New Necktie Upcycling Class!

Hot off the press — a new online class, Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets, first in my series of downloadable tutorials on upcycling at CraftArtEdu.

craftartedu-dt-upcycle-necktie-bracelet-class-small

Create gorgeous bracelets from neckties! All you need to upcycle the swoon-worthy silky fabric of an unused tie into a unique bracelet is needle and thread, scissors, and a button, velcro or snap.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

My 30-plus page tutorial takes you step-by-step through the entire process, with 60 full-color closeup photos showing you exactly what to do.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

Learn how to size and sew the bracelet (no advanced skills or tools needed), plan ahead to maximize use of the rest of the tie, choose which of 4 closure options works best for your bracelet … and much more.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

With many extra tips — about the care and treatment of ties, using a sewing machine if you have one — and more. I even give you leads on where to find ties to upcycle — no stealing your husband’s faves!Upcycle Neckties Into Bracelets

Warning – you’ll quickly become addicted to making these bracelets!

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets
But after you run out of space on both arms to wear your favorites, start making more for friends and family, they’ll love your handmade gifts!

Click here for my CraftArtEdu main page.

Here are links to my other CraftArtEdu classes, each with its own free preview:

Taking Great Photos of Your Artwork & Crafts

Taking Great Photos With Your Smartphone

Decorating Wood With Image Transfers

Fabulous Fabric Postcards

Handmade Pet Collars

Inkjet Printing on Fabric

Inkjet Printing on Lutradur

And my free basic classes:

Inkjet Inks: What You Need to Know for Your Artwork and Crafts

Introduction to Lutradur

 

 

 

An Evening of Poetry and Jazz with Jack Marshall

Jack Marshall, nationally- recognized poet and a resident of El Cerrito, will give a reading of his work to inaugurate the City of El Cerrito’s new Poet Laureate Program and to celebrate National Poetry Month in April.

Jack Marshall

A live jazz performance will accompany Marshall’s reading, to be held Tuesday April 12th from 7 to 8 pm, at the El Cerrito Public Library, 6510 Stockton Ave.

Born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents who emigrated from Iraq and Syria, Marshall now lives in El Cerrito. He is the author of the memoir From Baghdad to Brooklyn and several poetry collections that have received the PEN Center USA Award, two Northern California Book Awards, and a nomination from the National Book Critics Circle.

EC Poet Laureate ButtonThe City’s first Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term from September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2018. The Poet Laureate Call will be released during national poetry month on April 1, 2016. Interested? Click here to get more information and to find out how to submit an application.

The Evening of Poetry & Jazz is sponsored by the El Cerrito Arts and Culture Commission and the Friends of the El Cerrito Library.

Deconstructing Linda’s Air Mail Letter

I found a very important book from 1964 buried in a box at a book giveaway.

Linda book

“Linda’s Air Mail Letter,” written by Norman Bell and illustrated by Patricia Villeman, is in the “Follett Beginning to Read Book” series at the first to second grade levels. However, even at my grade level I found the book absorbing; in fact I couldn’t put it down and have re-read it several times. The plot is fast-paced, with unexpected twists and turns, and the author utilizes character development to reveal universal Archetypes. Linda awakens with a fever one morning, and her mother (we are not given her name, thus she is “The Mother”) runs into several obstacles when trying to get help. The telephone doesn’t work, the back door is stuck, and a water pipe is dripping  Oh, and Linda’s father is “away on a trip” (“The Absent Father”). To keep Linda busy while over-worked Mother (presumably without the assistance of “Mother’s Little Helper”) attempts to run the household and deal with the above-described communication and infrastructure breakdowns, Mother suggests that Linda read a book or write a letter. Choosing the Active over the Passive, Linda, in her letter to “Anybody”writes about her angst: “I am stuck here. I cannot get out” and describes an archetypal familial dynamic: “My father is away on a trip. My mother needs help.”

Air Mail bookMother is too busy to give Linda clear direction on how to purchase an air mail stamp, so, empowered to use her imagination, Linda sends her letter out the window. Helpful Wind blows it all the way to the Post Office, where a postman picks it up. The back cover offers a concise plot summary.

Linda air mail bookIn the end, all is well (a comforting lesson for the young readers of 1964, which we now perceive as an iconic Year of Upheaval). Spunky, fledgling feminist Linda informs Father that “Everything is all right now. Some things were out of order. But I fixed them.” As all Fathers do, Linda’s requires an explanation, and Linda, emerged as a successful mail artist, states: “Oh, I just wrote an air mail letter. It fixed everything!”

I am troubled that a mere four years later, “Linda’s Air Mail Letter” was branded an “Obsolete Book” by the South San Francisco Unified School District, pursuant to section 9701, 1, (g) of the California Education Code.

