May/June Update

 

May was a busy month with getting the exterior of the house painted. The house was a light grey stucco with darker grey stained cedar, and accents of mostly cobalt blue tile mosaics. One can only stand grey for just so long. I have been unable to get a decent photo of the house front as a whole for a variety of reasons. Hopefully these progress photos will give you an idea of how the house looks now.

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The intense blue covers the back and both sides of the house, and there are 3 different orange colors on the front. The lightest orange isn’t visible in any of these photos, but I’ll catch it when I do some overall shots. We were extremely fortunate to have had great weather for most of the painting month. As all this work was done by one person, it was a huge job. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with the results!

June has been a relatively wet month so work has moved indoors. I’m still trying to get my print studio operational. It is very close… It’s been raining all morning but the sun has just broken through. That’s my signal to get ready to go out to a friend’s barbecue. Considering the change in weather, I’d say he must be doing something right!

2018 – What’s in Store?

As it is almost time to change the page on the calendar, I thought I’d best write a post. I’ve been a bit under the weather with a cold, but have still managed to get a few things done. I’m working my way through the basement crawl space – no easy feat I can assure you. I’ve unearthed boxes that have not been looked at since they were put in place in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I know that many people would just pitch everything that had been out of sight for so long, but not me. I have found some trash, loads of things to donate and a few treasures that I knew were around “somewhere”. The best thing so far is that I’ve made it to one of the back corners without encountering a single mouse body, though that is foremost on my mind every time I pull a container away from the wall. Also I discovered that the built in vaccuum reaches all the way to the furthest corner, so I am empowered to keep going. I have a very complex numbering system for keeping track of all my boxes. Most of the “boxes” are in fact large plastic bins with lids that fold closed – chosen because they are mouse proof and cannot be damaged by water. So far so good.

One of the reasons for my renewed attack on my excess stuff is the fact that we are planning to create a print studio here at home. This requires a lot of culling and shifting. I am anxious to start work in my new studio but for now must satisfy my creative urges by keeping a watchful eye out for design inspiration. Here are a few ideas to inspire.

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The first two photos were taken on a walk in the park, the third was the pattern on a sweater that I donated, and the last photo shows coloured glass rods from a demo at Bee Kingdom Glass. What could be better than rods of pure colour?

July Progress

The summer is racing along and my summer residency at the Art College is more than half way done. How did that happen? I feel this is a wake-up call and I will be more focused on printing for the next 6 weeks. Today I spent most my studio time working on new screens. I had been thinking about some design ideas while visiting my folks in Lethbridge. I couldn’t get any work done there, but I spent time working out ideas in my head. The notebook that I took with me was untouched. Obviously, it wasn’t necessary.

Here are rough prints made from the new screens. I’m too frugal to waste too much ink testing them, so there are a few light spots that will print properly with enough ink.

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You need to use your imagination to clean up the images. I printed them onto my drop cloth because it was handy. The first screen is very delicate and might prove useful when I’m creating overall patterns on fabric. The second screen was the one I planned last week and I think I’ll redo it with a few minor adjustments. Overall I like the effect. The last screen was a surprise and I really like it. The only problem is that the giant orb almost fills the whole screen. I need to figure out how to use it, or how to modify the design to a smaller size. It’s a never-ending job. It’s a job I love but the pay is terrible.

Cutting this short so I can get it posted before it gets lost.

BTW I see that I can preview my post the way it looks on a computer, a tablet and a phone. The only one that is readable is the computer. If anyone can help me make it more viewable in the other formats, I’d love to hear from you! Thanks

 

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Summer Work(shop) Start

I’ve been able to spend some time at ACAD to print fabric. It always takes a bit of time to settle in to the routine. Even though I try to keep a list of all the things I will need, I can never think of everything. Also my needs seem to change as I try different things, so I guess I need to give up worrying about “the big move in” being perfect. It always feels so good to get the first bits of ink screened down, and even better to get some screens coated with emulsion. The screen coating tends to get big and ugly in my head, as sometimes it goes well and other times, for no discernible reason, goes very very badly. I’m happy to report that the first four screens I coated went well. That sets a good tone for the summer.

The first fabric that I printed was small upholstery samples and a number of fat quarter sized pieces of quilting cottons. I find that the variety in samples offers good practice with mixing colors and getting a feel for the screens. Muscle memory kicks in and I’m ready to go!

An amazing instructor/artist from England, Claire Benn, was recently here in Calgary leading a four-day workshop. I was fortunate to be able to assist with the running of the workshop. Claire uses text as a basis for many of her stunning designs and was sharing exercises and information for others to learn various ways of mark making, based on text. It was fascinating.

As the workshop focus was working with dyes, I didn’t think I should be taking part. I’m a printing ink kind of person. There is a world of difference in the two mediums, but areas which overlap as well. I like the dependability of mixing colors and knowing what they will look like on the fabric. With dyes, there is more “technical” knowledge needed which is chemistry based, and there is also a large element of surprise after the dyes are applied and set and washed. I love the element of surprise in someone else’s work, but I’m obviously too much of a control freak to deal with it on my own work. Having said that, I was able to play with some dyes because the workshop participants were incredibly sharing. My favorite thing to do with the dyes is break down printing. This process involves putting alginate on a screen and sometimes putting items into the alginate┬áto dry. When the screen is totally dry, items are removed before printing begins. (You can add color to the initial alginate, just during printing or both times.) I’m quite clueless about how things will turn out, but I tend to love the results regardless. Let’s face it, even if I don’t love it, I can always print over top, right?

Here are photos of some of the printed upholstery samples, a selection of fat quarters, a detail of the first layer of my break down printing and an overview with another layer of dye. More on that later.

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