Seaweed inspired printing project

detail seaweed towel bottle branch

I’ve mentioned that last summer I was enthralled with seaweed. I collected seaweed on the Maine coast, and I fell in love with its alien shape, texture, color scheme. I like to imagine it waving and billowing under the sea. So of course, I posted seaweed photos on instagram, and made an animation of seaweed movement. (Please do click on the link to see the animation in instagram – I was trying embed it here but couldn’t make it work!)

I also used seaweed as inspiration for a silkscreen.

seaweed towel spread flat bottle branch

I used water soluble screen printing inks and a flexible film screen and printed on a linen tea towel, as I’ve done in a few previous projects. I printed up a batch and then let them rest until last week, when I decided to pull them out and iron them. I’m toying with the idea of printing them in a pale blue-grey next time around, but first I need to finish organizing and cleaning out my work area, clean up my garden, and so on. So, who knows? It might be summer before I revisit this project again.

seaweed towel with books etc bottle branch

Printing Project: Soap Bubbles

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I was thinking about bubbles a lot this past summer. In addition to blowing colored bubbles with my kids, I also made a bubble inspired silkscreen.

EZ print bubblesFor the first time, I used an EZ print screen. It certainly was quicker, lighter, and easier to manouever than the wood framed screens I’ve tried in the past, though I think I managed to scrub mine too hard in between printings and destroyed the screen. Somehow it seems fitting that a screen of something so ephemeral as soap bubbles should be short lived itself.

printed bubble towel

Once again, I printed on small hand/ kitchen towels, though I used cotton, rather than linen this time. I felt like soap bubbles print needed to be printed on something more utilitarian, something that could be used in a kitchen.

soap bubble tea towel

I wrapped a few up for my little sister for her birthday. The rest are wrapped up to be presented as a hostess gift this weekend, and so as I really, finally say good bye to summer, I say good bye to the last remnants of this bubbly summer project.

wrapped soap bubble towels

How to use masking in fabric stamping

printed frens on tea towel

I’ve been printing again! It all started on a visit to my mother’s house in woodsy Maine where I caught site of a fern printed tea towel I made for her last summer. With a thrill of recognition, I thought, Hey that’s not quite so bad looking as I remember… I kind of even like it! So I decided to try it again.

hand carved fern stamp

I used stamps I carved from “speedy-carve” material last year, but I had to relearn how to use a technique called masking in order to create the look of overlapping leaves. This time, I took a few pictures to document the process and I’ll share a bit below. I learned mostly by watching about 1000 you tube videos – some good, some bad, but none standing out as exceptional. I also learned through a lot of trial an error.

First, I used ink pads and stamped out the design on paper to make a template for printing the entire design. I lightly spray glued this template to a piece of cardboard. Then, before laying the fabric over the template, I lightly spray glued it again and let it dry until it was tacky. I then smoothed the fabric out on top (see photo above). The template showed through the fabric, guiding me where to stamp in order to to replicate the design. Next, I stamped the “top” ferns on (see second photo above).

I made a paper to mask these “top” ferns by (1) stamping the design on paper again, and (2)  cutting around the stamp shape, cutting especially close where I knew the designs would touch. After cutting, I sprayed the paper lightly with a acrylic spray so it wouldn’t disintegrate with too many uses. After the “top” ferns dried, I placed the mask on top to prevent any new ink from landing on the areas that had already been stamped.

fabric stamping

Finally, I used the same stamp, this time inked in a slightly different shade of green, to stamp the “bottom” ferns on. Notice how the stamp lands partly on the masking paper, which blocks the areas that have already been printed. Also notice that I used painter’s tape to attach the blocking paper to the fabric – I don’t even remember doing that. Masking makes ferns appear to be overlapping without stamps being printed on top of one another.

hand stamped ferns

This time around, I’m thrilled by this little stampy project. Maybe its just that my learning curve was not quite as steep as it was last summer. Maybe being able to do it faster meant I didn’t get sick of looking at those ferny leaves. Maybe I’ve just learned no to focus so much on the flaws in my own work. Whatever the reason, it was a pleasure to revisit those ferns and think about those Maine woods.

ferns in maine woods

Printed beets tea towel giveaway.

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Last summer, I was obsessed with beets: Growing them, photographing them and eating them. So, its no shock that I used them as an inspiration for one of my summer printing projects.

To make these tea towels, I carved a couple of beet stamps out of  “speedy carve” material, cut the “leaves” off from the beet part, and then used water soluble fabric inks to stamp each section separately.  I printed golden beets, beet colored beets and a few beets with twisty trailing roots.

all.beets.folded

Like my other printing projects from the summer of 2013, I gave most of them away, so it was a surprise when I found this “bonus” tea towel, left over from last summer’s printing spree, and stashed in with my printing supplies.

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I’m not sure if I’ll revisit this project in the next few months, or try something new, but I’m thrilled to have found this ‘bonus’ tea towel and thrilled to be giving it away! I’ll send this last beet- stamped tea towel to a randomly drawn winner. To enter to win this 100% linen, hand printed tea towel, please leave a comment below. Since there’s a holiday weekend coming up (in the USA atleast) I’ll randomly select a winner next Friday, July 11. If I don’t actually know you in person or Facebook, please make sure you include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you. (It won’t appear online.) I’m pretty sure the competition will be sparse so give it a try!  I can promise you it’s really fun to win a giveaway, no matter what the stakes.

 

P.S. Looking at this now, makes me dream of the beets of last summer. Sigh.

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A summer screenprint and a giveaway!

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Last summer, when my children were squared away in day camp for a few weeks, I decided to teach myself some printing techniques.  I had been admiring beautiful hand-printed tea towels on etsy and felt a persistent itch to try it myself.

I tried out a few different techniques and one of my successful projects was this wild oats print, made by screen print.

To teach myself, I watched what felt like a thousand youtube video tutorials. I wish I could point to one particularly helpful tutorial, but none stood out, though several were helpful. In the end, the clear, step-by-step instructions in the book Print Liberation helped the most.  Plus, the book is edgy enough that it made me feel just a tiny bit hip.

After creating my screen using a photo emulsion technique, I printed on newsprint, I printed on scraps of old sheets and finally, I printed on linen tea towels I had ordered online. None of my prints were perfect but most were satisfying to create.

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I printed these wild oats in perky spring green and some in a beautiful fall golden yellow, which some how escaped my camera. I washed, dried, ironed, folded and packed them away to be presents.

Now that Christmas is over, I have officially given them all away… except for one, which I now offer to send to a randomly drawn winner. To enter to win this 100% linen, hand printed tea towel, please leave a comment below. I’ll pick a winner next Friday, January 17th. On the off chance that I don’t actually know you in person or Facebook, please make sure you include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you. (It won’t appear online.) I’m pretty sure the competition will be sparse so give it a try! I can tell you from experience it’s a thrill to win a blog giveaway, no matter what the stakes. (Thanks, Kate at book nook!)

I’ll be posting a few more of my summer printing projects soon, though I can’t promise any more giveaways. In the meantime, my wild oats screen rests in the basement, waiting patiently until next summer.

P.S. I had to include this last photo too. In addition to printing, I was experimenting with staging photos a lot last summer. Those were peonies from my garden. I can hardly belive how dreamy they look! I can hardly wait to get back in the garden!

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