Category Archives: printmaking

A Birthday Shirt and Cape

I’ve been quiet here because I was busy last week getting ready for my youngest child’s fifth birthday. For her third birthday, I surprised her with a white t-shirt with her number and a crown painted in pink, and now a new shirt is expected every time her number changes. Last year’s shirt was purple with a light blue number and crown, and this year’s is pink with a black number and crown. Of course she wore it on the big day itself.

five

I made it using a freezer paper stencil, which is so easy, with such satisfying results. I’ve been using them for years now, and I’m working on a tutorial for a blog hop I’m participating in on Thursday with other members of my fantasy football league. (I’m a woman of varied interests!) So look for that.

She is also wearing her new wizard cape, which is technically for Halloween, but she really, really wanted it in time for her birthday. She and her brother picked out Halloween decorations for her party, and Halloween plates, and she wanted people to wear costumes, and she wanted her wizard cape. Four years ago, when she was just a wee baby who wouldn’t sleep without me, I agreed to sew each of the boys special capes–my younger son has one just like the one you see here, except it’s white (he was a ghost), and my older son had a wizardy one with stars and moons on the fabric and big drapey sleeves. I drove myself into several meltdowns trying to sew slippery fabric around the schedule of a clingy baby, plus I’d only been sewing for a year, which means I’d sewn as much as possible for a month before having the baby, then barely sewed at all, then made those two capes. (After that, my husband banned me from sewing Halloween costumes.)

But this year, four years later…I know so much more. I made this cape with French seams, so the raw edges wouldn’t fray and unravel like they’ve done in my son’s, because patterns never do tell you what to do about those raw edges, they just figure you know, and I didn’t. The fabric didn’t seem at all unmanageable, I gathered the hood as instructed (I don’t think I even attempted it last time), and I turned the narrow hems with no trouble at all. It took a goodly bit of time to sew, of course, but that’s all it took–time. It didn’t take anything else out of me. As I sewed the pattern pieces together multiple times (because of the French seams) and watched my seams line up and everything come together smoothly, I kept thinking, I have come so far! That’s a nice feeling, and a pretty good bonus that comes from making the same pattern four years later. As my daughter twirled around in her cape, pretending to fly, I sat on the couch watching her and couldn’t help saying, “I did such a beautiful job making your cape.”

Freezer-Paper Stencil Birthday Shirt

We have a nephew turning five this weekend (whose favorite color happens to be green), so top of my to-do list upon returning home was to make him a special shirt. This process will never get old, I don’t think. It’s so much fun and the results are so pleasing. The paint application is a little uneven on this (there I go, being a perfectionist again)–it’s a little tricky on the colored t-shirts to get good coverage without applying overmuch paint, which could lead to cracking later on. So I decided a little unevenness was better than possible cracking. But shoving that aside, I think this shirt is adorable. My kids all approved (and none of them commented on any uneven paint application, either), so I hope our nephew likes it too.

I’m teaching a local workshop on this in December for ages 8-13 (see the classes page)…it’s a great technique for making gifts!

Weekend Making Session

I certainly didn’t intend for an entire week to go by in between posts, especially since I’ve actually been creating and making lately. I’m working on a February Baby Sweater for one of my husband’s co-workers, who is due at the end of this month. This is what it looked like this weekend, when I was knitting on my deck.

I’m much farther along now. Yarn and needle details are here. Unfortunately the yarn, a cotton/linen blend, is discontinued. I made my daughter and myself matching sweaters from it, and I wear my version all the time. The yarn has worn well and the sweater has gotten more and more comfortable, as linen does. And the yarn itself was extremely affordable.

Also this past week I finally got back to carving stamps and cutting fabric for new zippered pockets. Then, Sunday afternoon, I kicked everybody out of the house asked my husband to take the kids on an outing (he took them rock climbing at a new, local indoor facility) so I could get some work done. The house to myself! What an uncommon occurrence. I turned my music up loud and got to work. I took pictures as I went along this week so that I could use them on my shop about page–and share them here, too, of course.

I cut a bunch of fabric earlier in the week–most of what you see here will become plain, unadorned pockets. They’re pinned and ready for sewing.

This crab stamp, carved earlier in the week, is ready to be printed. It eventually became this pouch. I had a hard time listing that one. I love it, and I love its cousin with the sailboat patch too.

