December 14, 2017

A hearty recommendation for the Photoshop Elements classes by the Pixeladies

I recently finished the third (and final) class on Photoshop Elements offered by textile artists Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki, the "Pixeladies," and I would highly recommend their classes to other artists interested in working with Photoshop Elements.  All three will be offered in succession from January through May, 2018.  Could be a good holiday gift for someone to give you :-)  The classes are set up well, with a combination of videos, handouts, the ability to see other students' work, and very helpful feedback from the instructors on each assignment and in response to questions from individuals. The exercises are very well designed, so that you learn the material as you go, and the material available for printout leaves you with a handbook to refer back to. The class material is delivered over four weeks, the instructors stay available for another two weeks after that, and then all the material remains accessible online for a total of six months.  Photoshop has many, many features; Deb and Kris focus on those of most use to textile artists.  The classes are very reasonably priced, $60 for each of the first two, and $125 for the third.  I use Photoshop regularly now, both in the design process and for adjusting photos when needed.  I highly recommend their classes!!

Class descriptions here:
That page also lists the "Top 10 Photoshop Tasks for Fiber Artists"--I think all of these were covered in the first class.  There's much, much more in the classes that follow.

I look forward to working the Photoshop Elements in the next months to design more patterns for napkins.  The clover design in my last post was developed through this program.

December 3, 2017

In clover

I've been continuing to print napkins, and am especially happy with a new screen I made that's based on an old drawing of mine of a clover flower. This encourages me to work further with elements from some of my drawings. I think the two-tone turquoise with dark blue is especially nice, though the two-tone base was the result of serendipity:  I had made a napkin with a light turquoise base fabric and printed my bowl pattern on in a darker turquoise.  There was not enough of a contrast to make it a successful print, so I printed the clover design over the top of it with dark blue.  Maybe I should do more like this on purpose. . .  
the original drawing, 2012

November 6, 2017

Choosing favorites

Here are my 13 favorites from the 40 or so napkins I've printed in my latest print runs. I like the colors as well as the printed designs. I have more playing around to do with color combinations, but I find I like both the high contrast of black/lighter color as well as the lower contrast of two shades of the same color (turquoise in upper right, rust in center of the bottom row).

I mentioned in the last post that I was going to try making a second screen from a screen, in order to get more of a line drawing effect. I did this with the screen on which I'd written text, and I'm happy with how it turned out.  The original screen was used for the navy napkin on the right, below. The lettering drawn on the screen with matte medium served as a resist, so the text appears in the light blue of the original fabric; the added dye becomes the background.  I printed this twice, first with dark blue, then turned the screen 90 degrees and printed with medium blue, which is why you see three shades of blue on the napkin.  Then I used that screen as a "stencil," pulling matte medium through it onto another screen.  That makes a new screen where the background is coated with the resist, and the letters are clear for the dye to be pulled through.  For the napkin on the left, I started with magenta fabric, and did two pulls with black dye.  I like that it looks kind of like an ancient inscription, somewhat worn away.

Out of the 40 napkins, there are 34 I like well enough to either use myself or give them away.  Here they all are. You'll see that I also tried out a red-white combination that didn't make it into my "favorites" group. I really like the idea of red/white, but there was back-staining of the red dye onto the white fabric, so the results are more like red and pale-pink.  I think I'll probably overdye them a light rust color, to get rid of the pink.  If I had thought ahead, I might have avoided the backstaining, but the process to do that involves soaking twice with lots of ice cubes, which I don't want to have to build into my routine.

In the top row on the left are two napkins where the bowl design was pulled once; on the right it was pulled twice.  In the end, I prefer it pulled once--which conveniently is less work for me.

I will be taking a break from this for a while, to finish my online Photoshop course, where I hope to come up with some additional screen designs.  I like all of these, but found I got a little bored repeating just these half-dozen screen.

October 16, 2017

Seven of 32 printed

I pulled screens on 7 napkins last Wednesday.  I can layout fabric for eight napkins on my large print table. I have six screens that I'm happy enough with to use.

I can re-use a screen in one session if I'm printing with the same color, which worked for the 7th (turquoise) napkin. It took about 2 hours to do the printing. So, it will take me a while to print all the fabric that I've readied for printing (32 napkins total). I may also try making a couple more screens.

Here's a review of the prints, and notes about how to proceed with the next prints. The two below were done with two different screens, but each of the screens was made in the same way. This may be difficult to understand without seeing it, but here goes:  I used 2" square piece of plexiglass to stamp rows of squares onto the screen. The stamping medium was matte medium, brushed on with a paint brush cut into so that uneven lines are painted on the stamp, rather than a fully covered surface. Where the matte medium, stamped, sticks to the screen, no dye can go through. I made the screen on the right first, one of the first screens I made.  Here I've used it to print black onto boysenberry fabric overprinted. There are many places on the screen where no matte medium stuck.  I made a second screen trying to improve on the first, used on the green fabric below (printed with dark blue dye). On this screen, so much matte medium stuck that only the unstamped margins between the squares let through the dye. I like both of these, but I may try making a third screen to get a look somewhere in between these.  By the way, the boysenberry/black piece is the only one in this batch where I just pulled the screen once.  For all others, I pulled once with the pattern vertical, and then a second time turning the screen 90 degrees.

