Category Archives: printmaking

Experiments

I’m trying to work on something every day, and one day last week I was at a loss, so I just started stitching fabric together. A whole bunch of blues, because I somehow have more blue fabric than any other color. Not surprisingly, it began to remind me of the ocean. I experimented with free-motion stitching on just the fabric (versus a “quilt sandwich” of fabric, batting, and backing) to see what happened. It puckers the fabric a bit more, is what, even if you’re careful. So it gets texture-y. I added some paint after carving a quick wave-like stamp. I decided it needed a girl doing a cartwheel. She was happy to be back at the beach.

She missed the ocean at amyhoodarts.com

“She missed the ocean”

It might be a little bit busy… and you can see how the fabric doesn’t lay completely flat. Do I like that? Or do I mind that? I’m deciding. I’m experimenting. I stitched some words, too.

She missed the ocean, detail. amyhoodarts.com

I really liked this cartwheel girl.

She missed the ocean, detail, amyhoodarts.com

I wondered what she’d look like cropped all the way down so she was the main focus, so I made another, smaller, piece, this time in a meadow full of flowers.

JOY at amyhoodarts.com

“JOY”

This one is only about 4×6″.  And while I typically like to work, then crop down, next time I’m using French knots I’ll crop first, then add the French knots, just because they get in the way a little bit on the edges. Ah, but check out her hair! All of it, really–I like it a lot. Doing creates ideas and those ideas create more ideas. There is always something new to try when I’m feeling a little stuck.

Art Quiltlet: 21/52

art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I am making so very much that doesn’t get posted here, although most of it gets shared on Instagram. This quiltlet uses another piece of gelli-plate-printed fabric from last Monday’s printing session. I wasn’t happy with the way this print turned out (that blue shadow around the plant is because I didn’t get enough of the paint off on the first print with paper), so I decided to use it as practice, filling in the space with free-motion pebbling. Here’s what it looked like before I cropped it.

leaf print + texture before cropping, amyhoodarts.com

I would do things differently. I’d eliminate the outline stitching and just use pebbling. I ended up with some billowing in some of the leaves. And I’d make a better print to start. But this is why I like these low-risk quiltlets. It’s built in that I’m learning things and/or figuring things out as I go. Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you do something you don’t like. Not that I don’t like this piece; I just think it could be improved.

The back looks pretty cool too.

back of art quiltlet, amyhoodarts.com

It’s got me thinking about what I can do with negative space….

Art Quiltlet: 20/52

leaf print art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I bought myself a Gelli Plate because while I love gelatin plate printmaking, I don’t have a place to store them here. Our fridge is side-by-side and flat shelf space is hard to find. So I decided to try the Gelli Plate and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a good option. Monday I picked some plants, gathered some textures, and had myself a little printmaking session using fabric. This quiltlet came from that.

I felt like sitting down and stitching by hand yesterday, so I did. It’s been a week of Mondays and I wanted that quiet soothing-ness that comes from handwork. The result is pretty subtle. Kind of calm. Just what I needed.

This is week 20. Twenty! For week 10 I shared a picture of the first ten all together, so here’s a photo of quiltlets 11-20.

art quiltlets 11-20 at amyhoodarts.com

I like the variety. I like that I’m trying new things. I like how some of them very much reflect the week in which they were made, and some reflect how I was feeling (ready to tackle a new technique? or needing a bit of a respite?). I definitely like that I haven’t missed a week yet.

Art Quiltlets: 18 + 19/52

Again with the double post! I’m making weekly, just didn’t get a chance to post last week. I was busy working on a larger piece, which is actually where last week’s quiltlet came from. At the end of the week I looked at all the scraps on my work table, pulled some out, and collaged an art quiltlet.

Scraps art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

That white fabric with black printing wasn’t even used in the larger piece, in the end, but it found its way here. This was pure play, and it’s fun how many of the same elements turned into something so different than the piece from which they originated.

This week, I carved a stamp inspired by a book I found on the library shelf while browsing, Art Deco Textiles. Then I used it to make this little quiltlet.

Lepidoptera art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

The quiltlet itself is very simple. I’ve been in a frenzy of creating/sewing the past several weeks and I think I needed a little simple. But I like its quietness. Also, I really like carving stamps and I’m getting lots of inspiration from that book.