This is a photo in the midst of a stamping session. Once the ink has completely dried–I leave it overnight just to be sure–I heat set it. This labyrinth-stamped panel became this labyrinth pouch:

labyrinth 1

(click on the photo to go to the listing, if you are so inclined)

Sunday afternoon I pinned and sewed with no interruptions or distractions. It was wonderful! I still have that pile of plain pockets to get to during my next sewing session, and several panels waiting to be embroidered. And, of course, a baby sweater to finish and another one to start (for a baby due in October). It feels so good to get that making groove back again.

Summer T-Shirt Round-Up

Decorating our own t-shirts is a summer staple here. These range from simple (printing with leaves) to more complicated. I’ve gathered up the ones I’ve posted about here, in case you’re looking for ideas.

glue batik

Several years ago we each designed and decorated our own t-shirts using a glue batik process. I posted about it at Kidoinfo here.

sun print shirts

We experimented with sun printing right on t-shirts, with variable success. We learned cheap watered down liquid acrylics worked best for this. The full post is here.

freezer paper stencil

A favorite technique that we’ve used over and over–freezer paper stencils. The shirt above still gets worn regularly and complimented. The full post is here.

scratch foam shirt

Because my daughter was a bit too young at the time to design her own freezer paper stencil shirt, I helped her print a shirt using scratch foam. Our full process is described here.

The kids and I haven’t yet discussed what this summer’s shirts might entail. We’ll keep you posted!

Learning Lino (+ Some Printing)

I’ve been carving stamps for a while now, and the natural next step seemed to be learning how to carve linocuts. I rather naively thought this would simply be a matter of learning how to carve a different material, but it’s more complicated than that. It’s a related but different visual language. Some of my more intricate stamps could work as linocuts, but in general, a linocut is more graphic, with the hand of the artist more visible. The goal in a stamp, generally, is a clean design. Linocuts have more depth, and that’s the best I can do at trying to describe how it’s different. My first attempt at linoleum wasn’t terrible, but it was hesitant. My lines were thin and few. Linocuts, I believe, thrive on boldness.

So, I did what I do when I want to learn something, and I ordered a book. The book suggested first making a sampler block, and that is such a wise suggestion it seemed obvious once I read it. One of the first things I made after learning to knit was a sampler (from Jacqueline Fee’s Sweater Workshop). Samplers are excellent first steps.

The book is Learning Linocut by Susan Yeates, and the block was divided into six squares. I used each of my five blades in one square each, and then combined them in the final square. The idea is to see what the blades can do. With stamp carving, I’m trying to get a nice smooth line without tearing the carving material. Because lino is firmer, it’s possible to use the blades a little differently, scooping or twisting for different effects and textures.

I also learned it’s hard to take a test print on regular paper; I needed to use actual printmaking paper for a decent print.

I’m looking forward to trying to get better with this art form. It requires a different way of thinking about the final image. I like that it’s a challenge; that means I’ll (hopefully) be able to see my improvement as I keep at it.

The lino print was created at the end of a session which began with textile ink and fabric stamping and then moved into stamping some plain Kraft Moleskine notebooks. I ordered a set of three of these with the intention of decorating the covers myself. On one, I stamped my tree inspired by the Duncan Scarf at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

I then added color with colored pencils.

I am very happy with how this turned out. I’m using this notebook to collect the random quotes and phrases that I enjoy–often for no particular reason than I like the way the words flow.

On a second notebook, I printed my labyrinth stamp.

I then added lettering, because this is intended to be a gratitude notebook.

In the same order as the linocut book, I received Creative Lettering by Jenny Doh. I’d like to get better with my lettering, too.

I wasn’t sure what to do with the third notebook, so I left it for now. When it becomes clear what it should be, I’ll know. Meanwhile, it was good to have some time to work on my own ideas, finally. It makes me feel better able to attend to everybody else’s needs here.

{PBL} Give a Goat Project

g's goat cards

Several years ago, blogger Teabird sent us her review copy of the book Give a Goat. I read it to the boys right away, and it now sits on one of our storybook shelves. Periodically my daughter chooses it as part of her bedtime stories. Not too long ago, after hearing it again, she decided she, too, would like to give a goat through Heifer International. We talked about different ways she, at age four, could earn some money, and she began earning quarters every time she helped set the table, fold laundry, or clean the bathroom sink. (Normally I don’t pay for routine helping-out-type chores, but she’s four. Her earning options are limited.) However, a goat costs $120. We brainstormed some more.

Eventually she decided she would like to make note cards with a drawing of a goat on them, so we Googled for images of goats and she picked some for me to print out. Then, she drew some pictures of goats, using her reference images. Finally, she picked out two of her drawings (a mama and a baby, she told me), and together, we turned them into stamps.

