Felt & Rickrack

I'd brainstormed for a fabric baby gift idea, aside from quilt, cute outfits, buntings and puppets. I came up with photo album, which also gave me an excuse to use some of my favorite materials, felt and rickrack! The pages are double-sided, and the windows have a sheet of transparent plastic sewn in. The binding was a bit of a puzzle. Finally decided on loops, to be tied together with a cord.

Everyone Can Tie Dye, You Can Too

Spend some time deeply contemplating your tie dye design. Take pre-washed, damp 100% cotton fabric. Try twisting, scrunching or accordioning the fabric, or go for the classic bulls eye pattern. Fasten tight with rubber bands.

Some tighter, some looser - this will vary the dye seepage. Very tight ties of course, will prevent dye access entirely, leaving undyed white areas. Put all tied fabric items into warm soda ash water solution (as provided by the handy Jaquard Tie Dye Kit, purchasable on Amazon) to soak for 20 mins.

Glove up! Or you will have dyed hands. If you can't get gloves on by yourself, don't be shy: ask for help. Wear stainable clothes. Fish out soaked fabric items, squeeze out excess liquid, and put everything on a plastic-covered work surface.

The Jaquard dyes come in convenient squeezy bottles. Apply dyes to fabric, like you would generously apply ketchup to a hotdog. Place in ziplock bags for dye to bond over 12-24 hours. Remove from bags, rinse in warm water, snip rubber bands, wash with soap, and dry. And voila! I have some 30 tie dyed cotton flannel squares, ripe for quilting.

I've added some more animals to the collection. I'm fond of the rabbit/ tortoise pink pendant, as well as the latest design: hedgehog. With hedgehog, I decided to add some color to the drawing, with red ink and brown color pencil, and the result looked great! Why didn't I color in any of my drawings before??

Today I've been working on my displays. I've crafted a 2D cardboard tree on which to hang jewelry (held in place by a wooden clothespin, most likely). After cutting out the tree silhouettes from re-used cardboard, I decoupaged them with some wrapping paper. The paper is dark brown with light slate-blue fuzzy stuff making up the pattern. Pretty cool. Then the challenge was figuring out hot to get the trees to stand up. At first I thought of using 2 simple bookends, back to back, and attaching the tree to that. But I couldn't find bookends. I rummaged around and found a wooden sushi display/platform and a small piece of wood I'd bought many years ago in Tokyo - back in my wood block printing days -that I'd never used. I glue-gunned the wood block to the sushi platform, tied the tree to block, and voila. The ribbon looks a bit awkward, I'll try to find some other way of non-permanent attachment.

The idea was to pose the tote on the green background of the sofa, but as soon as Charlotte saw sofa activity, she took the spot where the tote would have sat. Thus, the tote was placed on Charlotte, and she heaved a withering sigh, but was cooperative.

The fabric is none other than Ikea fabric! They sell by the yard, this one was $5.99 per yard. Nice bold colors on canvas like fabrics, good for screen printing and making bags. I tried making a slightly nicer than usual tote, with a pocket on the inside, substantial handles, and a lining around the rim of the bag to help keep its rectangle shape. This prototype took about, oh, 2.5 hours to make. Now I have a better idea of fabric piece sizes and how to sew it up more efficiently.

I didn't intend for this to be Halloweeny, but it turned out to be Halloweeny colors. Well, it's the right time of year.

I've been thinking about fabric necklaces for a while. Not just a fabric centerpiece, or fabric beads/ components, but an entirely fabric necklace. I cut out various U-shapes using scrap paper, tweaking it so that I came up with a version that sat nicely over my clavicle, and the arms of the U draped slightly over the apex of my shoulders. I didn't want it too wide (and bib-like) - yet it had to be wide enough to not twist or fold like a piece of thick ribbon.

The backing is felt, to give shape to the necklace, and the front is printed cotton. I matched it to the background of a decoupage bird wood tile that I made a few months ago. The matching makes the otherwise slightly chunky centerpiece more subtle. I'm pleased with the result. I've not yet seen anything like this in the crafty jewelry world.

My second craft fair = "Craft + Destroy". I shared a table with my co-crafter of charinacharina once again. Now I have a reference when people ask me how well a craft fair went. The first one went better than this more recent one. The more recent one was much smaller, and cheaper to rent a table too. A few changes to my display: use of 3 microphone stands, 2 to hold up a clothes line stretched across the table, and one to serve as a t-shirt rack. I brought along a laminated garibaldi and pinned him to the top of my jewelry display.

