Friday, December 14, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things From Attached Inc and Havel's Sewing

Finally, with all my holiday shopping completed, I am getting a chance to return to this fun piece that I had put on hold. I have been in an abstract whirlwind as the year winds down, totally unusual for me but sometimes the art just has to come out as it will. This piece is still a work in progress but I thought I might post a mini tutorial about how I used Transdoodle, Mistyfuse and Goddess Sheets to arrive at this point. These are some of my most favorite products and I thought I would share them with you. They make my life so much easier! I first began with a sketch of unusual cogs and enlarged the main pattern to the desired size. Then came the fun part of choosing fabrics. Here, I chose to pull out all the wild and playful fabrics that had managed to make their way into my stash. I proceeded to iron Mistyfuse, a lightweight fusible to the back of my fabrics using a large Goddess Sheet. Mistyfuse is my absolute favorite fusible as it does not gum up the needles when sewing and does not interfere with the hand of the fabric. The Goddess Sheet is my ultimate choice for pressing sheets. If I get fusible on the pressing sheet, it wipes right off with a kitchen scrubber. Easy to clean, gotta love that!   

Once the Mistyfuse was fused to the back of my fabrics, I transferred my design to the right side of the fabric by placing a sheet of Transdoodle, chalk paper on top of the fabric. I then placed my pattern on top of the Transdoodle and with a mechanical pencil (containing no lead), I traced over the design to transfer the chalk image onto my fabric. Basically, just applying pressure allows the image to be transferred. So easy and no need for a light table or fooling around with trying to reverse the image! Once the design was transferred to the fabric, I used my favorite Havel Scissors to cut the design out. This particular pair of scissors happens to be micro serrated and cuts so beautifully. Such a joy to work with! I am hoping that I will have some time over the holidays to finish this project. As usual, deadlines are looming and I would love to eek out one more project before the New Year arrives. Hope you enjoyed this post and I wish you all, Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Coasters for the Holidays: A Tutorial for Fast, Inexpensive Gifts

The holidays are upon us and I have been working on handmade gifts for my friends and family this week. I am so jazzed about the way they turned out! My barometer for success is feeling like I, myself would like to receive these and I would! Yay, it's a success! For only  $31 plus a few supplies from my studio and a quick trip to Home Depot, I have managed to make presents for almost everyone my list. I purchased a case of 100 4X4 tiles and a 32 oz can of Indoor/Outdoor Helmsman Spar Urethane by Minwax. Within 3 days, I was able to make 25 sets of 4 coasters for each person on my list. Each set was made together such that they received the same colors and supplies. I began by first coating the tiles with a thin layer of  Isopropanol aka rubbing alcohol. Now 
. before you head out to purchase a big bottle of alcohol, let me say that for 100 tiles, I used approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup of alcohol. It really does not take much! Next, I added a few drops of ink. Remember the days when we used to mix alcohols with inks to make beautiful works of art? Well, it's the same concept here. I used both acrylic inks by Liquitex as well as Bombay India Inks by Dr. Ph Martin. The alcohol acts as both a carrier for the inks to travel across the tile and a drying agent. I typically used 2-3 colors per tile thus allowing a pleasing blend of colors. You may recall, I said  
it took me 3 days to finish 100 coasters. Well, I didn't mean 3 full days as part of this time was used for drying time along the way. Still, if you wanted to do it in 1 1/2 days, it is totally doable! Meanwhile, once the inks are dry, approximately 2-3 hours, I embellished the tile by stamping designs with gold metallic craft paint that I had in my studio. After the tiles dry (approximately 5-10 minutes), the edges were subsequently painted with a matching color of acrylic craft paint. Allow 20 minutes for edges to dry.
Turning out pretty good! Now, time to add the Minwax clear gloss sealer. Here, I added 2 thick coats to the top and sides of the coaster. It was allowed to cure for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight. Next, I took a single sheet of acrylic felt that I had previously purchased from JoAnn's and cut it with a rotary cutter into small squares or rectangles to create a total of 400. I did not measure but simply guestimated size. When the tiles were dry, I hot glued felt squares to the bottom of the coaster in each corner. Wa la, done and gorgeous! I also had a go with using maps and photos of my artwork. For these, I used modge podge to adhere the maps and photos to the tiles. When dry, I noticed the edges of the photos had a difficult time adhering, so I used gel medium with a spatula to ensure that the edges were firmly glued in place. Once dry, they were coated with 2 thick coats of sealer and allowed to dry. Felt bottoms were added to protect the table surface.  
 I love that this was a fast, easy, enjoyable and inexpensive project that can be created alone or with friends and family. And best of all, it kept me away from the stores and crowds of people. Who knew a simple white 4X4 tile could be transformed into a work of functional art.
 I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I wish you a most Happy Holiday season.