Monday 25 November 2013

Rust and Stardust

I have been really busy over the past couple of months, a combination of teaching, freelancing at home, freelancing out in real offices, plus doing everything needed to keep Dear Colleen ticking along. I'm not complaining just with so much pressure on my time something had to give and sadly this blog was it. So much has gone on that I want to share, I'll do a real catch up soon. However today I want to write a little piece about two girls, three dogs, a warehouse and a dream.

Amy and Evie work in Auckland and have joined forces to set up what, they aim to become New Zealand's foremost hand printed textile studio. They have a great space and although they look incredibly set up they are seriously short of kit. That's where PledgeMe comes in. If you have a minute to look at their campaign they have been working their socks off to design a stylish range of rewards so you can combine giving a helping hand with Christmas shopping (or just treating yourself). 

Scott and I were running around the house last night trying to measure our collie dog to make sure he'd fit on the 'Outside-In floor cushion'(above). He does, just, so we've snapped one up. Below is a little peak at my favourite items but please go and have a look at the whole range.

Four Camping themed symbol cushions.
Pup tent, like those cat caves but 1,000x nicer to look at.

Running a Crowd Funding campaign is really hard work with no guarantee of reward. Even it you can't help out financially please think about sharing a link or telling a friend. These little things are so greatly appreciated and really do make the world of difference. 

Sunday 29 September 2013

Seasons' Eatings 2014 Sneak Peak

Pardon the pun but I've rather bitten off more than I can chew with this years calendar. I feel like I've been drawing nothing but food for months now. I long to start drawing hot dudes for tea towels again. I'm running horribly behind and I'm so sorry for this. There is light at the end of the tunnel though and everything is starting to come together. 
The success of the PledgeMe campaign was wonderful and totally humbling for both Bron (the clever recipe writer) and myself. I fear we have both been a little overwhelmed and turned into perfectionists. Wanting to make sure we deliver a product worthy of the funds we raised. that's not to say I think the work I am doing is perfect just that I'm being super critical of every drawing I do and find myself redoing and redrawing items again and again.
When I'm not being a crazy artist though I can see that it's all coming together nicely and the recipes  Bron keeps emailing are month wateringly good.

My aim is to get the calendar to print in the next 5-8 days and providing I don't get called into my freelance job more than a day or two I imagine it should be achievable. In the time being I though I would share some of the illustrations.... Just to show I'm not slacking off

Tuesday 24 September 2013

DIY Fabric Printing

This weekend I did a short course at the local Polytech in 'beginners fabric printing'. The focus was mostly on basic screen printing using paper stencils rather than photo emulsion screens.

If you haven't heard of screen printing before it's basically a way of making multiple prints by using a stencil process in which an image or design is superimposed on a very fine mesh screen. Printing ink is then squeegeed onto the printing surface through the area of the screen that is not covered by the stencil.

I've been thinking a lot lately about getting a screen printing set up at home and now it feels more achievable than ever. Mostly it's just a case of saving up for the equipment. I'm going to try and share some of the gems of information I picked up over the weekend, mostly though this post will act as a shopping list for the basic kit you need to get set up at home.

1. Screen printing screen

2. Screen printing squeegee – you'll want a couple of sizes. I found the small (shown below and medium most useful) also cooking spatulas and plastic spoons are really useful for mixing and spreading the ink.
3. Paper to cut we used news print which worked really well the better quality thicker paper I also tried didn't work any where near as well so I'd say the cheaper and thinner the better.

4. Craft knife or scalpel and cutting mat.

5. Padded surface. The Polytech had desks covered with a hard foam top (search or ask about underfelt foam) this was covered with a blanket then everything was covered with calico, pulled tort and pinned into place.

6. T- Pins for holding your fabric in place.
7. Masking tape

8. Solvent free print paste and ink dyes. You mix a couple of drops of dye to a cup of the paste to make your printing ink. You can of course mix the inks to make new colours, just like painting. The paste comes in transparent, which is what I used and opaque white which is good for printing lighter colours or onto dark fabrics.
9. Fabric or garments for printing on. Natural cottons work best.

10. An iron or heat press to heat set the ink.

11. newspaper and plastic sheeting to keep your house ink free. Apron, thin plastic gloves to keep yourself clean. Set up in a space near running water so you can clean your kit quickly and easily.

1. Draw your design onto the newsprint paper. Make sure your design is smaller than your screen. Stencils work like/as silhouettes so you can't have any details within a shape that is being cut out.

2. Using a scalpel or craft knife cut out your design.

3. if you are printing onto a garment or item like a tote bag put a sheet of paper between the front and back to stop any ink sinking through. Then use the t-pins to attached your fabric or garment onto you desk. The t-pins should easily push into the foam top.
4. Use masking tape to attach your paper stencil to your screen (you can mask of areas of your stencil to use later with a different colour ink as shown below)
5. Mix your inks ready to print using a spatula.
6. Spread the ink onto your screen in a line behind the start of you stencil.

