Sunday, March 31, 2013

Keeping busy, trying new things, oh yeah, and Easter

What a dreary day for a holiday. It's cloudy and raining outside - compared to yesterday that was full of sun and blue skies this is a little depressing, but at least the temps are up (relatively speaking). Hope everyone has fun gorging on pork products or meats other than beef (I guess I never really realized that Easter is an anti-beef holiday), chocolate, and eggs!

On the crafting front, I am not the most talented person when it comes to precise exacting details but I am working to slowly get a little closer to that point. Over the last two weeks I've tackled a few of the more elementary items to sew and I think I've done rather well. Of course I had to use some of my own printed fabrics to keep it fun.

I made these pouches as an experiment using this tutorial and once I'm happy with the level of finishing I will be making more to sell in my shop, of course with the distinctive fandom screen printing I've done a lot with so far. Hopefully, as well, more of my own original designs.

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I also had some fun doing a few custom orders for my etsy shop. I had a star wars request which was perfect as for some reason I had it on the brain. So many more ideas for patches in the future, and some awesome star wars fabric I have yet to break into for future bags.

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I am shocked that it took me so long to get on the felt applique bandwagon and there is no going back for me now. Funny too, since I feel like I took to using felt pretty early when doing embroidered hoop designs. But in any case, love it!

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I also did a little Harry Potter pouch for a lovely lady who is gifting it to her daughter. I hope she likes it!

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I thought I was pretty clever in working the button to be a snitch. Must remember that for the future.

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I'm always up for more custom orders, especially if they're fun and something I haven't done before =)

I've also been thinking of changing up my banners - I've had them since I started last year and I feel like doing something new. I'm not sure what yet, but it should be fun. I'm already picturing all the possibilities...

Totally random, all-over the place post. The end.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Part 3: It's printing time!!

Continued from Part 2: Preparing the frame with your Image...


You will need:

Prepared frame (see above)
Squeegee (doesn't have to be fancy or elaborate, I bought mine relatively cheaply off Amazon)
Screenprinting inks (water based is easiest to work with – Speedball brand is easily found in craft stores, or, or
Spoons, spatula, non-food-eating containers
Clear contact paper
Masking tape
Towel (one that you don't mind staining)
Blow dryer (optional)
Large piece of cardboard other printing surface (I've used cardboard, plexiglass, glass, etc)
Large piece of scrap fabric.
Fabric to be printed (follow the directions on your screen printing ink, typically 100% cotton works best)

Step 1: Prepare your work surface. Take your piece of scrap fabric and tape it securely to the surface of where you will be working. This serves to absorb any excess ink that will bleed through your fabric. I use a piece of plexiglass that I've taped a large piece of fabric to as an example. YOU DO NOT WANT TO PRINT DIRECTLY ONTO A TABLE OR FLOOR! IT WILL STAIN!

Step 2: Lay out the fabric you are going to print on. If this is an item of clothing make sure that you have something sandwiched in between like cardboard to prevent bleeding on the back side of the clothes.

Step 3: Draw and cut out your contact paper stencil. Peel off the backing and apply it carefully to the flat side of the screen making sure to eliminate as many bubbles and wrinkles as possible. The flatter it is applied the better the print will be. Make sure to cover the remaining part of the screen with contact paper so that no ink shows through except for where you've cut the stencil. Flip it over so that the flat side of the screen is on the table and rub the recessed side of the screen with your hand vigorously. This creates heat which will help the contact paper bond even more with the screen.


Step 4: Figure out where you are going to be printing and lay the frame down.

Step 5: Spoon a liberal amount of ink onto the duct tape area at the top of your frame.

Step 6: Place your squeegee at the top making sure to dab it in the ink first, and pull down firmly and smoothly to the bottom of the frame.


Step 7: Gently lift the frame. The fabric may cling to the frame so gently peel it away. Voila! You've printed. If you want to continue printing, either blow dry the first print so that you can keep printing without worry that it'll smear, or be mindful that as you continue printing, your frame doesn't overlap the wet ink causing it to smear.


