Blog2020-08-12T23:03:19-05:00
22March, 2021

How I take Photos & My Studio Setup

An Artist's Life, Everything Else, Tutorials|0 Comments

I thought it might be really appropriate to start off with a “How it started; How it’s going” kind of meme to talk about photography. When I first started making my art to sell or to show at gallery exhibitions about 20 years ago, the first and worst stumbling block was getting good photos. I had a camera, but I had no experience in what it took to get great photos of objects and I absolutely couldn’t afford to hire someone to take photos for me. So I needed to learn how to do it myself. This was before Etsy was really around, so there weren’t a bunch of tutorials to help you or recommend photo white boxes that were easy to find. (Wow, I am making myself feel old!) So everything I learned was by trial and error and I mean LOTS of trial and error.

The felted dragon shown up above was one of the first photos of my art that I found when I went digging through my photo archives. This is the photo straight off my camera. You can barely see the little guy because the image is so dark. I thought a plain background would be best, so I draped some white fabric behind it but it’s really wrinkly and not really professional looking at all.

Things I learned: You always need more light.
LIGHT. Light is the answer to nearly every photo dilemma. This is absolutely the one thing that made the most difference to my photos. My very first photo setup was to put objects on a table in my guestroom and masking tape a piece of white muslin up behind them. I had four utility shop lights that I got from Home Depot and I put the brightest bulbs in them that they were […]

11January, 2021

Resting the Creative Brain through Stitching

An Artist's Life, Embroidery|1 Comment

I spent August stitching. And September. And October, November and December. In fact, I still have a box of stitchery on my dining room table and I pick up something almost every night. My job as an artist means that I am making things during most of the hours of my work days. Depending on the day I am writing, or photographing, or assembling kits or making things for my Etsy shops, or making art for one of half a dozen projects. But all of those things I do during my work day are “me powered”. I am the one designing, making the creative decisions, assembling the practice pieces, doing the edits. It’s a one-woman-show here and if I’m not doing the work, then nothing gets done. Most of the time I love it and I love being busy.

But with everything going on in 2020, my creative brain was feeling just tapped out. I’m sure this sounds familiar to some of you. I managed to keep a lot of my regular juggling balls in the air, so to speak, but I just didn’t have much capacity for taking on anything new or thinking of the next new thing or the next big art project. The class proposals that I used to put together in an afternoon were taking me a week (with a lot of procrastinating). I couldn’t think of anything to write here on the blog. I didn’t want to make art because it just felt like it was simultaneously too much to take on and why-bother-because-no-ones-going-to-see-it-anyway-because-everything-is-cancelled. It was really frustrating and exhausting, so I just kept getting sucked in to doomscrolling and reading Firefly novelizations because it was just easier.

Let me introduce you to my friend Mr. Scrooge. He’s an ornament pattern designed by my […]

30October, 2020

This post is brought to you by me, or how affiliate links can make it harder for the rest of us

An Artist's Life, Classes & Teaching, Everything Else|1 Comment

I got an email a few days ago asking me a question about a Spoonflower fabric. I get questions like this on a semi-regular basis with someone wanting a recommendation for a project they are working on. I am happy to chime in with my experience; I’ve used most of the fabrics for one project or another. My site is covered with Spoonflower fabric in use. But as I was writing the email answer, I thought to myself, “didn’t I already write a blog post that answered this?” It felt like deja vu. I checked and it turns out I hadn’t, but my first instinct was to just look up that post and send the person a link to it. After all, if I wrote up a post it’s probably more in depth, more detailed, more thoughtful than what I would answer writing you an email in response.

But, I was talking with another colleague and apparently there is a kerfluffle in the craft/knitting/sewing online community because a teacher responded to a question just like I was going to do: “here’s a link to a video on my website where I answer that question.” Only the problem is that the person asking didn’t like that response and accused the teacher of just being self-promotional. Apparently a personal email in response to a question would have been fine, but a link to a video answering the same question wasn’t. Wow.

