Aug 25, 2011

Helga Cruz- My Talented Mom's Clay Art

Helga Cruz, my mother, is a super talented lady who was working in clay a long, long time before I ever thought about sticking a finger into it. She gave me the courage to try it, and I thank her every day! She wholesales her work to a couple of places in the popular mecca for the rich and trendy; Sedona, Arizona, and other places in Arizona and New Mexico. Kudos to you, Momma!

These adorable sculptures are part of Mom's line of Southwestern Angels. Each of her little angels holds something different; a bird, a cat, a tree, a wreath, etc. Each is supremely charming and as individual as can be.

The Santa is one of her newest designs. It's a combination of majolica and traditional glazing, with tons of old world charm. When I saw that sweet face, I felt like it was Christmas already.

The good news is that we're soon opening a Christmas shop on Etsy, with plenty of holiday ornaments, handmade gifts and clay art Santas, Angels and Nativities. I'm in the process of setting it up and getting it ready to roll. We need to get moving, it's almost Labor Day!

Aug 20, 2011

Making a Screen with Drawing Fluid

My screen printing press is still sitting unused in my garage, and I've been just too busy to get wholeheartedly into making prints. Well, that's what I've been saying to myself. Actually, it's intimidating as heck to make a screen print. Not only is there the design to consider, but making the screen is technical, with lots of room for error.
I knew I had to get going on doing something screen print related, so I thought I'd start with baby steps, and use drawing fluid and screen filler on my screen. Little did I know this would be more problematic than the emulsion/exposure method.

First, I got my screen and traced my design; based on my little clay house with a bird on top, this is just a collection of little houses.

Then, I started painting the design on the screen using the drawing fluid. You can't get a very thin line with this method. I tried to make sure I used plenty of drawing fluid with each line. It's thick like honey and even using a thin liner brush, it was very challenging to get a uniform line.
After all the lines were painted, I let it dry overnight. When I got up, the drawing fluid had hardened even where thick. Then I began taping it off, as the drawing fluid instructions said. This was different than the screenprinting shop where I used to work did it. They washed out the screens and then taped it off. Oh well, I went with the package instructions.
Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of the screen being coated with filler. It was awkward and I was juggling the screen filler, a squeegee, and the screen. Let me tell you first, that the filler must be VERY well mixed. A few gentle stirs almost did me in. It was way too watery when I poured it on the bottom of the screen to begin coating. I should have stopped, poured it back in the bottle and started again, but I got lazy and knew it was't right, but did it anyway. My first attempt had me pouring the filler and using the squeegee to spread it. Not successful, and puddley areas on the screen made the drawing fluid start to dissolve. I just let it dry and did a second pass with the filler in a screen coater. That worked very well.
After the filler dried, I washed it out with the faucet sprayer in my kitchen sink. Easy peasy!
Then last photo is the finished screen. It was a great learning experience, but some lessons learned; keep your design to thick lines and little detail, use plenty of drawing fluid, and if it looks thin after drying, go back and add a second coat, use a screen coater to apply the screen filler, make sure filler is thoroughly mixed until it's thick and creamy.
Ok, that was my project for today. I hope you learned something. I sure did!

I made some painted batik fabric to use in some of my sewn projects. I call it batik, but really, it's more of a faux batik, since there is no overdyeing involved. Basically, I waxed the fabric as in traditional batik, dyed it with fabric dyes and removed the wax. I think it makes a nice stand in for the real thing, and it's a great way to add whatever designs and colors you want.

To begin, I stretched my cotton fabric onto a wooden frame using special silk tacks.

Using batik wax and a tjanting ( a special batik tool), I waxed the design. This was definitely the hardest part. Keeping the wax hot enough was a challenge, and if it got too hot, it would run so quickly through the tjanting, that I had a lot of blobs and drips. I did get the hang of it, but next time, I'll practice the designs I want beforehand.
After the waxing, I get out the fabric dyes. Before painting, I like to spray the fabric with a fine mist of water to dampen it and allow the dyes/paint to flow more easily.

Painting the fabric is easy with the use of Dye-na-flow fabric dyes. Very strong and intense and can be thinned with water. Some of the dye ran under my waxed lines, but that's okay, since the style of this fabric takes well to that kind of "boo-boo".

Here are a few pictures of the fabric in the process of the painting/dyeing.

When all the non-waxed areas are painted, I let it dry horizontally. This lets the puddled dye work it's way to the edges of the waxed areas.

I remove the wax by using a hot iron and putting the fabric between layers of paper towel. I suppose you could use newpaper if it was the non-smudge kind, or blank newsprint. Make sure the iron is NOT on steam.

Ta-Da! The finished fabric! Now I'll cut this up and use it for some sewing projects and soft art dolls. I cant wait to see what they look like!