Step 8: Once you're done printing in the color of your choice, clean the frame right away! (Hint: It's best to work close to a working sink if at all possible) Do not let the ink dry on your frame because that will quickly ruin it. You should be able to leave the contact paper on the frame while washing, but be gentle. It needs to dry again to properly adhere for printing. You can speed up the drying time by blow drying the screen.

Step 9: Pick your next color and so on and so on.

Here's another little slideshow of me printing with the screen filler frame that I prepared before. Printing is done exactly the same way as mentioned above.


Easy peasy right?! Just make sure to clean up afterwards, and have tons of fun printing on everything in sight now =)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Part 2: Preparing the Frame with your Image

Continued from Part 1: Building the Frame...

There are many ways you can go about applying an image to your frame for printing and I'm going to concentrate on the techniques I use the most: Contact paper stencils and drawing fluid/screen filler.

Contact paper stencils are pretty self-explantory; create a stencil with contact paper (like you would do with a freezer paper stencil). Having "floating islands" or bits of stencil that are not connected to the main body of the stencil is perfectly fine but for a beginner keeping those to a minimum is probably best.

For the drawing fluid/screen filler method I did prepare a more elaborate explanation.


To apply the drawing fluid you will need:

Prepared frame (see above)
Drawing fluid
Paint brushes
Image you want to transfer


This should actually be prepared at least a day before you're actually ready to print.

Step 1: Find/draw/create an image you want to print. For this method thin lines and intricate detail are not impossible but are rather difficult to achieve so keep that in mind.

Step 2: Tape the image loosely to the recessed side of the frame so that you can see it through the screen.

Step 3: Using a paint brush (smaller brushes mean finer lines, bigger brushes mean more coverage) transfer your image to your screen with the drawing fluid. Be careful not to put too much drawing fluid on the screen at one time, it will pool and create thick gloppy areas that we do not want!

Step 4: Remove the taped image, wash your paint brush(es) and let the drawing fluid dry thoroughly, at least 3 to 4 hours. It might take less if you have less fluid to dry.

OK now you're ready to move onto applying the screen filler. This part is tricky and takes some practice to get down so don't be discouraged if it takes you a few tries to get the hang of it.


You'll need:

The prepared frame with drawing fluid thoroughly dried
A squeegee or stiff cardboard that is as wide as your frame
A spoon
A stipple brush or stiff brush
Sponge and sink (sorry, not pictured)


Step 5: Lay down newspaper or something to protect your working surface

Step 6: Place your screen down, flat side up.

Step 7: Get your screen filler and shake well.

Step 8: Open the bottle and carefully pour onto one side. Don't be stingey! If you don't have enough filler it won't spread smoothly and then all your work will be ruined and you'll have to start over. However, don't pour so much that it's dripping over the edge. Practice will help to master this delicate balance. (Worse case scenario: You make a horrible mess and it doesn't spread nicely, run it to a sink and wash it out quickly. You'll have to do the drawing fluid steps over again but it beats having to either buy screen cleaner or replace the mesh completely).

Step 9: Taking your squeegee, gently but quickly pull the filler to cover the entire screen. (My apologies, in the photo graphics above, I had an impossible time trying to get an action shot). You'll know you've done it correctly when the drawing fluid can be seen easily and all other surface is covered by the filler. Any excess filler can be returned back to the bottle if possible or washed with a wet sponge. BE VERY CAREFUL when you're cleaning up the frame that no stray water drops hit your frame – until the screen filler is dry it will be marred with water.

Step 10: Let the frame dry again thoroughly – this time overnight would be best.


Step 11: Once the frame is dry, take it to the sink and run cold water on your frame. The drawing fluid is water soluble and will dissolve in the water, leaving you an excellent durable stencil to print with! If you have a little bit of trouble with screen filler blocking areas that had drawing fluid in it, try scrubbing with a rough paint brush or stipple brush.

Next: Printing!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Super Long Extremely Thorough Explanation on How to Make Your Own Screen Printing Frames and then How to Screen Print at Home!