Linda book obsolete

Perhaps, though, we can see this as a liberation and Rebirth – the tale of Linda being released from the confines of the School Library and sent out rather into the hands of “children and residents of the district,” much as Linda sent her letter out the window.

Little Free Library and Art Gallery

Our Little Free Library & Art Gallery is finally up! It has been a long journey since we first heard about the Little Free Library movement more than 2 years ago. It took us a while to find just the right old battered piece of furniture to use for the Library, and then we had to adorn it. Also, as an artist, I wanted to give away some of my work along with books, so we needed enough room for that – we ended up using the top shelf and an old real estate leaflet box that we hung on one side for artwork, crafts, prints, mail art and poems.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

For decoration, we upcycled old, discarded book covers and other treasures scavenged at our city’s recycling center’s Exchange Zone. As with all of the artwork I make from repurposed materials, I’m only using books that are torn up or moldy so they’re beyond being read. This is the top.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery top

And here’s the inside. We covered the two bottom shelves with discarded game boards. At the back of the top shelf we added an old framed mirror, so people can see themselves along with the artwork when they look in!

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

To the front we added an old brass door handle and old covers from books with … (of course) our names.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

Inside the door we adhered an old leatherette photo folder, and I designed two signs to insert into it …

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

George consulted with Dora, our neighbors’ hen, regarding whether we would have enough copies of “Chicken Little” or “The Little Red Hen” to keep up with demand.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

Our LFL&AG is evolving, and we love thinking up new things to add to it. Please stop by to visit if you’re in the El Cerrito Calilfornia area! We’re registered on the Little Free Library site as number 18978, and will eventually show up on their map.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

Inkjet Printing on Fabric

I mailed one of my new no-sew fabric postcards to a Postcrossing friend in Italy. In her profile she talked about her passion for creating handmade things including sewing and découpage, and said that she’s always looking for new techniques. 
Wood hyacinth fabric postcard

Wood hyacinth fabric postcard

When she got the postcard she asked for the link to my blog to find out more about printing on fabric. I found an old post that gave an overview but not much concrete info, and it’s high time for me to give you a full-fledged post with the basics of my favorite art process. After you read this if you’re itching to learn more, please check out my Inkjet Printing on Fabric ebook or online workshop.
Printing fabric
Printing on fabric with your inkjet printer isn’t hard, but knowing a few things before you start will save you lots of time and money. There are two main components: your printer and the kind of ink it uses, and the fabric you’re printing on.
First: inks. To get the lowdown on the difference between dye and pigment inkjet inks and why that matters in printing fabric, go on over to CraftArtEdu to watch my free basic workshop about inkjet inks. Or here’s the really quick version: dye inkjet inks are not colorfast or waterfast, so they fade over time and run when exposed to moisture. Because pigment inks are colorfast and waterfast, they are by far the best option for printing on fabric.
Fabric printing color shift dye ink

Dye ink prints: colors fade and shift

Second – you need to choose what kind of fabric to print: (1) untreated, (2) fabric that you treat yourself, or (3) pre-treated commercial fabric. There are pros and cons for each, and what you want to use the fabric for is a factor, but in this post I’ll tell you about commercially pre-treated fabrics, because they’re the most versatile and give the best results for most purposes.
Untreated vs pre-treated fabric

Untreated vs pre-treated fabric

Pre-treated fabrics are backed with paper or plastic to stiffen them so they’ll go through your printer without crumpling up and jamming your printer. You want the fabric sheet as flat as you can get it so the edges don’t catch as the printer heads go back and forth, which can make the fabric shift or leave ink on the edges.

Fabric shifted in printer

There are a lot of different ways to flatten fabric — some tips: try curling it the other way by hand, flattening the sheet under a stack of books, or ironing it.

With so many pre-treated products to choose from it’d get expensive fast to sample them all to find the ones that work best for you. I advise starting out with a few that let you buy small quantities so you can test and compare. I’ve tried most of them, and my favorites for printing with pigment inks are Cotton Satin and Cotton Lawn by EQ Printables. The fabric feels wonderful and the quality of the print is great. In my opinion the plain EQ Printables (the package says only “Inkjet Fabric Sheets”) is not worth the money, so make sure the packages are either the Cotton Satin or Cotton Lawn. I also like June Tailor’s Colorfast Sew-in Inkjet Fabric. It’s stiffer than the EQ but the print quality is great and the stiffness can be ideal for certain projects: I use it for some of my fabric postcards and a lot of my home decor creations like fabric vases and bowls, covered light switch plates, etc.