My co-craft fair crafter is always making bags for other people. I learned of her recent birthday after the fact, and thought that she should receive a bag for a change! As I am in an applique phase, I made an applique bag. The screen print is one I made earlier, and I dug around in my closet for old t-shirts that I don't wear but couldn't bear to throw out because I liked the fabric too much. This dotty knit fabric had a prior life as a camisole, purchased at least 6 years ago, but now it lives on as a octopi screen print background, machine-sewed on to a organic cotton tote. The camisole was pretty small, enough fabric for only 2 printings, thus only 2 of these totes will exist in the world. I'm keeping the other one :)

See my co-craft fair crafter's crafts at:

This has been one of my more troublesome prints, probably because it's the largest I've attempted so far. It's about 16" long and 10" wide, which means there's a large surface area over which to maintain even pressure when running over it with ink and a squeegee. There's also more area over which a screen could be accidentally nudged in between ink runs, thus blurring the design.

I originally printed directly on the blue t-shirt, messed up and washed the ink out as best I could. A shadow remained, so rather than reprint over the shadow, I found an old too-small taupe t-shirt and printed the design in blue on that, cut it out, and sewed it (ie. appliqued) onto the blue t-shirt, covering the shadow.

I was immediately fond of the result. And I suddenly have a use for the old t-shirts that I don't wear but have been too lazy to donate!

Happy Birthday to my blog! I've blogged for a full year.

I've been trying to pull out another screen printing idea. My brain is so cluttered with other stuff at the moment, that it is hard to think creatively. I kept thinking of cliche designs, like swimming koi. While I am fond of koi, I also like the style in which koi are composed and presented. Think full back Japanese tattoos. Fish, gracefully posed, complemented by stylized splashes of water, undulating lines indicating water movement, a sprinkle of flower blossoms... But, so uncreative to feature koi! It's been done a million times.

One of my unofficial screen printing goals is to include local animals in a design. I've not personally experienced that many local animals in the wild, but of the few that I have include leopard sharks, guitar fish and round rays, whose mating territory I invaded when I snorkeled amongst them a few summers ago. OK so I didn't really see a sea urchin, but I do know some sea urchins are sand dwellers, as I have drawn them for Birch classes that have to do with sandy lifestyles.

The stylized waves are far too curly, harkening back to an old European decorative aesthetic as opposed to an Asian one, so I will change that. But you get the idea.

There is something endearing about multi-legged creatures. I'd fancied doing an octopus screen print, but wasn't inspired until recently. A lot of my animal subject drawings feature animals doing normal, biologically accurate activities. So in this case, I decided to leave that comfort zone and go with something more artsy. I also tried to draw the Idea of octopi, rather than to represent octopi in a relatively realistic manner. What is the essence of an octopus? A large, bulbous head, long tentacle-y legs. So I left it simply at that, instead of including suckers, breathing apparatus, etc.

I knew the main octopus should be a solid color, and selected a few smaller ones also to be solid, based on composition. I wanted the viewer to be drawn towards the large octopus. The selective coloring does this, but also the octopus positioning; they are all swimming towards the central guy. This pulls the composition together, even though there are many separate individuals.

I'd had this screen print for a few days, but didn't find anything to print on until I perused the Target clearance rack. This Jovovich-Hawk (guest designers for the GO Line) scoop neck dotty T was perfect for a green octopus print... I knew it when I saw it on the rack. And luck for me, it was the only one, and in my size.

I screen printed the penguins onto some gray felt which had been sitting unused in my fabric pile for about 5 years (sewers, as in sewing people, will understand this fabric hoarding behavior), and whipped up a small 8" x 10.5" bag. It's lined to keep the felt from stretching (using a periwinkle blue lining fabric, also from my pile), but no pockets other than the main one. I noticed while shopping today, that the bag sagged funny, so I added a snap to the middle, which helped the bag keep its rectangular shape. Not the neatest job, but it's functional.

It takes at least 3 runs of the screen printing squeegee to get a good, dense amount of ink on felt. Otherwise felt is lovely to print on; no bleeding, very crisp edges. I broke a sewing machine needle trying to sew the handles on because I was forcing the needle through too many layers of fabric, but then switched to a needle intended for thick material and all was good. Pockets are a pain, especially ones with zips. I was too eager to have a new bag to bother with pockets, but perhaps in future designs.

Penguins are In right now, and for good reason! They're very cute. So naturally I wanted to make a penguin screen print, but there are so many penguin designs out there featuring upright, waddling penguins. Thus I thought, why not a design showing penguins at their gracefulest, in the water when they are in their element?

These diving penguins are based on the chinstrap penguin, a resident of Antarctica. I picked them for their markings... I wanted a face that wasn't completely dark. I drew this out in pencil first, but wound up cutting out the individual penguins and rearranging them for a more interesting composition. The solid color of penguin backs made for a nice print.

The North Park Craft Mafia Spring Line Up was my first craft fair. I shared a table with a co-crafter, pictured above at our little shop. She makes bags and little baby blankets and books. I liked our display, which seemed piled and cluttered with stuff (not unlike my desk) - seemed more inviting than displays that were flat and neat. However, improvements could be made to the display, for example: the t-shirts should be hand and more prominent (I don't think it was apparent that they were t-shirts), text could be bigger (people didn't realize that the wood decoupage tiles included individually hand drawn drawings, even though I'd included a little sign), and I don't think that anyone noticed the lamp worked pendants at all.

