We've been half a family this week. Three children are staying with friends and family in Albany, and Phil has been riding from Albany to Perth (via Walpole, Pemberton and Busselton) as part of a fundraiser. So it's just Jason, Marcus, Aaron and myself. I suppose this means that our pace of life has been slightly more normal, but it feels a little too quiet, and we can't wait for everyone to come back home. Aaron's idea of 'fun' doesn't always match up with mine, but we did enjoy a special day out earlier this week. How can you go wrong with lunch and books at Millpoint Book Caffe? From there we headed to Perth, as I wanted to check out a small business I'd discovered on Instagram. Which is actually the point of this post.
Beau Est Mein is a printmaking studio on William St in Perth. Downstairs is a lovely shop, which includes prints and reproductions by Magali Dincher. I've admired her work since I discovered it a couple of years ago, and was pleased to discover that this business is her brainchild! Upstairs is a print studio. A range of printmaking workshops are held here. Or if you are experienced in printmaking, you can make use of the studio facilities independently in Studio Access days. There are workshops for kids and for adults. Sounds like a fun day out with a friend (trumps pedicures and day spas any day in my book!)
People often ask if I'm planning on teaching another screen printing workshop. I would love to, once the kids are a bit older. Meanwhile, this is a great place at which to learn assorted printing skills.
I like to try and limit the range of techniques that I use in my textile art. There are so many different and interesting things that I could try to incorporate, but I'm fairly certain that it's better for my creative endeavours to limit myself to a few. Just like it's sometimes creatively stimulating to stick to a limited colour palette or in a limited time frame. The saying that 'necessity is the mother of invention' comes to mind. There's a challenge in expressing what I want to express with the few techniques at hand, without reaching for new techniques. There's also a place for mastering several techniques well, rather than many techniques poorly. And of course, limiting the number of techniques and processes I use also helps to limit the range of equipment and supplies that I need.
Here are my five favourite techniques:
I began dyeing my own fabric even before I settled on machine-piecing as a signature technique. Initially, I had two reasons for this. Firstly, I figured it to be cheaper to dye my own range of colours than to try to source it from patchwork shops. Secondly, the range of colours generally available in fabric shops is quite limited. I like to have more than twenty assorted greens at my disposal when making a eucalyptus quilt. Another thing I really like about hand-dyed fabric is the unevenness of the colour. Commercial solid cottons are rather flat-looking by comparison.
Machine-piecing is what I consider to be my most important technique, if I can put it like that. It's what makes my work different to the work of many appliqué artists. It also imposes great limitations (or maybe challenge is the better term) on my artmaking. The physical challenge of piecing together very tiny or tightly-curved pieces of fabric limits how small my images can be, or the type images that I create. Sometimes that frustrates me, but it also forces me to extend myself, and to keep trying new ways to make the machine-piecing work for me (finer lines, tighter curves, smaller scale or alternative styles of drawing). Sometimes an image or idea is better portrayed with pieced outlines, as in Trike, and other times solid blocks of colour works better.
Machine-quilting doesn't hold quite the same excitement for me as the piecing does, although getting started is always the hardest part. Once I've started, it's usually an enjoyable process. I always start by ditch-stitching over all the seam lines. Then I decide where to add extra quilting in the form of doodling, pictures or text.
Not every artwork I make features screen-printing, but I always love it when I am able to incorporate this technique into my quilts. Like hand-dyeing, it is a surface design technique, allowing me to manipulate the fabric even before cutting and stitching. Where possible, I like to use designs that enhance the story of the quilt.
Of these five techniques, hand-embroidery is the one that I have most recently incorporated. When I don't machine quilt the whole quilt heavily, I often like to add some had stitching. Usually a simple running stitch, but other times, seed stitch, unconnected chain stitch, chicken scratches, crosses and more (pardon me for not knowing the official terminology!) I use stranded embroidery thread for this, and I love the interest and texture that it adds to the artworks
Do you have a go-to technique or set of techniques for your creative endeavours?
