Category Archives: wearable art

Making + Listening::14/2014

Lots of photos to share this week, some of which are better than others in terms of quality. First up, my daughter’s embroidery from a few weeks ago, that I have neglected to share. She drew on the felt with the nifty disappearing-ink fabric marker and then embroidered over her lines. (We just don’t go in for embroidering other people’s patterns here!)

5yo's embroidery at amyhoodarts.com

Drawing and embroidery by G, age 5.

This is a fairy–the semi-circles on the sides are wings. I love this–she has preserved her own drawing in fabric and floss!! (I helped with the eyes–I did the French knots. But she did the rest herself.) This was completely her idea. I think of all those Pinterest-type projects that have adults transferring kids’ drawings to fabric to embroider or turn into pillows and I look at my daughter’s self-created, self-directed activity with her own drawing that she then embroidered herself, and it’s just perfection. So much better than if I had embroidered it. Her small capable hands did this.

Those wonderful hands of hers also learned how to use the knitting tower this week.

using the knitting tower at amyhoodarts.com

Blurry cell-phone picture of G using the knitting tower.

We’ve had this for years and years and neither boy was ever much interested, but, much like her mama, G likes to make things with her hands, and she took to this right away. While she was sitting there finger knitting, I was working on a knotted, beaded ankle bracelet.

knotted anklet in progress at amyhoodarts.com

Another blurry cell phone picture, of my knotted anklet in progress.

This started with making a beachy bracelet out of string while we were at the beach one day, using directions from the book Summer Crafts by Marjorie Galen (a used bookstore find several years ago, and I love it; it also inspired our hot rocks).

Beachy knotted bracelet at amyhoodarts.com

Beachy bracelet.

After making that one, I made a few more (just to keep my hands busy), and then I wondered if I could add beads. I have a necklace purchased a while ago that looks very similar to this simple knotting, but with beads. So I bought some thin hemp string and got to work. This is the finished anklet (and I’m out of body lotion for my legs, as I’m sure you can tell by this close-up photo).

knotted beaded anklet at amyhoodarts.com

I LOVE THIS ANKLET.

We’re not done yet! I also finished a baby sweater and hat this week. It’s for one of my husband’s co-workers. Gah it’s so cute!!

baby sweater + hat at amyhoodarts.com

The details are on Ravelry. I hardly knit at all these days unless I’m making something as a gift. It was nice to pick up the needles again–this little sweater worked up fast, too. I began it on the second day of the Tour de France, and they’re not done cycling yet.

Finally, yesterday I added “draw and paint sunflowers” on my to-do list. Do you do that–add on the fun things to your list, to give the same importance as the chores? I do. I cleaned the bathrooms yesterday as well, but I made sure drawing and painting was also a priority. My daughter sat next to me and we both quietly looked, drew, and painted for quite some time. Here’s my finished page.

Sunflower sketchbook page at amyhoodarts.com

As for listening, I got to hear the most amazing (and at times inane) conversations Tuesday as we sat in traffic on 95. We visited the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and instead of 90 minutes each way it was at least two hours. That’s a lot of car time! (Thanks, Massachusetts, for the construction.) My boys finished the books they’d brought well before we got anywhere near home, so they began discussing who they’d pick for a multi-universe superhero all-star team (that’s what it sounded like, anyway–both DC and Marvel characters, who would your top 20 be and why?). After a while they exhausted that topic and moved onto discussing which body part they’d willingly give up if necessary. (My practical 12yo said appendix. Mine’s already been removed and I don’t miss it at all.) That conversation quickly veered into the surreal. Four hours of driving with three kids. The things you overhear.

Phew! I’m linking up with Jen again this week. How about you? What are you making? Overhear any good conversations lately?

Sewn Embroidered Wrist Cuff

I have several sewn and embroidered wrist cuffs that I made a few years ago.

sewn embroidered wrist cuffs at amyhoodarts.com

They’re a fun alternative to bracelets and fairly quick to make, which is why it’s hard to explain why it’s been so long since I made one. So I finally sewed up another one this past weekend.

