Tuesday, December 13, 2016

More block printing!

Inspired by Lysa Flower's great block printing workshop, I splurged on Speedball fabric inks and other supplies, and I spent some time carving additional blocks and printing with them on fabric.  Here are the blocks that I've cut thus far:

A couple of these are variants on my workshop blocks.  I recut the hexagon to try and avoid a few nicks in the original, and I did a new, improved version of the scattered leaves in the hopes that this one would print with better registration.

The orange peel block prints nicely:

It also pairs beautifully with the block of narrow straight lines:

It was fun to try combining a couple of the different leaf blocks.  I love the clean-looking red and white print here:

The new leaf cluster block registered pretty well, but I didn't mark any particular guidelines.  As a result, by the time I worked my way around to the lower right corner, I ended up with a bit of a mismatch, as you can see above.

The other leaf blocks also work well together:

Based on some advice online, I tried using carpet tape to mount my blocks onto some cheap acrylic quilt templates, so that the printing would be easier.  That worked well the first time, but I think that when I washed the blocks afterwards, it weakened the adhesive.  As a result, the blocks started sliding off the acrylic when I used them a second time, and the registration wasn't as precise as I wanted it to be when I tried printing the leaf clusters again:

The registration isn't actually too bad, but it's a little bit off, and I think I can do better.  I didn't try printing the new hexagon block, because I want to make some registration marks first, and I was too lazy to do it during this past round of experiments.  Now I think I'll wait until warmer weather in the spring when I'll be able to work outside.  The fabric inks are oil-based and smell like hell, and they need to cure for about a week until the odor goes away.

I wanted to save the best for last.  Here's the horizontal line block, printed in red on gray.  It makes a stronger impression in person.  I love the mid-century modern look here, so simple yet so dramatic:

Happy crafting, everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Block printing!

As I mentioned a few days ago, back in early October I took a block printing workshop with the fabulous Lysa Flower.  In addition to being a VMQG member, Lysa is a graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a working artist and fabric designer, and she gave us a jam-packed day to explore the joys and possibilities of block printing.   

We started with an introductory design exercise, in which each of us received a random card with some directives.  I think mine were something like "hexagons," "small scale," "random repeat," and "narrow spacing," and I came up with the block on the lower right.  Everyone did multiple test prints on construction paper, so that we all took home different samples that illustrated principles of scale and placement.

For our second block, Lysa introduced the class to methods for registration that involved drawing a basic design on paper, cutting the paper in half and taping it back together with the cut edges on the outside, adding more details, and then cutting again in the other direction and re-taping.  It sounds complicated when described, but is easier to understand with pictures, as in this online tutorial.  Leafy shapes are among the few non-geometrical objects that I can draw reasonably well, so I carved the block on the lower left.  Then, in the late afternoon, I had just barely enough time for a hexagonal design that I had in mind before the workshop.  I think it's an Islamic tiling pattern--I knew it would tessellate and make a great block for printing.

Here's how the fabrics printed with the second and third blocks turned out:

The Moo carve block that I worked with for the leafy print wasn't exactly square, so it didn't register as precisely as I would have liked.  I learned the hard way that the carving materials aren't cut all that carefully by the manufacturer!  I also decided that I prefer to work with the black Easy-Cut material.  The white, eraser-like stuff tends to be a bit more crumbly.  Although the black Easy-Cut is a little harder to carve, it allows for sharper lines, and I think it will hold up better in the long run.

I did a lot more block carving and experimenting in the weeks after the workshop.  More soon!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Happy sewing, in dark, gloomy days...

Between two months of dark, rainy weather and a long-deferred photo-editing software upgrade, I've stayed away from blogging.  Here's Poppyprint's comment on October's weather, and November wasn't significantly better.

Remember the indigo medallion quilt I was working on a while back?  In mid-August, I took the scraps and pieced tops for two small wall quilts.  Here's how things looked back then:

Although I haven't been blogging, I've had a reasonable amount of time for fabric-related activity this fall.  In particular, October was a fun, fiber-filled month: block-printing workshop with VMQG's fabulous Lysa Flower, mid-month quilting retreat, and a katazome workshop at Maiwa with the always-inspiring Akemi Nakano Cohn.  I've also started sewing some clothing for myself, to start dealing with the fact that I hate all of my old clothes right now, but don't particularly want to go shopping either.  I'll try to take some photos of the results the next time the sun comes out, but for now, I'll just say that although I haven't been as active in the sewing room as I had hoped over the past few months, a few things have gotten done here and there.

Among the finished projects was the first quilt above, "Stray Thoughts," which I actually completed back in September but didn't get around to photographing until today:

"Stray Thoughts" is now listed in my Etsy shop.  I also made a few pouches back in October, and they're finally going into the shop as well.

Happy sewing!