Evolon cuff bracelet. Part 2: Printing and sewing

Last week I told you about the Evolon cuff bracelet I made using my blended digital photo collage. This was the file:

Julia butterfly cuff sheet

And this is what came out of the printer:

Cuff print

You might be shocked at the difference, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. When you print on an untreated surface, as opposed to one treated to optimize inkjet printing, you’ll see major differences – the colors aren’t as saturated, and they may even shift, and the resolution (line sharpness) isn’t as good. Think of the difference when you print a photo on untreated computer printer paper, compared to one you print on good quality photo paper.

The untreated Evolon turned out better than I expected. The colors were definitely muted, and the lines were not as sharp as the original. In contrast though, I’ve found printing on untreated Lutradur much inferior to the results I get when I treat it with Digital Ground or inkAID. On untreated Lutradur, the colors are vastly reduced in saturation and the resolution is extremely poor. I’ve also found that the ink on untreated Lutradur remains wet for quite a while, so it will smear if you need to use the print right away.

Anyway, I thought that the way the print turned out would be fine for my purposes. I cut out one of the cuffs, and as I handled it I was happy to find that the ink didn’t smear at all. I cut out two more pieces of fabric, one for the center, a stiffish beige patterned print from a home decor book that I bought at Scrap-SF (yay upcycling!), and a piece of black velvet for the back. I decided to leave all of the edges unfinished, isn’t the shabby chic look much easier, not having to bother with seam allowances and such? I did a zigzag stitch to tack the print to the beige fabric.

Evolon cuff bracelet

From my collection of buttons (mostly courtesy of my mom and estate sales), I picked a flat mother-of-pearl, and stitched thick elastic between the fabrics to attach to the button. I used two different kinds of lace around the edges, one was flat vintage lace from a garage sale, and the other some newer curly lace.

Cuff bracelet lace I stitched two different kinds of pearls and some gold-toned beads to parts of the cuff. These are small flat pearls.

Cuff bracelet pearlsAnd these are round pearls and the beads.

Cuff detail

After I finished all of the construction and adornment, I stitched the black velvet to the back, for that rich luxurious feeling only velvet has.

Evolon cuff braceletI was sad to have to send the bracelet off, and now I’m really glad I printed the second piece and I’m heading down to the studio to make another one!

Stay tuned for my further experiments with Evolon, I’m really inspired by this wonderful material.

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Evolon cuff bracelet. Part 1: The design

I’ve been itching to use Evolon® since I first heard of it years ago. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been easily available in the United States. So I jumped when I had the chance to participate in a challenge to create a project with it.

First, what in the world is Evolon? The manufacturer, Freudenberg Nonwovens, describes it as “a unique microfilament fabric combining very good textile and mechanical properties. Like traditional microfiber, it is soft, drapable and light, but it is also at the same time very strong.”

It comes in two weights: Regular and Soft. For the call-out I got a 20 by 36 inch sheet of the Regular. It feels divine, with a rich, soft suede-like texture. Like Lutradur, it doesn’t tear or fray, making it much easier to use for many art and craft projects than paper or woven fabric.

I wanted to make something that took advantage of the strengths of Evolon, and I love making jewelry with unusual surfaces, so I decided to try my hand at creating an Evolon cuff bracelet. I designed the cuff by making a blended digital collage with my photograph of a Julia Butterfly and my photos of the face of an old stopwatch and a fragment of an old metal measuring device. This is the butterfly image, which will be the focal point of the design, and below it are the two other images:

Julia butterfly on zinnia

Watch and measure digital collageI started out by opening a 3 by 8 inch blank canvas on Photoshop Elements. I dragged the butterfly image onto the blank canvas and resized it to show most of the wings. I then dragged the other two photos onto the canvas and adjusted their placement and opacity. You can see the separate layers on the palette at the bottom right of this screenshot.

design with layersI erased some portions of the watch layer, including the hands, because I thought they interfered with the design. The layer now looks like this:

Screen shot stop watchHere’s the layer of the fragment of the old measuring device. It’s a very small portion of the collage, but I liked the symmetry of the numerals with the numbers on the watch.

Screen shot digital collageI’m printing a letter-sized sheet of Evolon, so I opened a new blank canvas and placed the finished collage onto it. I also duplicated and flipped the collage so I could make two cuffs, and added a smaller version at the bottom to fill the sheet.

Julia butterfly cuff sheet

In my next blog post I’ll tell you about printing, assembling, and sewing the bracelet.

Oh, okay – George thinks I shouldn’t make you wait to see the finished cuff bracelet, so here it is!

