Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Sketchbook Challenge Book Blog Hop

The winner of the drawing is Joy Manoleros!  You are the winner of the wonderful package from Mistyfuse!  Joy, please contact Sue Bleiweiss at and let her know you won the drawing on my blog for the Mistyfuse package and she will make arrangements to send it to you.  Thank you, everyone, for stopping by the blog and leaving a comment.  It was great fun to hear from you!

Welcome to the Sketchbook Challenge blog hop, Day #3!  
As many of you know I have been a contributing artist to the Sketchbook Challenge blog for the past 18 months.  When Sue Bleiweiss asked me to participate in the book project I was thrilled.  I created mixed media work for the chapter on "Simple Pleasures".
It is my great pleasure to show you a couple of tips using Mistyfuse.  I have been a huge fan of Mistyfuse for a long time.
One of the best things about the product is how versatile it is for the mixed media artist.  Not only is it fabulous with all types of cloth (including silk organza!) but it works with a variety of papers, as well.
I have two questions for you:  1) Are you a "Mistyfuser"?, and 2) have you ever tried using Mistyfuse for any unusual projects?  Please take a moment to comment at the end of the post so you can be eligible to win a gift from Mistyfuse!

I would like to show you a quick little tutorial about how I like to cut from a roll of Mistyfuse with my rechargeable scissors.  Obviously, any scissors will work for this, but I find it very handy to use these scissors when I am fusing a lot of cloth:  it is easier to quickly cut a piece of fusible, fuse, and move to the next area.
 Mistyfuse is unrolled over the surface of my fabric

Using my rechargeable scissors I can quickly cut my piece of Mistyfuse quite close to the edge of my cloth, taking care not to cut my teflon Goddess sheet underneath!

Once cut, I position a second Goddess sheet over the surface.
This protects both my ironing board as well as my iron from any errant fusible.

The the iron on a medium-high dry setting, I move around the surface.
It is not necessary to hold the iron in place for a long period of time.

Once fused, peel the top teflon sheet (or kitchen parchment paper works well, too)
from the surface of the fused fabric

Note the "sheen" on the fused side of the cloth.
This is important to note so you will position the fused side down on your project!

Another little tip:  I keep a green pot scrubber near my work area.
After I peel off the fused cloth from both top and bottom pressing sheets 
I quickly (and lightly) scrub the surface of the sheets to assure that any small bits of fusible left behind are removed.  

Here is what happens when you pick up the fusible from the teflon sheet:
it makes a little roll, which is easily pulled off the scrubber

Once fused, it is very easy to rotary cut or die cut the cloth!

Here is a piece of synthetic sheer that has been previously painted with
several layers of acrylic paint.

Mistyfuse was applied to one side in preparation for fusing it to a piece of watercolor paper.

Here is my piece of watercolor paper.
It was an "unloved" plein-air painting that had several layers of both watercolor and 
acrylic paint

The fused sheer if placed on the surface.

Teflon goddess sheet is both under and over the two pieces....

The iron fuses the sheer to the paper.

And now the sheer looks nicely integrated to the watercolor paper!  
I like using sheers on both paper and cloth because I love the layered effect.

I use a lot of fused "scraps" in my sketchbooks as an unusual layer that adds a great deal of texture.  Mistyfuse can also be used to fuse paper to paper, as well as paper to cloth.  
I will be interested to know all the different ways you have used Mistyfuse.  Don't forget to 
leave a comment at the end of the post!

In the meantime, I hope you will consider picking up a copy of "The Sketchbook Challenge" book.  You will find that, in addition to the beautiful photography of the artwork, there are loads of wonderful tips in the book that will help you in your artful journey.

Please visit these other blog hop participants:
June 26:
Jill Berry
Sue Bleiweiss

June 27:
Kathyanne White

June 28:
Kathy Sperino

June 29:
Jamie Fingal
Lynn Krawczyk

July 2:
Jackie Bowcutt
Lyric Kinard

July 3:
Jane Davies
Kim Rae Nugent

July 5:
Carla Sonheim
Carol Sloan

July 6:
Susan Brubaker Knapp
Diana Trout

July 9:
Tracie Lyn Huskamp
Judi Hurwitt

July 10:
Jane LaFazio
Kelli Nina Perkins:

Thank you to our generous sponsors!
The Sketchbook Challenge Book blog hop is sponsored by:


ArtPlantae Today

Gelli Arts


Sue Pelland Designs

ProChemical and Dye

The Thread Studio

Blue Twig Studio

The Artist Cellar

My giveaway:
From Mistyfuse (  A 10yd combination package of Mistyfuse that includes 6 yards of White and 2 yards each of Black and Ultraviolet and a Goddess Sheet.  Total retail value: $48!
In order for a chance to win, you need to leave a comment before midnight CDT on June 30th.  The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments left on this post. 
Thank you so much for dropping by.  I hope you will stop by often!  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What is your "altar" for making art?

