Getting to grips with new equipment has taken up an enormous amount of time in the last few weeks. I have replaced all my screens with lightweight aluminium and also lightweight wooden squeegees.
I look back to the time - only a couple of years ago - when the squeegee I was using was enormously heavy - 1.5+ kilos and very unergonomically designed. I probably did some damage to my hands and wrists. I certainly couldn't have coped doing the amount of printing I do now.
You would think the changeover would be easy - not so. Not all screens are the same - and it took me a while to find some that suited me - tension and weight wise. The same with squeegees - different types push through different amounts of ink I have discovered. With unexpected effects.
But I think I have finally got the hang of basic fabric printing now with this new equipment, including very fine cotton - scarves have been my latest. But I haven't mastered fine silk (scarves) yet. Lots of painty messes in the studio as I try out different ways and different screens for silk.
And I have discovered Permaset Print Paste - produces lovely translucent colours for scarf printing. Lots of fun playing around mixing colours with this.
Well not quite a collection just yet, but I have certainly got into the swing of printing them just lately. I have recently replaced all my screens and squeegees and have had to learn the idiosyncrasies of my new tools afresh. Quite a learning curve as there are no black and white rules in screen printing - well not in my experience anyway. Fortunately I have access to lots of old sheet fabric so have been able to practice to my heart's content. Now happy ;-)
And equipped with my new equipment and new knowledge I produced something useful at the end of it all - screen printed cushion covers!
I have had two projects in mind for some time now. One - to recut my eucalypt stencil and Two - to further investigate printing cushions.
I haven't been totally happy with my eucalypt print as I felt it was a bit too large and the detail not fine enough. Yet it is popular, so worth the time spent improving. I used the same design and recut and tried out the print again.
I'm much happier with this result. Table runners and napkins to be printed tomorrow!
My linen supplier has launched a new line - blank linen 75%/cotton 25% ready made cushions, with an invisible zip opening. The fabric is quite light weight, only comes in an off white shade and the one large size - 50cm x 50cm but they look well made and worth a trial. So I printed one up recently using my newly cut eucalypt stencil and am quite pleased with the result. I just need to give it a good road testing now for a while, to see how robust the item is.
I tried a new colour for my casuarina print, cut last year and tweaked a bit this year - deep olivey green - just like the real tree. Previously I had just printed it in white.
The print is on an oatmeal linen tea towel. For ages I have been wishing I could work out how to remove the background in my photos, or make it transparent, particularly for loading photos into my Etsy shop. Picasa, my favourite editing program doesn't have that feature yet (but it now has 'straighten' which I seem to use all the time for my regularly crooked photos), and I had mucked around using my Photoshop Elements program and the eraser tool, but it all seemed so tedious and time consuming so I didn't persevere - just admired others' photos. And then I discovered Photoshop's Magic Extractor tool while browsing my Photoshop for Dummies book (there are also a couple of videos on YouTube). Voila....
The trick is to use a strong contrast for the background so the extraction is nice and clean. So the image above started life like this - just photographed on a piece of red card.
Then a quick task to separately identify the foreground you want to keep, and the background to get rid of, using the two little paintbrush tools in the Magic Extractor program. Easy peasy. No stopping me now.
I am aiming to produce one new print per month - ha ha. I am already one month behind - since it is now February. This one - the lilly pilly (isn't there one in everyone's garden?) was planned and the stencil cut in December and printed last week. Another week of drying and curing and it will be ready to add to my Etsy shop.
One benefit of being tardy - if I had produced it in January I wouldn't have been able to photograph the magnificent berries now mature on my garden plant. What a colour!
Where has the year gone!! Well I've certainly been busy in November and December with Etsy sales. I felt like a production line at one stage. Now catching my breath and printing more stock in time for my return after a January and part February break.
Just time to think about a new design. It's funny how the process starts - very serendipitous. I was thinking what Australian icon I could do next and suddenly I thought of the lillypilly. By chance a couple of bushes are now fruiting in the garden.
And this is the flower of this particular species
So I've got as far as a few sketches - I am just going to focus on the berries
A bit more tweeking to do and then I am ready to cut the stencil.
I am a freelance writer and Diversional Therapist, living in Brisbane's North West. I write for Weekend Notes, Starts at Sixty and Hub Garden. Visit my blog at babybloomin.wordpress.com to see other articles I've written.
Botanical beauty showcased through art
Artwork by Montse Molina
A small community of both established and emerging artists has been busy creating unique works for the upcoming Botanique Christmas Art Bazaar, being held at the Richhard Randall Studio - just in time for the Christmas season! What's so unique about this exhibit? These artists focus on a botanical theme with an acute awareness of the natural environment and a conscience of organic production methods.
Utilizing recycled paper and re-purposed fabrics and producing botanical images on textiles, print and canvas, these artists have collaborated to create an exhibition that showcases the diversity of nature's bounty.
On the evening of Thursday, 23rd November the exhibit will be featuring "Fashions on Parade" at 7pm. Come along and be amazed by the combination of artistic talent and the beauty of nature.
Here's a sneak peak at three of the artists who will be exhibiting at the Bazaar:
Nancy Brown is a printmaker and painter living in Brisbane. She has facilitated artist residencies in some of the more remote parts of Australia, including Weipa, Birdsville, Normanton and the Pilbara. She prints on textiles, paper and other surfaces making banners, flags and textiles for festivals and performances. She has created mosaics for seating and painted murals for and with communities. She has also created artworks with ceramics and laser cut metal. Nancy has her own blog.
Paisley print by Nancy Brown
Helen King - Paluma Print is a small hand screen printed textiles studio situated on the shores of beautiful Moreton Bay in south-east Queensland. "My designs are inspired by the natural environment and the flora around me. Each print is produced using a reusable handcut paper stencil. This in addition to the use of water based inks means there is minimal impact on the environment. Using stencils also gives the prints a distinctive clean style." You can see more of Helen's work on her blog.
Montse Molina is the artist behind Mon Manabu. Mon comes from Montserrat, a beautiful and enigmatic mountain in Catalunya, north Spain. Manabu means "to learn" in Japanese. "I enjoy creating images mixing my own handmade drawings, acrylic paintings and photographs. To transfer these images to a canvas or wooden surface I use a manual and old Japanese technique." Learn more about Montse here.
Artwork by Montse Molina
Featuring fine art, sculpture, ceramics, glassware, fiber and textile art, jewellery and woodwork, the Botanique Christmas Art Bazaar is an event you won't want to miss.