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.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

orange creamsicle pendleton wool scrap bunny

I keep using wool from this box of blanket header I bought from the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store, but the box doesn't look any emptier. And I keep making bunnies out of it. And subjecting you to the photos.

This one's cream and orange bunny fur is charming enough without adding clothes, but she did get a red wool heart.

I keep making these buns (here and here, also) but I don't really have a barometer for whether they're as loveable as I think they are or not. I'm going to get ahead on my work one of these days (instead of playing Catch Up) and make a few for Etsy, but that day is not today.

Thanks for reading! And if you've received one of my bunnies lately, thanks for cuddling!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

odds and ends hen house

Just a show-and-tell, not a tutorial, since your scrap pile will differ from mine significantly. With the exception of hinges, hardware, and shingles from Bring and some chicken wire from the farm store, all materials were on-hand including leftover cedar siding and fence board scraps, sections of 2x4 and 2x2, chunks of 4x4 posts, and old bifold closet doors.

(This is a chicken house, yes, but our outside cat sleeps safely in there at night, protecting her from cars and fights.)


The scrap pile was pulled out onto the lawn for planning the hen house.

Some pieces were cut to length for support structures.

With slats removed, bifold door braces make side supports.

The basic structure, made of 2x4 scrap, bifold door lumber, and 2x2 pieces.

The door, made of leftover cedar siding and 1x3 boards.

The first side gets covered in siding.

The "run", framed in, was ready to be covered with chicken wire.
The hen house was covered in cedar siding, then had the roof peak added.

Legs are made from 4x4 chunks leftover from a fencing project.

Inside, floor boards are made of scrap lumber, and a vent on the back wall is made of hardware cloth tucked between layers of siding. The space left in the floor is the entry/exit to the run.

Side view of the hen house attached to the run.

Hardware cloth is attached to the roof peaks for ventilation and a view.

Shutter slats are nailed in place to hide edges and cover the sharp ends of wire on the outside.

Roof decking is made of lengths of cedar fence boards.

Tar paper covers the roof decking. We've had this tar paper leftover from roofing and siding  projects on the shed and studio.

Asphalt shingles are pretty easy to come by at Bring in small quantities. I found just enough to cover the roof.

I used a partial tube of roofing tar to secure the shingles in addition to roofing nails. We had the tar leftover from installing a skylight in the shed earlier this summer.

The door handle and piano hinge came from Bring as well. The other hinges were removed from an old standing screen that had its lumber incorporated into this project.

A small shelf holds a cat food can up off the ground. The edge is made of shutter slats.

Finished! The chicken wire run is continued to the area underneath the hen house, allowing for extra space to move, and is held to the ground with tent stakes.

The door is latched with a hook & eye on each side. The run is attached to the hen house with hook & eye fasteners as well, which allows for easy cleaning.

Complete! One hen house made mostly of stuff we had on hand. This was an interesting challenge because the scrap pile had to be used creatively to make a solid and attractive structure. In the end, it lives up to expectations. I think any time I build from scrap I end up especially happy with the results, but this hen house is one of my favorites.

Thanks for following along as I innovated!

Linking up to:
My Repurposed Life