The next two show the pieces where I did the first pull with a dark value thickened dye, but then diluted the dye by 3 for the second pull. I think these came out well. In both these cases, the color of the dye was simply a darker value of the base fabric.

A friend asked, "Can you do a thinner line for the patterning, so that the color of the fabric is more of the star?" I would definitely like to do this as well.  The most direct way to do this is to make the screen using a photo-emulsion process, where the drawn line will print (rather than these screens, line is a resist, and the background prints); I hope to have a chance to do that in December.  The other thing I could do is take one of these screens that are drawn lines (like the words on the left above, and the floral design on the right), and use that screen to "print" matte medium onto another piece of polyester screen. On that secondary screen, the background will have the resist on it, and the lines will print.  I may try that soon. . .

The next pair are both on boysenberry base fabric, printed with black on the left, and a burgundy color on the right (boysenberry dye with a little black added in).  I like both combinations.

The pair below both use lavender base fabric.  On the left, I used the burgundy color for printing, on the right a darker shade of lavender.  I think both work, but from personal preference, I don't think I'd use the burgundy again on lavender.

I've had other obligations keeping me busy since last Wednesday, but I look forward to trying out some other color combinations and maybe making some new screens too.

October 9, 2017

Playing with color choices in Photoshop

I've set aside Wednesday to go screen print more napkins. I've already experimented with dark blue on plain muslin fabric and dark brown over a lighter brown, reported on here. After the last session, I dyed up enough muslin for four napkins in each of eight colors, above. (The greens on left and right are a little different from each other.) Today I played around in Photoshop Elements, trying out different colors for the patterns that will be screened onto the fabric. I show the results below, lining them up so I can more easily see see what I'd like to try out. Some of these combinations will not work with dye, because the second color mixes with the first when overdyed in the printing process (unlike paint, which can go on as a separate opaque layer). This is why I've chosen mostly colors close to each other on the color wheel, where the combination will not be so problematic. I've put in bold the colors I'm most likely to try out when printing.

Boysenberry with black, indigo, and burgundy

Light bluish-green with darker shade of green, dark indigo blue, medium indigo blue, and black

Light yellow-green with dark indigo blue, black, dark lavender, darker shade of green (I like the lavender and green, but I can't get there through starting with green and overdyeing.)

Light indigo blue with black, dark indigo, and gray.

Gray with indigoblack, and burgundy.

Lavender with indigoblackdarker lavenderburgundy

Light rust with black, charcoal, indigo, burgundy, and darker rust

Turquoise with black, charcoal, indigodarker turquoise, and rust. The turquoise and rust is lovely, but this is another combination that won't work with an overdye process--the print would come out a muddy grown/gray.
So, you can see that I'm drawn to black with anything, with a second choice of dark indigo, but it will be fun to try other colors also. I've made a chart of these choices, and counted up how many napkins will be screened with each color, which tells me how much thickened dye to mix up tomorrow. I'll be interested to see how long it takes me to print all 32 napkins. For most of them, I'll be pulling the screen twice, with the second time turned 90 degrees, so this will take a while.  Although all the photos above use an image from one screen, I'll be using six different screens in the printing.
I will report results when I have them!

September 29, 2017

A short interview with me

One of my quilts is currently on display at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilt and Fiber Arts, in their exhibit "In Death."  A short interview with me is featured in the current issue of the museum's newsletter.  The exhibit is up until December 3.  I look forward to seeing the other works in the exhibit when I visit in early November.

Wisconsin Museum of Quilt & Fiber Arts
September 29, 2017

Barn Blast
Featured Artist 
of the Week ~
Penny Gold 

Each week, we give you, our Barn Blast readers, exclusive interviews with a variety of fiber artists from across the country. Although each artist is distinctly different from the other, they do have one common thread that binds them all.  They have all lived and grieved and they have all made art to express this - but more than this, they have all chosen to share their art with the world by participating in the very special WMQFA exhibit, which is currently on display at the museum. 

Penny Gold
Penny Gold bravely shares what fuels her art and the inspiration she has received from fellow artists.

