recipe. This one is for "apple cake" written by my grandmother - a fun personal touch.
My friend Val - an amazing artist, makes her own silkscreens. My favorites are those that add texture to the background. I love her dot series and was inspired to make something similar. I like to screen a sample on clear plastic to keep in the folder with the screen (my screens are made with a Thermofax which turn out very flat). This way I can lay the plastic over a piece of fabric to see how the design will work - a little more work up front but a good design tool.
The dots, I used on the blue and other areas, using a discharge paste. The "weeds" screen I used over part of the mushroom print. These pieces are really quite small - around 14 x 16".
I used Candlelight couching thread between the seams to offset the busy-ness of the prints. These prints are fun to work with, but they have a lot of energy. It's hard to find something that will work with them.
On the bronze piece, I used my favorite stamp/stencil - a gridded tape used in tile work. I think you can see the little squares on the left on top of the bronze fabric.
Now to combine them all. It still has to be quilted which will be minimal and finished. It was a fun piece to make.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Stranded Again

To everyone who is reading this from a warmer place, sigh - I envy you. But just look at what you're missing - snowmen, sledding, snowball fights and being stranded! We got clobbered again with snow, luckily I had gone fabric shopping the day before.

These pictures were taken early this morning.

Some little animal's foot prints - my cats wouldn't poke their nose outside on a day like today.

Our "Fat Albert" - my favorite tree.

This is our driveway - long and steep, which is why we're stranded! At the bottom you can see how far we have to go to reach the road.
Plenty of wood for fires....
Our garden taking a long winter's nap.
This is the subdivision in back where I often walk. There are no houses there yet which is nice with no cars. More snow coming tomorrow - brrrrrr.
Stay warm!