Saturday, January 26, 2019

It's Done

I've put the finishing touches on my recycle bookbinding challenge at long last. Frankly, my interest was waning and I am SO tired of dragonflies that I don't want to see another one for a long time! Talk about a learning experience though. So many things I should have thought through before forging ahead with parts of it. Things I discovered about pens and adhesives through trial and error. Overall, it did not turn out too badly. But I really didn't think I'd be fiddling with it for so many months. This first post about it from last May sets the scene: Evolution of a "Simple" Project. And the rest of this post is photos of each page in all their recycled/upcycled glory - packing paper, paper made from junk mail, used teabags, images from catalogs, magazines, tissue and wrapping paper, and fabric, security envelop patterns, salvaged cording and crewel yarn, and of course, the cover which was the start of it all, made from a shopping bag. Click on any photo for a larger view. Apologies for the few that are out of focus.

If you have questions about process, see these additional posts:

Monday, January 21, 2019


Imagined tree at sunset
I get curious about things but it's often a long time before I actually follow up on my curiosity. I decided that with my new Wing It resolution, I should devote at least some of January to satisfying my curiosity about some of these things I've wondered about for awhile now. First up, is the ink in my black Pitt brush pen opaque enough that the red ink laid down first won't show through? Yes it is. That was easy.

Pressing a piece of muslin on a wool pressing mat

The next thing would take more time, more gathering of supplies, including fabric suitable for printing on. One piece in particular needed some creases pressed out which gave me the perfect opportunity to try out this wool pressing mat. I've been using a similarly sized June Tailor Cut and Press on my ironing board for years, probably decades by now, because I like its firm surface for pressing seams when piecing. I guessed that these wool mats, now being seen everywhere in videos and TV shows, would be a similar firm surface, and being wool, perhaps work even better. I'd read that someone liked their Cut and Press for a stamping surface, and since mine is stained and pulling away from the cutting side, I thought I might retire it as a pressing surface and relegate it to a stamping surface. Those wool mats are pricey though, and I waited until I had some money from an art sale and a birthday to treat myself to one. I didn't actually pick it up until November and haven't had a reason to get it out of the wrapper until now. I need to put it through more paces before I decide what I think, but at a minimum, it worked pretty well as a pressing surface. Very grippy so you have to be careful to smooth the fabric over it well before starting and directions say not to move the iron back and forth as much as up and down.

Now on to this curiosity about what is essentially a monoprinting process. I'd seen it on Mary Stori's blog, this post reporting in on one of her sessions with her Fiber Junkies meetings. The technique involved essentially squishing paint between 2 panes of glass to create a texture that could be transferred to either paper or fabric (scroll down towards end of her post to see the process). I loved what I saw and knew I had everything I needed: two pieces of glass not used with their frames, Dynaflow paint, and fabric. Now a few months later, I didn't even bother to look up the post (Wing It!) because I remembered it as so simple. I used an eyedropper to drop 3 colors of paint onto one piece of glass. Is that too much? Not enough? Too close or too far apart? We'll find out.

I carefully place the second piece of glass on top. Looks promising.

I was totally unprepared for how difficult it would be to pull the two panes of glass apart - really a lot of suction! And while I was trying to figure out how to break that suction, the paint kept moving. When I finally split them apart, the ink ran together into a huge blob, most patterning lost. Dynafow is simply too thin to work, I decided. 

Still, I lifted the paint off the plates by laying fabric over them and pressing, which pushed the paint together even more. Trial one a fail (in terms of what I was going for) but this could be overprinted. I cleaned the plates and got out a thicker paint.

Versatex is a favorite paint because of its creaminess. It's just the right thickness in my book for use in stamping, no need to thin. It does have a bit of metallic sheen to it though, which has limited my use of it. I'm guessing it will work great here, but how to lay it down as it is too thick to drip? I used a small stick to dip it out of the jar and tap it onto the glass - 3 colors again. And again, too much, not enough, not close enough together? Let's see.

Glass on top and I could see I could have spaced the drops much closer. The glass shifted slightly and I could see this could add interest.

Again, mega suction making it really hard to pull the panes apart. But when they did, there it was, that interesting pattern.

I printed both plates and was delighted, even though there was a lot of open spaces. 

Sea coral, right?

