Upcoming Classes: Repeats

Just a quick note about a class coming up on Monday August 17 (that’s just 1 week!).  I have had a lot of requests for exactly this topic, so this class is really designed by you: creating seamless repeats from your artwork.  The idea is that we will take your art, whether it is a texture or a drawing or a painting and we will learn 4 or 5 different techniques for making it be able to tile seamlessly.  What does that mean?

Here is a pattern that is not seamless.  You can easily see the edges of each repeat tile.  It looks like a set of playing cards set side by side.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 9.46.59 PMThis is the seamless version of that tile.  I copied and flipped the peacock and added in extra feathers so it disguises the edges of the tile.  You can’t see the edges of the rectangle, but it is still just one rectangle repeating over and over.

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This is a complex version.  We will try different techniques in class from really simple (mirrored repeats) to learning a tiny bit about the healing brush and clone in Photoshop.  You can register for class at Textile Center’s website.  Hope to see you there.


An artist wears many hats. (Send more tea.)

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I thought it was time for a little staff meeting here at Becka’s to give you a status on some of the projects we have been working on.

The Art Department has been working on a new design idea which is a combination of geometric with organic overlays.  Looking for prints that might be good for making simple t-shirt dresses.  The one above is called “Editorial Buzz” because it features a geometric print made from a photo of pencil erasers, newsprint and bees.  We think this one is a winner.  The Social Media team will write an article about it next week.  The Art Department has also been busy working on engineered prints for Exhibition Project #3 which is due at the end of the month.  Contributors have submitted their components and it is just a matter of completing design work in the next 2 business days.

The Photography Department just finished a photoshoot of 6 new pieces to go with a grant submission.  The photo styling team was very efficient.  These have been formatted for the grant requirements and also for updates to the artist’s website.

The Marketing Team reports that new business cards have finally been ordered, the artist having realized that she was out of them at an inopportune moment.  They have been shipped.

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The IT Department ran updates to the artist’s website due to a WordPress software update.  The photos from the Photography Department were uploaded and the gallery re-styled due to the artists frustration with the previous template.  Tech Support I (aka Google) was queried for instructions on adding additional sidebars and full width templates.  A request has been placed with Tech Support Supervisor (aka husband) in regards to a .css conflict which is causing something to be green that shouldn’t be.  IT will report back.

The Development Department reports successful completion of Arts Board Grant submission.  Approximately 16 hours of prep was required for this project, which results in some overtime for this Department.  Final count was 7500 characters exactly.  Grant funding will be used for new exhibition of work and purchase of mobile computer lab, pending approval of funding.

Outreach and Community Engagement Department attended a gathering of non-profits to interview and recruit potential board candidates. They report many renewed acquaintances and possible partnership opportunites as a result.  Note to Marketing Department: order more business cards.  The department also reports two new design project queries, but these have been postponed until after personnel have been freed up by Development.

Product Development received a shipment of experimental purse frames.  They also placed a manufacturing order of laser cut components to arrive in a few days.

The Customer Service Team responded to an email request for more product and performed maintenance in the online shop.  Orders are to be shipping tomorrow when it is not raining.

Canine Interns report rain in the backyard.  They are very concerned about monitoring the squirrels, so they are currently napping in the dry spot under the tree and have declined requests to come in the house.


Sleepy canine interns.

Building Maintenance reports that there are unusual levels of mud in the kitchen.  Suggested follow-up with Canine Interns.

The Artist reports a need for a nap.  Or maybe more caffeine.  We are out of Breakfast Assam.

Upcoming Classes: New Classes this fall


I am teaching a LOT of new classes this fall and I am really excited about that.  I am going to be one busy lady.

The waterlily is a sample for my Digital Art Quilt class.  It is one of the “Beyond the Book” classes that I am teaching, which are based on projects from The Spoonflower Handbook, but I am taking them a step further and adding some hands-on components.  This is based on a really cute quilt project from the book using an original piece of  collage art.  We are going to expand the collage idea by making paper collages, handpainting some papers and adding digital layers to the design as well.  This one is made only from the pages of an Eddie Bauer catalog and a sharpie drawing of pebble shapes.  I think I am going to print it at about 15 inches square and finish it as an art quilt.

Check out most of the fall classes here on my Upcoming Classes page.  I have a few more to come that are waiting to confirm dates.

The Verdict is in: Pfaff Expression 3.2


It’s love.