I've been wanting to do another tutorial to share with you guys and the opportunity came up when craftster posted it's monthly challenge for March to be tutorials! I was trying to think of what I could do and it dawned on me that I know tons of people who would love to do their own screen printing at home if only it were cheap and easy. Two things I do very well I think =) I went full-out and now have a possibly wayyy long, extremely thorough documentation of the entire process, from building the frame to printing.

Let me know if there's anything that seems unclear or if you have any questions. It's really not hard; just takes a little time and planning and then you're off! Printing is endless!


(This is the not so sexy part but still good to know for doing your own printing at home. Bare with me, it gets better and better.)

You will need:


A canvas easily found at your local craft store OR 4 stretcher bars OR a sturdy wooden picture frame
Screen printing mesh OR silk organza fabric OR mesh fabric
Staple gun and staples
Good quality duct tape (this is important!! I have found now that the DUCK tape brand sucks, a lot. Sorry but all those pretty colors and patterns are not worth having your frame being leaky and falling apart. Go to your local hardware store to get the real deal.)


Step 1: Assemble your frame if needed. If you got a canvas from the craft store, punch out the canvas fabric so that all you have is the wooden frame.

Step 2: Cut your mesh fabric to be slightly bigger than your frame – roughly 1 inch bigger will be plenty.

Step 3: Staple the fabric to the flat side of the frame. HOW: When stapling, start from the middle of one side, make three staples roughly 1 to 1.5 inches apart. Now switch to the opposite side, pulling the fabric taut (don't pull so hard as to rip the fabric but hard enough that you can see the fibers pulling) and staple three more times to match the first side. Now switch to the side just adjacent and start in the middle and put in three more staples. Switch to the opposite side and staple three more times. Continue stapling, making sure the fabric is taut at all times. This is crucial to make sure when you are printing that there isn't much give to the mesh. This will guarantee good printing results.

Step 4: Trim the fabric so that it is just slightly smaller than the outside of your frame. It doesn't need to be perfect.


Step 5: Cover the frame in duct tape making sure to cover all staples and fabric, leaving a 1 to 2 inch border on all sides. HOW: Start with the flat side, laying tape on all 4 sides so that it goes over the line of the frame by 1 to 2 inches. Then begin another layer of tape covering from the edges of all 4 sides. There will be excess tape going over the corners. Tuck those in as neatly as possible. Flip the frame over and continue taping to the recessed area of the frame. Try to match up the overlapping tape from the front to the back closely. By taping up your frame you are now waterproofing it (relatively speaking) and making it much easier to clean and last longer.

You are now ready to print!

Stay tuned for the next part - what will you be printing and how are you going to put it on the screen?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's been productive!!!

I had a day off today and had a few things I wanted to get done. But I guess I must have had some really good cereal or something because I've just been kicking butt on a bunch of things I've been planning to do but hadn't gotten around to doing yet.

1) Finish a custom order star wars bag.
I wish I could say I actually finished it but I am super close in any case. The only thing stopping me now is that I don't have a zipper the right length!! Guess I know a trip to Joanns is in store for me soon. And in case you are wondering as you read this, I wonder if she could take another custom order - the answer is YES! Requests for my bags have slowed down a bit, which is in all honesty a relief but also a bit puzzling. I have had a few people message me asking me why my bags are priced so high, to which I've always answered that these bags are very time consuming to make, as well as being personally customized for the buyer. I am already underpaying myself for the labor as it is, so it is what it is. In any case, I'm really happy how the star wars bag turned out and pictures will be posted soon =)

2) Test a sewing tutorial.
Yes!!!!! I did it. I've been wanting to challenge myself to another sewing tutorial for a while now and finally decided to tackle it today since I already had my sewing machine out. I used the one here at Diary of a Quilter. I would highly recommend it - even with my usual imprecise measurements I think my bag turned out pretty cute! I think the next one I make will be a little bit bigger though. It's a rather petite tote bag. Does the print look familiar? Yup one of my fat quarters. Speaking of which I'm running low on my stock of fat quarters so I think some printing will be in my future soon...but......


