Category Archives: Classes & Teaching

RahnRecipeCard

This is a recipe written in my Grandmother’s handwriting, which I turned into a linen tea towel.  Cool huh?  This was inspired by a post a couple of years ago on Spoonflower’s blog and I have turned the idea into a class, which is coming up in March.  We will scan a recipe card and learn how to scale it up so it fills a fat quarter of fabric, perfect for a tea towel.  Don’t have a recipe?  You could also use a handwritten note, a signature, a quote, or a poem as long as it is something about the size and shape of an index card.

My recipe cards weren’t quite the right size ratio to fill the whole fat quarter – there was a little white space around the edges – so I made this simple gingham pattern to fill in the gaps and add a pretty border.  You will learn how to do that too!  This class is broken up into 3 class sessions.  There is a gap before the last session so we have time to order our fabric and then meet back one more time so we can show and tell (or troubleshoot) and then I will demonstrate how to hem them (with pretty mitered corners) and show you some more great designs based on this same scanning and scaling technique.

You can register at Textile Center.  Dates are Wednesdays March 25, April 1 and April 29 from 6-8 pm.

Often when I teach an intro fabric design class, the students and I create a collaborative fabric design during class, which I have printed and mail to them after class.  This most recent class played along with me and made this design using speech bubble shaped post-it-notes and wrote their favorite “clean” swear word.  I thought it would make a funny fabric, especially given the day I had before I got to class.  So I scanned our design and got ready to put it into a repeat and it just seemed sort of blah.  We needed a much more colorful fabric to match our colorful language.  So I added some color and after I sent the swatches, I told my class I would post a tutorial about how I did it so they could check back.  My screenshots for this are in Photoshop, but many other design programs have the same tools you can use.

We started with a scanned image of post-it-notes on black paper.  I scanned this at 150 dpi because I wanted to print it at the same size and that is the resolution I need for fabric.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 9.47.06 AMThe first thing I wanted to do was to move the speech bubbles to a layer all by themselves.  This way I could insert something into the background and have them float over top.  When I open the image in Photoshop, it automatically makes it a locked background layer. (See the lock icon?)  When I go to the Layers palette and double click the layer that says Background, it will unlock it and convert it to a regular layer (Layer 0), which is what we need.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 9.50.26 AMNext I want to remove the black background and leave just the speech bubbles by themselves on this layer.  Choose the Magic Wand tool and click anywhere in that black background.  You can see what’s selected because Photoshop traces around it with dashed lines.  Once you have it selected, hit the delete key.  Your black background will disappear.  The checkered pattern you now see indicates that this part of the design is transparent.  (It won’t show on your finished design.)

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Next I will add a new background layer back in, by choosing the new layer icon (looks like a page with a bent corner) to make Layer 1. Then choose Edit -> Fill from the menu to fill it with black.  You will probably also have to put your layers in the right order by clicking and dragging them in the palette to make sure the bubbles are on top and the black layer on the bottom.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 9.52.10 AMSo it doesn’t actually look like we have done much at this point, but what we have done is split the design into two layers so that we can now insert something in between them.  Next, I am going to add a Text layer, by clicking the text tool and dragging a text box to fill the design space.  Now I can type text into this layer.  I filled it with cartoon style swear words (*&%$!!@) to match our theme.  It doesn’t matter what color they are, we will change that next.  Drag the text layer so it is sandwiched between Layers 0 and 1.

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Now the color!  If you double click the Text layer in the Layers Palette, a window will pop up giving you options for Layer Styles.  We are going to use a Gradient Overlay to add a rainbow to this text.

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The last little tweak I made to the design was to add a black outline to our speech bubbles to help make them pop out from the background a little more.  That is easy to do with the same Layer Styles tool.  Double click Layer 0 with the speech bubbles and choose Stroke from the style options.  I added a 3 px border of black.

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And this is the finished design.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 9.57.24 AMNow I understand that this is a pretty silly fabric and you aren’t probably going to run right out and order yards of it.  But by using the same steps you learned here, you can create fabrics like these:

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These sheep are drawn with a fine tip sharpie and scanned.  I cut them out from the background the same way and added a white Stroke to the layer so they have that white outline.  The background for this design instead of text, is a piece of painted paper that I scanned and added a Color Overlay (from the Layer Styles Palette) in green.