WMQFA:  How did you get into working with fiber?
Gold:  I have worked with yarn and cloth since I was a child, taught by my mother. My first knitting project was a doll blanket, and my first sewing project an apron made on a treadle machine. I have continued to knit and sew over the years, adding in quilting in 2001at the request of a young friend who wanted to learn. I started with traditional quilting, changing course to quilting as a form of artistic expression after taking a workshop on design with Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle. My vision and skills have also been developed through workshops with Dorothy Caldwell, Carol Soderlund, Claire Benn, and Paula Kovarik.
WMQFA:  What inspires you?
Gold:  My work has been fueled by despair, anguish, and guilt in the wake of my son's death in 2004. As I worked to express these emotions through color and shape, I was inspired and sustained by the abstract art I have long loved, particularly the work of Clyfford Still, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, and Kazimir Malevich.
WMQFA:  Why did you choose to participate in In Death?
Gold:  Although my work is deeply personal, created out of my own needs, I have found that it also resonates with others, in ways I had not expected. I have been encouraged by the response when I've shown work at Sacred Threads and at QuiltCon, so I was happy - and honored - to say yes to the invitation to show one of my quilts in In Death. 
WMQFA:  Is there anything else you would like to share with our 
Barn Blast readers?
Gold:  For photos and descriptions of the other works in my series on loss, you can visit the website documenting my 2016 exhibition.

Penny Gold's featured quilt, "Self-Portrait, Year 2: Beneath the Surface"

For more information about current and upcoming exhibits, CLICK HERE.

September 13, 2017

Back to screenprinting for cloth napkins

About a year ago, I did a surface design workshop with Claire Benn on "Lines and Rows"; I concentrated my efforts on figuring out designs that would work for cloth napkins, 18" square.  I came up with a couple of designs that I liked--squares and bowls, described here.  When I got home, I set to work on developing further designs, as I'd like to have at least four or six designs available for sets of napkins. I printed up six more designs, but wasn't satisfied with them.  I thought if I printed each one again, turning the screen 90 degrees, it was possible they would be more successful.  So I pinned the fabric back on the print table, but then left them for a while to go back to sewing.  And there they lay through the winter, spring, and summer.  A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that I had a container of thickened dye sitting on the back of my work table, and I decided to just go ahead and use it to pull the screens a second time.  Given that the dye had been unrefrigerated for nine months, I had no idea whether it would work at all, but it was so easy to use what was there, I thought I'd take a chance and experiment.  The results are above, with details below. The dark indigo-colored marks are from the first screening last October; the lighter marks are from the recent second pull of the screens, turned 90 degrees. (The detail images below are just a section of the print, not the whole 18.")  The cross-hatching image didn't work, but the other designs are not bad.  I'll probably leave them as is, though I could overdye with a very pale indigo, to take out the creamy white color of the muslin I'm using.

Torn bits of masking tape used as a resist on the screen.

Hand-drawn floral design, using matte medium as a resist.

Small plexi-glass square stamped on the screen with matte medium.

Text here is from Martin Buber: "One eats in holiness and the table becomes an altar."

I then did another batch of six napkins, some screens the same, some different.  I used a dark brown dye on this batch. The swipes of paler colors in the middle of the top and bottom rows are trials for what to use for dyeing the background; I think I'll go with one of the two palest values (top row).

Of these, here are details of my favorite four:

bowls (done from stamping the screen)


squares (same stamp as above, but a second screen, with quite a different result) 

the Martin Buber quote, written out with matte medium.

After I finish the brown napkins, I'm going take time to develop more images.  Instead of using a resist on the screen, I'm pursuing development of images using Photoshop.  I'm finishing up the last lessons of a third Photoshop Elements class with Kris Sazaki and Deb Cashatt.  (Their online classes are excellent.)  This 3rd class includes instructions on making repeat designs, so I've been playing around with making images that might be suitable for napkins.  Here are a few that I've come up with so far.  I plan to keep experimenting on the computer, to generate a set of possibilities.  In December I'll have a chance to use a new photo emulsion printing set up that's recently been purchased by the college where I worked for many years.  Making a screen through a photo emulsion process allows you to transfer a black and white image with high accuracy, and to get a screen where the drawn line will be what prints.  So, for example, on the image below, if I use this with a photo emulsion process, the lines will print black (or whatever color I want to use).  If I were to draw the same image on a silk screen with matte medium (the process I used for the floral and text images above), it's the background that would print, not the lines.

Here's what the same screen might look like if I printed with purple onto a light blue cloth.

Here's how I came up with the scribble that was used for the repeat.  I started with a photo of a yucca plant, taken on a visit to my sister in Arizona last spring.  In preparation for a class with Paula Kovarik, we had been instructed to look for lines, and I loved the curly tendrils on this plant:

Using Photoshop, I traced the tendrils, and then copied the tracing into its own image file:

I used the tracing on the right as the basis for one of the stitching exercises in Paula's class:

For an image for screen printing, I went in two directions.  First I made a scribble based loosely on the yucca tracing; this scribble then served as the basis for the repeat design above:

Next, wanting to get back closer to the original tracing, I scribbled various elements, spreading them across an 18" space:

Explorations in Photoshop will continue. . .