Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Craft Napa - Surprise Printing

Four years ago, Sue went to Craft Napa with 2 friends for 3 days of fiber art classes.  What a fun time!  Things haven't worked out to return to this California retreat, but this year because of the pandemic, it moved online like so many other events.  Being virtual, anyone could participate from the comfort of home.  So Sue signed up for one class.  There were others she was interested in, but as sometimes happens, several were on the same day so choices had to be made.  The class she took was called Surprise Printing taught by Margarita Korioth.  The technique involved using Caran d'Ache water soluble wax pastel crayons with transparent extender and silk screens to created printed blocks.  The "surprise" is seeing what your blocks look like after washing off the excess crayon. 


These were some of our supplies.  The teacher's kit included the 2 silk screens (made with heat transfer vinyl) and selected colors of Caran d'Ache water soluble wax pastels. (Sue purchased this larger set.) We also needed some squares and rectangles of white Kona cotton and transparent extender - ProChem is a recommended brand. 

To create blocks, we first colored the cotton squares with the wax pastel crayons.  Then we used the silk screen to overprint with the transparent extender.  These were then set aside to dry.  We also made a repeat pattern with the other screen on a rectangular piece of cotton.  The third component created was a wide strip that could be cut into narrower strips for sashing and/or binding.  This piece was done by separating it into segments with painter's tape and coloring in between.  The transparent extender was brushed over top.  All were allowed to dry before heat setting and then soaking in water (about 10 minutes) to remove the excess crayon.  The extra color doesn't come out completely, but enough to fade into the background and allow the printed design to stand out.


The pieces above were the first ones completed.  After some additional instruction, there was time to make some more!

These additional blocks and repeat section are drying before heat setting and rinsing.


Above are the finished second group of pieces. Now what to do with them?  Margarita used hers to make both a quilt and a pillow. Check out this link to see more of her work.  The blocks can be assembled randomly in rows, with or without sashing, bordered if desired.  Use your imagination!  This was a fun process and we're excited to see how it can be adapted for use with Thermofax screens. Experiments to come!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Imagination: 1 x 4

The Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Regional groups of North Carolina/Virginia and Washington DC/Maryland/West Virginia issued a challenge last year to members to make a quilt based on the theme Imagination.  They were asked to "use their imagination to escape reality, explore thoughts and feelings, and express themselves by creating a new quilt in a format measuring one foot wide by four feet high". Approximately 70 submissions were juried by Maggie Vanderweit, selecting 50 for the exhibit. Originally intended to be an in-person exhibit, the Covid 19 pandemic altered those plans to make it a virtual exhibit that can be seen on Black Rock Center for the Arts' website now through February 20.  It will also be part of the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival's virtual show at the end of February. 

Sue's submission, The Imagination of Nature, is one of the 50 pieces selected. After considering several ideas, a piece of eco-printed fabric came to mind.  It was about 6 feet long by 1 foot wide, so easily fit the size requirements of the challenge.  It served as the "iron blanket" in making an eco-printed silk scarf; essentially, a piece of cotton that keeps the plant material in place in the printing process.  In addition to the length of cotton, there were several pieces of silk used as test prints that might be incorporated in the 1 x 4 design.


Planning began by looking at the length of fabric, measuring, auditioning potential fabrics, and selecting the portions of the print to use.  Also part of the planning was looking for quotes that tied nature and imagination together.  Two quotes were chosen and printed on Extravorganza (organza that is adhered  to a backing for use in an inkjet printer).  The original print was divided into 3 sections, with the quotes forming the divisions above and below the center portion.  Three of the silk prints were chosen and fused to pieces of silk for layering on top of the cotton.  A bird was screen printed on a color catcher (a non-woven fabric sheet used to absorb excess dye in the laundry) and added as a focal point.


Above is the center section.  Except for some machine anchor stitching, the quilting is done by hand with embroidery threads.  Some "ghost" leaves were added to the background with stitching.  


This is the top section, with the largest of the 3 silk prints. 


Above is a close-up of the bottom section.  Click on any of the photos to see a larger version.