Or dancing sheep on a knitted background.

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Thank you to two awesome classes at Dakota County Libraries!  I promised my Etsy class tonight that I would post a link to a tutorial for making your shop banner. Here it is.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.22.33 PMIt’s the month for classes for me.  Another fun class you can come to is a panel discussion called “Digitizing for Dollars” that I will be participating in on January 29 at 6:30 pm at NE Bank Community Room in Minneapolis.  It is presented by WARM (Women’s Art Resources of MN).  Several panelists will be talking about digitizing your original art and selling it online.  I will be talking about Spoonflower and using your original art to make fabric.  The other panelists will be talking about things like making patterns, digital prints and putting your artwork on objects (totes and coffee mugs).  I have worked with this group before and there is always great discussion and good questions, so I am looking forward to it.  (The event is free for WARM members, $5 if you come as a guest of a WARM member or $10 for the public.)

I am teaching two classes for the Dakota County Libraries this month.  They are a little outside of the Minneapolis area but they are free classes (funded by a State Arts Legacy Grant) so it might be worth the drive.

First up is “A Taste of Digital Fabric Design” on January 22 at 6 pm at Wescott Library.  You can register here.  (It’s free, but we like to know who’s coming.)

This class is like the “get your toes wet” experience for designing your own fabric and printing it through Spoonflower.  We will make a collaborative design in class and I will show you all of the steps to get it printed: scanning, resizing and setting resolution, uploading, repeats and so forth.  You don’t need to bring anything – it’s presented demonstration style so you can take lots of notes and follow along without your laptop.  I hope it will be just the right amount of information to get you started and give you confidence to try your first design and not so much technical stuff that you will fee lost and overwhelmed.  After class, I will order some of our collaboratively designed fabric and I will mail you a swatch of it so you can see it in person.  If you have ever wanted to try your hand at making a custom fabric, this is the class to get you started.

Here is a sample of a fabric we made in another class.

Valentine Grid repeat at Spoonflower. Collaborative class project.

Valentine Grid repeat at Spoonflower. Collaborative class project.

On January 26th, it is “Etsy Behind the Scenes” at the Farmington Library at 6:00.  You can register here.

This class is a tour behind the scenes of running an Etsy shop.  Not just tips and tricks, but I log in and take you on a live tour of what my shop looks like from the seller’s perspective.  I will show you how to use the built in tools and talk about options and ways you can run your shop.  I have had an etsy shop for more than 9 years, so I will give you a wealth of ideas from what I have learned:  what works, time savers and time wasters, Etsy vocabulary and more.  If you are on the fence about opening a shop or you have one and aren’t sure what to do next, I think you will find something in this class to help you.

I hope to see you there!

 

I am delighted to be teaching some digital design classes to start off the new year!  In February, I am going to teach a photo collage pillow class. The class is February 2 & 9 in Minneapolis and all of the details are here.

RahnPhotoPillow

You may not be in to pillows.  I get that.  Pillows aren’t really my thing either, but I love these two I made as samples.  You can use this photo collage for many other fun things once you know how to do it: photo placemats, tote bag, quilts.  There are lots of options.  So don’t let the “pillow” part of the project stop you from signing up.

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 6.16.16 PMOne collage is “Chester and Leo” themed.  It is all their puppy pictures with a border “kaleidoscope” design made from a photo of someone’s nose.  Their names are on the bottom corner.

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The other sample is photos from my trip to Italy last year.  The border on this one is a detail from a photo of a green door that is tiled so that it makes neat leaf shapes around the outside edge.  I know it sounds complicated, but it’s really easy to do and I will show you how to do both the collage and the border designs.

In class we will talk about collecting your photos, putting together a collage that is balanced and works together.  We will set it up to print exactly the size we need (it fits on a fat quarter), make a coordinating border print and get our collages uploaded and printed at Spoonflower.  I printed mine on super soft faux-suede.  I will also show you how to do the simple sewing steps to finish up the pillow and a few other project variations.  We will meet one more time to “show and tell” and troubleshoot for your next project.  You need a laptop for class but you don’t need to have Photoshop or any other special software. Really!  Just a collection of photos and a web browser.