I did some more playing with putting images of children onto fabric the other night. I tried mono printing using a piece of glass. I took a fun set of photos of the process to share with you. Unfortunately I forgot about them when I formatted the camera card before our morning outing to Fremantle on Monday, so they are no more. But I can at least share the results.
They're not fancy, but they were fun! The process is very simple – paint the image on to a sheet of glass, lay the fabric over, roll over the back with a roller, then lift the fabric carefully.
I assume this process is very much the same as gelli printing with the main difference being that the gelli print has a bit of give in it, compared to the glass, and will therefore give a more complete print. But maybe those of you who have actually used gelli plates can correct me if I'm wrong?
My Spoonflower package arrived! Looking forward to stitching some of this up into my quilts. I sort of had in mind to create a piece for stitched & bound with this, but I don't think there's enough time left for that.
Have you tried Spoonflower yet? Here are 7 reasons to get some of your own fabric printed:
1. Bind a book (ok, this uses their decal option, rather than fabric)
2. Make memory pillows from concert tickets
3. Make tea towels from your favourite recipes – what a great gift idea!
4. Make a periodic table quilt. Ok, that's the nerd in me coming out!
5. Make an iPad cover featuring your favourite Instagram pics.
6. Upholster an armchair with old family letters (my Opa's primary school penmanship books would be perfect for this!)
7. Make your own clothing labels
It is a privilege to participate in Stencil Girl's blog hop today.
I chose the sweet gum balls. We had these (or something like them) in our previous garden, and this design makes me think of all the wonderful things to be discovered and explored in that garden.
During our screenprinting workshop last week, as we talked about making stencils, someone asked whether you could use bought stencils to screenprint. I was glad she asked, as I had this stencil on hand ready to try out with a silkscreen in a quiet moment during the day. Unfortunately, the red print I made during the workshop was unsuccessful. Although very thin, the material from which the stencil is cut is still a bit thicker than paper, making it more difficult to get a clean print.
The idea didn't let go though, so this week I tried again, with some of my opaque textile paint, which is thicker than what I'd used earlier. Much better. It was more difficult to get a clean print than if I'd used a paper stencil, but I sure wouldn't want to have to cut out a stencil as detailed as this by hand. (I added strips of paper around the edge of the stencil, to stop the paint spilling past the stencil during the printing process). I look forward to trying out more stencils in this way.
The sweet gum balls design is perfect for adding texture to a design. I also tried to add some yellow highlights to my little pieced quilt by dabbing paint through just a few of the sweet gum balls. As much as I liked this idea, the paint I used didn't show up so well – should have used opaque paint!
I love cutting up and mixing together my accumulation of handmade prints. This little quilt remains unfinished. I'm considering cropping it but am not sure on the best composition yet. Maybe I'll even make the new cover that my daughter has been requesting for her Psalm Book. Which ever way I go with it, I'm sure there will be a bit more stitching and embroidery before it's complete. I am, however, so happy with the screenprinted texture that this stencil provided for this little piece.
Thank you, Stencil Girl, for the opportunity to play. And Jane, I love this design – I'll definitely be using it again in my art making!
Be sure to pop over to see what Debora Boschert has made now.
Also, StencilGirl Products is giving away a prize on their blog StencilGirl Talk. Comment on any of the blog hop posts to enter. The giveaway will close on Monday, November 11, 2013 @ 11:59 PM Central Time.
Blog Hop Order
We had our basic screen-printing workshop on Friday. What a wonderful day it turned out to be! So thankful that the howling winds of the previous day had disappeared.
We set the workshop up in our garage which could just nicely fit all of us (14 participants and myself). We printed and we drew and we cut and we printed some more. We made many mistakes and learnt from them all as we went. We looked at finding inspiration and noted how much easier it was to come up with ideas once we were 'into it'. We muttered and we laughed and we chatted and we exclaimed.
It was so disappointed when our prints didn't work out (and we soon learnt that that is a normal part of screenprinting) but oh so thrilling when they did.
(Unfortunately I ran out of room on my camera card before the end of the day and didn't capture everyone's prints.)
A big thank you to all of you lovely ladies who entrusted me with a whole day of your time!
I hope this overload of images gives you a taste of our big day.