Kicking Off 2021 with Creativity

This is Jane. Happy New Year. 2021 is finally here, yeah!

Hoping everyone is well and staying healthy. Going forward we will need patience as we keep wearing our masks while waiting for the vaccine program to roll out and hopefully politics will take a backseat in our lives.

The start of a New Year

Leading into 2021 we have been in contact with Zephyr Point Conference Center and are planning our retreat, September 6-10th 2021. Finally here’s an event we can anticipate and get excited about after so much time sheltering at home. We should be able to gather, maybe still wearing our masks but share this beautiful and creative environment. As usual our retreat information and reservation forms will come out at the beginning of February. So be looking for that. We are all excited to make our announcement for the September retreat.

Playtime using my new Gelli plate

Christmas time rolls around and my family asks me “What would you like for Christmas?” I really don’t need anything but usually I will buy items that can be gifted to me! This year these included a knitted beanie, quilting books, and some art supplies. I was caught by surprise as my son James bought me a Gelli plate and two brayers for printing. The Gelli plate by Gel Press is the biggest one I have seen! Its 12″ x 14″

Getting to play with my new Gel Plate

After watching a few Youtube videos, I went outside gathered some leaves and weeds from my garden, organized my supplies and started printing. I used acrylic and fabric paints I already had. Tip: I did buy expensive Golden fluid acrylics but found they worked no differently than less expensive craft paints. I tore up some white muslin into 13″ x 15″ pieces, which I sprayed with Terial Magic to stiffen them. I also gathered some sketchbook paper and covered my table with newsprint in preparation.

With my daughter Lucy to help and all the supplies around, we ended up making about 10 panels of fabric and about the same on paper. Many of the prints have three layers using three different colors and a variety of leaf shapes. Some layers were made using the the paint off the plate and others came off the ghost print that was under the leaves after the initial print.

The question I ask myself and I am sure my family does too, is what will I do with them? They are all unique, some more successful than others but beautiful and unexpected art. I have a few favorites and some of these are on paper. I plan to copy these using my inkjet printer onto fabric sheets.

My workshop for the 2021 retreat will again be a combo class of mark-making and collage. So if you wish to play with fabrics, papers, printing supplies and paint then this could be the workshop for you. As I think about using these panels I could cut and piece them together for a great background for my collage.

Starting some fabric collage using succulent imagery

The two books I “bought myself” for Christmas were The Painted Quilt by Laura and Linda Kemshall and Botanicals by Uppercase. I have also been watching videos on DesignmattersTV which is fun and relaxing, inspiring all things surface design and quilting.

Using my new iPhone to take a picture as I work

This year some of my goals include finishing some of the collage quilts I have made but not quilted or finished. Above I am working on finishing one such quilt which I need for an online class next week. I am teaching my class Little Frank Fabric Collage for Craft Napa Uncorked. Other goals include using my stash of fabric, drawing and painting in my sketchbook, being more experimental in my work and writing another online, on-demand workshop on Coursecraft. Check out more of my work and patterns etc I have for sale on my website

Another new product I have been using is called Applipops These are a variety of different sized metal rings, that you use in pairs, to make simple pressed circles of fabric. I have been using them in the hand stitched Japanese Rice Pouches I’ve been stitching. The pattern I use for the above bag is from KZStevens and is very simple to make. I’m on my sixth one! My current hand stitch, meditative stitching project is this floral panel that I stitch in the evening whilst watching Hinterland on Netflix. This panel will be number seven Rice Pouch!

Work in Progress hand stitched, embroidery panel

So now you know what I have been up to in 2021 and I hope you too have been inspired and creative. So lets get through these crazy times by staying busy and staying home. As Heid says try to get in 15 minutes a day of creativity.

Until next time, Jane

Sandra Springs Into Spoonflower

Today is officially the first day of Spring and flowers are everywhere.  I think it’s a great time to take a look at Spoonflower. I’m going to give you a quick tutorial on how I turned black-and-white ink drawings into a quilt, using the wonderful Spoonflower printing services. Before I get going, for any of you who don’t know what Spoonflower is, it is simply, a company that will print your artwork onto fabric. I have used it several times with much joy and satisfaction and look forward to some free time when I can create more.

Some quick facts and great things about Spoonflower:

  • They have 12 kinds of fabric, from several cottons,  to knit, jersey, silk crepe de chine and even canvas, starting at $15.75 per yard
  • There’s no minimum order
  • Swatches are available for $5.00
  • Printing is eco-friendly
  • They even have wallpaper and gift wrap!

So, here’s a little lesson on how this works. First, you need to create your artwork. In this case, I’m using flowers I drew with brush and black ink, and scanned into my computer. In my illustration and lettering work, I mainly use Adobe Illustrator, but it is not necessary to use this program. You just need to be able to upload your artwork in a form that is acceptable to Spoonflower (there’s plenty of help on their site). Here are the flowers in their raw form:

black and white flower art

Then, I had fun playing with the colors and placement. I tried repeating, adding shadows,  and altering the colors.  For example:

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 7.59.26 PM

I played with the layout, added a background color, and here’s the finished art, combining all the flowers:

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 9.03.32 PM

Here’s where Spoonflower comes in. You simply go to their website, upload your artwork, and decide how you want it configured onto the fabric. This is what it looks like on your screen:

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 7.54.18 PM

Knowledge about “dpi” (dots per inch) and scale are helpful. You can reduce the art for repeats, and even change the placement of the repeat. For example:

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 7.53.10 PM

Here’s the cotton fabric (almost 2 yards) on the design wall of my studio…..

IMG_1960 copy

….and here’s the completed quilt. It is titled, “My Imaginary Garden”.

P1040104 copy

I have had several designs printed by Spoonflower, and have made them “public”, which means that anyone can go to the site and purchase my designs with the fabric of their choice. I get a small percentage which can be converted into “Spoondollars”, which means more free fabric for me, yay! My next hurdle in using Spoonflower is learning the correct way to do a repeat, so that my design can be printed without seeing the “tiling”, meaning the image flows and you can’t see where the repeat happens. I very much want to learn this technique and it is on my “to do” list! So far I have avoided it by making my image large enough to print it in one image across the width of the fabric. A lady from Paris ordered my “Big Buddha” fabric and made a dress from it! I was delighted to see a picture she sent of herself in the dress. Another Spoonflower customer bought my “Big Buddha” on canvas and had it stretched onto a frame so she could hang it in her dining room! Many possibilities!

This is basically it. I encourage you to go take a look at the website. You can put in a keyword to find existing fabric that people have designed that you can purchase. For instance, if you put in the keyword “underwater” you will find my “Big Star Maiden” design, along with 252 other underwater designs. I think the sky’s the limit when it comes to utilizing this service for one-of-a-kind fabric for quilting projects, and clothing too.

Before I sign off, I want to announce that an article I wrote is coming out in the April/May issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, in the “Spotlight” section. It is an issue about making portrait quilts and I feel very honored to have been included. I hope you’ll check it out and consider talking my class at Zephyr Cove this Fall.

Happy Spring, and don’t forget to smell the flowers!

-Sandra