Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Sneak Peak of my latest creation.

Today I thought I would show you a sneak peek of what I've been working on. I've been finding myself a little bit overwhelmed with the amount of ideas popping into my head lately and each project seems to stirring up more ideas. A little while back I had the idea that I would like to create an art doll using some sort of printmaking technique. I had a couple problems because I've never printed on fabric with anything by silkscreens and I'm not a great sewer. You may have seen in my previous post that I've figured out how to reclaim my ability to silkscreen at home with inexpensive materials. Here come the ideas....

For this project though I wanted a linocut look to my doll and I was fully prepared to figure out how to use my press to print on fabric with a thin lino plate. Instead I did my image planning with my new Bamboo tablet, created a black canvas and treated it like a virtual lino block using the scratch tool as my cutter. The biggest advantage was being able to redo my "plate" and fix up any wayward "cuts". This doll went through numerous changes because I found that even though my initial image was fine 2-D, it was horrible when it went to 3-D. I made numerous trial dolls and it was great that I failed so often because I got to learn so much about sewing. Later I decided that my dolls needed some embroidery so I took to learning some of that too. But my dolls needed some pretty buttons and beads in their hair so I took to learning about polymer clay so I could make some of my own. I've now grown an obsession with polymer clay so don't be surprised to see some of it pop up here. Can you see how my brain is getting filled with ideas?

In the end I created five one-of-a-kind art dolls complete with embroidery, beadwork, individual skirts, handmade buttons and beads.  My girls wanted to play with these dolls but with all the small pieces on them they really are just for display.  Of course I already have other doll ideas in my head. I will be trying to sell these at an up-coming craft show in Vancouver next month.
I would love to hear your opinion of them.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Take me back to the future and back again please.

Darn it, time is flying faster than I would like and I'm just a wee bit behind on everything. Have you noticed the older you get the faster the days seem to go by? I think I always feel this a bit more after one of my daughter's birthdays. That's when I remember how small and cute they used to be and how it really seems like it was just last week. The addition of grey hairs on my head tell me otherwise.

For fun I thought I'd show an artist that I've been seeing around the net quite a bit. This fits in with my idea of trying to hold onto my youth for a bit longer. Irina Werning has this great series of images called Back To The Future which uses circa 70's portraits alongside 2000 portraits of the same people in the same poses. Take a look and see how little people change over the years. I see that another series is being done for 2011.

For my own bit of nostalgic fun I altered an image of myself with the help of You like my do?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mushroom Fairy Cottage Cake for a seven year old

I can't believe another year has past and I've created another 3-D birthday cake for one of my children. As I've said before, I really enjoy the challenge of cake decorating and I always learn something new with each one.
For this year's cake I created a mushroom cottage complete with fairies. This is the second toadstool I've done for my daughter. The first one you can see here was a large icecream cake. My then 2 yr. old enjoyed it very much... well the decorative sugar on it at least.
This year's cake was inspired by Debbie Brown's "50 Easy Party Cakes" and I followed the general instructions for it. Because most of the guests don't seem to like too much fondant, I decided to ice the cake with buttercream and use the fondant as accents.

I created the toadstool shape with the help of a giant cupcake mold and half of a Wilton sportsball mold. As always, I froze the cake before carving and putting on the crumb coat. Some people don't believe in freezing cake but I feel the large amounts of butter and sugar keep it perfectly for the short amount of time it sees the freezer. Once the crumb coat had set in the fridge (15 min.) I frosted and assembled the cake. My girls helped create the fondant fairies, the door and the paths.

I'm pretty happy with how smoothly this cake went and it was right in line with my current mushroom obsession. Stay tuned for another cake as my niece will be turning three soon. What will it be?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Silkscreen Printmaking for the home-based printmaker

While going to art school, I majored in printmaking.While there I learnt all about lithography, intaglio and silkscreen techniques. I enjoyed silkscreen very much but once I graduated I didn't see how I could still pursue the technique in my home studio. The processes that I learned were very dependent on chemical emulsions,cleaners and large photgraphic equipment. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to expose my screen with the sun alone, at least not in this northern climate. I gave up silkscreening and sold my squeegees and my 20"x30" sturdy screen.

Once I started on Etsy I learned about Gocco in the forums and was so excited to hear that I might be able to rekindle my interest in silkscreening. Alas, Gocco has been discontinued and what is still out on the market is highly sought after and very expensive. Why hadn't I heard about this option in school? The Gocco system has been around since the late seventies after all. Nope, not a word. In fact, there were virtually no words of advice from the instructors as how to continue our printmaking pursuits after graduating. Yup, still bitter.

One day while reading my Facebook home feed, I came across a post by fellow printmaker Coralette Damme about her attempts at embroidery hoop silkscreening using Modge Podge as a resist. Having found the tutorial on  Craftgrrl , Coralette has really perfected this technique that uses readily available materials.

I tried numerous times to create a screen as well but I just couldn't seem to get what I wanted. The process nagged me and I asked for some online help from printmakers Coralette and Adam Devenish. The two of them looked at photos of my results and helped me try and find solutions to the constant ink bleeding problem I was having. After a final YouTube search on the process for the home I decided to use sheer curtain fabric stapled to an old Ikea frame. Once tight, I painted the Modge Podge on as a resist. Finally! My problems had been caused by and embroidery hoop that wouldn't keep the fabric taught enough. Phew! I can silkscreen again.

I was able to use the embroidery hoop again but I kept it to only 4 inches in diameter. My recommendation for the home printer is to find yourself a sturdy, empty wooden frame and a sheer curtain found at a local thrift store. Use Modge Podge to paint your stencil on and you'll have created a very usable silkscreen for under $5. Happy printing again.

I would love to hear how this process goes for you if you try it.