"this day" wrist cuff at amyhoodarts.com

My favorite part of these is how they are little canvases, ready to be embellished any way I want. For this one, I embroidered text–”this day.” This is a sort of mindfulness mantra for me. When I was feeling the worst of PTSD I was simultaneously spun around by fears from the past and anxiety for the future. I tried to learn to focus on the day I was in. Now I often check in with myself: Was this day a good one? Did I laugh? Did I spend time with people I love? Did I create something?

It goes deeper than that, though, in a way I’m not sure I can explain. Part of what I’ve had to work on learning is identifying where my feelings and reactions are coming from. Am I feeling fear or anxiety from a situation going on right now? Or is something in the present reminding me of something from the past, bringing up feelings and reactions that aren’t actually related to the present situation? This is hard. I need to remind myself to bring myself back to this day.

Add to this the fact that I am very grateful for this day, all of them strung together the way they are to make my life. I’ve been consciously practicing gratitude since I was in college twenty years ago; when things felt dark, I made a habit of writing down three things every day that make me happy. This practice of noting really does help. So this bracelet has layers of meaning–a reminder of gratitude and mindfulness, to come back to the present, to be aware of this day I’m in. Not in the past, not worrying over what may happen in the future, just here right now, in this day.

modeled wrist cuff at amyhoodarts.com

Do you have a short phrase that brings you back to center or is meaningful to you in some way?

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!

Another New Patch

I’m supposed to leave for Montana a week from tomorrow. I have no idea yet what I’m packing or even how I’ll get from the airport to the ranch. And I should leave some sort of homeschooling plan for the days I’ll be away, and I meant to sew more shop items before I left instead of when I got home, among other things I meant to do before August went and passed so quickly. So obviously I spent all of last night patching another frayed spot on my jeans–because I am bringing those, and it would be awful to have them rip while I’m away from all my patching supplies.

This frayed spot is on the thigh and required a long, skinny patch. As so:

I didn’t have any pink on these jeans before this patch. But I needed to add a little black, too. This sort of embroidery/sewing is very relaxing, because it doesn’t at all need to be perfect. It’s a patch on a pair of jeans. I’m not thinking, Oh, my stitches must be perfectly even! I’m thinking, Hey, let’s cover up that frayed spot with something a little fun and funky.

This is what the jeans look like in full now. They began with the snippet of poetry running down the leg.

My 9yo said, “Those jeans are almost a work of art!” I think so too. They will be all patch at some point, and I love wearing them. So. At least I know one thing I’ll be bringing to Montana….

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!

T-Shirt Design: Freezer Paper Stencils

Materials: T-shirt; textile paint; sponge brush; freezer paper; x-acto knife, cutting mat, and straight edge (helpful but not necessary)

As I mentioned in the last post, when the boys began talking about what they wanted to print on t-shirts, I thought perhaps scratch-foam printing–which prints in reverse, with a block of color surrounding the scratched image in white (see our examples here)–wasn’t the best way to go. I suggested perhaps we think about using stencils. They agreed. Come along and follow their design process!

First, they made sketches.

V has been reading lots of comics/graphic novels lately, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted the Captain America symbol or that of Green Lantern. N wanted to go with his custom “Super N—” symbol, an N in a circle. V eventually decided to start with Green Lantern as it’s simpler, with only one color, and N decided upon a yellow N in a red circle, which was still only one color because he’d chosen a yellow t-shirt.

Next we turned their sketches into larger, neater versions, still on regular paper.

After figuring out how large of a logo he wanted, V made his circles using a compass, then added in the lines at the top and bottom with a ruler. He compared it to the actual logo, consulted with his dad, and adjusted the lines a bit so they overlapped the circle more. Then we darkened it up, traced it onto the freezer paper, and I cut it out with the x-acto knife.

I helped N a bit more. We lay a sheet of paper over his shirt so he could show me how large the circle should be, and then I drew the finished circle with the compass. Together we sketched out the N, then neatened it up with the ruler. When all looked well, I traced his image and cut it out.

