Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stamp carving or another way to make my own fabric

In my ongoing search for ways to create my art without stressing my bionic knee or my herniated disc, I am playing with carving my own stamps to use in dyeing and batiking fabric, or adding images to already dyed fabric. I already have a lot of different dyes, fabric paints and silkscreening paint, so my new supplies list is pretty simple: carving tools and stamp material. Stampeaz has a nice sampler pack of stamp material so I started with that. And I got the 2.5 inch carveable brayer because the idea of the rolling image seemed fun. It's definitely something I can't do with a silkscreen. My local art supply store had a sale on the carving tools so after about $30, I was set to go.

I got my first image from Art Stamping Workshop by Gloria Page. I also watched her video which gave me really great tips on using the tools and how to make carving easier. Here's the stamp. I've used commercial batik fabric with spirals on it so I was very interested in doing something similar but with my own feel to it. This one started with a 4x6 block of stamp material.

Here's two images from this stamp. The one in purple ink was the first one. That's when I discovered that my eye was used to the lines I use in my silkscreen work and for stamping the lines needed to be thicker and stronger. I also didn't like the straight edges with all those curves so I shaped the edges as much as I could with the material left on the edge of the stamp. The black print is after the modifications. It came out much closer to what I was looking for.

I found this material pretty easy to carve. It's the Speedball beige stuff. Stampeaz mentions in the description they have for it that it can be crumblier over time. I'll try the other 2 materials I have from the sampler pack and see what I think. More about that later, as I get more carving time in.

Then I moved on to the brayer. I got the smallest one, which made it harder to hold onto it while carving. I didn't slice myself up, but I did slip and prick my finger a couple of times. Obviously some work to do here with the technique - probably both the holding and being more aware of my finger being in front of the carving tool's leading edge. Here's the brayer and how it did on paper in one picture. I missed inking all of it, so I filled the blanks in with blue ink so I could see where the gaps were easier. It was harder to ink the brayer evenly. The print pictured here was done with silkscreen ink spread lightly onto a paper plate.

I liked how this one worked to give me the continuous line of image, but the surface doesn't hold much ink so it fades fairly quickly. I will have to experiment to see how to improve this.

Next up, doing stamping with these stamps on fabric. Fun times ahead!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fashionable & on a bicycle - tips to help

Today's email from brought an article about bicycling and still presenting an office ready demeanor. Or being fashionable. Whichever way you choose to describe it. For the full article, go here. It's a quick interview with a woman who lives car free in Portland so it has several important tips for those of us who live in the Pacific North Wet. I encourage you to read the whole article but here's the important points from it (and mucho thanks to and Elly Blue for giving them to us):

First and foremost, Meghan says, "suck it up and get some fenders." She's right. Far worse than any downpour is the rain and road muck that your tires heave up onto your legs, face, and back as you ride -- not to mention into the face of anyone unlucky enough to find themselves riding behind you.

Planning your wardrobe is just as important. Judicious investments are key. Wearing technical rain gear can mean getting just as damp from sweat as you would from a light rain, but it can save you from getting drenched in a downpour. Here are Meghan's suggestions as you find that wardrobe balance:

  • Wear black. Or brown. Or dark colors and patterns. Black bottoms don't show rain and mud and a black top doesn't show sweat when you get overheated wearing a rain jacket.

  • Wear wool if you can. I love my wool tights. They're not cheap, but you can get them in the off-season on sale, and they're totally worth it. Guys, go for wool pants. They're sexier than khakis anyway. Seriously.

  • Don't ever wear cotton in the rain. You'll regret it for hours. (The stuff takes forever to dry!) Even synthetics are better than cotton if you can't or don't wear wool.

  • If it's truly pouring, I accept that I'm going to get wet and go bare legged. I wear shoes that dry quickly (like Crocs or Melissa brand shoes). I dry off MUCH quicker than everyone else! (If you decide to fight it, try some rainboots. I like the Tretorn ones because they're lined, but you can get any ol' boots and put some sealant on them and they'll do the job.)

  • A tight cap under your helmet will sop up rain and keep water from trickling through your hair and down your face.

  • Invest in a good-lookin' raincoat! Like the kind you'd wear to walk down the street. You don't have to look like you're mountaineering every day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This year's shows

I picked up my piece, The Big Bang: A Bird's Eye View, from the Connecting Threads Exhibit in Seattle this last Friday and realized that I had neglected to mention that show and my current solo show on my blog. (Bad Artist! No cookie!) The Connecting Threads show was for the graduates of the Fiber Arts Certificate program at UW and we had 55 artists participating. I think I didn't mention it because I was physically unable to do all the stitching that I wanted to on the piece and I was therefore unhappy with it. Having it come home after almost 3 months has given me a different perspective. So here it is.

I feel it still needs some work to highlight the splitting/openings in the background but I'm not sure exactly how I'll be doing that. We shall see...

My current show is at the Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirkland, WA. The gallery is in the sanctuary so my work can be seen when the sanctuary is open for functions and during church office hours (Mon-Fri, 9:30 - 1:30pm). I learned a lot about picking work for a show and hanging my pieces so this has already been a fabulous experience. I hope to have an artist reception sometime before the show comes down in early November.