And now I am caught up on posting the quiltlets! I can’t believe we’re almost to week 20 of 2016.

Art Quiltlet: 10/52

Labyrinth art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

These small pieces are perfect for practicing or trying new things, and that’s what this week’s was mostly about. It began with one of my hand-carved stamps printed on linen, with the intention of tracing the labyrinth with metallic red thread. I learned that metallic thread isn’t worth the trouble–it kept breaking. Perhaps there’s some trick to it that I don’t know. Then I spent a while picking what felt like foil stitches out so I could start over with normal thread in a different color. I chose blue because I had matching backing fabric, and it was still bright. So, my free-motion stitching has gotten much, much better (I’ve been practicing; those pieces are all on Instagram), although I still need work on handwriting, so I added some words.

I always hand-stitch binding onto the back, but I decided to try machine stitching it. Ugh. I do not like that nearly as much. I’m not good at stitching in the ditch, which is part of it, but also I don’t like how I couldn’t control the neatness on the back like I can while hand-stitching. Good to know. If I make a quilt that I think needs machine stitching on the binding, I’m going to have to practice. In the meantime though, I so prefer hand-stitching, both doing it and the look of the final result.

Since this is the tenth week, I decided to photograph the quiltlets thus far all together. On a wrinkly white sheet of course.

ten art quiltlets at amyhoodarts.com

At the very least, I’ve kept it up for ten weeks in a row. And skills are improving, and it’s still fun. So, one-fifth (more or less) of the way through the year, this is still working for me.

Art Quiltlet: 8/52

Circles art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I’m calling this “Circles” but I feel I could have called it Kitchen Sink, because I threw a lot in there. I started by printing some white dish cloth fabric with bubble wrap painted with black and red acrylic paint. Then I cut circles out of some plaid-ish Japanese cotton.

Circles art quiltlet in progress at amyhoodarts.com

I sandwiched my quilt layers before stitching on the circles, then changed to white thread for some free motion quilting practice. It’s kind of a meandering trail because I kept losing track of myself a bit, but the stitching is even, so I’m calling that a win. Then I sewed on some plastic netting, I believe from a box of clementines, that had been used for printing at some point and had mostly black paint on it. So some printing, applique, free motion stitching, and collage. It was fun to make. I’ve only made eight of these so far, but I seem to be moving back and forth between more planned ideas and just plain playing around. That’s a good mix for a creativity practice.

Short post today because I’m off to teach the first meeting of an after-school art enrichment class at my daughter’s elementary school. After getting dinner prep out of the way first thing this morning, I spent the rest of the day playing with my sewing machine and painting another sample for class, and soon I get to make art with some kids. Can’t complain–Thursday is pretty good.

Art Quiltlet: 7/52

This has been a jumbled-up week, with one scheduled and one unscheduled day off school, rescheduled appointments, and general unexpected upheaval. February is traditionally the hardest time of the year for me mentally, and we didn’t move far enough south for me to escape that. I’m struggling this year, but I’m gritting my teeth (literally; my jaw aches all the time) and holding out for spring. Meanwhile, I’ve spent all of my sewing time this week working on a quilt, so I decided Friday morning would be art quiltlet time.

"Grow Tall" art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

A little reminder…

I actually began this on Monday, when I printed one of my stamps onto linen. I used Speedball fabric block printing ink, which I really like (I like the smell too, so much), but it does take time to dry thoroughly. I decided to print some of my blocks and stamps to use in free motion practice. I’d really like to get good at free motion stitching, and it’s one of those skills that just takes practice, practice, practice. My bobbin tension is a wee bit off here, but I do see improvement.

free motion practice at amyhoodarts.com

practice, practice, practice

My sewing machine instruction book, by the way, says that presser foot should be locked in the up position for free motion quilting, but my machine hates that. The bobbin wheel jammed every time. So I’m leaving it down, because if the machine is happy, I’m happier. The machine and I, we are learning free motion stitching together.

I stitched ribbon over the raw edges. This isn’t a true binding–I didn’t miter the corners or anything fancy, just left raw edges and used a separate strip of ribbon for each side. I like that I have no rules for these quiltlets other than size and that they’re quilt sandwiches. I can do whatever the heck I want. I can leave raw edges. I can use something else to cover them. I can stick paper or plastic on these quilts. I’m self-taught (with the help of books and the internet) on just about everything, and I have no internal voice scolding, You can’t do that! That’s not done! I don’t know what’s not done. It’s very freeing.