There are many tutorials online for using freezer paper stencils, and it’s very simple. The shiny side irons right onto the shirt. I slid a piece inside the shirt, too, so no paint would run through to the back. Then it’s time to paint.

Here’s N’s shirt, drying. You leave the stencils on until the paint is dry.

When the paint was dry, the boys and I peeled off the stencils together. So exciting!

V was pleased.

So was N.

We used Speedball Textile Screen Printing Ink, so I set the image with the iron as instructed. I laundered them inside out with no problems. They haven’t worn them yet because they both have art camp this week, and they don’t want to get any paint on their new shirts. Typically up until this point, when the kids have had something specific in mind (like, oh, a reversible fireman-spaceman knit winter hat), I’ve figured out the design and made it. How satisfying for them to go from their own sketch to finished product, with just minimal assistance.

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What have your kids been designing recently?

Scratch Foam-Printed T-Shirt

Materials: T-shirt, scratch foam, textile paint (or liquid acrylics); brayer or foam paint brush

After we made prints with scratch foam, I had the idea in the back of my head that it would be cool to make t-shirts with that method. When the boys began talking about their ideas for shirts, though, it became clear that their ideas were better suited to a different technique–so I’ll talk about their shirts in the next post. Meanwhile, G wanted an orange butterfly on a yellow shirt. On the one hand, I always, always want my kids to reach for their vision themselves–if they’re making the t-shirt, then they should make the t-shirt. On the other hand, I didn’t want G to be disappointed if she didn’t end up with a butterfly.

After thinking it over, I asked her what she thought about this: I could cut a butterfly shape out of scratch foam, and she could draw on the inside to add the decorations. She agreed to that, so after consulting her on how big the butterfly should be, we got to work.

My camera had a hard time figuring out what to focus on, with that white butterfly against the white table! But here, G is scratching into the cut-out foam butterfly. She started with a bone folder and a wooden tool for sculpting clay. Then we went hunting around the house and came back with a comb and a boomerang. She also tried a toothpick. She worked on the foam for quite a while–close to a half hour, maybe?–making her marks.

Then we set the butterfly aside and mixed the paint. We used Speedball textile paint, but liquid acrylics would work as well (and don’t require heat setting with the iron). Our set has red, yellow, blue, green, black, and white–but no orange. So we mixed some.

Mixing paint colors is just a delight, isn’t it? “Orange!” exclaimed G. We adjusted until she was happy with the color.

I protected the inside of the shirt with some freezer paper–I just placed it inside, no need to iron it on–so that the paint didn’t bleed to the back of the shirt. Then we rolled the brayer and inked the plate. Except I’ve been having trouble with both my brayers this week–they roll just fine on some surfaces but not others, and the combination of the textile ink and the foam wasn’t working too well. (Does anyone have any idea what the problem might be?) So the paint more smeared than anything, and G used a foam paintbrush to even it out–so you can see some brush marks in the finished print (as always, you can click to embiggen the photos a bit).

I don’t have pictures of the actual printing, because I was helping. You don’t want the paint to be too thick, because then it will smoosh. Pick up the plate, place it paint-side down on the shirt, and gently but firmly smooth down the back. I placed the plate, but G helped with the pressing. “I want to see what happened,” she said. When it comes to printmaking, the reveal is always so much fun.

An orange butterfly on a yellow shirt–a collaboration that quite pleased the not-quite-three-year-old.

This project is easy–just remember that anytime you’re painting or printing on textiles, the paint won’t wash out of the clothes you’re wearing, either. I keep wet wipes handy, too, since any paint on fingers will transfer to the shirt you’re making. I haven’t quite made up my mind, but I think plain old liquid acrylics might be even better for this kind of printing on shirts (that’s what we’ve used in the past for making fish prints on shirts–with fish replicas). So don’t feel like you need special supplies–a plain t-shirt, some scratch foam (or a new Styrofoam meat or vegetable tray), a 59-cent bottle of paint and a foam paintbrush, and you’re ready to create some wearable art!

