Thursday, May 27, 2010

Drawings & Pencil Case

Above is a picture of more of the sewing I have been doing. I started this before Christmas intending to make at least one to have as a Christmas present for my great niece, but school homework didn't leave me a lot of time to sew so it didn't get done. I finally finished this one last weekend. It is based on some instructions I downloaded from the Quilting Arts Forums  Needless to say it isn't quite per their directions, I have a couple more slots then the pattern called for. Actually I was going to double the number of slots and then decided that it would probably make too large of a package so reduced the number. When I make the next one I will make more changes. I want to eliminate the button, so will attach 2 ribbons instead of just the one. My brush case uses two ties and it works very well so I don't see why it shouldn't work for my pencils. I used all batiks for mine and didn't try to color coordinate with pencil colors. My real problem is that I have way more then 12 pencils. Considering I have 3 different sets of colored pencils, two of which have approximately 72 colors I have a lot of pencils. Which is why I was interested in the pencil holders to begin with. I have no good way to take pencils with me when I want to draw away from home and I was hoping I could make this work for me. That is still an open question, but otherwise I think the holder is pretty so that is one plus for it. Here is an image of it closed up. The wrapping ribbon ends with a bunch of beads that help keep the package closed. I just pulled some beads out of the stash to make this.

Enough of the sewing, I was able to make it out to the drawing session again this week, so have some images from my sketch pad.  First is from one of the 2 minute warm up poses, not totally accurate, and not a lot of detail, but it has energy and I like it.

The last 3 images are from our 5 minute sessions.

Still not wonderful drawings I can see errors in all of them, but they aren't too bad considering. I have one more short pose session to attend then they will only be having long pose sessions on Monday nights for the next 2 months. That should be interesting since I don't paint. But I am enjoying meeting the models and the other artists who attend so I don't think I will stop going. Per usual comments are welcome. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Steamroller Printing

OK, it wasn't actually printed with a steam roller, but it was printed with a motorized roller outside on the sidewalk. The above print is made up of 18 separate 12 inch linoleum block plates that were individually carved by the members of the Ink Monkey's, a group of printers at Massasoit Community College. The print was made last Sunday at the 2nd Annual Art Festival held at the College. The animals depicted are all endangered species, except for the Ink Monkey in the bottom row. For the record I am not a member of the group, but thought you would be interested in seeing the photo's I took of the first printing. They went on to make 3 more prints, one on cloth which I was told was going to be made into a banner. I am not going to add a lot of text with these I think they are self explanatory, but I welcome any comments or questions, which I will answer if I can.

That's it, the cut blocks were placed on a plywood base after being inked (they used an oil base ink so it wouldn't dry while they were setting up), covered with paper, a printing blanket, then another piece of plywood. A liberal amount of tape was used to tape things down, including the top board so it wouldn't move when the roller was driven over it. I am not sure of all of the animals/creatures depicted some are a bit hard to identify from my photographs, but you can make them out when you see the print in person. A fun event, and it was certainly a challenge for the Ink Monkeys which I think they pulled off successfully.  I was out drawing last night so my next update will have some more of my drawings for you to see. Also some photos of my latest finished sewing project. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sewing Potholders

I have been sewing for the first time since December. Nothing very profound, just potholders. See the image above. Several years ago I went through a phase where I was piecing various sized blocks using multiple patterns and fabrics. So here I am now with a stack of blocks that range from 6 inches up to 15 inches in size that do not go together. I think at the time I was thinking of making a top with just the 6 inch blocks and some sashing. Well I have been thinking about what I can do to use some of these blocks in a more immediate fashion. With the 6 inch blocks I though that adding some border sashing would bring them up to 8 inches square a good size for a potholder. On a trip to Joanns a couple of weeks ago I purchased a yard of Insul-Bright, an insulating product to use in this project.

Above is my second attempt at making potholders, the first one turned out OK, but wasn't quite as nice as I wanted so I made some process changes making this one. There are still a few things I would do differently, but basically here is the process I used to make my potholder which does actually work.

First I selected the block I was going to use then I selected the fabric to use as the border, backing and binding for the finish potholder. Next I cut the strips for the border and the binding, 1.5 inches wide. My fabric was wide enough (a bit over 18 inches) so I cut 2 strips for borders and 3 strips to sew together for the binding. I could have made the binding strips on the bias but decided I didn't want to get involved with that process, the simpler the better, was my motto for this project.

After cutting the strips I made the binding, sewing the strips together and then ironing them as you would iron bias tape, both edges folded to the middle. I ironed the strip in half first to have a middle to fold to then folded and ironed the edges. Spray starch helps with this, but isn't necessary.  Below are photos showing this process.

