When I pop out for a quick coffee or in a panic because I've run out of some essential supplies I always feel the need to explain my appearance. "I'm working in the studio today" I say or "I forgot...X" as I look down at my paint stained clothes and try not to make eye contact. But not anymore, apparently.
I write this post open-mouthed after perusing Anthropologie's latest arrival of the Painterly Shirt.
Never again shall I shuffle in the queue smiling apologetically. I will stand proud because the clothes maketh the lady. I realise that this shirt holds a lot of memories. Each paint splat tells a story, every ink stain reminds me of the achievements and, let's not call them failures, the...erm, experiments, of the prints and the people who made them.
A lot of good stuff has happened in this shirt.
Bias binding is extremely versatile and easy to make. In this tutorial I show you how to make it using a bias-binding-making-thingamajig, otherwise known as a Tape Maker.
1. Cut strips of fabric on the bias grain line, double the width of the final binding.
2. Cut off the diagonal ends to leave a straight edge.
3. With right sides together place 2 strips at a 90 degree angle to one another, lining up the straight edges you've just neatened.
4. Sew a straight, diagonal line from outside corner to outside corner.
5. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8" or 3mm.
5. Press the seam open.
Take another strip and with right sides together add it to the end of the strip you have just sewn as in step 3. Continue doing this until you have used up all the strips and have one continuos length.
7. With right side down feed the strip through the wide end of the Tape Maker so that approx 1/2" or 2cm is protruding from the narrow end (you may need to use a pin in the top to help it along).
8. With the metal bar of the Tape Maker in your non-writing-hand and the iron in the other, place the iron onto the fabric now protruding from the narrow end. Simultaneously pull the Tape Maker whilst ironing the strip of bias as it comes out.
Continue until you reach the end.
And there you have bias binding.
Perhaps I've been a little bit dim (no pun intended) but I'd never put two and two together before and realised that photography is basic printing with light. Back in the old days you'd take your film into Boots the Chemist and and hour later you could pick up your "prints" yes, prints, the clue's in the name, duh!
In very basic terms you start with a blank piece of paper, all be it a light sensitive, introduce a resist, expose it to the light, place it in the developing solution and hey presto you've got your print.
At an even more basic level are photograms but the resist is not a plate or negative but objects placed onto photographic paper.
I got to play in the dark room experimenting with different exposure times and a variety of sewing related objects, oh, and a fork.
Take a Biro and scratch a boy's initials to the inside, pull the metal teeth shut and only you know the truth.
I've still got my last pencil case (pictured above) which holds the initials of a teenage crush. Not so secret anymore as it turned into love and he's now my husband!
Here is a round-up of some back to school creative ideas for you to try to perk up any pencil case:
Now, I know that for some people doing anything creative sends them rushing for the nearest exit so I needed to make it personal and convince even the least creative person there that screen printing fits in with their natural abilities. I needed to find out what was going on in my audience's heads so I set them a little test.
It's well documented that although we use both sides of our brains, to a lesser or greater degree, one side will always be more dominant and affect the way that we naturally behave. For example if you favour the left side of your brain then you are said to be more logical and rational and if you are led by the right side of your brain then you are supposed to be more creative and impulsive.
With this information at their hands I assured the lovely lefties that screen printing has some great processes that they needed to follow and gave the arty righties permission(!) to be as creative as they wanted to be. Thankfully I didn't have to seal the exits.
I'm glad to say that the workshop went off without a hitch (phew!) and everyone left with a mini piece of art that they'd designed and screen printed. I had so many great comments afterwards and was really pleased to hear people that usually shy away from doing anything creative saying that they were surprised how much they enjoyed it.
Which side of your brain do you use the most? Here is an online test that you can take, let me know which side is your most dominant.
FYI, I'm about 50/50 with the right side being slightly more dominant than the left.
"Come in, come in" the artist beckons "Excuse the shorts" she says looking down at her tanned legs. It's been a sweltering hot day and the suggestion of a storm lays heavy over the River Medway.
"Well, if you've got great pins then show them off" I say and she looks at me in the comparative dark of the hallway, taking in my features
"You're Rachel Anderson" she exclaims.
"And you're Mrs Trinder" I smile.
After 18 years of teaching countless other children in different schools Mrs Trinder (or Jackie as she now insists I call her) still remembers me. I'm impressed.
"I've still got some of your work" she says and I instinctively know - hope I know - what piece she is referring to.
"They were going to throw it away, and I couldn't bear that so I brought it home. Would you like it?"
My eyes widened, and may have gone a bit watery.
"Yes. Please." I say pronouncing each letter. I can hardly believe what is happening.
"Have a look through that while I go and get it out of the loft"
She hands me a felted covered, spiral bound book. I stand in her cool tiled studio in front of a huge watercolour of a Tiger Lilly. As I turn the stiff black pages familiar faces stare back at me. Pieces of artwork jump out at me and I can name the Year 11 pupil who created each one of them.
Back down from the stifling loft, Jackie scrambles to take a large felted piece out of a translucent blue recycling bag, she is as excited as I am. My fingers are twitching to touch the itchy wool and connect with my past. Jackie hastily unfolds it. Curly threads of purple, aquamarine and a flash of orange bring back a memory. A flat dark brown and muted ochre tones contrast the Van Gogh inspired background. I breathe heavily.
It perches awkwardly on the chair and we stop it from slipping onto the floor, both smiling. I'm close to tears.
It is the 16 year old me's hopes and dreams. It is the freedom of leaving school, the anticipation of starting college, of adventures unknown and a future ready to be written.
It's no masterpiece but to me it is priceless.
about this blog
Here I'll share with you ways to create prints and things at home. There's also a good chance of some of my general thoughts and ramblings.