Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2nd Fairy, Michigan & Christmas Cookies Already?

Swap Fairy from Jill Webb, pattern by Susan Barmore
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Dollstreet Dreamers had a fairy swap.  To accommodate everyone's busy schedule, the deadline got pushed back a couple of times.  I was very happy to get my fairy  from Jill Webb in the mailbox right before I left.  (Really, it came the last day I had mail service!)  I had to pack her in the suitcase and just got around to photographing her. 

My fairy, original design by Penney Hughes
I really enjoyed my brief time in Michigan.  I loved the seasons, the woods behind my house and all the wildlife wandering through.  I loved the chance to work with the Lansing Maker's Network folks and I learned a lot.  The people of Michigan were friendly and welcoming.  I enjoyed many special beverages that I had never seen before, like Faygo (Rock 'n Rye!), Vernors, Meads like B Nektar's Zombie Killer, various local hard ciders and the spirits of American Fifth.  I hope to return to Michigan when it is time to hang up the towel with overseas life.  When I do, I want to explore the art scene more and look deeper at the work of artists like Jane Reiter, Kelly Boyle, and ceramic artists Doug DeLind and his daughter Jody DeLind.
Christmas Cookies?  I know, not even Halloween yet but Christmas crafting starts now, so I have created a Christmas themed design for this week's Spoonflower contest, Pop Art Cookies.  I hope you will consider voting.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

One Last Thing! and another free swatch

Beginning to sand the table
The last few weeks have been super busy with the move to Ghana, but if you know me, I always have a project brewing, even in the midst of everything else. 
In between all of my other tasks, I had been working on a side table refurbish project for a few months.  This project began with an old table given to me by a friend many years ago.  It had a lot of water stains on the top, a loose leg and was generally bedraggled.  I began by sanding it down using a power sander at the Lansing Maker Network woodshop. 
Once the table was smooth, I applied Minwax wood finish in Red Mahogany, and coated it with a couple of coats of polyurethane. 
Now for the hard part.  I wanted to decorate the top of the table with a lace pattern.  I considered three techniques to achieve the lace design.  I considered taking some (expensive) lace and dipping it in paint and trying to carefully lay it on the top of the table to create a kind of stamp.  Ultimately, I decided that would create a unholy mess as well as ruin a perfectly beautiful piece of lace.  Next, I tried to convert my African Lace design to a raster file so I could create a stencil on vinyl cutter at the Lansing Maker Network.  Intricate lace designs do not transfer well to raster files.  This would be a good technique for a reverse stencil if you wanted to paint it or to leave as is with a layer of polyurethane over it as long as your design uses simplified geometrically based shapes.
The tools for the job
I was down to my last technique.  In college, I learned how create a print from a photocopy. I had to go the copy store and get an extra large copy of my lace. Now for the image transfer.  Wet the paper first to create a resist to the oil based printing ink which will adhere the photocopy toner.  Next spread out the oil based ink on a palette with a brayer (it is the roller shown in the photo).  Roll out the ink and spread evenly across the print. In my situation, I found that I was out of oil based ink and ended up using the oil paint seen below.  This is what happens when you are finishing a project in the 11th hour.
The print worked fine.  The only problem was the ink was largely transparent and did not show well against the wood.  My solution was to dust the paint with fine white glitter.  The glitter did indeed stick to the ink but stuck to the table surface as well.  I could not just wipe it off without smearing the print.  A can of compressed air solved that problem well.  Tip:  hold can of air 10-12 inches away from the table to avoid blowing the glitter off the print.
Lastly, seal the print with spray polyurethane.
And one last thing---get a free swatch of Spoonflower's new fabric, Poly Crepe de Chine until 12pm EST 9/4/15.  Get yours now!
The finished project in the wild!