Share with your friends.  Sign up.  Pass it on.  See more of my upcoming classes here.

imageI spent a truly delightful weekend taking a workshop from the very talented Jackie Abrams.  Textile Center had Jackie come to teach a 2 1/2 day class on bias plaited baskets.  I am not a basketweaver, in fact, I had only ever made one basket before I took this class.  This gave me a rating of “0” on my name tag at the start of class.  There were several of us “zeroes” in class and although we were the total beginners, I never felt like I was struggling to keep up even though there were “fives” in the room, a credit to Jackie’s teaching style.  I took the class on a whim.  Jackie was organized and thoughtful and just lovely to email back and forth with while I was setting up the class (so I knew I would like her) and it has been a challenging spring for me creatively and I thought this would be a great jump start.  I am so glad I did.

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Bias plaiting works on the bias.  You weave the base, over-under-over-under, and it looks just like a flat paper coaster.  It reminded me a lot of the woven paper placemats I have made with kids.  The bias comes in when you start to shape and you do that by bending things on the diagonal.  It was tough to get the hang of at first and I really forgot what it is like to be a beginner at something totally new.  It’s sort of rare that I jump into something that I don’t have a little experience with.  After wrestling with my first corner, I watched Jackie demonstrate again and it surprised me how much more it made sense the second time.  It also took me a little while to make the connection that I was working with the bias of a woven “fabric”, which stretches and compresses does all kinds of crazy things.  Once I remembered “oh yes, bias” and realized that I could boss the paper around a bit more, then things started to click.

imageOur material was painted watercolor paper, which is a lovely thing to work with. It’s thick paper which is hard to crease (which is a good thing) and is much less fragile than I had at first thought it would be.  We painted each sheet of paper on both sides because in this basket, you end up seeing both sides (and the contrasting colors are a huge help in remembering what piece to put where.)  Painting was fun because really anything goes and some of the wildest papers made some really great baskets.  We cut it into 1/4 inch strips using a pasta machine.  (Brilliant!)

You sculpt your flat paper by adding corners which change the direction and shoulders which are decreases (like k2tog for those knitters reading along).  Some of the class members went for asymmetrical sculptural pieces.  I (being a zero) decided that I would rather get a little practice with the classic symmetrical shapes first, so I made two different baskets in class: a “kimono” and a “pillow”.

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The little clippies come from the electronics department at Radio Shack.  You should have seen the look on the face of the teenaged boy at the counter who asked me what project I was working on.  Basketmaking?  Priceless.

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IMG_2062This is an ugly photo.  But I am posting it here because my digital design class is going to learn how to turn this photo into this seamless repeat…

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 2.09.22 PMOr even this seamless repeat…

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If I post it here to my blog then it is easy for the whole class to find it and download it for class.  But I also thought it would be fun to talk about how that ugly photo gets to be something cool.  My top seamless sample needs a little work still to make a few more flaws disappear where the edges of the repeat tile meet, but once you add a filter effect on top of it (like sample 2) the flaws pretty much vanish.  For the third week of class, I let the students vote on what kind of a repeat we are going to work on and my class this semester chose to work with something photographic.  We are going to use a tool called Pixlr to do our photo editing.  It is a free online graphics program and it is pretty sophisticated.

In a nutshell, here’s what we are going to do:

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 2.31.45 PMWish us luck!

 

20110210-081123.jpgAnother conversation, another blog post.   This week the topic of conversation has been all about dyeing.  We have been gearing up for summer camp at work and we do a lot of dye projects.  We have a dye lab and so it makes it very easy for us to do really great dyeing.  I have discovered that there is a LOT of mis-information about how and what to dye, so I thought it might be helpful to post some information in the hopes that someone might Google this someday and get some help.  I have been the supervisor of the dye lab for about 8 years now, so I have seen a lot of techniques.  I am not going to say that any of these things I am suggesting are the right way to do this (there is no one right way), but these are the things I have learned that should improve your chances of success.

What’s your fiber?