I receive Robert Genn's newsletter every week.  Each post is inspiring in some way, but there are a few that deeply resonate with me.  The post in a recent email was one of those.  I would like to share a portion of it and encourage you to stop by Robert's site and check out some of his other writing.  He is a painter, specifically, but his words resonate with artists across the board.

My print table and my sewing table are my main "easels".  So, dear reader, I ask you:  what is your "easel"?  Where does your creative alchemy occur?  

Here is a portion of Robert's e-newsletter:

The American architect and author Anthony Lawlor looks at rooms as containers 
for the elevation of the human spirit. The kitchen, for example, is a sacred place 
where raw foods are transformed by the alchemy of heat into sustenance and 
delicacy. Bedrooms are sanctuaries for the mysterious transformations of sleeping 
and loving. Bathrooms are closed retreats of personal cleanliness and hygiene.

Apart from perhaps the nursery, nothing compares 
to the remarkable container known as the studio. 
Here is a sanctuary where mere materials are
transformed into objects of beauty.  Like the
laboratory, the studio is a domain of imaginative

At the center of most studios is a piece of furniture 
called the easel. Whether simple and humble or 
complex and magnificent, it is at this unit that the 
creator sets her forces in motion.

You might pause to consider how blessed are we 
who daily stand or sit before the easel. Ideally, 
it should be a strong object, so it can be pushed 
hard against, or be made to hold rock-steady during 
our more delicate passages. The easel needs to be 
well lit from above so those born on it can be
properly examined, pampered, and reconsidered.

The easel is an altar to productivity. Traditional 
altars have been places of worship and sacrifice, 
and the studio easel is no exception. He who would
 do well at one must respect and honour the gods 
of quality, truth, composition, imagination, pattern, 
perspective, story, drawing, colour, fantasy and flair. 
To stand or sit at one, even in play, you need to 
prepare yourself for labour.

The easel is also a place of sacrifice. Substandard 
passages or whole works are summarily struck down 
at this often troubling altar--but rebirth is its usual 
fruit. Both honour and responsibility go with your 
easel, your altar.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Playful Textiles of Alexander Girard

Mr. Girard featured with some of his work.
(reposted from the Metropolis website)

Perhaps the name Alexander Girard (1907-1993) doesn't mean anything to you.  He was the iconic head of textiles at Herman Miller from 1952 onward through 1975, and his bold graphic style is just as relevant now as it was during the mid-twentieth century.
Thanks to a wonderful article in the current issue of Metropolis magazine I had an opportunity to look at a sampling of his work.  If you have an opportunity to find the current issue it is worth checking out.

In the meantime I want to quote from the magazine article some of Mr. Girard's Principles of Textiles.  They are so meaningful to the type of surface design work that many of us do:

-Fabric design is not easel painting or illustrating.  It is fabric design.

-Realism should be avoided in printed fabrics.  Draped fabrics naturally distort any pattern, unlike wallpaper.  Their design should respect their natural character.

-It is boring to be aware of endless pattern repeats; they should be as invisible as possible, particularly when they represent an object realistically.

-Designs that are fresh, interesting, and different are not achieved if being fresh, interesting, and different is the prime objective.

-Good design derives from the wish to do just that.  The textiles of India are perhaps the best example of this urge.  The delight in, and understanding of, the problem that they reflect is so powerful that it needs no description.

-I find that those of my designs that satisfy me personally are the only ones worth producing. (!)

-Nothing is new, but personal interpretation often can be. (!)

-The hope for good design lies in those designers who believe in what they do, and who will only do what they believe.  Contrary to hearsay, it is possible to make a living that way.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Garden Inspiration (from a community garden in Philadelphia)

These images were shot in or near my daughter's garden plot in Philly.  It was fun to wander around in the lovely community garden and see what people were growing.  Almost everyone uses their alloted area to grow both flowers and veggies.  It was fun to see!