The virtual exhibit on the Black Rock website gives you two options for viewing; one is a 3-D gallery view which is a guided tour similar to being in a real gallery.  The second option is viewing a still image of each quilt that can be enlarged for a closer view.  You can also view a separate document of the artists' statements and jurors remarks.  All of the pieces in the exhibit are for sale.  So find a comfortable spot, put on some quiet music, and enjoy a gallery tour of these beautiful quilts!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Violet Protest

 A few months ago, Sue signed up to make 5 quilt blocks for the Violet Protest.  The Violet Protest is a national public effort to make and send 50 textile squares to every member of Congress in support of core American values.  Sadly, it seems this effort is needed now more than ever.  The core values include:

  • respect for the other
  • citizenship
  • compromise
  • country over party/corporate influence
  • courage
  • candor
  • compassion
  • creativity
The blocks are to be made of equal amounts of red and blue, symbolizing that the blending of the 2 colors results in violet - thus the Violet Protest.  The 8" square textile units can be made from a variety of techniques including knitting, crocheting, weaving, sewing, quilting, embroidery, applique, felting, or any combination of these techniques.  

All squares received by Feb. 1 will be exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum beginning in March 2021.  The final deadline is August 1 for sending to Congress, so it is not too late if you'd like to participate!  The blocks will be equally divided and sent to each of the 535 members of Congress in late 2021.

Please go to the Violet Protest website to learn more about this project, see photos of completed blocks, an artist's rendering of the museum display, and a sample of the letter that will accompany the blocks sent to members of Congress.  You can also volunteer to make blocks and/or donate to the cause.  

These are Sue's finished blocks.  Note they are all separate blocks with bound edges, just laying side by side.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year to all our readers!

(Background vector created by pikisuperstar - www.freepik.com)

Best wishes for a creative 2021 to you all and thank you for your support in 2020.  

We know that many of you spent some of 2020 designing custom images and we are pleased to make screens so you can use your own unique designs to add that very personal touch to your work. We're also happy for you to use the screens we sell in our Etsy shop to enhance your work.  

Whether you are a mixed media artist, a textile artist or a potter, Thermofax screens allow you to incorporate your own vision into your work.  While our classes were on hold for most of 2020, your continued patronage of our online shop allowed us to grow our small business this past year and we want you to know we are grateful to each one of you for giving us the privilege of assisting in your creative endeavors.

To extend our thanks and get you started creating in 2021, use coupon code THANKYOU at checkout for a 10% discount for the month of January.  

Please show us what you have made with Thermofax screens and if you like, we will share your creations and expertise with our community.  Send us your questions about screens and the process and we will try our best to answer them for you.

Here is to a happy and healthy new year in 2021 for everyone,

Elizabeth and Sue

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Personalize Your Face Masks

Here it is November and many sewists have spent time making masks these past 9 months as we try to lessen the impacts of this global pandemic.

This summer, Elizabeth ordered some premade cotton-knit 2 layer face masks and dyed them using the ice dyeing techniques we have talked about before.  Search the label ice dyeing on this post to see old posts where we mentioned ice dyeing.


After dyeing some masks she got to work using thermofax screens to add images.  She tried adding an owl from our collection which had previously worked well on a woven cotton but found that it was too detailed and just looked blob-like on the knit mask fabric (top left)  Since less detailed images seemed to work best she tried some of the screens in our collection which were hand drawn and had thicker lines.  She was also particularly pulled to the words that could be added either alone on a mask or over top of another image.  


As these masks were premade and included some gathering around the edges it wasn't always easy to get the image into the space without a wrinkle or two.  This was exacerbated by trying to use the screen a second time once paint was blocking the view of the image.  Thus, she did a lot more screen cleaning than normal. Screening fabric first and then sewing the mask is an alternative if you sew.

If you have a simple line drawing you think might look good on a mask, send us the image sized for the small screen and see if you can make your own personalized mask.  This cardinal came from the Graphics Fairy, a free source for vintage, public domain art work. 


This is a dragonfly that Sue drew on a piece of paper with a black pen.  We can make a screen from your drawing so long as the image is black and white.


A favorite is when you can screen two images and have one as a foreground and one as a background such as these daisies and then add a sentiment or positive word on top.



Different fonts will give you different looks so play around and see what words you can fit in the size of the mask you are using.  There are so many to choose from just in Microsoft Word alone.  Above, the word "Flourish" is in a font called "Casteller". Most of the fonts we used are in the range of 65-120 font size but that would depend on the length of your word and the size of the printing space available on your mask.  Enjoy personalizing your mask with your own work.  We would be happy to help you.  Visit our Etsy shop to see our screens and order a personalized screen. Right now there is a 20% off sale through December 3, 2020. 