Making Prints While The Sun Shines: T-Shirts

As always, click to embiggen all photos!

Materials: White t-shirts (the kids’ shirts are white undershirts–they’re great for dyeing); liquid acrylics; sponge brushes; leaves or other objects of your choice; sunny (but not windy) day; optional but helpful: a piece of Plexiglas to place inside the shirt, unless you don’t mind the paint seeping through to the back

I read lots of art/craft blogs, because the Internet is filled with great ideas, and often I find ideas on non-kid blogs that I can use with my children. One such ideas is sun-printing on fabric, which I first saw on Mary and Patch. I was surprised to see that it didn’t require any special sun-reactive paint, so I decided we’d give it a try. We actually gave it two tries, and as I go I’ll share what we learned during our first, semi-successful attempt.

First, I wanted something firm under the shirts, so I slipped some Plexiglas into mine and my oldest son’s shirt, a piece of glass into my younger son’s, and the box part of a box frame into my toddler’s. We learned the first time that using cardboard will leave the texture of the cardboard on the shirt, so either put something smooth in there (like a file folder, if you don’t have Plexiglas) or accept that the paint will soak through–which isn’t a bad look either.

Next, spray the shirt with water to dampen it. This photo is from our first try; the second go-round we just moved the entire operation to the deck. I have one of our watercolor painting boards inside the shirt, which is another option.

I watered down our liquid acrylics, but I wasn’t exact about it. Liquid acrylics are the paints that you can find in craft stores in the little bottles, about $1 per bottle (for the big size!). They come in all sorts of colors, they don’t wash out, and we’ve used them successfully for printing and painting on shirts for years. So, squirt some paint into a jar, add some water, mix it up, and cover your shirt. We learned that if you want to mix colors, do it around the edges–if you overlap colors where you try to make the print, the print sort of gets lost.

Paint quickly! Spray some more if you have to, because you don’t want the paint to dry yet. Place your leaves and put the whole thing in the sun.

I sprayed our leaves with a bit more water to hold them in place, and then I thought later that we could have weighted them with small rocks. We learned it’s best to use full leaves. Ferns make really pretty sun paper prints, but they didn’t work so well on the shirts. Our shirts dried in an hour or less.

V’s shirt, which was mostly blue, didn’t show the prints much, so we decided to try overprinting. We could see some prints in the center, so he left those alone and added green around the edges. He followed the same procedure: he sprayed with water, painted, and then lay down the leaves.

It worked! Overprinting was successful:

Once the shirts were dry, I rinsed them out and washed and dried them like I would any laundry, in cold water. I’d do this first wash with something you don’t care about too much (like towels), but when I rinsed, the paint stayed put. From this point on I’ll wash them with the regular laundry with no worries.

N’s shirt came out really well. His was the only shirt from our first try that came out really well, too. His is on the left, and G’s is on the right. You can see her prints in person, but faintly. For some reason, blue paint didn’t make the best prints.

Although mine was blue, and it worked okay. One leaf blew over halfway through, so I’ve got a mutant leaf print on the lower left there!

For our first attempt, we used textile ink–specifically, Speedball screen printing inks, because we plan to print on t-shirts at some point too, so I bought some. It really didn’t work for this project. I’m not sure why I was seduced by the special textile paint when we’ve been using liquid acrylics for painting shirts for years and liquid acrylics don’t require me to heat set the shirt by ironing 3-5 minutes per side times four shirts–that’s a lot of ironing on a hot day!

Luckily, applying the paint with a brush created a sort of tie-dye effect, so even though the sun-printing didn’t work the first time, as V said, “It’s a nice red and blue shirt, anyway.” And N, especially, was interested in what we were figuring out as we went through the process–what colors worked best, what sort of leaves, what to try next. Because we generally approach art in a spirit of discovery, the kids weren’t terribly disappointed that it didn’t work the first time. We simply tried again, refining our process a bit until we got it right!