I tried taking a ghost print but the paint dries pretty fast and not much came up. 

As I was rinsing off one plate, ruing all that paint going down the drain, I suddenly realized I could probably mist the plate with water to reconstitute the paint and allow more to be taken up in multiple ghost prints. And yes, that really does work as seen on my first failed piece, now overprinted.

Down to my last piece of fabric, a green hand-dye (I know, it doesn't look green here, funky lighting), I chose my favorite color, teal, and since there was quite a bit on the underside of the lid, I thought I'd try picking it up with a piece of sponge and dabbing it onto the plate. Fingers crossed, was not too sure about the coverage here. 

I added some copper in the first method of spooning it up on a stick, and laid a plate over it. And then I couldn't help myself. I give the top piece a spin. What do I have to lose?

And when I finally pried the two pieces of glass apart and gently laid and pressed the fabric over each pain, I was stunned at the results.

It is amazing to me that the details are so sharp.

I kept misting the plates and ghost printing on my white piece of muslin and a bit on that first pull. This one is nothing much to look at, but can be a base for more printing.

There was one other thing I meant to try, but was so caught up in the success of that last print and pulling up the last of the paint off the plates that I totally forgot. I just wondered what would happen if I dropped one color of paint on one pane and a different color on the other pane before smooshing them together? And I totally forgot about the Maribu Textile Paints I got on sale in November, which are supposed to have more "open" time for use in this kind of printing. Guess there will be one more trial before my curiosity is totally sated on this one. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

And the Resolution Word of the Year Is . . .

. . . two words! Or perhaps we can call it a phrase. It's been something that kept flitting through my brain all of December once I realized it was getting that time of year and that, as has been the case most years, I struggled to remember what my current resolution word was. Oh yeah - "refresh" - which stayed in my mind about half the year I suppose. And actually, I did continue to look at things with a fresh eye during the months of limited use of my right arm and shoulder, unfamiliar pain and physical therapy. I had to come up with "fresh" ways of moving, sitting, accomplishing all sorts of everyday and mundane tasks, and my physical therapist prodded me to think about my body and pain in fresh ways. It may not have been in the forefront of my mind, but perhaps that notion of "refresh" was planted and operating in my subconscious all along.

But that was 2018. My imposed limitations ended up having a freeing effect on me overall, as I didn't have the energy or ability often to maintain my usual somewhat rigid and researched approach to life. I realized I was becoming more comfortable with just winging it to get through things. Once that thought came forward, I was uninterested in searching out any other word for the new year. Everything on my mind for the upcoming months feel like the sort of things best done by winging it. And so, my resolution word/phrase for 2019 is:  


I know. Shocking to those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time or know me personally. I am seldom a "wing it" person. I prep. I research. I consider all alternatives. I plan. I mull. But I must move along, feel a strong urge to get with it and not worry so much about consequences. Will I still find myself doing due diligence? Oh yes, I'm sure. But for the less important things, the fun things, the let's see what happens things, I'm going to try to set aside all that stuff I generally do (which is often just generated by fear and procrastination) and try to wing it a bit more. I'm hoping it results in a lot of things tried and accomplished and a big smile.

Sketchbook by Geninnne's Art
Two Christmas gifts I received have the potential to get me back in the studio more and sketching more. The first is a boxed set of cds, hours of a favorite author, philosopher and mystic of mine talking about his books and beliefs. I only listen to this sort of thing while working in my studio so there's a double pull I'm hoping will work towards re-establishing a regular studio practice. Fingers crossed. The second is this lovely leather sketchbook cover with moleskine insert. A cousin, who is quite artistic in her own right, bought one for each of us to use for sketching. We live too far apart to see each other much, but stay in touch the modern way, through the internet with the occasional old school letter through the postal service. We have gotten so close over the years, and I love this new connection we have with the twin sketchbooks. How can I not get busy and sketch when I know she is sketching away in hers as she takes her next trip? Throw aside every misgiving I feel when I think about picking up one of my many sketchbooks. We'll just wing it in this one as I've done with its very first page today.

Wishing you a marvelous start to the new year and everything you need to weather the rest of 2019. Let's make it a great year!

And if you are interested in reading about my previous resolution words, go to last year's post where there are links at the end to those older words.