I can't remember what these are, but they look like a type of Gerber daisy.  The middle is an electric lavender color.

Oriental poppy seed pod

and blossom

Pod from a different perspective.  I love these!

Big bumblebees were happily working away.

Fava bean blossoms.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Congratulations to my wonderful mother and father-in-law!

These are the two people who taught me about unconditional love.  They are loving, generous, and have extended their love of family to include me.  I will never be able to express my gratitude.

At ages 90 and 92 they continue to live independently in their own home.  I am thrilled they have achieved this rare milestone, and I wanted to share it with you.  

Both have been loving role models for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Announcing a fun Quilt Contest and a chance to win great scissors!






Please visit Havel's Sewing website for additional information and entry form.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stencil Blog Hop! A bit of "Flower Piecing" for Spring!

Check out all the fabulous ideas on Julie's blog!

I have been playing with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's "Flower Piecing" stencils in both 12x12 inch and 6x6 inch sizes.  I love having the same stencil in two sizes because varying the scale of the mark adds a lot of depth and interest to the surface.

To play with these stencils I decided to pull out a variety of surfaces on which to experiment:  baby wipes, sale tags, watercolor postcards, and polyester organza that had previously been laminated with paper (as well as gelatin printed and stamped).  With the exception of the sale tags these things had some paint on them and were "languishing" in my studio.
First up:  the baby wipe.  These had been hit with some acrylic paint when wet and allowed to dry.  I didn't bother pressing them flat.  I like the slight imperfections that I may (or may not) get by working with a slightly wrinkled surface, but I'm crazy that way.  Iron your surfaces flat if that is how you roll.

The large stencil is placed over the baby wipe.  I'm working on a slightly padded surface that has been covered with a drop cloth.  

On a paper palette, I placed a small amount of both blue and bronze acrylic paint. 
And, as you can see, I'm using an old toothbrush as my stencil brush.  I love using these!
I just want to pick up a small "dab" of the paint, and by working on this paper palette first I can pounce off excess before approaching my work surface.

See how the toothbrush gives a nice, soft look to the mark?  Love!

Next, I have a watercolor postcard that I had previously marked with water-soluble crayons, over-screened with matte medium to make it permanent.  I'm not crazy about this postcard.  Things like this are perfect for experimentation because they don't feel "precious".  

I plan to work back into this after the paint dries.....

I love making paper-laminated sheer!  It would take too long to explain (in this post) how to do it, but there are a number of good resources, not the least of which is my DIY Surface Design dvd (shameless self-promotion disclaimer).  Jane Dunnewold has a great book about lamination, which I highly recommend.  This piece is left over from a previous project, and was used for a gelatin plate printing demo at one time so there are a lot of marks on the surface already.  Yay!  More is more....

I'll use more paint colors..

Using an acrylic brush this time, I am moving over a portion of the 
surface alternating colors.  

These colors are faint over the bolder blue in the background.
I'm fine with that.  
I intend to outline some, or all, of the stenciled areas with a permanent marker.
I used a Pentel Gel Roller Fabric pen to outline, and create more, of the shapes in the stencil.
The dark edge brings the shape forward on the surface.

So much fun!

Don't forget that sometimes an opaque light color works well over a dark(er) background:

Think how interesting this laminated sheer would be with backlighting?
Wow!  It could be a really cool window treatment!

Here is my blank sale tag:
First, I stenciled with the large pattern, then drew around it with a gel pen.

Next, using the small stencil, I stenciled across a portion of the surface with my trusty toothbrush.

...and I did the same on this baby wipe.
Note the larger pattern is in the background with white opaque paint.

Look how soft and lovely this image is when used with a leaf-green paint:
Oh my!
You, too, can make a "happy mess"!

These samples will eventually find their way into my work:  fusible added to the cloth and appliqued to a quilt surface.  Postcards will be mailed.  Sale tags will be further embellished and used in a wide variety of ways, including as gift tags, as a book mark, or in my sketchbook.
I haven't even broached the subject of acrylic inks and all the possibilities with those.  Stay tuned for more fun!  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you try these great stencils:  I think you will like using them!
Please visit these participants in the stencil blog hop:

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Tammy Tutterow