Friday, August 28, 2015


I could have - and probably should have - chosen the easier route for this commission. There were two photos of a young black cat to work from, one of which would lead to a pretty straightforward print, requiring only a bit of fiction to make the background carve-able, and the other, which looked more complicated every time i peered at it.

Naturally, i picked the more complicated route, a neat shot of the kitty perched on a section of worm fence. It ended up needing four separate blocks, printed in layers - light green, then dark green, then grey-brown, and finally black. It was fussy to do, and there were inconvenient hitches like an arm injury that set things back, and it ended up taking far longer than i'd expected, based on the original plan of a simple, single block print. Feeling a bit guilty for getting the timeline wrong, i decided i ought to do a print from the other photo, too (and in fact, that was something i was able to put together pretty quickly, while finishing the last stages of the original choice). I finally drove out and delivered both today, and was relieved that they were greeted with oohs and aaahs - commissions, while they're fun challenges, are always a little nerve-racking, and this one was for friends, the proprietors of my favorite little used bookshop.

There's an edition of each, so they'll be making their way to the shop sooner (for the simpler one) or later (for the four-color monstrosity, because i haven't even completed the edition yet, and i'm going to need more ink).

And i think i've had enough of carving wood grain for a while...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Done, mostly.

We had a family wedding to go to, in southern Virginia, at the back end of June. That's a recipe for miserably hot and swampy, and i decided to play it safe and make something cool and breezy to wear. It's not a vintage pattern (it's a current McCall's issue, in fact, and if i get organized enough to remember, i'll slip the pattern number in later for folks who are curious...). [update for the curious: the pattern number is 6954]

What with travelling down there, and lodging and whatnot, there wasn't really room in the budget for a fabric splurge, so i started rummaging in the stash: the first thought for hot and sticky weather, of course, is linen, and i had a length of uncommitted linen sitting around from a crazy clearance buy. That had promise, but the piece proved to be scandalously sheer, and i knew i'd have to put something either over or under it.

After a bit of head-scratching, i thought about a piece of embroidered cotton batik i had: i'd bought it (online, following one of those seductive you-might-like-this-one-too links), thinking it was rayon and not realizing the link had led me away from the rayon batiks into the cotton ones. The crisper cotton was totally unsuitable for the original project, but since it was my own damn fault for not reading closely - and it was a pretty piece - i tucked it into the stash, trusting to find a purpose for it eventually. I cut the batik on the bias, hoping the more relaxed drape of the cut would make up for the difference in the body of the fabric.

Since i had the pattern on hand from one of the pattern-for-a-buck sales, the only thing i had to buy for the project was thread to match the linen, and that only because i needed a closer match for topstitching.

I finished in time for the wedding (although i admit there was hemming going on the morning of - that curve in the hem makes it a heck of a lot longer than you'd think from the fullness of the dress), and it was fully inspected by several sisters-in-law, at least one of whom sews for a living, so i figured i might as well enter it at the county fair this summer. Honestly, i'd have been a little cranky not to have scored a ribbon, but i was chuffed to get best in show as well.

And the mostly done part? Well, some of the chain-stitched embroidery on the batik didn't catch properly, and since i was already pushing my luck for what i could get out of the yardage on hand by cutting on the bias, there was no working around it... it's not too obvious, but at some point, i'll go back and rip out the fouled-up spots and re-do it by hand. I've saved a pile of the floss from the scraps and the facings, and at least chain stitch is sort of pleasant to work by hand, if you're not in a mad rush.