3) What the heck to do with this mess???

We had a leak in our bedroom which ultimately resulted in an old broken down cabinet being thrown out due to water damage. Said cabinet, however, had a lot of my art supplies in it...and now here is where they are...


That table is my printing table. =/ I managed to rearrange it so that most of the stuff is on the floor now but in a small apartment with precious little free space as it is...I don't know how much longer I can go on with all my stuff everywhere! But that'll be another day.

And lastly, my biggest, still-in-progress, but made lots of headway item!

4) A super long very detailed might make you bored but will be very cool in the end screen printing at home tutorial!!

There's a challenge on craftster this month to make a tutorial and post it with at least 5 pictures. Heh, well I definitely have more than 5 pictures, I've lost count at this point. I brushed off my old gif file skills and have turned the images into sort of a slide show of the steps and I already wrote out a 3 page written tutorial which I probably have to go back and add more details that I forgot. So long story short, this will be a doozy. I'm going to share with you guys of course, and will probably break it up into two or three different posts to spare you from getting lost on the steps.

So now what to do with my evening??? Hmm.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Playing with some canvas

I am such a huge texture junkie. If I can add any tactile qualities to anything I'm working on, I totally go for it. So when I was asked to create a piece of art for a sweet lady on Craftster I decided to get creative and play around. I got a lot of inspiration from Mel at LeapFeetFirst who has been creating fabulous mini canvases along these lines. I still have more playing around to do but here's a first attempt and I'm very pleased as to how it all came out.

I started with an 8 x 10 inch canvas that I glued a bunch of random paper ephemera on. Then I took some stencils and used them as a resist so that when I coated it thickly with gesso it created an incredible raised shape!! (Apologies - I was going to link the tutorial I used but the page is down for some reason)


I took a bunch of pictures to show the dimensionality!!



After the gesso dried fully I glopped on some granulated texture paste, a bunch of acrylic paints, and then my own homemade alcohol inks. The alcohol inks weren't as vibrant as I had hoped. I tried food coloring and kool-aid but in the end broke down and went out to buy the real deal because I wanted that vibrant color. At this stage I did also try to sprinkle alcohol onto watered down acrylics for a neat effect but it didn't work out so well. Hence, more paint to come!


More layering. I wanted to try to add a crackle effect by painting acrylics over barely dried glue and it sort of worked, but not to my satisfaction. I might have to break down and get some crackle medium the next time I'm at the store for a real crackly effect. I also had some "pouring medium" which is the black areas. It creates a gorgeously slick look that will stay even after drying. Love it!


So at this point, the whole thing is looking like a hot mess, so I went back in with more gesso to tone down the colors so I could rework it again. After the gesso I dripped some india ink and let it run a bit.



A close up of the corner - I love the way the different layers show through, and the touches of color at the tops


And a final picture!!!

A final layer of alcohol ink spritz (with the real deal, look how much more vibrant it is!), some mica powder highlighting, detailing the butterfly, etc. I just wish my pictures could convey the texture a bit better. Oh well, use your imagination =)



Monday, March 4, 2013

Rabbits under a Full Moon

I've been seeing a lot of prayer flags around the web lately and find them intriguing. Not really quilting nor proper sewing either - it sounds right up my alley! I wanted to play with different fabric textures as well as stitching and found objects and incorporated some screen printing as well. This was made for cackle over on craftster who is an insanely talented artist - I hope she liked it!!


She loves moon-gazing rabbits so rather than be strictly literal, I decided to stitch an abstracted moon diagram I found around the rabbit almost like a halo. I used some luscious handmade felt that Mel from LeapsFeetFirst made for me to create the leaves and did more stitching, sewing, and general mess-making to complete this. The moons are watch bits and pieces I've had forever - I spritzed them with some ocher alcohol ink and it made a lovely effect - I couldn't have asked for better. The only thing I did to it after these pictures were taken was add two tabs to the top so it could be hung easily.



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