Evolon cuff bracelet

Have you ever heard of Evolon? Have you ever used it? I’d love to hear what you’re doing with it, if so. If you’re in the US, I believe the only place to buy it without paying international shipping charges is through Meinke Toy’s website. They also sell Lutradur and other wonderful fiber art supplies, and are very helpful.

Fair Fun and a photocollage

One of the happiest traditions George and I have is attending local county fairs. Our favorite is the Alameda County Fair, held out in Pleasanton. It’s a long day, so I don’t carry around my heavy camera and lenses, I just grab my little Pentax and use it to get snapshots of whatever catches my fancy.

First stop, 4-H raised birds. This lonely goose was yapping loudly to the two geese in the cage next to him.

Goose

Moving from large to small, like these parakeets lined up on a bar. The light was too low for a sharp photo,  so I used some techniques to emphasize the bright colors.

Parakeets

We love to walk the midway. Speaking of birds, I’m a chicken when it comes to the rides, but I do love to take photos of them.

Ferris wheel

Ferris wheel

The Alameda County Beekeepers Association always has a wonderful booth, and this year was no exception (congratulations on the well-deserved ribbons). George here, talking bees with Alan Pryor, past president of the ACBA.

Alameda County Beekeepers Association booth

Alameda County Beekeepers Association booth

We can’t miss the displays of homemade jams, jellies, etc. This year there were more entries of jarred honey and beeswax candles than ever, reflecting the increasing popularity of backyard beekeeping.

Much of Alameda County gets more sun than we do in the El Cerrito fog belt, but we’re still always amazed at the range of flowers and vegetables that people enter for judging. This flower was huge! I love the wild twisted petals and unusual colors.

Flower

The day we went the livestock barn was full of goats. These two were cuddled together for a nap.

Goats

This year is the centennial year for the Alameda County Fair! There was a great display of programs, signs and other memorabilia from the past 100 years.

Those are the highlights of our wonderful day at the Fair.

Oh, this is the photocollage I made from the Ferris Wheel and flower photos, blended with a shot I grabbed of the dramatic clouds and sky above us on our ride home.

County Fair collageDo you go to your County Fair? What’s your favorite activity?

First Annual Pinole Artisan Plein Air Paint Out

It was a wonderful day to paint outside. A bit hot, but the well-prepared plein-airian has an umbrella or paints in the shade. We met at the Pinole Art Center at 10 and dispersed to various scenic spots around Pinole to paint (or do other media) for 3 hours.

Pinole Artisans Plein Air Paint Out

I was the only non-painter. I brought my camera to shoot outside, and then scooted back to the Art Center to upload the photos and work on a blended collage in Photoshop. I was ecstatic to get a photograph of an amazing blue dragonfly. George found it in our dragonfly guide book – it’s a Blue-eyed Darner (Aeshna multicolor).

Dragonfly

I ended up using one of the dragonfly photos as the main focus of my collage (I’ll show you that later). At 1 p.m. we met back up at Peet’s for a gentle critique session and peer awards. All of the art was wonderful. First prize went to Semion Mirkin. Semion has an incredible view from the windows of his home, so he drove back there and painted inside to escape the heat. Semion amazed us all by doing 2 paintings. This was the first prize winner:

Second prize went to Frances (Penny) Bledsoe, for her wonderful painting of some daisies.

Georgette captured the third place ribbon for her watercolor, which – amazingly -is the first watercolor she has ever done!

Carolyn Hess organized the Paint Out. She’s a devoted plein air painter, who faithfully goes out with other members of the Pinole Artisans to do plein air painting every Tuesday. This is her watercolor of a tree near Fernandez Park.

This was the blended collage I made, using a photograph of the dragonfly and elements of two photos I took of ducks flying over the creek.

Dragonfly collage

You can see the rest of the wonderful paintings at this link on my Facebook page.

The Pinole Artisans meet on the first Friday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Pinole United Methodist Church, 2000 San Pablo Ave. All are welcome. The Pinole Art Center is at 2221 Pear Street. Our shows rotate about every two months and we have a wide range of local artists’ work, including fine art, photograph, jewelry, textile and fiber art, sculpture, soap and candles, and much more! We’re open from 11 to 4, Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, see the Pinole Artisan website.

The Owl and the Pocket Watch

When I’m having a creative block, one thing that gets me moving is a deadline. An art group I’m in issued a challenge: create a design using a pocket watch. Deadline: one month. Scouring the house turned up no less than three pocket watches! I chose the oldest, a broken one that I bought at a garage sale with the intent to take it apart to use in my mixed media artwork. Here’s the base photo:

Pocket watchI took out the background and drew on the watch to make it a little less clean-looking.