If you use a word though, by careful when you put your mask on because you might be walking around with your mask on upside down!  How embarrassing is that?




Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Fall Postcard Swap

It's that time of year again, Sue's postcard group's fall swap is underway.  All have not been sent yet but hers have been sent and received so we're giving you a look at what she made for this round. The theme was "shadows".  Keeping it simple, she went with a fall leaf and added shadows for depth.  She started out with a leaf print on a pale blue-green linen.

Unlike our usual printing, this is NOT a Thermofax print!  This time the leaf itself was pressed into the paint (a mixture of red, yellow and bronze) and then used to print on the fabric.

It needed more definition so she added an outline and veins with a bronze Sharpie marker.

Next she added some more color to the leaf with red, yellow and orange Inktense pencils.

The colors were blended by brushing with water - maybe a little too much as you can see where it bled outside the lines :(  The others are better, Sue kept this one for herself.  

Next was adding the shadows, also done with Inktense pencils.  This is the initial application, as things progressed, she added more color to deepen the shadows.

These are the finished leaves.  Stitching, postcard backs and edge finish remain to be completed.

Here's Sue's finished card. The others were in the mail before she remembered she hadn't taken a finished picture of group!  Oh well, you get the idea.  When the rest of the "shadow" cards arrive, we'll share a picture.

Have you made fabric postcards?  It's a great way to try out a technique on a small scale, and brightens the recipient's day with artful mail!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Art Bee Whisper Challenge 2020

The Burke QU Art Quilt Bee is a group of approximately 20 members who normally meet in person once a month to share our love of creating with fabric and art quilts.  We share techniques through demos, discuss upcoming events and participate in challenges.  During the pandemic we have been meeting virtually and just last week revealed the results of our third Whisper Challenge which has taken place over the last 10 months.   

What is a Whisper Challenge?  Well, it's basically a game of "telephone" in the form of quilts.  The first person in the chain chose an inspiration photo and made a quilt inspired by that photo. She passed her quilt to the next person in line, who made a quilt inspired by the previous one.  And so on down the line, with each person seeing only the previous quilt.  Each person had one month to make their quilt.  When the pandemic restrictions hit and we were no longer able to meet in person, we switched to sending photos of our quilts electronically to the next person.  Ten of us participated in this challenge.  The rules were simple:  all quilts must be 18 x 24" in portrait orientation, and any interpretation of the inspiration photo/quilt is allowed.  With that, let's get to the big reveal!

This is the inspiration photo chosen by Judy Grumbacher who made the first quilt.

Judy made a colorful interpretation of the windmill photo, then passed her quilt to Anna Willard.

Anna was inspired by the blades on Judy's windmill to make a windmill on a hill. She passed her quilt to Judy Albert.


Judy was inspired by the windmill shape to make "Lighthouse".  She also chose colors to tie in with the previous quilt, and passed her quilt to Linda Cooper.

Linda used the lighthouse inspiration to make "Souvenir Lighthouse".  She has been playing with painting and creating bubble and glass images, so set Virginia’s Assateague Lighthouse in a snow globe. She passed her quilt to Barbara Wise.

Barbara's "Safe Harbor" incorporated the colors of Linda's quilt.  She interpreted the lighthouse as a metaphor for safe harbor, creating a safe shelter for the bird.  She passed her quilt to Susan Price.

Susan focused on the idea of "shelter" in Barbara's quilt and used this collection of door photos to show that "There's No Place Like Home".  She passed her quilt to Barbara Sherwood.

Barbara's "Shelter" reflects a home in her neighborhood.  She passed her quilt to Terry Peckarsky.

Terry was inspired by the colors in Barbara's quilt and used them all in different values to create "Here Comes the Sun".   She passed her quilt to Willa Downes.

Willa liked the contrast of warm and cool shades in Terry's quilt and wanted to create the same feeling in her quilt which she passed to Janet Palfey.

Janet's "Sunflower" was inspired by the sunflowers in Willa's quilt.  Since it was fall and hers was the last quilt, she focused on sunflowers ready for harvest with seed heads heavy and bending over.  She also stayed with the same color palette.

Didn't these turn out great?  It seems to be a very cohesive group and it would be great to see them hanging together in an exhibit somewhere.  Barring that, we've put them all on one slide so the progression is easier to see.  (click on the image below for a larger version)

This is a fun challenge for any group - the hard part is waiting till the end to see the reveal!  What is your favorite type of group challenge?