Fabric vases

Fabric vases

After printing all you have to do is remove the backing from the fabric sheet. If you’re using pigment inks there’s no need to heat set or wash; you can use it right away in your sewing or other art projects. However, even though the fabric will feel dry to the touch, it actually takes quite a while for pigment inks to thoroughly dry. If you don’t need to use the fabric right away you’ll get best results by putting it aside for a week or so.

That’s it for the basics! If you want to learn more this is the link to my blog post about my ebook “Inkjet Printing on Fabric.” My website has a page with links to all of the different options to find my ebook, including the kindle version where you can see a preview of the book.

 Or click here to go to my online workshop on CraftArtEdu, which also includes a free preview.

Lars quilt

Lars art quilt, made with different kinds of printed fabric

Book Review: How to Start Marketing Your Art, by Tamara Holland

My pal Tamara has written a sweet new ebook, How To Start Marketing Your Art: 100 DIY TipsIt’s the much-awaited sequel to her first book, How To Start Making Your Art Your Business: 100 DIY Tips.

tamara ebook cover

Tamara is a wonderfully creative person who brings her positive energy and generosity to both her life and her art. I loved the book and definitely recommend it. I posted a book review on Amazon, and wanted to share my thoughts with you as well.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that Tamara is a friend of mine, and that she has been the sales rep for my greeting cards. I also profiled her in my book about selling artwork and crafts online. I pointed out in the Amazon review that although I’m not objective about Tamara-my-friend, the fact that I also write books and lead workshops about selling art means that I take very seriously my responsibility to be objective in my recommendations on this topic.

With that disclaimer, I wholeheartedly recommend Tamara’s ebook to anyone starting out in the difficult business of marketing their art. Most artists are not natural-born salespeople, but Tamara makes this subject which many artists find either foreign or even distasteful seem if not fun at least manageable. She breaks down what can feel like an overwhelming subject into do-able tasks, and offers a great variety of creative ideas for people to pick and choose what best fits their personality, abilities and situation. It’s also a great refresher for people who are already doing their own marketing but could use some new ideas and an infusion of Tamara’s infectious positive attitude.

Although it’s comprehensive and offers a wide range of marketing topics, there’s no “fat or filler” in this book. It’s focused and to the point; Tamara doesn’t waste your time with unrealistic suggestions or goals. And the generosity and cheerleading attitude that Tamara advises artists to adopt in their marketing shines through the entire book.

Tamara is refreshingly up-front about what her book is, and who it’s for. If you’re starting out and committed to doing-it-yourself art marketing, her 100 tips are invaluable. They will save you a lot of time and money re-inventing the wheel, and will point you in the right direction to do deeper research into the tips that fit for you.

Transfer This! Free Workshop at Flax Art

I’m beyond excited that Flax Art & Design, the fabulous art store in San Francisco, is having me put on a free workshop demonstrating my favorite products, Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) and Lutradur!

I’ve told you about both products in many blog posts (see my list below). TAP is my go-to heat transfer paper, the best I’ve ever used. TAP allows you to easily transfer crisp, colorfast and washable images to almost any surface with your household iron. You can inkjet print, paint, stamp, or draw images onto TAP for a variety of amazing effects.

Owl wooden box

Lutradur, which I’ve also written extensively about, is a spun-bonded polyester that combines the best qualities of fabric and paper. It’s a fantastic medium for mixed media as well as for artists looking to add a new level of texture to their work.

Lutradur butterfly hanging

I’m a demonstrator and teacher for C&T Publishing,makers of TAP and Lutradur. In this free 2-hour lecture/demo at Flax, I’ll show you the entire process – from creating an image on TAP to successfully transferring it to Lutradur. I’ll bring a wide variety of samples to show you the endless potential that these two products make possible, and to spark your creativity and imagination.

Lutradur and TAP butterfly window hanging

The free workshop is March 15th, from 1 to 3 pm. Space is limited, so sign up today to reserve your spot! Call Flax Art & Design at 415.552.2355, or click here to sign up online.

Want to know more?

Check out my book: Inkjet Printing on Lutradur.

CraftArtEdu class: Inkjet Printing on Lutradur.

CraftArtEdu class about using TAP and other heat transfers onto wood.

And here’s a list of my blog posts about Lutradur and TAP:

Egret in flight lutradur art quilt

Transfer artist paper on lutradur

Photos on wooden boxes

Evolon and Transfer Artist Paper

Transfer Artist Paper on cotton

Digital collage on art board

Image Transfer to Wood

More on lutradur, Digital Ground and TAP

Wingspread Mixed-Media Art Doll

Printing with Golden’s Digital Grounds on Lutradur

Butterfly Bliss mini-art hanging