Tuesday, December 30, 2008

L'Espoir Butterfly Print

I got back in the print shop this week to work on some new designs. I mentioned my Chinese paper cuts in the last post and now you get to see how they turned out! After much deliberation and tinkering around I decided to pair the butterfly with the french word for hope, "l'espoir." It felt appropriate as I think there is nothing more delicate and beautiful than hope, and this is shared by the essence of the butterfly.

I took more photographs of my printing process as I didn't do it justice last time. Unfortunately there aren't any good action shots of the ink pulling, since I fly solo most of the time. But then again, it's literally just pulling a squeegee back and forth across a piece of mesh. Magical, right?
The photos show (in order) the films I make on top of the fabric I pre-cut for each bag. I make the films cheaply and quickly with thin acetate on our studio laser printer. The film goes onto the light table and the screen goes over the image. This gets covered with light proof fabric and exposed for about 8 seconds on the high intensity UV tube lights you see there. By the way, the yellow light is from the safe lights that must be used while working with the unexposed screen. The screen gets taken to the sink and rinsed to reveal the printing image.

I'm also including my printshop portrait - a pretty classy polaroid that shows the dark circles under my eyes! That is thanks to my Russian heritage as well as my willingness to forgo sleep for the sake of art. Gotta live it up while you're young, right?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Winter Inspiration

Today I am beginning to recover from the busy holiday season. I was happy to experience my first New England snowstorm last weekend and was even happier that the snow melted two days ago. For me, the girl from sunny California, living in snow felt like living on another planet! Life as we know it came to a screeching halt and a new regime took hold of the town. All the things I take for granted, such as wearing normal shoes or parking on the street, were no longer an option. But snow is also one of the reasons I wanted to move here in the first place! So I ventured out there in my boots and the white hat I knit especially for snow-romping and I danced and played and made snowmen. I got to see the world through that wonderful lens of innocence and wonder that comes from experiencing something for the first time.

Now that the snow has melted and it's vacation time, I am working hard to make new designs, screen-print them, then sew up some new goods and get them online for sale! I have about 10 small accessory / makeup bags in a design called "namaste" being sewn up right now. Also, I'm currently working on a design with a butterfly that is inspired by a set of paper cut-outs from China that I've been toting around with me for years. I'll be sure to let everyone know when there are more goodies in the etsy shop.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We Like Tea

This is a little off the topic of design, but then again, I seem to survive primarily on caffeine. And my favorite purveyor of all things caffeinated is the Seven Stars Bakery in Providence. Conveniently there is a location one block from my house and another location a 2 minute drive from the book bindery! So it's possible for me to go there two or three times a day.

My love is contagious and I've infected my co-workers! The following photo series depicts a typical trip to the bakery. Jeff has been lovely enough to let me photograph him (and Nate's back, by the way) through the entire tea-procuring process. I think it's English Breakfast...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Etsy Launch!!!

It's been an amazing Thanksgiving weekend - I've been enjoying solitude and freedom from schedules. But being the determined girl that I am, I spent most of my time working on my business and now I get to share the fruits of my labor! I have finally posted my first items for sale on Etsy! I was literally jumping around the apartment being totally flabbergasted that someone could go online and buy something that I made. And by made, I mean conceived, designed, printed, stitched and finished! It's just so darn exciting. Hence the plethora of exclamation points...

Here are a few photos of finished products for a teaser, but check me out!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hijacked Ceramics

My co-worker and friend, Nate Murrell, is an amazing potter. As much as he loves cutting book cloth, sewing, and doing all the shipping in the studio, his talent as an artisan and sculptor blow me away. Last weekend his studio building hosted a great open house and I was able to see where he makes the ceramic magic happen!

The process that creates these vibrant layers of color and texture is time consuming and laborious. I appreciate this as a textile artist which often involves painstaking attention to detail. It's also really interesting how he uses Indian woodblocks to create impressions in his clay - the same blocks used in traditional Indian textile printing. I bought a beautiful tumbler at the sale and it's whet my appetite for more. You can buy Nate's amazing pottery on Etsy as HijackedCeramics. Check him out!

While visiting his studio, I was completely surprised to see Nate's striking sculptures. In this recent body of work, puppet-like figures are mounted in shadow-box frames that Nate finds from classic sculptor sources - garbage dumpsters and thrift stores. My favorite piece had sequins and beading and a quiet yet strong presence. I could definitely imagine having one of his pieces in my house! Our other co-worker, the talented illustrator Jeff, is having a Sistine Chapel moment with one of Nate's thought-provoking works.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Screenprinting Weekend

It was a wonderfully mild November weekend. Sunny, bright, and full of inspiration to get busy and make some work.

I went into the studio this weekend to screenprint the fabric that I will sew into my pleated tote bag. I thought I'd take some photographs of the process that I find so magical. I prepare the screen so that ink comes through the mesh according to the design I am working with. It doesn't matter how familiar I am with the image, I am ridiculously excited each time I get the ink onto the fabric! It makes me sound pretty goofy when I am squealing in the studio amongst the super cool and mellow printmakers. Oh well...

What you see here is me putting my screen into place for my design, "joie et bonheur," French for "joy and happiness."

The screen is on a hinge so I can keep it in one place in between each print. And finally, you see that the image has been transferred from the screen to the fabric by me pulling a squeegee of ink across the screen about seven or eight times. Unlike paper screenprinting, fabric needs a lot of ink to get a nice, thick, and juicy layer that will soak into the cotton and give a great print.

The next step will be to post my first finished bag on emmalinedesigns.etsy.com. But I have many more ideas and products coming, like printed kitchen towels and little zipper bags to hold small stuff like knitting needles, lipgloss, or that spare change hanging out at the bottom of your purse. It's a race between me and the holiday season to get my designs on Etsy!

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I'll let you know as soon as I'm ready to open my "doors" for business!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Providence Debut

Emmaline Designs is an idea that has been hatching for years now. A California native, I have spent the last three years gathering experiences across the globe, from Ukraine, Vietnam, Hawaii, and Phoenix and now I am settling into Providence, Rhode Island.

As a student of Political Science and French at UC Berkeley I could never help myself from knitting, sewing, photography, cooking, gardening, and teaching. While I was managing a wonderful restaurant on the Big Island of Hawaii, I decided that I needed to pursue my interests in art and design full-time.

I moved to Phoenix to attend Arizona State University to study graphic design as well as sculpture, textiles, and letterpress. Inspired by my RISD alumni mentors, I took a huge risk and packed up all my belongings and sent them out to Providence so I could immerse myself in its culture of art-making and risk-taking. Though some of the furniture was mysteriously lost on the way, I arrived in one piece.

As luck would have it I found an amazing job making books the first week here. I joined a printmaking collective and learned how to screenprint on fabric which led to my current project: handmade tote bags. Lots of people make bags, they're everywhere! So why am I jumping into these crowded waters? Because I use bags everyday, of different sizes and shapes for different reasons. In our busy modern lives we are constantly on the go, we need to carry things around with us! I design my bags with style, durability, and practicality. The extra step I take is printing the fabric with words and images that are based on my favorite philosophies and inspirations. Who can't benefit from a little optimistic encouragement?

I'm excited to make emmaline designs a fun and inspiring design firm that offers more and more great products and ideas to my friends and customers.

Thanks for stopping by and let's chat again soon!