Friday, November 20, 2015


I just have one thing to say about hand screen printing, and that is, it's a heck of a lot easier if you have a talented instructor standing at your elbow, talking you through it every step of the way! My first big mistake was assuming that this nifty little notebook, which Becky D. included in our kit, was full of step-by-step instructions.

Therefore, there was no need for me to take notes during her demonstrations, right? Wrong!

As it turns out, this notebook is filled with nice blank pages to hold all of your notes. Those notes I did not take.

Secondly, I was always told that mixing blue paint plus red paint gives you purple paint. Right?

Wrong again! It gives you a muck-ugly brown. If Becky D. had been there at my elbow, where she belonged, she might have kept me from going back and forth between "More red?" and "More blue?" until I had wasted so much not-so-cheap paint that I couldn't bear to just throw it out.

Most importantly, she might have warned me that, sometimes, it's really not worth trying to salvage a bad screen. Because, if you end up having to fill in all the missed spots with a paint brush, you're liable to end up with a fuzzy, blurry mess.

Ah well, you know what they say. If at first you don't succeed...

And the bib is kinda cute, dontcha think?

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I just love Christmas. Seriously. And the time leading up to it, with all that thinking and dreaming and planning and decorating and cooking and singing and smelling? Well, that's the best part of all! I know there are lots of other people who don't feel as I do, so I do my best not to shove it down their throats too early, but this year? This year is a problem. You see, we actually leave for Sudan before Christmas, so we've arranged for Santa to come early, on the 12th. I now have less than a week until my Thanksgiving guests begin to arrive. The week after that we meet up with our BFFs to spend a couple of nights on the San Antonio Riverwalk, enjoying all the lights and decorations, and then? That's it. Santa will be here! And I haven't even started listening to carols or wrapping or baking or  anything!  Last week I finally realized that, if I didn't begin soon, I would never have time to get into the proper spirit of things, and Christmas might just slip through the cracks altogether. Well, I couldn't let that happen, now could I? So I began to pull out a little bit here...

and a little bit there.

No Santas or elves or anything that would make my Thanksgiving guests go "AACCKK!!!" when they walk through the door...

just a few festive winter touches.


How did that guy slip in?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


On our last full day at Lucky Star we always have the afternoon off to swim or ride horses or get a massage or whatever, which means all of the classes are just 3 or 4 hours long. So, how were we to learn all we needed to know about the art of Shibori folding and tying, and the mixing and processing of indigo dye baths,  and still have time left to actually make anything? Well, you'd be surprised!

Our class was to be held in the pottery shed that day, behind the gorgeous wall of hand glazed tiles made by past campers. 

Our instructor, Erin Lane (no relation, as far as I know), is a high school art teacher in Austin. That's Erin there on the left below, mixing our indigo dye bath. Somehow I failed to take a single picture of her from the waist up!

As you can see, the rains came down with a vengeance the night before, and the smart campers came prepared with waterproof footwear. (Note to self: add Wellies to Christmas wish list!)

Guess what Erin had waiting for each of us when we walked in?

Inside the little bundles was everything needed to host a similar Indigopalooza with several of my friends here at home!

The interesting thing is that the dye bath is actually green when you first mix it. Once Erin had given us a little tutorial on a few of the many, many Shibori folding and wrapping techniques, we dampened our little packets with water, dropped them into the warm dye bath, snapped on a tight fitting lid to keep the air out, and let them soak for 10 or 15 minutes.

Then we removed the bundles, placed them on a drying rack, and let the "magic" happen -- for it's the exposure to oxygen that causes the dye to turn from green to deep indigo blue.

When you first unwrap the bundles you have this amazing ombre effect going from light green to deep blue. "Stop! I want mine to stay just like this! I don't want it to turn solid blue!" Alas, that wasn't an option.

And then, we ran off to tie up and dye any and every thing white we could get our eager little hands on!

Soooo, having the chance to make much of anything in such a short time? Not a problem! 

I ended up with a new blouse for moi, the Hill Country Hippy (made from an old one, which was starting to yellow), several scarves for my HCH friends...

and the cutest little onsie ever, for my HCH grandchild-to-be!

And now, here's a little something for you, in case you ever want to try this yourself!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Have I mentioned before that my hubby loves to shop way more than I do? Don't believe me? Check this out! This is the little pile of mail that was waiting for him when he got back from his recent consulting gig.

Keep in mind that these gifts are in addition to the entire suitcase-load he brought back from San Miguel this summer, and they just keep on a-comin'! No wonder he loves Christmas so much. It's the only time he can get away with this, without me giving him too much grief.

Can you even imagine what it's going to be like next year, when we have a grandbaby in the house?

Monday, November 16, 2015


Front Side of Becky Dawson's One Lane Road Business Card
By day three at Lucky Star, the clouds were getting more and more ominous, and our chances of spending time outdoors on the riverbanks were getting slimmer and slimmer. Did I let that get me down? Heck no!

I was just waaaay too excited about spending the entire day with the amazing Becky Dawson, of One Lane Road, who came all the way from Estacada, Oregon to teach classes in both leather work and hand screen printing again this year.

Becky is wearing one of her own creations.
The minute I saw those cute "chicken butt" cup towels hanging on the line last year, I knew I had to take this class, and I've been looking forward to it all year long! Nonetheless, when it came time to pack for camp, I still hadn't come up with any ideas for my own projects. I was flipping through my sketchbook at the last minute, looking for inspiration, when I stumbled across a page of rocket and robot sketches I had been collecting for no particular reason, and found myself saying "Ah-Ha!"

She taught us two different techniques for hand screen printing at home -- one using a simple mask cut out of cardstock and the frame screen she made for each of us to keep (see rocket bib) and another one using a simple screen made from an embroidery hoop, plus Speedball's drawing fluid and screen filler (see robots).

Unlike some projects that are only manageable in class with your teacher's assistance, this is something I can't wait to do more of at home -- though it may have to be relegated to the porch or garage, in order to protect the wood floors in the bedroodio.

Check out this awesome logo one of my classmates designed!

Loved both of these as well, though I don't remember who did what.

The only downside was that the dang humidity made for interminable drying times, which made us less productive. Still, we were better off than the class which was actually painting outside when the sky fell, and had to run for cover on our porch until their instructor found a classroom to move them into!

Best part of the day? Gathering around the fireplace before meals, to dry wet feet, and to hear about what everyone else had been up to that day!

That evening our Fearless Leader suggested that we go cabin hopping after dinner, since all the cabins were added at different times over the years, in a wide variety of styles. My friends and I decided to go check out Ranch House, one of the older units just a couple of doors down from the dining hall.  How cute is this?

They even had a giant metal longhorn, holding two retro-fitted kerosene lamps, hanging from the ceiling! It got me to thinkin' that I probably ought'a come up with some little buckaroo designs for my screen printing, this being Texas and all. Might even branch out into some lino cut prints as well, on the order of these. Just mad about that cowboy bedspread! Anybody know if I could use the same inks for both screen printing and lino cut printing? Got any good books to suggest on either subject?

Well, happy trails to you, until we meet again...