This is where I work - on the floor by my desk, cutting and ironing interfacing onto fabric where the Toddler is sitting. It's back breaking and my legs ache when I finally stand up but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
I made this bag right after I finished this one but I don't quite like the brown material I'm using right now. It's actually upholstery fabric. I do like the texture but the colour doesn't quite go with everything else and the fabric doesn't hold shape well.
I cut out the flowers and bamboo from batik scraps and sewed them on collage style. The lady is wearing scraps of lace and some other pieces of fabric I found in my stash.
Here's a sketch I drew for some totes I wanted to make. The initial idea was to get some done to sell along with the pouches at last Saturday's bazaar. It turned out to be a long, laborious and frustrating learning process instead.
There was a lot of tracing, re-sketching and resizing which was the fun part. Then came time to burn the screen. And burn it again... and again... and again. If you read my last post, you know the totes never materialized in time for the bazaar. Somehow the image from the transparency just wouldn't stick. So, on Sunday we went back the old school way and printed on A3 paper which we then brushed with oil. And it worked. Sort of.
Last night, The Man triumphed on the third attempt :)
Last Saturday I shared a booth at the local bazaar with my multi-talented friend Lynn. My first ever! I planned to sell some pouches but first I had to make some!
I started by cutting up and ironing interfacing onto the fabric. That's my stack of cotton and cotton linen all prepped and ready to be sewn. Very ambitious indeed!
Next, I needed to get the felt birds ready. So, I used a template made of thick art paper and tailor's chalk to trace out the birds. And then cut them out. Not the easiest thing to do. At all. You need super sharp scissors, steady hands and good eyesight. None of which I have. Yikes!
My stash of colourful felt for more colourful birds.
About a week before the bazaar, we had to make an emergency trip back to The Man's hometown in Taiping. With all the embroidery needed to be done, I was already behind on my bird pouches and I really wanted to do some silkscreened ones but I was running out of time. The new screens we were burning were not making the grade and it quickly dawned on us that we probably just had a lucky run with our first perfect few.
That's The Man doing a test print. It all looks pretty good from afar but there's actually quite a bit of smudging and detail missing from the designs. The new design with the three girls between the trees has been particularly difficult. We have tried about half a dozen times to get it right but we still haven't! Some parts are always missing :(
Pouch #28 & #29 with Oi! guy on the back
The Man went straight to work the night we came back from Taiping and pulled through with a couple of perfect screens. By the morning of the bazaar, I managed to make 8 pouches - 4 birds and 4 Oi!s. Not much but it's a start :)
I love how the silkscreened pouches turned out. And, yes, I am still painting on the red bits!
I love using Sharpie's Stained Fabric Markers but they get blunt after a while and it becomes harder to draw fine lines. I also want to make more pouches and drawing would be really time consuming and not very practical.
So. it is with such immense luck that The Man's friend brought over his entire silkscreen equipment to our house for storage and let us use it as much as we like. I was super excited about finally getting to experiment with silkscreen but nervous about the mess or destroying his equipment. Every time I entered the room all I could do was stare at the containers of dye, emulsion, emulsion remover, squeegee, three specially made screens and, get this, a laser printer and huge light box with 6 UV lightbulbs! All of which had hardly been used.
Then one day I had enough of being such a chicken and announced to The Man - "Tonight's the night." And he knew I was talking about burning a screen :)
For our first film, we used A4 paper and brushed it with oil. Apparently, that was how The Man did it in the good old days when he would stand out in the sun and count the time it took to burn a screen. He had no idea how long it would take now that we had more "professional" equipment. His friend couldn't remember either! :) To top it off we don't have a dark room and had to wait till night time to do any work which means we could hardly see what we were doing. Suffice to say, the first night was a complete disaster .
The second night was no better. Most of the tutorials I found online recommend ink-jet to print the film. Unfortunately, not one single shop here carries ink-jet transparency. So, we settled for laser print transparency, found a photocopying shop nearby that sold loose sheets and thought that since we were there we might as well photocopy our artwork onto them. Alas, we found out the hard way that as with all photocopying shops, they don't replenish their toner cartridges very often.