And here’s a picture of the back, because I enjoy those behind-the-scenes looks and maybe you do, too.

"Grow Tall" art quiltlet, back, amyhoodarts.com

It’s not perfect. That’s okay! Practice practice practice, and spring is coming, thank goodness. Every year, it shows up.

Sand and Sea Art Quiltlet

For the past several weeks, I’ve been working on two little sewn things. I think you could call them art quilts. They are quilted, and not from a pattern, and use various techniques. I shared in-progress photos on Instagram and kept thinking I’d do that here, too, but instead here I am with a couple of finished things–the first in this post, and the second in an upcoming post of its own. Before I made these I’d never made a quilt, even a tiny coaster-sized one, so I tackled many New Things while making these. I can’t wait to make more.

sand and sea art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I began making this sand- and sea-inspired image because I miss the ocean like it’s oxygen. There is nothing near here, absolutely nothing, that can compare to the Atlantic coast beaches of the town I left behind. I miss our local salt pond, chock full of critters we loved to respectfully observe. More than once, we have followed behind a horseshoe crab until it buried itself in the sand. I set out to sew an ocean.

sand detail (fabric) at amyhoodarts.com

This portion of “sand” was created using Jan Mullen’s “stack, slice, switch” method (my inspiration books are listed at the end of this post). I gathered fabric scraps in sand colors–and remember, sand is a combination of so many components–and mixed and matched until I had a cobble that abstractedly reminded me of sand.

horseshoe crab detail at amyhoodarts.com

This segment of “sand” is one block of linen printed in the center with my horseshoe crab linocut. Top and bottom is a bubble wrap print. For the bottom half of the quiltlet, I joined pieces of blue scraps cut on a slant. For this first attempt, I quilted more or less using straight lines and gentle curves, with the feed dogs up. Here’s a view of the back.

back view of small art quilt at amyhoodarts.com

It’s not perfect! And I added the embroidery around the horseshoe crab after quilting, as you can see. This was my first time binding a quiltish thing, too, and check out these mitered corners!

mitered binding corners at amyhoodarts.com

The finished piece is about 13.5 by 19 inches, and I need to decide how to hang it, and where. The second quiltlet is also of something I miss from Rhode Island, and you’ll see in the next post that I tried new things with that one, too.

Books I used for technique and/or inspiration for both quiltlets:

Reverse Appliqué With No Brakez by Jan Mullen
Art Quilts at Play by Jane Davilá and Elin Waterston
Fresh Quilting by Malka Dubrawsky
Stitch Draw by Rosie James

How-To: Block-Printed “Hope” Flags

community hope flag activity. amyhoodarts.com

My son wishes his school had a library. My daughter likes when everybody is friends. And I enjoy a community in which children and adults strive to be kind.

I’m helping organize the arts + crafts booth at the school fair this year*, and one of the projects is to contribute to a Community Hope Flag display. These are, of course, inspired by Tibetan Prayer Flags, which are hung in the elements until they disintegrate, releasing the prayer or hope. Fair visitors can depict a hope for themselves, their family, their school, town, or world and add it to the school’s display. Because prayer flags were traditionally block printed, we decided to use a method accessible to all ages and skill levels: scratch-foam printmaking.

Our fair isn’t until next weekend, but I thought I’d share the method and samples here now. I prepared both the flag blanks and the printing plates. The “flags” were made from donated sheets, which I washed, dried, ironed, and cut into 7″ x 9″ rectangles using my rotary cutter with a pinking blade, cutting mat, and a ruler. This made the cutting go fairly quickly. I then pressed a fold at one end to create a 7″ x 7″ square (or thereabouts) and ran a quick line of stitching to make a casing.

The printing plates are Styrofoam trays with the raised edge sliced off, then cut into quarters. Again, using a craft knife, metal ruler, and cutting mat made this go quickly. Other materials are pencils, sponge brushes, and liquid acrylic craft paint. Onto the method!

