Technique of the Week #25 – Screenprinting with Mask Ease

Project Hours: 4 hours
Design and Materials: 1 hour
Execution: 3 hours
The product for this technique is called Mask Ease by Scratch-Art.  This stuff is a vinyl mask that you apply to a prepared screen for screenprinting, and it acts as your resist so you can screen through it.  I have some pictures of the process this time, to explain better.  

I did not have a screen around, so I used some sheer cotton fabric and a wood embroidery hoop that cost me 99 cents.  I wrapped the inner hoop with floral tape to make it sticky and pulled my fabric tight and put glue around the edges once I was sure it was taut.  I then used the circle of the hoop to make my pattern. 

I drew my cuttlefish onto the yellow vinyl surface.  He’s going to be reversed in print, so keep that in mind.
Then you cut the vinyl with an X-Acto knife to expose your lines.  I followed the Mask Ease Instructions from here, adhering it to my screen and printing as usual.

One other note is that this needs to be used with good thick print paste or ink, as the large open surfaces can get runny onto fabric.  I’m still not a good screenprinter and I had several runny attempts before I thickened up my print paste. 
I do like this little guy. I wanted him to be a little bigger to fill the space of the quilt a little better, so I think next time I will add borders or get an actual screen for screenprinting or a bigger embroidery hoop.  (It is a cheap alternative)

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Technique of the Week #22 – Thread Painting

Project Hours: 8 hours
Design and Materials: 2 hours
Execution: 6 hours
It was soooooo good to be back in the “saddle” again.  I took this thread painting class from Elin Waterston at the Cloth Paper Scissors’ art retreat called CREATE.  I had one day, so I was limited in my choices of classes to take, and when I saw this one, I thought it wasn’t going to be something I was interested in, but as usual, I was wrong.  I also thought I “knew how to do that” so it wasn’t going to hold my interest.  Again, wrong!
Essentially thread painting is the layering on of thread free motion style to build up a subject.  Like painting, except with thread.  So the octopus here is only made with thread.  The shading is done to give him some dimension.
The first thing Elin teaches you about thread painting is that there are no mistakes.  And that sums up how our approach was: a free and casual approach.
We were encouraged to bring designs with us, but of course, I had been thinking for two weeks of a subject with no inspiration.  When I got to class, I was going to make an octopus or a pomegranate.  I chose to stay “on theme” for this year, with this little dude.
There are things I did “wrong” that worked itself out, like some puckering that ended up “quilting out” and the shadows of his bumps on his head were done in reverse, so they look like holes.  OOPS.  Oh well, he was an experiment. 
A couple of things: this eats up thread. A LOT OF THREAD, so if you covet your expensive thread you may not want to try this.  Second, Elin teaches you to look up, get up, get away every 20 minutes or so.  This was critical, since I ended up hunched over the bed of the loaner Bernina 440 machine slaving away to cover my background.  The class hours were from 9 am to 4 pm, and we sewed for about 4 of those hours. In that time I got the octopus above done and most of the machine quilting, and he isn’t finished yet, so I will post a photo of the finished work later this week! I’ll be adding a section of beads and an embroidered school of fish to complete him.  Enjoy!

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Technique of the Week # 20 – Notan Japanese Cut Quilt

Project hours: 2 hours
Design and materials: 1 hours
Execution: 1 hours

I learned about this awesome technique many moons ago on Jane Dunnewold’s website.  She has a great tutorial here about the art of Notan, or light and dark design principles usually demostrated with papercutting.  This isn’t about Scherenschnitte, German scissor cutting, though they can be similar.  The voids you leave in the paper, flipped outwards are an extension of the design in this technique.  Be sure to check out Jane’s website for more info than I could possibly explain here.   
Papercutting is a great design source for quilting, and I was stumped at first to come up with a design that I wanted to actually cut from fabric.  This is one instance where my “Year of the Cephalopod” comes in handy, it’s an easy design resource.  I was able to make this octopus design quickly, and I was happy with the results.  Most Notan is done in black and white for easy contrast, but to take the technique one step further I decided to use grey and pink.
Sorry it’s not quilted yet, it’s been a hectic week!

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Technique of the Week #17- Translucent Liquid Clay

Project hours: 12 hours
Design and materials: 3 hours
Execution: 9 hours
This technique was inspired by Kelli Nina Perkins, a fabulous mixed media artist whom I have the great pleasure of knowing, and a technique she shared on Episode 306 of Quilting Arts TV.  This technique is how to take a medium by Sculpey, called Translucent Liquid Clay (TLC), and bake it onto a laser print copy to transfer the image onto the clay.  The clay is soft and can be stitched through.  I changed a couple of things, but had fun with this technique.
First off, you have to find the TLC, which was no small task.  Michaels no longer had a spot on the shelf for it, and Kelli mentioned Hobby Lobby as an alternative. I’m glad she did, though my pocketbook is not, I spent a lot of money in that store! 
Next up, you have to find an image.   I was trying to make this image into something usable for a thermofax screen, but it didn’t work out for that, so I recycled my laser copy into artwork for this project.  The tv show with Kelli shows her using a color copy, and this is black and white.  Hmmm.
Using the clay is easy according to the directions, and it does tell you this stuff STINKS.  Open a window, use your ventilator.  Ick.
From there you wet and scrape the paper off of the back.  Now, this is “translucent” clay, not transparent.  So, this did not have the see-though effect I initially thought, and I can see why you would use a color copy now.  However, I took some fabric paint to the backside to color in the squid, and am happy with that effect!  It sewed easily and I can think of some other uses I would love to try this on.  Hope you try it and have fun!

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Technique of the Week #1 – "Soft Circuitry"

Project hours: about 7
2 hours design + research
5 hours execution

I got a fabric circuitry kit for Christmas, and I had been dying to try some of the things from Craft/Make magazine about fashion technology. I thought this could be adapted to a quilt, and I was pretty ecstatic with the results.

First off, this is an interpretation of a taningia danae squid.  I say “interpretation” because not only is it a cartoon version, but the tentacles that exhibit the bioluminescence are exaggeratedly long.  Oh well!  I was researching cephalopods for my themes and came across bioluminescence and thought this was a great connection for my LED circuit project!

Here is a photo of the back of the quilt so you can see my “circuitry”.  Basically, I took 2 blue LEDs and connected the positives to the back side of my coin cell battery holder, and the negatives to the front. The battery does have to be inserted correctly.  The “holder” is just a folded over piece of cloth, sewn to the back after I connected the conductive threads to the right poles.  It’s nice and tight, and the battery has a good connection inside.  This holder has a benefit of being flat against a wall if I were to hang the quilt. 

A great start to my goal for a “technique a week”! I plan to provide the hours each one takes me to execute so you get a good idea of how intricate some of the methods are.

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