7. Holding the squeegee at a 45 degree angle. Pull it through the ink towards you (often you would be recommended to flood the screen with ink before printing but our teacher didn't recommend doing this with a paper stencil as the life of a paper stencil is limited to 5-10 good prints before degrading and becoming unusable). If your pulling your squeegee correctly it should make a zip noise when pulled.

8. Lift your screen carefully from one side like opening a book and that's you done unless, like me you want to print more colours. Really you should wait for the ink to dry before printing onto the fabric again but who can be bothered with that! Plus you have to clean the screen before the ink dries which means losing your paper stencil.
9. I used one half of the stencil to print the blue and one half to print the yellow, masking off with paper as shown above. Once this was done I felt like it needed a third colour so i cleaned the screan basically with an old rag and did one final print in a pink ink.

10. Clean your screen and equipment in water, the faster you do this the easier it is to get the ink off. Leave the ink to air dry on the fabric around 2 hours depending on how thick the ink is. Once it's dry heat set using an iron for around 4 minutes. Place a piece of paper between the iron and the fabric so your iron doesn't get ink on it.

We also got to try out the thermal copier that makes a simple photo image screens from photo copies. Not as high quality as a photo emulsion screen but good for trying out little illustrations or motifs,
Copier shown above and the floppy fabric screen it makes shown below.

I used a mix of paper stencils and a thermal printed screen to make these prints.
I love the over prints and double registration. I hardly ever play around with making pretty stuff just because. It was really good fun not to be worried about a target market or design concept for once and i'm keen to keep letting myself play with just creating for the sake of it for a while. If you're thinking of starting screen printing at home I'd highly recommend doing a short course first as getting the hang of pulling the squeegee is a bit tricky. If you can't find a course though, this etsy film is a good starting point.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

What the Hell to Buy Your Dad...

If you're anything like me, buying for your Dad is always the hardest. With Fathers day just round the corner I though I'd ask my Partner, Scott (a real life man) to pick some affordable gifts that would make even the grumpiest Dad smile. 

Shameless plug alert my 'More Awesome that 2Pac on a Unicorn' t-shirt has just been restocked in all sizes and is a pretty neat gift for telling Dad how cool he is. However if 2Pac's not your Dads' bag. Here's Scotts list. Most of these are NZ finds so you should still have time to sort for Sunday.

The Smith Journal by Frankie Press ($12.95 NZ in most bookstores like Whitcoulls, Paper Plus etc) … a quarterly mag for discerning men which surveys interesting, creative and genuine folk with stories. Your Dad can gloat that he knows 'what's up' cause he reads Smith. Volume 7 out now. 

Samurai Sword Chopstick Set by Think Geek ($7.79 US or a set of 3 for $19.99 US) … you know your Dad doesn't eat pies for lunch he eats sushi! So facilitate him to do so in style and annihilate his lunch with these samurai sword chopsticks.  

Rude Hand Gestures of the World Book ($21.95 NZ from the online store Wocolate) … description writes itself.

Bear Grylls Scout Folding Knife by Gerber ($52.50 NZ from Top Gear) … although your Dad can't be Bear Grylis, let him fantasize about being so with this Bear Grylis knife. He can open any can, slice an apple or just scratch his back. 

The Dude Abides Sweater ($48.00 US from the Lebowskifest Store) … all Dad's love the Big Lebowski and now you can confirm that he is also the DUDE. 

Regional Art Prints by Ink Big ($30 NZ  for a A2 art print from  Ink Big, other sizes available) … for your Dad's home office, get some beautiful illustrative prints that give sentiment to the wonderful family holidays of summer past. They can replace that scantily clad poster which has been up for ages but no one will acknowledge as art, let alone talk about. 

App Store Gift Card ($30 and $50) … a none physical option.  Dad loves to tells you the latest apps he got for his phone but as you know your Dad, there are more things than Angry Birds out there. These are some more practical options. 

Camera Noir ($2.59) … Your Dad is probably not into Instagram but likes to take photos. This allows him to take 'beautiful' black and white photos without having to go to his home developing studio. 

Wake Alarm ($2.59) … it's hard enough to get Dad up in the morning. This alarm is pretty though so surely he can't get too mad with it when it wakes him from his slumber. 

Multi-Measure HD ($2.59) … bring your phone into the workshop. This will allow Dad to keep things level, measure angles and with the decibel function allow him to tell you how much noise you are making. 

Convert Bot ($2.59) … this is unit conversion robot. When your Dad is managing his shares or just needing to know how many pints he will get out of his micro home brewery this will do the trick. 

A huge thanks to my lovely better half Scott Savage for taking time out of his day to write this.

Monday 19 August 2013

How to Make a 16 Page Zine from One Sheet of Paper!

