Wednesday, August 13, 2014

hometown tourist: chalk fest 2014

"That's me in the corner . . ."

Probably the nerdiest entry; I included Dr. Who eating fish sticks with custard, the TARDIS, the Cat in the Hat, Truffula Trees, and one of the bear kids from Hop on Pop hopping on a Dalek.
Awhile back, some folks started a local organization dedicated to displaying art in the windows of empty office buildings and retail spaces. It paid off big time, aiding in the downtown revitalization effort in downtown Eugene. Honestly, if you haven't been in this area in a few years, you will absolutely not recognize it today. Voodoo Donuts, the Barn Light, Sizzle Pie, Bijou Metro, Off the Waffle, First National Taphouse, food carts on Kesey Square . . . all within a couple of blocks, where buildings stood empty for years.

So the group responsible for helping to get the ball rolling by beautifying windows with local art went through a name change. Originally the Eugene Storefront Art Project, they are now the Eugene Springfield Art Project, keeping the acronym but expanding their scope. And this past Friday, they hosted the first ever Chalk Fest in downtown Springfield.

This artist worked quickly. I don't think this took her more than three or four hours.

Abstract fields of color, a portrait, and some math that doesn't add up.

Springfield, Eugene's conjoined sister-city, has been undergoing its own downtown renaissance in recent years, and things are definitely looking up. I feel like anytime Willamalane Parks and Recreation hosts an event downtown, for example, people are being encouraged to venture out, and the arrivals of a local arts charter high school, Sprout Food Hub (a farmer's market in an abandoned church), a state-of-the-art performing arts center (the Wildish Theater) , Plank Town Brewery, and the Washburne Café are excellent starts. If someone will just (please, please) buy the defunct Jim's Landing and do something amazing with it, the area could really be a destination. (I'd buy it myself, but $630,000 is a little out of my range, even with the apartment rentals on the top floor.)

The woman next to me wetted her chalk and was very painterly in her approach.

Kids got in on the action, too!

ESAP is pretty new at event hosting, so there were a few confusing scheduling changes. In the end, though, we made it to the right place at the right time, and some fantastic chalk art came out of it.

Third Prize Winner

First Prize Winner

If you're in the area and want to drive by, the art will be there until it washes away in the rain or gets rubbed away by tires. Find it on Main Street in Springfield in the public parking area between the Emerald Art Center and the Springfield Museum. And if you want more information about any of the artists, you can contact ESAP. You can also hop over to their Facebook page to see more photos from this event, as the Mr. and I didn't manage to photograph all of them.

One of two bee-themed pieces.

Adventure Time!

Monday, July 28, 2014

sun printing on fabric (seriously the best surface design project of the summer)

 I spent several years at the university earning my BA in art. The last couple of years that I was in school, I was especially drawn in by the fiber arts program. I spent an entire summer term dyeing with indigo vats, for example, and another term learning natural dyeing techniques (with plants and things). I learned to carve stamps and print with acrylic paint, screen print with a Thermofax, photocopy directly on fabric. I learned about resists and cyanotype. I designed costumes and learned the art of sashiko. I tie dyed and sewed and painted and printed and felted and spun . . . and somehow, in all those years of art and fiber classes, I never learned how to sun print on fabric using only acrylic paint, water, and leaves.

It's amazing, really, the many varied ways there are to apply color to surfaces. This effect, in particular, can be obtained a number of ways. I once made an umbrella into a tree canopy for a play, for example, by holding branches and leaves against the umbrella and lightly spraying with spray paint. Cyanotype paper and cyanotype ink can each be used to make sun prints. You can also make simple sun prints on construction paper just by leaving the leaf-covered paper in the sun for a few hours.

This project, though, is astounding in its simplicity. I had all the materials on hand (you can use any fabric paint or acrylic craft paint; the paint shown is Kid Made Modern fabric paint from Target, the same stuff we used on the baby shower onesies awhile back), the set up is simple enough for kids and grown-ups alike, and the results are stunning.

Seriously Easy Sun Printing Tutorial

1) Take a piece of fabric (muslin, canvas, etc., with at least 50% cotton content) and get it wet.

2) Squeeze out the excess water.

3) Stretch and pin to a board.

4) Pour a little paint and water into a container, and stir to mix.

5) Cover the surface of your fabric with thinned paint solution.

6) Cover the wet, painted surface with leaves, twigs, berries, etc.

7) Leave it in the bright sun, then check on it in about an hour. If the sun is weaker, leave it longer.

And that's it.

The capillary action draws the paint from the shaded portions (under the leaves) into the drier, unshaded portions, leaving lightly colored leaves on a darker colored background.

After your fabric has dried completely, put it in the dryer for a few minutes to heat set the paint, or iron with a cloth. It'll be safe to incorporate into a project and wash.

I'll never be done learning new things, it seems. Isn't that fantastic?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 21, 2014

a little bit of summer

Here are a few things we've been working on so far this summer. I hope to go into a bit more detail on some of them in future posts, but with all the play dates and swim lessons and backyard quicksand making, I'm having a hard time settling down to update the blog. The weather's too nice, the days (as long as they are) are too short. We're filling them full.

I hope you're enjoying your summer too!

My booth at the Eugene Mini-Maker Faire in June.

Getting good use out of the studio; the kiddo tells me this is a picture of a queen.

We're going to have so many grapes this year. So many!

Tie dyeing with fabric paint for a special quilt project.

Watching a juggler on the library plaza at the Summer Reading kick-off.

A booth at Black Sheep Gathering where the kind people told me how to fix my spinning wheel.

These b&w dragonflies are all over the place this summer. I love them.

Mashing up the u-pick strawberries from the organic farm to make jam.

Sunset roses.

Sun printing on fabric (it's really easy).

W is for watermelon, if you're eating the alphabet.

Red flowers and pool blue chairs.

Hanging up the ride-on toys on the back of the shed.

A peanut plant.

Yup. We're growing peanuts as a science experiment this summer.

Croquet cart from the thrift store . . .

. . . with some new stain and tightened screws for long life.

Painting the patio bricks with washable tempera paint is fun with kiddos.

Did I mention we also camped out at the beach for a few days, and spent some time at the ballpark, and played mini golf, and have been to the pool like a dozen times (at least)? Yeah. We're totally summering it up over here in the PNW.

Thanks for reading! I'll be back soon with a little post to explain sun printing in six easy steps, because now is the time, people! You crafty folks out there probably already have what you need on hand.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

craft stick + embroidery hoop drum light

I'm still working through some details on this one, but I wanted to show you an "in progress" of this drum light. I started with a couple of embroidery hoops and a package of craft sticks, all from a thrift shop. The craft sticks are a little like wooden coffee stirrers, but longer. 

I started with the outer part of the embroidery hoop pretty loose, and put a stick between the hoops at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock (imagining the circle as a clock, just for placement). Then I tightened the hoop somewhat to hold them steady. Those four sticks were the anchors, to hold the inner and outer parts of the hoop the right distance apart to insert more sticks.

Once things started to get unwieldy, I sandwiched the second hoop at the top.

All done. The next step was to slide the top hoop all the way to the end of the sticks. (I worked with the hoop a little low so that I wouldn't have so many slip loose.)

Done and hung up with cup hooks, surrounding the "boob light" in the hallway.

I like the effect, but I think it might need some tweaks; maybe with the sticks cut in half for a lower profile in my short hallway. Maybe a piece of thin, buffed plexi to help diffuse the light.  And I need a better way to hang it. I'm not in love with the exposed cup hooks.

If you can think of any ways to make this look more awesome, leave your ideas in the comments below! Thanks for stopping by to visit.