Pocket watch

Since my favorite thing to do is design fabric, I used elements of the cutout image to make some kaleidoscope designs, which often produce great fabrics. Here’s one:

Pocket watch kaleidoscope

That was okay, but I wasn’t satisfied. I decided to switch gears (no pun intended) to make a blended collage. What image would work with the watch face? I have a folder on my computer of what I consider to be my best photos, and when I opened it, look who jumped out at me:

Barn owl

Now we’re talking! I was very happy with a few of the different blended images I came up with. I liked this one best:

Barn owl pocket watch

I printed variations of the collage onto heat transfer paper and decorated a wooden box, but will leave photos of that for another day.

Have you used the pressure of a deadline to make yourself get to work? I’d love to hear how that went and what you created.

Wisteria hysteria

How many times in this blog have I told you that x, y, or z is my favorite flower or plant? Well, right now – my very favorite flower in the world is wisteria (that’s the ‘w’). And in our little town, the wisteria is bloomin’!

Wisteria

George and I drive around the city, imperiling ourselves and others when we see a dramatic wisteria vine cascading over a fence or adorning a front wall – we point and shout:”Wisteria! Over there!!” The south end of town must get more sunlight, because theirs are going great guns. The one over our front door isn’t blooming at all yet, but the picture above is of the one in our back garden. I took that photo last Monday. Here’s what it looked like on Friday:

Wisteria

This is a close-up of a few of the buds:

Wisteria

I made a blended collage using the image above, duplicated and altered digitally:

Wisteria blendAre you a wisteria hysteric, like me? Any blooming in your neck of the woods yet?

Digital collage on art board

How were the holidays for you? I had two 4-day weekends, bliss!  Between the nature walks that my husband and I took, a couple of holiday parties, and a lot of cleaning-up of my workspace, I only managed to get a bit of artwork done. While organizing my towering piles of craft books I unearthed an 8×10″ gessoed wooden art board and decided to transfer one of my digital collages onto it.

I had designed the collage a few weeks ago.  I started with a photo of a fallen tree with insect trails etched into it. I took the photograph on Albany Hill, a small local hill where monarch butterflies overwinter.  We went in November to see whether any monarchs were there. We only saw a few, sadly — we had seen many more there in previous years.

This is the photograph of the tree:

Fallen log

Fallen log

I blended the photo of the tree with a photograph of a fern that I took during a walk we took in Muir Woods.

Fern

Fern

In blending the photographs, I worked to make the colors vivid, and kept the fern image subtle so you only see a tracing of it.

Fallen tree fern collage

Fallen tree fern collage

I liked the collage, but put it aside and hadn’t decided what to do with it. When I pulled out the art board, I thought it might work well.  Before printing it though, I had an idea. There are a number of designs I have produced from elements of my photographs with a great kaleidoscoping program called Kaleider. I mostly use them for my Garden Design Fabrics that I sew into fabric vases, purses, light switch plates, etc.  I generally don’t use them in my mixed media artwork or digital collages, but I wanted to see if blending one of them with this collage might work.  I found one of the designs that had strong simple lines. Coincidentally, the one I chose to try first was a design that I made from a photograph I took on the same walk we took on Albany Hill, of another fallen log.

This is the kaleidoscoped version of elements of that photograph:

Log albany hill kaleidoscope

Log Albany Hill kaleidoscope

I very much liked the effect when I blended them!

Fallen tree fern collage with Albany Hill log

Fallen tree fern collage with Albany Hill log

Okay, enough explanation about how the blended collage came into being (people often ask me how I make my designs and it’s hard to explain without showing the originals, so I wanted to go into some detail here where I could show them).  On to my process for the transfer to the board. I’ve written much about using transfer artist paper (TAP), a polymer paper that I’ve had very good results with transferring onto several different surfaces.  This would be the first time I’ve tried to transfer onto a gessoed wood board. I printed the collage onto the TAP using the recommended settings: plain paper and medium quality. I printed it on the Epson Workforce 500, which I use for the workshops I teach. The durabrite ultra inks are pigment and have worked well with the TAP.  I forgot the first lesson of printing a transfer: REVERSE the image. Oops, but the collage is abstract so it didn’t really matter.  I placed the TAP on the wood board and began to iron it, using the iron’s highest setting. I could hear the transfer hissing a little, which I’ve come to learn means that it’s working. I peeled up a bit of the TAP and checked, and was delighted to see that the transfer was indeed transferring.  After a few more passes of the iron, the entire transfer had completed.  As with my other TAP pieces, there’s a very pleasing texture caused by the polymer.  To protect the print, I applied two layers of varnish and then went searching for a frame.  I unearthed an old wooden frame of exactly the right size that I had found at an estate sale. I think it complemented the collaged board beautifully! Here it is, see what you think:

Albany Hill digital collage

Albany Hill digital collage