Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gearing Up for Encaustic

It's been too long since I've taken any studio art classes. All my focus has been on developing my print and pattern designs (see my progress at my new website.) But next week I'm taking a class on Encaustic with Caryl St. Ama at Glendale Community College sponsored by R & F Handmade Paints.

The word ‘encaustic’ comes from the Greek word enkaiein, meaning to burn in. Encaustic paint is wax-based using beeswax, resin and pigment. It's kept in a liquid state on a heated palette. After it's applied to an absorbent surface it's reheated so that the paint fuses (hence the use of the Greek word.) Not to be confused with the term ‘caustic,’ which refers to a corrosive chemical reaction - not at all what happens with encaustic.

Caryl St. Ama, "Home Turf", Encaustic and photo transfer on wood panel, 12" x 9", 2014

Caryl's work is inspiring me to gather bits of textiles and paper to embed in the wax. I'm really interested in the concept of using textiles to create art that I can then turn into textile prints.


Maybe then I'll use the printed textile in a new encaustic. Sort of like looking at a mirror with a mirror, goes on forever.

My next challenge is to come up with new materials. Fortunately the paints are included in the cost of the workshop, so the most important thing I'll need are the supports. For this class I think I'll try a few different sizes and thicknesses to see what I like best (linking to the Amazon page so I can find them again...)

Ampersand Art Encausticbord - Cradled - 1.5" Profile - 12"x12"

Ampersand Encausticbord 11 in. x 14 in. 1 1/2 in. each

I'll also need natural bristle brushes, and don't want to ruin any good ones, so think I'll try Loew-Cornell 2-Inch Wood Handle Natural Bristle Gesso Brush or maybe this set of three Royal & Langnickel Large Area Artist Brush Set- Three Brown Camel Hair Brushes which would give me 1", 2" and 3".

That should get me started.....

Friday, April 04, 2014

Indigo, Books and Resources

I didn't realize that my obsession with all things indigo was shared by so many others. My Indigo Pinterest board has more than 450 followers. And without realizing it I've got almost 1,000 images pinned.

Indigo, in the form of Levi's and bandanas seemed like such an American thing. But of course it goes back far beyond anything we've done here. It's fascinating to me that it's history goes far back into Asian and African cultures. And the evolution has led me to start reading more about it.

Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World by Catherine McKinley is a wonderful description of her travels in search of the history of indigo.

Reading that led me to the more scholarly Indigo Textiles: Technique and History by Gosta Sandberg. It's out of print now, and as it's selling for $500+ on Amazon I think I better take a bit better care of my copy. It's filled with recipes and photos of the processes that are really extensive. (I'm happy to copy & share part of it - of course for educational purposes so as not to copyright infringe.)

Now I've just learned there's a new book, that looks really gorgeous. It's more a coffee table book than the Sandberg book, but the photos are amazing.

  Indigo: The Color that Changed the World


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Where to Order On-Demand, Custom Digitally Printed Fabric in Small Runs

8" Swatches from Spoonflower

I've been ordering custom printed fabric from Spoonflower, and as happy as I've been with everything about them, thought I should do due diligence and see what else is out there. Plus, I really would like to find some pure linen for prints for my own clothing and throw pillows. I'm sticking to services located in the U.S. that offer small runs. There are quite a few more companies than I've listed here that offer runs of 100 to 200 yards, but I'm looking for smaller runs than that.

With an easy to use interface and the ability to offer your designs for sale, Spoonflower is my favorite printer. Prices range from $17.50 to $ 38.00 per yard with a 10% discount for designers and a 20% discount for orders over 20 yards. There are weekly contests which give you visibility and let you tap into the Spoonflower community, which has been very welcoming and supportive of my beginner attempts at print design. You can order test swatches for $5, and they offer fat quarters for quilters and crafters. They're quoting a 10 day turn around, buy my last two orders have been faster than that. Shipping is based on weight and comes up in the order window.


A choice of 18 different fabrics, priced from $29.50 to $40 per yard and $5 shipping make this a good alternative to Spoonflower. You can only buy your own designs however, and there's no community as there is on Spoonflower. They promise to ship within 10 days or your order is free. They also have 8" swatch and fat quarter options.


In addition to offering a selection of prints from independent designers that are only available on the site, Modern Yardage offers a custom option on 56" fabric that is priced between $18 and $25 per yard, depending on the amount of ink used.


The 3 yard minimum and $65 - $125 per yard price tag make this out of reach for the casual stitcher. But they have a huge selection of fabrics available and are a good option for a small designer wanting the highest quality goods.

While teaching myself how to create designs in Illustrator and Photoshop, and then put the designs into repeat, I've found two books that manage to answer just about any question I come up with.