Sunday, April 21

screens and ink and another technique to play with

Have I told you that I've decided that I'd like to get into screen printing?  Seriously, it's more fun and actually easier than I thought it was going to be!  Earlier in the year I told you about a workshop that I did with Learn2Screenprint where we went through so much information and so many techniques that it was impossible to process it all at once.
Yesterday I was able to do another workshop where we used the technique of photo emulsion and exposure, a technique that I was really keen to get my hands dirty with.

In its essence, photo emulsion is a paint-like medium that is put onto a screen, then overlaid with a design on acetate (you can see my dahlias above).  The screen is kept in the dark, then when the design is in place, it's exposed to light to burn the black design onto the screen.  The screen is then washed, and what you see in black is removed.  The emulsion that was hit by the light is hardened and sets onto the screen.  The black protects the emulsion behind it, and then is washed off.  Voila, a very sharp image and potentially superfine designs are left on your screen, ready for inking and printing.

This is the test print I did (all I had time to print yesterday unfortunately), but the photo shows how sharp and crisp that edge is, and how the design can come up.  I'm excited by this type of screen production because of the results that you can print from it.  I'm lucky enough to have access to a darkroom and therefore the exposure lights required to do this myself, but I can definitely see myself using the professional services of screenprinting companies to expose my designs onto screens as well.  I have SO many designs and products running through my mind, just itching to jump onto the fabric.

Monday, April 8

the Finders Keepers Market, Melbourne

I've been wanting to visit ever since I discovered them, but a 4.5hr drive and scheduling issues have meant that the planets didn't align until this Saturday just gone.  The Finders Keepers market is held twice a year in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and it is a giant collection of artists, craftisans, designers and generally amazing people.  I lost count of stalls, but there seemed like hundreds.  Seriously!

I had a strategy to try and see every stall in a logical manner - up one aisle, down another, not missing anything.  I quickly abandoned that crazy idea when I discovered that it was not only set out in a way that fits the space (how inconvenient!), but I didn't want to just walk past things once.  I may not have done a full couple of laps, but I did try :)

The market was held at the Royal Exhibition Building, which is an incredibly impressive building on the edge of the city.  It's high ceilings and ornate decoration set a pretty artistic mood, and from both a stallholder's and a shopper's point of view, very well spaced so that it wasn't difficult to move around and see what you wanted to.

Here's a bit of a peek through my shopping bag,

Above and below is Blank Goods, where I bought a couple of supplies for myself.  It was hard to not just buy things to make things, rather than things that other people have already made!

The cute earrings below were (surprisingly!) my only jewellery purchase - for myself anyway! I bought a couple of pressies which I'm not showing, but there were so very gorgeous pieces in a lot of stalls.  I did take a few cards to follow up later...   This little pair of red earrings from That Vintage will be worn often I'm sure.

There were quite a few very talented screen printers at the market, and the one that tempted me (for now anyway!), was Tinker.  I chose a table runner in flax-coloured linen, with a colour palette that I love.  It was very lucky that they I restrained myself here.

 I've long admired Maze & Vale and was very happy to discover that they had a stall on Saturday.  I chose (after long deliberations) three pieces of their prints on linen.

This overhead shot was taken by Tinker, showing their gorgeous bunting against the equally stunning second level and walls of the Royal Exhibition Building.

I am a scarf gal, and my new rule is that I can buy myself a new one for each Winter.  Just one.  This one is made from bamboo, and is a bright pink dahlia print on a light grey background.  Perfect.

Again, some evidence of things to make with rather than pre-made, but I love Indian wooden blocks and this kit came with three beautiful paisley ones.  It was purchased from earth tribe, which proclaims fair trade ethics - this means that I could have quite happily have justified in purchasing more!  Next time.

So that's a snapshot of my visit, but only a very small part of it.  I HIGHLY recommend this market for anyone who loves good quality, handmade products.  But allow a good couple of hours to get through it all at least once.

I was also able to do a quick side-trip and took in the always excellent Top Arts 2013 exhibition at the NGV Ian Potter centre, Federation Square.  There I was able to pay homage to a very familiar piece by a gorgeous girl, Shannon Malseed.  Go and check it out.

Wednesday, April 3

a new obsession

I recently went along to an artist's talk, followed by a mini workshop by the talented textile artist, Karen Richards.  She spoke about her work and the 'phases' that she's been going through over the many years that she's been working with thread.  It was incredibly interesting, especially her innovative work with reflective thread and the installation that is now travelling throughout Australia.

The mini workshop after the talk was (in my opinion) about her encouraging us to play with threads, designs and to see where the traditional approaches can be stretched and manipulated.  Now, that is right up my alley!  It didn't suit some of the more traditional stitchers who were there, but I haven't done any formal embroidery since I was a teenager many (many) moons ago, so perhaps I was less restricted by the need to keep stitches tight and consistent.  I started remembering a few traditional traits, especially the need to have the back as neat as the front - who does that!! - but I was more than happy to just muck around and have some fun.

So bring on Easter, a raid of my own supplies and a little shopping, and I've settled in to lose myself in my latest little obsession.

This one was my first attempt at playing with stitches, and seeing how to fill in spaces using layering (which was an emphasis in Karen's work).  The instagram filter has made it much more orange in colour, but I liked the layering.  I was also very happy to teach myself how to french knot via youtube, and whilst the first one wasn't so great, the rest have been fairly consistent since then.

This was one I finished today, using a purchased pattern and transfer (SO much easier than any other method).  I have a whole series of these little owls, and I'm using a little 4" frame to stitch them, so I think that I'll make some up into a little coaster set.

This blue one was the second one I did, and I started it on Saturday at the Port Fairy market.  I'm enjoying the portability of this new craft/obsession/use of my time and can see it being the thing that I cart around with me to more markets and trips.

I bought some downloadable pdf patterns from a gorgeous etsy store, Polka and Bloom, which is based in the UK.  I have completed one of the designs already but haven't uploaded the photo yet.  I'm really looking forward to doing more of those projects though - complex, lots of colour possibilities and a bit of a challenge.

I literally hit the mother load with the photo below.  I knew that Mum would still have a lot of things in her cupboards, and after I couple of requests, I lobbed over there on the weekend and found a whole boxful of old transfers in the first box we opened.  There were some in an envelope dated 1947, some with my Grandmother's maiden name, others from New Idea inserts from the 1970s.  There are a lot of great vintage designs that I intend to play with, and whilst some of them have transfer ink that have bled a bit, they look like they might still be tranferrable.
I also 'borrowed' her box of threads too...

I've found this new way to spend my time really relaxing and an effective way to wind down and clear my mind, which is exactly what I need.  Now let's see what I can make next...