This made me think about an Instagram account that I unfollowed just a couple of days ago. The person was demonstrating some kind of a tool in a video post. It was something about quilting, which isn’t really my thing, so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the post. But there were lots of comments asking about a tool that they […]

24August, 2020

Behind the scenes of my setup for Online Teaching

An Artist's Life, Tutorials, Videos|9 Comments

I posted a couple of “behind the scenes” posts of my online teaching set up on my social media last week and I had LOTS of questions from all of you about how I put it together. So I thought maybe I’d write a post and talk about it. All of my setup are the results of many months worth of experiments, trial and error. I’ve been teaching via video/online since April when a couple of projects I was scheduled to do suddenly needed to pivot to something else. I started with what I had and added to my setup as I discovered I needed something.

My Space

I do all of my filming or video meetings in my studio. For a very long time, I just worked anywhere in the house, but this spring (before all of the work-at-home things happened) I had decided to reclaim a room in our house into a space that would be easier for me to record things because I was intending to start doing more video based classes. We have a 1920s house so my studio is basically a “sun room” or “sitting room” space, but that means it has amazing huge windows on two sides. So I have tons of natural light, which is really helpful. I’d say 80% of the time, I can work with just that natural light. The wall behind my desk is a creamy white about the color of masking tape, so it makes a pretty neutral background and having a light color helps my space look brighter.

My Laptop & Microphone

I use my laptop as my webcamera and I film all of my class videos and screensharing videos with it. I have a Macbook Air. I don’t have an external microphone because so far, I haven’t needed one. The one […]

5June, 2020

Fabric Review Friday: Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim

Fabric Reviews, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Fabric Review Friday: Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim

I skipped a week of fabric reviews due to the unsettled situation here in Minneapolis, but I am continuing my fabric review posts today talking about Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim. In this series of fabric review posts I am going to tell you everything I know about these fabrics from having worked with them and give you my best tips and tricks.

ABOUT DOGWOOD DENIM

Dogwood Denim is a heavyweight twill fabric. Twill is a kind of weave structure that has a somewhat prominent diagonal line because instead of the threads just going over one-under one, twill has threads that go over and under 2 or more threads. The threads are much thicker than the ones used to make Petal Cotton or Sateen, which I talked about in my last post. Unlike the jeans you might have in your closet, this denim has no spandex/lycra and no stretch. This is something to keep in mind when you are thinking about sewing clothing.

Dogwood Denim is 100% cotton and is a nice bright white. It is 11.7 oz per yard, which means that it’s almost 3 times as heavy as Petal Cotton and is the heaviest and probably the most durable fabric in the Spoonflower collection. It doesn’t tear easily and it is 100% opaque. It has a 56 inch printable width. The shrinkage is marked as 1-2% in width and 7-8% in length. That’s 2.5 inches over a yard of fabric (lengthwise) so I would really make sure I washed this before I made anything from it and keep that in mind if you are trying to economize on fabric and use every bit of the length. It also softens up a lot when you wash it; when you get the freshly printed fabric it […]

22May, 2020

Friday Fabric Review: Spoonflower Organic Cotton Sateen and Cotton Poplin

Fabric Reviews, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Friday Fabric Review: Spoonflower Organic Cotton Sateen and Cotton Poplin

I’m starting a new series talking about the different kinds of fabric bases you can print on at Spoonflower. I get an email from someone on a pretty regular basis asking for advice about different kinds of fabric and trying to decide what will work best for a project. I have worked with nearly every fabric base at Spoonflower for some project or another. I’ve printed my designs, sewed with them, washed them, and worn them. I wrote up a post about the Petal Signature Cotton and comparing it to the other cotton bases a while back. Starting with this post, on Fridays I am going to pick another fabric or two and tell you everything I know about them and tell you about what I like and don’t like about each one. I will also use Petal Cotton as a comparison for all of these since this is the lowest cost option and might be the one that more people have ordered a sample of.

I’m going to start today talking about Organic Cotton Sateen and Cotton Poplin.

About Sateen

I have definitely used the sateen for more projects than poplin and it is one of my favorite fabrics. This dress and coat (made for an exhibition in 2015) is made all with Sateen and the coat is lined with Satin. This is not a “coat weight” fabric by any means; I interlined this with a cotton twill to give it the body and weight for a coat. It is 3.8 oz per yard, which makes it slightly lighter weight than the Petal Cotton and it feels slightly thinner in your hand.

The Sateen has a very silky, smooth feel. It is a matte finish […]

Hi, I’m Becka.

Talking about fabric design, Spoonflower, teaching, and the life and business of being an artist.

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