Next I pieced out the the 6 inch block adding the border strips to make an 8 inch square. First I trimmed my pieced block using a rotary ruler and cutter, then I add border strips to the top and the bottom of the block. After ironing and trimming the edges I sewed the two side strips to the square. Again I ironed the seams and trimmed the edges. I could have cut my strips to be exactly the size I needed but with this small size I didn't think it necessary. Then I cut a square of my backing fabric. I wanted some excess here so I cut my square about 10 inches in size, though it could probably be 9 inches without a problem. Then I cut squares of the same size out of cotton batting and Insul-bright. Next I layered all the fabrics on cutting board to create my sandwich - backing fabric, Insul-bright (put the shiny side down on top of the backing fabric), then the batting and last but not least my block on top. I then safety pinned it all together. I first put the pins out toward the corners but when I went to quilt the unit I realized that I should have placed them a bit more toward the center so I could quilt around the center block without moving the pins, a note for next time. Below is a photo of the sandwich layers and the pinned block.

Next I quilted the layers together. I quilted around the block then from corner to corner on the diagonal, but the amount of quilting will vary depending on the block used for the center. I didn't want too much quilting, just enough to hold all the layers together. This next part I am still working on the best method to use. I trimmed the quilted sandwich and then stitched around the outside of the potholder, first with straight stitching then with a zigzag stitch but I am thinking that I should do the straight stitch sewing before I trim the block to stabilize the edges before trimming. Then do the zigzag stitch around all the edges.The photo below shows the potholder ready for trimming and a close up of a corner of the potholder with just the stabilizing stitching on the right side and the zigzag stitching on the top.

After the quilting and stabilizing are finished I added the binding. I use a modified version of Sharon Schamber's method of gluing down her binding. If you want to watch her video's go here. I am using Roxanne's glue, but you can use Elmers White School glue like she does.

I cut the edge of the binding flush with one corner of the potholder, then glue down the bottom first then the top along one entire edge. When I get to the corner I open out the fabric and push down to form the wings seen in the last photo above, then I glue down the wings to form the corner fold and continue on gluing down the rest of that edge. For the last corner I glue straight to the corner and cut the binding off flush to the potholder leaving enough to fold back under about 1/4 of an inch.  Then I go back to the sewing machine and using a narrower zigzag stitch I stitch down the binding all the way around the potholder. On this potholder I had to go over a section on the bottom that hadn't gotten caught up in the stitches, I need to be a bit more careful with how I glue down the binding to make sure it stays even on both sides.  Picture below shows how I finished the corner (folding under the binding about a 1/4 inch) and the process of zigzagging the border down.

The last step is to add the loop to hang the potholder by. I used a 3 inch leftover bit of prepared binding, ironing it in half and then stitching it closed. I applied it to the start/ending corner of the potholder using zigzag stitches, but I am thinking about doing it by hand, it would be neater though I am not sure it would be strong enough.

The last photos above show the loop from the top and from the bottom, where it was sewn on.

Well that is how I am sewing potholders - subject to change and modifications as I make a few more, but pretty much it. The glue makes the edges a bit stiff but I think a good washing should take care of that. Any comments, questions or suggestion are welcome.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Life Drawings & Other

I will do the "other" images first then show off a couple of the life drawings I did last night. Above is a photo of the page spread in my Resume Booklet. The book I used for the photograph was one of my mock up pieces, so there are mistakes (which you aren't seeing) and I used different paper for the final version. But this image shows how the pages were laid out, though the final version does have the page numbers moved toward the center about a 1/4 of an inch, putting them in line with the red vertical rule. You can see where I made the holes for the thread in the Coptic Binding, though this isn't the center spread so you don't really see the thread itself.

Next Image for you is a photograph I took in the local park the other day. They have swans on the lake, I thought they had all mated pairs but I only saw this one on Monday so now I am not sure. Photo has been cropped but otherwise is as shot.

I think I have mentioned before that the Drawing Instructor at Massasoit has a studio fairly near me where he has life drawing sessions with models. I finally got my act together and went to the Tuesday night session last night. It was fun, though I am a bit rusty drawing a live model and a lot of the drawings I did aren't very good. Still I think I will be doing this again. It gets me out and about, and I get to practice my drawing, all good things. I  have 3 drawings for you, they all have their faults, we were doing short poses - starting with 2 minutes and going to 5 minutes so all I was trying to do was capture the energy in the pose and have body parts in the correct place and size relationships.

Our Model last night is a Belly Dancer so she is slender and very fit, which actually makes her a bit harder to draw. I think these are all 5 minutes poses done after I had warmed up a bit and before I got too exhausted.

On another front I have actually been doing some sewing, making a potholder. Right now I am thinking about doing a blog post on how I put the potholder together so that will probably be my next post, sometime later this week.

For now that is is. As always comments are welcome.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Last Class

I am sort of sad this evening, I had my last Graphic Design II class today. It was the critique session for our final project, which was to create a Graphic Design Resume Portfolio package. I am sad because it is my last class for the term. It has been an intense 2 years, lots of classes, lots of art, lots of learning for me. Some parts I have stressed over, others I didn't enjoy but for the most part I really did enjoy my classes and I certainly learned a lot.