So there are lots of kinds of dye and each one of them is great with a certain kind of fabric.  So the first thing to do is to figure out what fabric you are working with.  Read the tag, check the label.  You can even do a burn test if you are totally stumped.  If you have a blend that is at least 80% something, you should follow the instructions for the predominant fiber.  For instance, we dye 80% wool/20% rayon felt (using the instructions for dyeing wool) and get a nice heathered kind of appearance because the wool takes the dye and the rayon doesn’t.

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(Click to download a .pdf of my Dye Chart and to be able to see it larger.)  Once you have figured out what fiber you have, then you can find out what kind of dye you need to use. I have given you very very simple instructions for each dye.  Check out Dharma Trading’s website for really great how to’s for working with all of the different dyes.  They are a great source for ordering both dyes and dyeable fabrics too.

In a nutshell

The reason dyes work is that there is a chemical reaction going on between the fiber and the dye solution.  Molecules of the fiber react with molecules of the dye to make a (hopefully) permanent chemical bond.  If you get the chemistry right, you will have great colorfast dyed fabrics that don’t bleed and fade.  If not, you might have purple ninjas.  But more about that later.

Just in summary…

Cotton & plant fibers • Procion/Fiber Reactive/MX  dye •  needs soda ash • NO heat

Wool & animal fibers • Acid dye • Needs vinegar/citric acid • Needs heat

Polyester • iDye Poly • Needs heat

Silk • Dye like plant fibers or animal fibers with slightly different results

A few interesting facts.  Nylon behaves like animal fibers when it comes to dye.  You can make really cute tights and camisole dresses by dyeing thrift store finds that are nylon fabrics.  Koolaid works great to dye wool because it contains two key components: dyes and citric acid.  You can’t dye acrylic.  They just don’t make consumer dyes that can do it.  There is also one more class of dyes called “sublimation dyes”, which work on most man-made fibers and are activated by vaporizing the dye under high heat.  That is what is in Crayola Fabric Crayons.  But the process is SO different for these, I am just leaving it at that.  I am also not going to go in to natural dyes.  Totally amazing and cool, but the chemistry for those is a whole other art form.

Purple Ninjas?

You will notice that RIT dye is nowhere on any of my lists.  Why?  RIT is a Frankenstein Dye.  Because they want to make it work with anything you throw at it and so they can say it dyes anything, they mix together all kinds of dyes in one little packet.  In the mixture there is bound to be the right molecule to bind with whatever fiber is dropped in the dye bath.  The problem is that in trying to do everything, it really does nothing very well at all.  All of those extra chemicals just get in each others way and the heat/salt/acid that one reaction needs, makes some other ones not work so well.  So the overall result is everything works a little and nothing works very well.  A good friend emailed me just before Halloween a few years ago with an example of just this effect.  While trying to make a ninja costume in proper ninja black, she got something more like yucky faded purple.  Black is a hard color to dye even if you are using exactly the right chemistry; throw in some Frankenstein and you get nothing close to black at all.

PicMonkey Collage

I am teaching a Photo Help class tonight and one of the hands-on projects we are going to do is resizing some images using PicMonkey.  As a bonus I thought I would post one of my favorite PicMonkey features that I know we won’t have time to cover in class:  Photo Collage.  You can totally do this in Photoshop, but it is about 23 extra steps.  PicMonkey makes it super easy.

When you go to the front page at PicMonkey, there is an option right in the middle of the page for “Create a Collage”.  Click that and the steps are basically to follow the icons.

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You just drag your photos from this thumbnail grid over and place them in the template where you want them. Click on a photo with the 4-way arrow tool that pops up when you hover over the image and you can reposition within its box.  By hovering on the border of a box, it also allows you to drag around and resize the boxes within the template using the double sided arrow tool, so you really can customize it any way you want to.  It even has some built in templates that are sized perfectly for your Facebook page, for instance, so that you can make a new banner with a cool collage of pictures on it pretty easily.

When you save, it gets a little silly.

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You can choose a low/medium/high resolution to save it at depending on what you want to do with it.  It gives you the pixel size at the bottom there and you can also adjust that if you want or need to.  PicMonkey Basic is free and you can do a LOT with the free version.  The upgraded “Royale” just has more fun bells and whistles.  Abby at While She Naps has also written some great PicMonkey tutorials for some other fun effects, so you should check out her posts too.