Her goats are smiling because they are happy. Of course! Next, she picked out colors of card stock and ink, and we set to work printing.

Here’s a closer look at the mama goat:

And the baby goat:

When the cards were dry, she counted out six envelopes to go with her bundles of six cards, I wrote out a tag to her specifications, she signed the tag, and we bundled the cards and envelopes with pretty ribbon.

g's goat cards (2)

She settled on $5 for a package of six cards, and we began by emailing family members. Her next step is to brainstorm other places that might agree to sell them as well. Meanwhile, her dad gave her all his dimes, nickels, and quarters for her Give a Goat bank, and she and her 8yo brother sorted the coins; then he counted, added them up, and let her know she had just over $10 towards her goal.

So much going on with this project. So much!

Craft Foam Printmaking

Craft Foam Printmaking at amyhoodarts.com

Materials: Craft foam; scissors; glue (Elmer’s or tacky); sturdy cardboard cut to size slightly smaller than paper; brightly colored construction paper*; block printing ink or tempera paint; brayer; glass or Plexiglas for rolling out ink. *I really like the Tru-Ray paper; it’s smooth and sturdy feeling.

I love printmaking, and I wanted to make sure to incorporate it into the preschool art explorers class I’m leading at our homeschool co-op this session. This activity was inspired by “Playful Prints” in What’s the Big Idea? by Joyce Raimondo, and it’s perfect for this age group, because it also involves cutting, something my preschoolers love to do. (Although I think it would work well for all ages. I enjoyed making a sample!) The steps are simple.

1. Cut out shapes from craft foam. Make sure they’re large enough that they won’t be too difficult to either glue down or ink. That was the only parameter I gave the kids; they cut out whatever shapes they wanted.

2. Glue the shapes down onto the cardboard, making sure to leave some negative space. Don’t overlap the shapes. Again, the kids glued them down whichever way they wanted.

gluing down foam

3. When the glue has dried (at least enough so the shapes won’t wiggle on the cardboard during inking), ink up the brayer and apply ink to the foam. Try not to get it on the cardboard.

inking the plate

4. Lay the paper on top and smooth over the back of it to make the print.

print with plate

That’s it! Depending on the age group, this technique could be used to make patterns, designs, or to depict a simple image or scene…or it could be kept abstract. Choosing brightly colored paper and black ink made for a really vibrant and striking print. This is deceptively simple, with fantastic results.

Week’s Work (Making + Listening)

I began this week determined to get some things done. And I have. I’ve been making lists, making plans, and making embroidery transfers from drawings. I’ve cut fabric in the half-hour increments I’ve created during the day. I’ve carved stamps and printed.

stamping fabric

I’ve made brown.

mixing screenprinting ink

My set of screen printing ink has the primaries, white, and black. You can make a good brown with red and a smidge of black.

I sneak downstairs, plug in my phone, and play Pandora–listening to something keeps me moving. I have a variety of stations and I always put it on shuffle, but I’ve noticed after 7 pm it plays me more blues than anything else. That seems about right for the evening hours.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve made this week is time. Without deliberately putting it into the schedule, it doesn’t happen. After lunch today I told my two younger kids, “Give me a half hour to cut fabric, then we can go outside for the rest of the afternoon.” They did, I cut with a purpose–having made a list so I could make the best use of my time–and then we went outside.

What have you made this week?

Joining up with Dawn once again…

Sewn: Adorned Zippered Pouches

Isn’t “adorned” a lovely word? My husband is away again this week, so I set my sewing machine up on the dining room table and set the goal of sewing together the pouches I began adorning a couple of weeks ago. I was trying out various ideas here. I like some of these ideas better than others.

zippered pouches2 at amyhoodarts.com

These first three have decoration on only one side. The top left is printed with a hand-carved stamp on linen. The top right is embroidered, and the bottom one is a combination of the two.

Embroidery inspired by faience design.

Embroidery inspired by faience design.

The embroidery on this pouch was inspired by designs on faience, such as on this bowl. I tried to match the fabric to the color of faience, but this fabric is hard to photograph correctly. I’m not sure I like it as the entire pouch, actually. (I’ll show you another pouch further down that uses the turquoise fabric more sparingly, to better effect, I think.)

The tree pouch is a favorite size of mine–it uses a 5″ zipper and is just the right size to hold money and credit cards, or a cell phone. I have two pouches this size in my bag and I use them for exactly those items.

The perfect size for my cell phone.

The perfect size for my cell phone.