Finally, we used the laser printer and printed our own film but not before running into more technical problems which The Man managed to solve. By the third exhausting night of burning and washing overexposed or underexposed screens, I went to bed while The Man soldiered on to produce our first perfect screen and promptly printed our, or rather his first t-shirt.
It has been tough but we figured out
A) exposure time for the light box we were using = 1 min 30 seconds
B) we have to use double layer of film per artwork to get a nice solid black that will block out light.
I wish I could say we were getting to be experts by the time we burnt my screen but we still ended up having to redo it a couple of times.
After many days of learning, I present to you my first silk screened pouch...
Silk screened and hand painted
We have yet to figure out how to silkscreen with two colours or more, so I had to hand paint the lady in red using my Pebeo Setacolor Fabric Paint.
I absolutely love silkscreen printing even if it makes me wanna tear my hair out!
I bought some stamp pads yesterday and had to test them out so I made more stamps and put them to work. And they worked like a charm. The colours are limited but I was so happy I found them. The stamp pads I see featured in a lot of the blogs I read are beyond my budget but these were really affordable. Excellent!
As usual, I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I was going with all my random testing. This village scene grew from trying to cover the mess I was making :)
This wooden staircase was originally part of a lower landing adjacent to the landing you see in the picture. My grandma's room used to be there but over the years she spent more time downstairs and so it made more sense to make do without it. Later, my uncle did some renovations and had the lower landing taken down all together. It's a good thing too. Now there's more space downstairs for everyone to get together. And without the lower landing the ceilings are higher so it's also cooler.
I love it that my uncle decided to reuse the wooden staircase. It's in excellent shape. But it wasn't easy for my grandparents and now my dad, aunts and uncles to make their way up and down those steep steps. So, many years ago a couple of beds were installed behind that staircase under the landing and two additional bedrooms were built near the kitchen.
Here's the upper landing with thick quilts spread out and pillows and blankets neatly arranged for my cousins and their families coming home for Eid al-Fitr.
When we were kids we would hang out here and watch tv. Now the tv has been brought downstairs so there's no excuse to not socialize with everyone else. Before we even had any tv, we would walk to the neighbour's house to watch theirs. There were only two channels back then but that was good enough for us as long as we got to watch Harold Lloyd in black and white nevertheless :)
That door leads to my dad's bedroom.
My two kids looking out the window of my dad's bedroom which has also been prepped and readied for our relatives to spend the night in.
Beautiful rusted iron detail.
Above the door leading out to the verandah - prayers asking for protection :)
I found these wooden blocks at Daiso and immediately thought of making some stamps. At first I tried carving them but that didn't work out. Then I remembered reading a post about using foam. Luckily I had a roll stashed somewhere. I laid it out and cut up a bunch of shapes using a blade and scissors and pasted them onto the blocks with white glue.
I figured I've got to get the most out of the blocks so I pasted on every side!
My stamps are a mess because I used a brush to paint on the poster colour instead of using stamp pads or a roller. For the girl I used a Chinese paint brush pen. It works almost as well as the Sakura Pigma Brush Pen. Unfortunately the bristles come off easily. I guess that's why it's cheaper :)
I am such a huge fan of Geninne Zlatkis. I discovered her blog a couple of years ago and have been following it ever since. I think she has the most beautiful blog. Her photos, her work and glimpses into her life in Mexico make every post inspiring.
A few days ago I finally managed to get her book on carving stamps. I've been wanting it ever since she announced she was working on it. It's full of great projects easy enough for a novice like me but I especially love how it helps you get the most out of your stamps.
Every year for Eid al-Fitr we would go back to the man's hometown in Taiping, Perak to visit my in-laws and drive further north the following day up to my dad's hometown in Teluk Kumbar, Penang.
It's always a bittersweet trip for me. On one hand I get to visit the kampung where my dad grew up but on the other hand I get a bit depressed seeing the changes that come with development. I dread seeing apartments and link houses slowly, inevitably taking over what used to be beautiful padi fields, lush jungles and quaint kampung homes.
So, I am grateful my uncle and aunt have continued to live in my great grandparents' house and have taken the best of care so that it still stands handsome for the the 5th generation - my kids - to see and enjoy.