One of my most popular posts according to the analytics I see when I log in is the post I wrote about my Saga of Sewing Machines and the reviews of the Bicor, Viking, Bernina and more that I have loved and hated through the years.  When I wrote that post I had had my Pfaff Expression 3.2 for about a week.  It’s now been 8 months and about a million stitches, so it is definitely time to follow up.  (I have been busy!)  I can say with all honesty that this is the best machine I have ever owned.  I have stitched through layers of leather, not to mention denim, silk organza, felt, polar fleece.  I made a quilt with it.  The stitches are beautiful, the tension is beautiful.  I still love the zipper foot.  It’s quiet and heavy enough that I don’t push it around the sewing table.

If I have to pick out a pet peeve it’s that the reverse button is little and a little awkwardly located.  Reverse has two “modes”: one where you can hold it in and it reverses and when you let go it goes back to forward stitching; and the other mode clicks it into reverse and it stays there.  Inevitably I do the wrong thing and get it locked into reverse when I want it out or vice versa.  It’s mostly user malfunction, but it annoys me.  (Now I wonder if I can change that to always do one or the other. I will have to check the book.)

I was skeptical about it being computerized, but so far that hasn’t been a problem.  I bought a rolled hem foot that I cannot get to work reliably, but I think that is probably me needing more practice.  All in all, I think I finally found the machine that I love.

The only thing I haven’t done is settle on a name, which I know is silly.  Nothing so far has stuck, but I am sure she will let me know what her name is at some point.

Public Service Announcement: Back it Up!

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This is my periodic public service announcement.  Take 10 minutes (or maybe an hour) right now and back up your computer or your phone or your iPad (or maybe all of them!)

Burn a DVD of all of your photos.

Run the backup program that you have but never use.

Go investigate a service like CrashPlan who will back up automatically for you every night.  (We love them.)

Look up a tutorial for how to backup to the Cloud or DropBox.

I can 100% promise that you will never ever regret spending the time to do that.  Our hard drive melted down last week.  As you might have guessed, I use the computer a lot.  I have hundreds of MBs of design files.  My entire exhibition that goes up this fall lives entirely in this computer right now.  And the hard drive had a malfunction and it completely croaked right in the middle of checking my email.

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That photo.  That’s exactly what my screen looked like.  That is one dead hard drive.

It wasn’t a crisis.  Because it was completely backed up.  It was very annoying.  The computer was in the shop for a week; it took several days to download all of the files to a new drive.  I drummed my fingers a lot because I had a lot of work to do last week.  It could have been a disaster.



Design Challenges = Practice


This is my design for the weekly Spoonflower design challenge.  The theme this week is “What’s in your bag?”.  The idea is that everyone carries around something interesting in their purse or bag and you should use that ephemera as a basis for a design.

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I don’t actually worry too much about the voting part of these contests, although it is very fun and validating to see the likes and comments from everyone.  For me these design challenges are all about deadlines and practice. With all kinds of skills from playing musical instruments to sports, you get better by practicing.  I feel like design is the same way.  I am out of practice with pen and paper drawing.  I participated in Illustration Friday for quite a while, but I got busy with other things and stopped.  So for these last few challenges, I have been drawing and digitally coloring. Practice. I don’t think pen and pencil drawing is a mandatory component to being a great designer, but I do think the more skills you have in your toolbox the more versatile you are.

The other creative challenge that I love is having a random topic as inspiration.  Being assigned a topic takes you out of your comfort zone.  It makes you think about topics you might never design and to really think about all the different ways you could represent lemonade or llamas.  Next week is a baseball theme.  I know next to nothing about baseball and I am really not a fan, so it is a real challenge to me to come up with what to design.  I think it will involve dogs and baseballs.  I know a lot about that.

This week’s “bag” challenge was pretty wide open and I decided to go a little bit literal, because I thought it was fun to have a fabric design that was just commonplace and odd objects.  It was drawn in 3 sections.  I started with the sharpies and made them and the knitting needles deliberately very directional to make almost a basketweave kind of pattern with the lines formed by those two components. I drew these bits all with fine tip sharpies and scanned them.  I started coloring this one in Photoshop very “inside the lines” and pretty and then deleted the whole thing. It was too “nice”.  I started again with a grungy streaky Photoshop brush and painted in things by hand.  I added a layer of “fibers” in the background with a filter and then added some splatters and erased some bits of the colors to break it up and add texture.  I played with the colors a lot.  I wanted a dark background because when I think of “what’s in your bag” I always think about rummaging around in the inevitable dark corners of my tote bag.  I ended up choosing slightly muted colors for coloring the odds and ends that I think look a little like chalk against the dark background.

If you don’t like to illustrate, there’s no reason you couldn’t do your own thing. Use the Spoonflower or Illustration Friday topics as a jumping off point for a little creative exercise: how about taking a photo of “what’s in your bag” or writing a haiku?

always lost, searching

compartments and dark corners

provide camouflage