The buds are French knots, and the tree itself is stamped with a hand-carved stamp. I’m pleased with this design. I don’t think I’d change it. Most of these pouches, by the way, are lined with a simple sturdy woven cotton, thicker than quilting cotton. It gives the bag some structure, and it was serviceable for this trying out of ideas.

These next bags are decorated on both sides.

zip pouches front at amyhoodarts.com

On the top one, I kept the outside fabric as one piece because I wanted to experiment with having the embroidery wrap right around. I do like that effect, but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra fiddling–it makes it much harder to sew the zipper onto the second side, because it creates a tube. Top-stitching was tricky. (I like to top-stitch along the zipper edge so no fabric gets caught in the zipper teeth–you can see the line of blue stitching in the bottom pouch above.) And I’m not sure the lining sits perfectly. I am a stickler for perfection; I see so many flaws in these that I’m not sure I should consider selling anything ever. It bothers me to no end that I can’t figure a reliable way to get the zipper edges to line up exactly right on the sides. They always seem to shift a little.

That said, I will say that the embroidery on this pouch is beautiful, interesting, and unique.

Embroidery detail, inspired by Haeckel's radiolarians.

Embroidery detail, inspired by Haeckel’s radiolarians.

The bottom pouch in the photo above is decorated with prints of hand-carved stamps, again inspired by faience designs (from this hippo). I much prefer the turquoise sewn onto the linen like this, and the inside of that pouch is lined with the turquoise fabric. I find it much more balanced, and I love the patch effect.

Here’s the other side of these two pouches.

zip pouches back at amyhoodarts.com

And a detail of the embroidery on this side of the larger pouch.

Embroidery detail on zippered pouch, inspired by Haeckel's radiolarians.

Embroidery detail on zippered pouch, inspired by Haeckel’s radiolarians.

Finally, a word on the size. I made the larger pouches deeper than I have in the past, mostly to give myself a larger canvas to work with. But I tend to like a shallower pouch with this length zipper. In the photo below, you can see the difference. I keep my sketching pencils in the bag on the right.

Size comparison of two pouches.

Size comparison of two pouches.

I’m not sure what the best use of a deeper bag with this length zipper might be. Is there one?

So, I’m curious. What size do you like best in a zippered pouch? Pencil size, or bigger? Which of these do you like best? Least? I like the look of anything on linen, so I like the stamped and embroidered linen bags quite a bit. I’m a little overwhelmed by an entirely faience-colored bag, but I like it as one element in the design–I really like how the patches came out on the smaller bag. I also like that these bags have a story–they are inspired by something in particular and are all unique. Each design began with a drawing of mine, translated into either a stamp or a piece of embroidery. If I were to work these into something to sell, I’d want to include the inspiration story with each piece.

I’d love to hear your opinions, if you have any! And because today is Thursday (Dawn’s Making and Listening day), I’ll let you know that I mostly listened to the NCAA basketball tournament while I sewed these on the machine, and I watched Merlin while I hand-sewed the lining opening. I created a Mumford + Sons station on Pandora this week, but it dragged in all manner of depressing songs, including a strings-only instrumental of Eleanor Rigby. It’s probably not the best station for me right now…

Ready for the Art Show

Both my boys wanted to enter the art center’s collaboration show, like they did last year, again. G also painted a canvas, but she’s not sure on whether she wants to let the art center borrow it for a whole month. We’re going to bring it along when we drop off the others, in case she changes her mind. Here they all are together (click to see slightly larger):

Each canvas has both sprayed watercolors and liquid acrylic, some brushed, flicked, or dripped on and some printed with various materials–wine corks, sponges, and the like. The top right one (my oldest son’s) also has some dripped black ink. This sort of painting is definitely out of his comfort zone; he likes things to be planned. Once he got into it, though, he even said (in an amazed sort of voice), “This is really fun!”

The top left canvas (my younger son’s) has a couple layers of workable fixative sprayed on. He really puddled the watercolor, and the canvas isn’t really made for that. Plus, it seemed to have a different sort of finish than the other two–same type of canvas, but a different brand. There were tacky spots that just weren’t drying, but the fixative seems to have solved the problem.

The bottom one, then, is my daughter’s. I have to admit, a layer or so back she had some sponge prints that are obliterated now by her brushstrokes, and I had to remind myself to bite my tongue and let her explore the process. She decided when she was done, and I like it now, too, although, again, whether I like it isn’t really the point. She likes it so much she’s not sure she can let it out of her sight for a month.

We’re excited to drop them off tomorrow!