This is the main road leading through the kampung and to my great grandparents' house.
It wasn't always a tar road. It used to be a rugged path hardly wide enough for one car and so full of holes and tree roots we would be bouncing up and down in the car as we made our way to the house in the dark. Back then there were no highways and so what is now a four hour journey from Kuala Lumpur used to take us 8 - 9 hours and we would usually arrive at night.
The road still fits only one car but it's a much smoother ride now.
Above is a painting my dad did of the original house. He was in his teens when he painted this and every time I look at it I can't believe the colours are still brilliant after all these years. My photo doesn't do it justice at all.
My dad is in his early 70s by the way so you can get an idea how old this painting is :)
Here's what it looks like now. Those windows are my dad's bedroom windows. The best view.
The main house is intact but there have been some renovations as you can see. That extended portion on the right is part of the kitchen and a bathroom. When I was growing up the kitchen was literally a cement floor and a small hole in the wall to allow water to flow out. Electricity was supplied in the early 60s so we were cooking using a stove by then but the kampung didn't get water till much later and we had to wash the the dishes on the floor using water carried from the well nearby.
Now, the kitchen is tiled and fitted with lots of cabinets and a working sink. No more trips to the well. It's not even there anymore :( Edited: Found out it's still there but no one uses it anymore
There was also no toilet or bathroom. We had to use an outhouse in the back when we had to go. I remember not bringing enough water once and had to yell for some more. My poor grandma had to hurry over with another pail of water. For baths or for washing clothes we would go to the river although I think it's more like a stream or a brook that runs through two ponds - a large, shallow one where the kampung women and children would bathe and wash the clothes and a smaller, fairly deeper pond further up for the men folk. Sometimes we kids would sneak up to use it too!
Soon, my dad's family had a small "shed" built at the side of the house where the current bathroom now stands. Unfortunately, it was so low we had to bend down and squat to bathe. I hated it not only because of the height but also because there were gaps between the roof and walls and I was sure anyone who passed by could see me bathe. Now there are three large, airy, spacious bathrooms, two of which have attached toilets. Oh. And there's a washing machine now of course.
All this to accommodate the ever growing family.
These steps leading up to that small verandah were also added later on. Up a few more steps on the right is a door to my dad's room.
A window to my dad's bedroom.
The bars and diamond grills have been there for as long as I remember but the chicken coop fence below was fixed several years ago due to the rampant thieving. Sad. We used to play under the house and look for eggs in the baskets put out for the many chickens my grandparents reared. We had to be careful because most of the time the hens would be sitting on their eggs and some of them were really feisty. It's a bummer the kampung is no longer a safe place. Years ago you could leave the house unlocked and the doors wide open. Now everything has to be barred up and the pretty scallops are rendered not so pretty anymore.
Under lock and key.
The bicycle on the right belonged to my late grandfather - a fisherman and a farmer of many skills, highly refined craftsmanship and a fiery temper. Apparently he scolded me once for playing with his bicycle but somehow I can't seem to remember that at all. What I do remember is sitting with him and watching him patiently mend his fishing net with the utmost care. I also remember him always barefoot. According to my uncle he never wore shoes or slippers, not since he was young except for formal occasions. I don't think it was just an eccentricity. My grandfather was truly one with nature.
I really liked this week's topic because I got to explore an old obsession of mine - plants. I came across a quote on Pinterest - "Draw what you see not what you know" and I realize the problem I get stuck all the time is because I don't exercise my observation skills. So, for this piece I did a sketch first and looked up some pictures and the plants outside my window as reference and for inspiration. You can see it's quite different from my usual style. It took time to get out of my comfort zone. Didn't think I could do it but ... :) Learnt a lot!
Note: The last time I did anything for Illustration Friday was November last year!
Another piece I don't think I will be finishing any time soon. Half way through I started doodling on it. Then the toddler got her hands on my brush again and gave the girl at the bottom right corner a nice pink makeover.
It's the fasting month now and soon we will be celebrating Eid-al Fitr. Am thinking of making some cards.
We'll see :)