Blog2018-10-08T18:53:01-05:00
28December, 2018

A Year in Review: My 2018 Design Challenge Entries

Gallery Exhibitions, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|1 Comment

I’ve never really participated in posting “something-a-day” challenges. The commitment of having to do something every single day just isn’t appealing to me I have discovered, especially when it comes to something creative. There’s not enough time to think about it and let it percolate, and it ends up just being a “do something quick so I can have it done”. So when I decided that I would participate in the weekly Spoonflower design challenge, I wasn’t sure I would stick with it. So I didn’t set a goal or make an announcement that I was going to participate. But I did. Every single week.

Wow. That’s a cool thing to have accomplished this year.

I mocked up a swatch of each design and made this slide show. (Note: If you are on the home page, you have to click the “read more” button on the this post for it to show you the video.) In parentheses you can see the design challenge theme for the week and at the very end, I made a collage of the top ten by number of “favorites” and my personal top 10 rankings in the overall pool of entries.

My highest finish was “Brine and Barnacles” at number 22 of 576 entries. (That’s the humpback whales design you see up above in the header to this post.) I didn’t manage to crack the top 10, but I would like to! The design challenge that week was a limited color palette, which I really didn’t like: Navy, orchid pink, maroon and white and/or black. I love navy, but the other two colors were not in my personal favorite palette. So I was feeling unsure about this design (because it was really navy and white with a tiny bit of the others). It was a […]

4December, 2018

Designing inspired by snark: The steampunk squid damask

Everything Else, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Designing inspired by snark: The steampunk squid damask

This design always makes me shake my head. It continues to be the most popular design in my Spoonflower shop and it was entirely inspired by snark.

I created it when I was working on the Spoonflower Handbook. One of the projects we wanted to do was a shower curtain and my co-authors and I had managed to convince our editors that the print should be something a little off the wall. We wanted something that wasn’t just Pinterest-worthy, but had a little of the amazing weirdness that can be found among Spoonflower designs. So we settled on octopi, which were a big trend at that time. (They are still pretty popular.)

But we couldn’t find a design that we all agreed on that would fit in to the curriculum in the book. We had a plan for the projects in the book to help you build different skills and teach techniques as you progressed through the book. We needed this design to help teach a particular skill. The trick was to find something that both taught what we needed it to teach and passed the thumbs up of the people in charge of the “look” of the book. (That wasn’t me.)

We tried something made with clip art, but that didn’t fit the design lesson (and licensing was tricky). We tried hand-drawing something inspired by that.

We tried using a vintage illustration from a 1918 encyclopedia.

I cut it out and repeated it, I made many different colorways, we scaled it to different sizes. I made and printed 27 versions of the “octopus design” and nothing could get the thumbs up from everyone who needed to approve it. It was too creepy, too grungy, too dark, too macabre, the […]

26November, 2018

No Bah-Humbugs here.

An Artist's Life, Gallery Exhibitions|Comments Off on No Bah-Humbugs here.

One of the most fun partnerships I work on is designing pieces for the Guthrie Theater Store. Last year I did a whole series inspired by Sunday in the Park with George. I have made designs inspired by the Guthrie itself. The photo above shows one of those Guthrie-inspired designs in an ad in the program and one featuring some new designs in another program.

This year they asked me to do designs for their annual production of A Christmas Carol. I know the story, but I hadn’t seen their production, so they sent me photos from last year’s production. Such fun to study all of the details and colors! Several themes or scenes jumped out at me right away:

  • Time is a big element in the story and there are clocks prominent in several of the scenes.
  • In a number of scenes I noticed actors writing with white feather pens.
  • In one scene of people singing carols around a piano I noticed the wine glasses lined up on the piano.
  • Bright streetlamps and a tiny bit of snow.

We decided to go for something that was “seasonal” without being holiday specific, so I chose rich vintage-inspired colors and bigger ideas from the story. All of the designs are made from cut paper illustrations using recycled paper.

I started with a design I called Timeless. It is made up of pocketwatches and watch chains. The colors are all soft twilight shades. The chains are also an echo of the chains on the “Ghost of Christmas Past” from the show. The papers I used for this illustration were primarily colored art paper, but “grunged up” with some alcohol ink spray to give them a more weathered texture. The background of the design is a scanned piece of hand-marbled paper, which is also a […]

16November, 2018

It’s a Craft’za Saturday!

Out & About|1 Comment

Saturday November 17 • 10 am – 4 pm

Grain Belt Building in NE Minneapolis

I have lost count of how many times I have done the Craft’za show (or its sibling, Craftstravaganza). For years, I was a volunteer demonstrator in the sun and the snow. And I have participated as a vendor three other times, I think. The organizers are great people and I always enjoy the show.

This year I have a couple of brand new items making their debut. I have neckties for the very first time. I have hesitated to make them before because they are really fiddly to sew. It’s just hard for me to make them in a way that they are actually affordable. But then I found a company called Knotty Tie, that is based in CO. Their mission, from their website: “Knotty Tie was built from scratch to create employment opportunities for resettling refugees based upon their existing skills. By creating opportunities for arriving refugees to work in their trade, and in a supportive work environment with flexible schedules, fair wages and generous benefits, we’re removing barriers for them and their families to become economically self-sufficient and culturally assimilated.” That’s a mission that I can totally get behind. I worked with Knotty Tie to digitally print my surface designs and then had the ties sewn by their organization. I do all the rest of the sewing for my items, but I like being able to support this company with these neckties. That’s something I try to do as much as I can with my business; to support other small artist-run businesses. I buy all of the zippers, ribbons, cotton tape and other notions I use in my work from other Etsy sellers and small businesses. (I bet that’s something you didn’t know.)

26October, 2018

Save This Layout and Selling your Spoonflower designs. (I learned something new.)

Spoonflower & Fabric Design, Tutorials|3 Comments

I’ve been designing a bunch of tea towels for my Spoonflower shop lately. The September design challenges were all about tea towels and I did a couple of tea towel calendars too. Those kinds of designs aren’t really made to repeat. Instead you are designing a panel that is set up to be exactly the size of a fat quarter of fabric. For linen-cotton canvas, which is my preferred fabric for those, that means I am designing a rectangle that is 27×18 inches.

I had sold several of the designs to people shopping on Spoonflower, but a couple of those shoppers chose a different fabric than the linen-cotton canvas, which might not seem like a problem, except that different fabrics have different widths and so the size of the fat quarter is different. If you choose basic cotton for example, a fat quarter is only 21 x 18 inches. Which means that you are going to lose 6 inches of my design. The top photo here is showing you what a fat quarter of basic cotton looks like; the bottom shows linen-cotton canvas. If you order this design in basic cotton, a third of the calendar will be missing.

If you haven’t used Spoonflower a lot, you might not realize that what you see is exactly what you get – if that design is cut off in the preview, then that’s what your fabric is going to look like. It’s an easy mistake to make. I caught it when I saw these orders come through and contacted Spoonflower to get in touch with those customers, since I was pretty sure they didn’t actually want to have only 2/3 of the design and everything got fixed up. What I didn’t know is that I actually […]

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Hi, I’m Becka.

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

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