I taught this simple class on how to make a zine at 'Wellington Handmade' back in June (along with a few other tips and tricks). Once you get your head around pagination it's all really simple and a lot of fun.

Of course you can use this technique for making more than just zines! It's idea for making little info booklets particularly if you're on a budget. It's also a great way to put together family or holiday snapshots to send to loved ones or strangers if you like; who am I to judge. Today I'll refer to it as zine making though, as zines are often about producing multiples of a publication in a cheap and easy way.

1. You'll need a few bits and pieces. Most importantly access to a printer or photocopier. Scissors. Stapler (all the better if it's long armed). Paper, standard sizes such as A4 or A3 work best.

2. We'll start by making a master template. You can later use this to make your photocopies/prints from. Take a piece of A4 (this will fold down to make an A7 zine) or A3 (folds down to make an A6 zine) sheet of paper...

...fold it once longways...

...fold it again vertically across the centre...

...and fold once more vertically across the centre again.

3. Now comes the tricky bit. You need to number the pages 1-16 in Sequence. Start on the front page and work back. 

Some of the pages are folded/hidden but these need to be numbered as well. I recommend using a pencil so you can rub out the pages once you have finished designing.

4. Unfold the sheet of paper and you'll see that both sides have numbers on them. The numbers show where the pages will end up once the zine is folded again. Trust the numbers, even though it seems odd that they are often not sat near the pages you want them to be.

It's now time to get creative and start placing your designs/text/images onto the template. This is important - make sure what every your putting on the page is orientated to the same direction as the numbers you draw on earlier.

5. Now your pages are all laid out (on both sides) you are ready to photocopy (or scan in and print). You'll need to print 'duplex' (on both sides of the same piece of paper). Do a test run to see if you need to duplex on the short or long edge.

The free downloadable 'how to make a zine, zine' is flipped on the short edged (this means you turn it over on the short, rather than the long edge of the paper). Just play around to work this out or ask for help in the copy shop, they deal with this everyday so will easily be able to give you a hand.

6. Once you have a print out ready fold it up the same way we did at the start (step 2). My zine is pink because I chose a pink paper stock.

7. Now it's time to bind. This is where the stapler come in. Open the zine up to the centre pages and staple twice along the fold line. Binding done, it's that easy.

8. Now close the zine back up and cut along the top and non bound long edge using a strong pair of scissors. That's it you have a zine. Repeat for as many editions as you like.

Download your how to make a zine, zine here!

Thursday 15 August 2013

Seasons' Eatings 2014

It's very weird to be thinking about calendars in August but believe it of not, in giftware circles, i'm behind the game. Luckily for a small business like mine there's still enough time to get it all illustrated and printed before Christmas.

To build on the success of last years seasonal food calendar I have teamed up with a friend and fantastic cook Bronwyn Mason (you might also know her as R.W. Scissors) to create a seasonal calendar-cum-recipe collection. Unlike most calendars, this one carries on having a purpose once the year is done. Simply tear along the perforation to remove the dates, and you are left with an illustrated cookbook and guide to season produce. Even the torn-off dates have a second use as a shopping list for the ingredients used.

Bronwyn and I are both taking a bit of a leap of faith as we don't yet have the funds to produce the calendar. That's where New Zealand 'crowdfunding' site PledgeMe comes in. We're aiming to raise $1,500 to get a run of 100 of these calendars professionally printed to the highest quality on 100% recycled paper.

I am running this PledgeMe as a pre order and there are some great rewards up for grabs. Here's a wee gander of the rewards list:

$5 - One illustrated recipe emailed to you with a thank you message.

$10Three printable, illustrated recipes emailed to you with a personal thank you message.

$20 - A 297mm x 210mm Seasons’ Eatings signed artist print, recipe card and handwritten thank you note.

$25 - Screen printed fruit and veg tote... design to be finalised but based on the style of illustration used through out the calendar.

$30 Seasons' Eatings calendar/cookbook, including free shipping within New Zealand 

$45calendar and tote bag combination

$50 - Two Seasons' Eatings calendars

$80 - Two Seasons' Eatings calendars and two tote bags

$120Seasons' Eatings calendar, but also an original illustration (in the same style as the calendar) of any recipe of your choosing: from a family favourite to a cookbook classic.

$290 - Seasons' Eatings calendar and tote, and you also get the hand-illustrated recipe of your choosing. On top of this, you will be sent (by courier, anywhere in New Zealand) a lovingly homemade, decorated Christmas cake, carefully packaged in a hand-illustrated box.

$450Seasons' Eatings calendar and tote. Plus your own world famous Dear Colleen ‘Dishes’ tea towel designed and printed just for you. Your choice of up to 5 people - from hollywood stars to sports men to yourself. You'll get 3 tea towels plus you can have more printed at request at a cost of $12 each.

My PledgeMe will be up for 19 day. Some further rewards may be announced if the funding goals reach their targets. Thank you so much for your continued support.