Pricing is difficult. Artists always tell other artists to never undersell one's self, and in the long run I'll be glad not to have done so. And considering the time / skill / investment in materials, hand made stuff really shouldn't be cheap. But people don't go to craft fairs planning to spend a hunk of money at once. So there's a balance to be struck.

2/3 of all sales were made to friends!! Thanks to all of you who came out to support us. Thus, if I do multiple craft fairs per year, I should probably expect to make 1/3 of what I did, as I wouldn't expect friends to come out and buy something every time. Then again maybe not; now that I have a better idea of what "random" people like to buy, I can focus on expanding that collection of items and make more sales. I referring to the wood decoupage tiles. Almost all of my Random sales were of either Avian Life or French Cats decoupage pendants. It makes sense... there was a lot of beaded jewelry competition, but the decoupage tiles were completely unique.

Anyways, I'm exhausted.

I'm very excited about the possibilities for this. I'd been pondering a way to put my drawings on potentially jewelry-making pieces. I bought wood tiles from Michael's, as well as Mod Podge (Matte Mat; "waterbase sealer, glue and finish...") and Delta Ceramcoat Varnish ("a durable protective finish"), dug out some rice paper from my paper collection, and quickly inked out some doodles using speedball superblack ink and an ink-dipping fine nib pen, which I use for comics. I did the French Cat first; cut him out and glued him on the wood piece, then covered the whole thing in varnish. The rice paper disappears (dissolves?) as it is so thin (I learned this technique when I had to paint a surfboard design; they asked for the design on rice paper, to be covered in resin or whatever), leaving the ink on the surface.

Next I tried a fabric version. This is nothing new; it even has a fancy French name: Decoupage. Glue fabric on, slather with varnish, but I also added a little drawing. I know, flowers and hummingbirds, so cliche, but I was in a hurry to try out the technique. It works! Now I have to figure out how to make it into a pendant.

It is almost Valentine's day, after all. I've finally put up a portfolio of jewelry on my website at www.jzeestudio.com . This red version of Swing Set was a special request by some one whose favorite colors are pink and red.

I'm going to throw some tag words out there, so that search engines might lead potential shoppers here to go on to check out my website. Indie jewelry. Pressed glass. Glass beads. Heart beads. Wire wrap. Pendant. Hand made jewelry. Artist made jewelry.

I aspire to sell at some craft fairs this year, such as the North Park Craft Mafia Spring Line Up in March. That's a juried show so we'll see...

Sunday was t-shirt screen printing workshop day. I set up 3 tables to form a long work bench in the living room, and the bathroom and kitchen were transformed into print areas. The chandelier and curtain rod served as drying racks. 8 friends gathered to learn the basics of screen printing.

There are physical and mental challenges. The mental ones include getting one's mind wrapped around the idea of positive and negative space, and using various liquids to fill one or the other. The tricky physical part is applying even pressure to the squeegee combined with a balance of lateral and downward pressure when forcing ink through the screen.

Everyone learned quickly; before long, there was a flurry of activity as screens were peeled off t-shirts and t-shirts were triumphantly hung to dry.

Swing Set is my first attempt at combining two jewelry styles that I developed. The first: the twisty wire branchings, and second: the asymmetrical hanging things. Of course I'm not the first to do either separately, (though the aesthetic results of how I have used those techniques are unique, I believe), I've not seen the two together.

I'd been mulling over designs in my head when this suddenly came to me. Working with wire is tedious, getting all those branches to come out in the right places. Even now, after I've made six, I still have to concentrate. Very soon, my jewelry will by for sale online. Stay tuned.

It's been a hectic week of jewelry creation. I was inspired to make jewelry after attending Thread last weekend, a fashion and shopping event. I was hoping to buy accessories for presents, but I didn't see any designs that were perfect, (nor prices that were perfect) so I figured I'd make my own.

When buying beads, it's cheaper to buy in bulk. So, I didn't get just one Black Gold Amazonite rectangular bead as seen above, but a strand of 10 or so. Same with bird and leaf charms. So why not sell to friends? The featured Cirrus Circus was a big hit.

Parting with artwork, even when it is made in multiples, is difficult for me. Thus I took lots of photos. Hopefully the recipients will appreciate the stones and aesthetics as much as I! So far it seems that people do.

Today I hosted the 4th annual edition of GITDU (Glow In The Dark Ultimate). It doesn't take terribly much organization; just the purchasing of bulk glowing bracelet accessories, finding a field that will be suitably dark, and the recruiting of a good bunch of ultimate friends. I also offered to screen print T-shirts with light blue glow-in-the-dark ink. Here's one of them:

This is the resulting screen printed T-shirt. It is always hard to part with my artwork, but parting with printed pieces is easier (I can print another one!) Also, I'd promised my friends cool screen-printed items in thanks for dog-sitting my dog. The design is actually based on an old drawing I made about 10 years ago.