1. Think about what hope, dream, or wish you’d like to share, and how you can represent it with a simple image.

2. Using a pencil, draw the image onto the smooth side of a Styrofoam rectangle. You want to indent the Styrofoam, but not make holes in it. Your image will print in reverse, so keep that in mind while drawing. Words are probably too tricky at this point unless you are very good at mirror writing.

scratched image onto Styrofoam. amyhoodarts.com

3. Paint a thin layer of acrylic paint onto your scratch-foam drawing. If it’s too gloppy, your image will get obscured when you print.

painted scratch-foam image. amyhoodarts.com

4. Take a look at a blank hope flag. The casing (the folded over and sewn bit) is at the top, and the fold is towards the back. Lay the front of the flag over your painted foam and firmly smooth it to transfer the paint. Don’t wiggle it around or your image will smudge. Just firmly press. Then peel it off.

hope flag placed over printing plate. amyhoodarts.com

pressing the image onto the flag. amyhoodarts.com

finished foam-printed hope flag. amyhoodarts.com

We plan to have permanent markers on hand so people can write any words if they wish (as my kids did in their samples in the top image). We will also have white t-shirts so that kids can make another print of their image on a shirt to take home; the plates can also be taken home and used again and again. It’s definitely hard for some kids to leave their artwork behind, even as part of a community display, so these other options are nice to have.

I think this is a great activity for a community big (like our school) or small (like a family). It’s nice to display hopes, wishes, and dreams, I think, and keep them in view.

*Yes, I’m doing this the same spring I’m moving a 5-person household six hours south. What can I say? Sometimes I’m illogical.

Juggling

I can only keep so many balls going at once, and lately the one I’ve been letting sit is posting here. See, there are so many things I like to do. That’s why when I decided to participate in The 100 Day Project on Instagram, I didn’t choose to make 100 of one thing alone. I decided to make time for drawing, painting, or carving every day. Because if I’m making a drawing a day, when would I have time to carve any of them? If I’m painting every day, will I still have time to run? How about sewing and knitting? (And of course any of those things have to be fit around mama duties.) Any time I’ve tried to do one thing every single day for any length of time, other things I like get squeezed out. I could look at it as a lack of focus, but I prefer to view it as the product of an interesting and interested mind instead.

At any rate, if you’re interested, I’m posting photos like these on Instagram.

linocut test print at amyhoodarts.com

Testing a tree linocut to see what still needs to be cleaned up.

Besides drawing and carving and sewing and knitting, I’ve been making sure we get outside. Oh, we are so happy for spring. We recently visited the local pond after dinner to watch the sun go down and listen to the spring peepers.

sunset at the pond at amyhoodarts.com

Photo by my husband.

We were hoping we’d see the beavers come out for a crepuscular swim, and we finally did! And then–then we realized the creatures wheeling and dipping over the pond as the sun fully set were most likely bats. How exciting! They moved too fast to get a good look at with binoculars. Their wings fairly vibrated. I’ve never seen bats outside of a zoo before.

We also have horses in our neighborhood, which is convenient, since my 10yo mentioned he wished he were better at drawing horses. Excellent–let’s go right to the source.

Drawing horses at amyhoodarts.com

After that, we crossed the street to walk the path through the meadow (not very meadowish yet) and the woods, on some open land property owned by the town. My youngest is delighted that it’s spring.

happy spring at amyhoodarts.com

She’s wearing a mama-made dress, natch.

My favorite bird, the towhee, has been singing his heart out. I heard a barred owl again last night. I feel so grateful for where I live during the spring and summer, for this patch of land we share with so many critters–birds and insects, reptiles and amphibians, mammals too. For close access to farms, ponds, seashores, meadows, and woods.

Which is why it’s so ironic we still haven’t sold this house. I’ve been cleaning again lately too. It’s been six months since I deep cleaned and decluttered, and several areas need another pass, and yes I’m a little resentful I’m still cleaning this house. Also stressed out. So many houses are for sale. My advice is never to try to sell a house in an economically depressed state that is losing population. We’re going down to Maryland in a couple of weeks to look for a rental, and most likely my husband will be down there while I’m up here with the kids as the school year finishes. This is exactly what I didn’t want, but what can I do? That’s where we are. So I will open the windows when temperatures allow and listen to the birds I love and enjoy my deck while it’s still mine–while crossing my fingers every day that the house sells soon.