Above is an image of the cover of my finished booklet. The one above isn't actually a final finished project. The cover is the same, but the insides of the one above had some changes and corrections made. So no pictures of the inside at this point, I may take some later - or then again I may not, I haven't decided. We took about a month to put these together though I had the basic booklet design concept from the beginning. I went through many cover designs before settling on this one. I actually tried to make a logo of my initials for the umpteenth time, no one other than me like that effort so I gave it up early. The letters of my name just don't seem work well together, I think the problem is the K. Anyway birds are sort of my thing so I pulled in this image from my Narrative Story piece. Every bit of this booklet was reviewed and gone over many times. I spent the most time trying to get a business card that my instructor liked. I managed it in the end but that went down to the wire. I really am not good at designing small things, like logos or business cards. I had much less trouble getting the page layout set.

Am I totally finished with school? I don't know, there are a couple of classes that I didn't take that I would have liked to, Advanced Drawing, Illustration II, Watercolor painting, and they are having a print seminar in the fall where you have class time but the student decides the focus of study. I would love to do that and do more Intaglio printing. Also I didn't take an Adobe Flash class, which I would have sort of like to have taken. But so far I haven't signed up for anything in the Fall, we will see how the summer goes.

I don't have any other art work for this week. I am debating whether to go into construction details for the booklet, maybe I will make that the subject of a later blog though I learned how to do the Coptic binding method on a blog set up for creating altered books. Click on the link to view the instructions. You can't see my binding because I covered it over with the blue paper, but it is really a nice neat binding that I can think of all sorts of uses for.

I did get some good news this week, one of my pieces that I entered into the student show received 2nd place, and another piece received an Honorable mention. I am thrilled needless to say. I think the 2nd place award is for the Fall Mandala, and the Honorable mention for my Narrative Story. I would have liked it to be the other way around but I am still happy. For those in the Boston area you can visit the Canton Campus and view the Student show on Sunday May 23, when Massasoit has it's second Art Festival. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. rain or shine. There are a couple of other art shows to view, some printing demonstrations, and a classic car show. I will be there helping out in some way or other still to be determined and would love to say hi to anyone who can come.

To make up for the lack of art work I have some flower photos to share, I took these last week at Stony Brook.

Lily of the Valley, Winter cress and Celandine are the three different plants. None are native to MA. but were introduced by settlers.   The Lily of the Valley image is slightly under exposed but I rather like the contrasts between the leaves in sun and the shadowed areas which is lost when I lighten the image, so I left it as is. Photos have been cropped but otherwise not altered.

That is it for this post. Per usual comments welcomed. Not sure how regular  new posts will be in the future but I am not giving up the blog so please don't stop visiting as I transition to another phase in my life.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Final Intaglio Prints

Above is my final Intaglio print, two Jack in the Pulpits. The overlay color didn't reproduce quite correctly it is a bit brighter and more yellow on the actual print. I really wanted a soft yellow green but I didn't get quite enough green into the yellow. It looked OK on the mixing surface but when the additives were added it was a bit too yellow for what I was really looking for. Still I think it works with the burnt senna I used for the etched lines. This process, applying a relief color to an etched plate is something my instructor developed and she wanted me to use it on this final plate of Jack in the Pulpits. It does add life to the print so I do like it.

This is actually a fairly simple drawing, I just added a lot of lines to the background to make the focus plants stand out. Jack in the Pulpits are a native wild flower here in MA. These were drawn from a combination of a photos I took last spring and a drawing I had done from life years ago. The plate was etched once with a hard ground, then I went back in using a transparent hard ground to add more background lines, and finally I added some engraved lines to add some additional darkness. The over color is applied with a very large roller that has picked up specially mixed ink from a rolling plate. First I apply the intaglio ink, wipe the plate to my satisfaction then I roll on the over color and print the plate.

Above is a print of the plate on which I used soft ground. I have hand colored it using AquaMonolith water color pencils. First I applied some color with the pencil then using a small watercolor brush applied water to colored areas to smooth out the color. Sometimes while the paper was still damp I went back in with the pencil to add some additional color. I think the addition of color to this plate makes it come alive. The black and white print was pretty boring, though I had tried to add some interest by adding the trees in the background and the door on the cottage. I was the first in the class to try the soft ground process and I think others in the class created better designs on their plates. Utilizing the texture that soft ground gives you in a more creative way. But I think this final print isn't too bad all in all. Not my best work, but not my worst either.

I have only one more Intaglio class and that will be a final critique of all of our prints. I am happy with some of my prints and not so happy with others which is par for the course when it come to printing. I have rediscovered that I love the etching/printing process. I only wish one didn't have to have an expensive print studio handy to make prints. Oh well I will just have to look around and see if I can involve myself with a group that has the equipment - press, hot plates, etching tanks etc.

That is it for this post. I am busy trying to pull together my final project in Graphic Design which is a Resume/Portfolio of my Graphic Design work, and I have a final project for Photography due next Thursday. I do have one brag to write about, all three of my submitted works were juried into the Student Art show at School so I was very pleased about that this week. Submitted works were the Winter Tree print (the one with the dark sky), my Fall Mandala, and my Narrative Story Graphic Design piece. It has been mentioned to me that one of my pieces did receive an award but I don't know what award or which one just yet. Remember comments are welcome.