Sunday, March 27, 2011

Printing on stones

I´ve been really impressed with the stone printing on the blog Maya made. I love the geese prints. I thought I´d give stone printing a try, although all I have in the house is fabric paint (must buy block printing ink!). The only stamp I have carved that was small enough for these pebbles was my little lighthouse, which I didn´t end up using in my checkers game.

I think I´d like to do more of these, and print some more stamps on larger pebbles. It´s hard to admire something so much on the Maya Made blog, and want to do something similar, but not copy the original design (because although it´s so nice, that would be wrong). I really like the bird theme though, and as we have a lot of seagulls around our area, I might try carving some stamps of seagulls.

Printing on stone was bit different to printing on fabric or paper. The stamp needed to be loaded with a middle amount of ink (more than paper, less than fabric). It had to be pressed hard on the stone, without slipping; suprisingly this wasn´t hard because the stones seemed to grip the stamp. I haven´t mounted the stamps - they are still just pieces of linocut - so pressing them to the stone was easy. The stamp only needed to applied for a second or so - perhaps on stone there is no need for the ink to ¨soak¨ in. Much harder though was not getting ink from my fingers (which accidentally gets there while picking the inked stamp up) onto the stone. That will take practice.

Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island, New Zealand

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bags for the Dots and Dashes game

I´ve finally gotten around to making some bags for the Dots and Dashes game I collected / made. They are basically just the drawstring bag pattern from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing book.

The green bag is about 20 cm tall once sewn up, and the little bags are about 10 cm tall. They look quite cute. The little bags contain one set of the pieces, in this case, I decided to keep the red stones, the cream stones, and the driftwood. The little bags sit inside the big green bag, on top of the sticks.

Shark bell on a Dunedin Beach, South Island, New Zealand

Another lighthouse stamp

I´ve carved another lighthouse linocut stamp. This one is about 4.5 cm high. I´ve found lighthouses quite difficult to do, because they really need to be symmetrical, and it´s very clear when they are not!

I usually free draw things, but for something like this I pre-ruled the lines, and most importantly the centre line. Then, its quite hard to keep up the symmetry when carving it in reverse, so I´ve learnt to also transfer the centre line to the lino when tranferring the picture, although of course the centre line isn´t carved out.

Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island, New Zealand

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monkey socks

I´ve just finished the Monkey socks (pattern by Cookie A) which I started last year, becoming the ten billionth person probably to knit this wonderful free pattern. The lovely soft, and beautifully bright wool is from Needlefood, who have sadly closed down now. :o(

I did the sock toe up, just knitting same pattern (so the pattern is upside down really I suppose). I just did my usual thing of knitting a WendyKnits sock (from her book Socks from the Toe-Up), with the front pattern design being in this case the Monkey sock pattern. I guess having little kids, I haven´t got the extra brain power left over to follow a sock pattern from scratch, so I like just doing the familiar WendyKnits one and then its easy to add any pattern along the top.

I didn´t do any purl stitches in the middle of the first pattern repeat as I this made it feel smoother on the toes. It was a great pattern, which is easily memorised and after the first repeat you don´t even need to read the pattern anymore.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Embroidered skirt

Here is a pic of an embroidered skirt I´ve just finished (with the green funked out peasant blouse I finished last year). I drew up the pattern for the skirt myself after reading Cal Patch´s wonderful book Design It Yourself: Patternmaking Simplified. It is the same pattern as my blue skirt, but slightly longer and with two inches less sweep.

This is the front of the skirt (it is even in real life - I´ve just taken the photo on a slight angle). The embroidery motif is from Alison Willoughby´s book 49 Sensational Skirts: Creative Embellishments for One of a Kind Designs. This is number 28, the Running in Circles embellishment (although in the book they did more circles on a longer skirt). The book comes with one skirt pattern, but it has 49 different ways to embellish the skirt. My next one will probably be number 30, the X-stitch embellishment. I really like the book. Although I wouldn´t necessarily make 49 skirts, it does have so many original embellishment ideas that I haven´t seen anywhere else, that it is quite inspirational. It is also supporting the recycling of old materials and fabrics, or the embellishing vintage skirts, which is also a good thing (fits in with the whole Alabama Chanin philosophy too). I could imagine trying to mix some of the ideas from these two books together, on a pattern of I´ve made myself with the Cal Patch book. Mmm...

A close up of the front embroidered circle. The embroidery wasn´t hard to do. You just use a an embroidery hoop and start from the outside working in, following the shape of the hoop. It´s all one long line, going round and round., finishing in the middle. Once the first outer circle is done, it´s just a matter of keeping the lines an equal distance from the line before.

This is the back of the skirt and a close up pic, although the camera is having trouble with exposure because the skirt material is so dark. There is no pattern to the colour changes of the embroidery. I just had three colours (dark green, medium dark green, and deep sea blue), and I changed colour whenever the thread ended. As the circles are different sizes, the colours end up changing at random points. I contemplated doing more circles on the front and back, but I think it would have been too much on a short skirt.

I wanted to do something a bit different for the hem, but I didn´t want it to detract from the embroidery. So I did an 1 1/2 inch band, with random pin tuck pleats. It is barely visible, but I guess at least I know they are there ;o). The hem is in two pieces: inner and outer side. Only the outer bit has the pleats and I added them on the pattern piece, cutting it and extending the piece out by 1/4 inch for every pleat. The pleats were then marked with pen on the fabric, ironed in place and sewn down. Then the hem band was sewn by hand onto the skirt in the usual way.

The entrance to the Marlborough Sounds, Cook Strait, South Island, New Zealand

Monday, March 7, 2011

Linocut stamp of Burnside Church

Here is another linocut stamp I´ve carved, which I´ve printed on a small card. Its about 15cm wide. Its a picture of Burnside Church in Martinborough, which is where we got married 10 years ago. New Zealand has lots of old, beautiful, tiny, tiny wooden churches dotted about the countryside, just like this one. It probably only seats about 25 people, and it stands on its own in a field on the Lake Ferry road.

These are the practice goes, and not all turned out. Although they are OK enough for my use of course. I´d like to maybe sell (better printed) packs of them though, although I´m not sure if ones of these would sell at all.

This is the style of stamp I´m working towards. I bought this print in Prague about 20 years ago and I´ve always liked it. Not everyone´s cup of tea, of course, but it really appeals to me at the moment. I love how solid it looks.

Not the Burnside Church, but a wee, country Church near Porangahau, New Zealand

Friday, March 4, 2011

Stamped cards

I´d often wondered what some of these linocut stamps I´ve made for fabric stamping would look like stamped on cards. I only have fabric paint in the house, so I´m not sure if the effect would be better with block printing paint. I hope so. I think I rather like them. At least it is the sort of thing I´d buy... I think I´ll go and buy some black block painting ink now.

Printing on paper is quite different to printing on fabric. For fabric I have to load the stamp with as much ink as possible to get a solid print, without going just that infintessimal step too far to overprint. On fabric, I´ve found that the stamp has to be applied evenly and pressed for ages - maybe even a minute. But for paper, the stamp seems to need only the tiniest scrap of ink on it and the difficulty is applying such a small amount of ink evenly. The stamp stays on for only about 5 seconds. Lots of practice required now! But I think the practice goes have turned out OK, and with more practice the end result will be good.

Near Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand