Jul 21, 2008

Smooth as Silk

Silk screening is my newfound love. Just yesterday, I finally had a chance to learn. My friend and I made the trek down to 3rd Ward in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to take an intensive, five-hour long workshop on Screen Printing 101. It was a hot, muggy day in New York. Unfortunately for us the room was A.C. free, but no matter. We were finally going to learn how to screen print.

We each came prepared with a black and white design and materials to print on. For my bird-themed studio, I decided to draw something, well, bird related, and within the design create a subtle monogram. I brought along some scraps of fabric, an old canvas, two shirts and a couple of plain gray pillowcases that desperately needed some love.

The instructor was thorough and informative. He spent most of the class explaining and demonstrating the process using a photosensitive process to create the screen stencil. In an effort to save time, the screens were already prepared with the emulsion. Our black and white designs were printed on acetate, placed on the screens, held down with glass, then exposed to light for twenty minutes. When the light was exposed to the surface, the areas that were not blocked by design, hardened. The "soft" areas covered by the designs were washed out to open the mesh that would eventually allow ink to pass through.

Some of the screens were not properly exposed, and so the process had to be repeated with about six screens, allowing us to see the instructor remove the emulsion, dry the screens, re-coat and re-expose them. While it was frustrating for him, it enabled us to visually understand the technique since we never really got a chance to practice prep the screens on our own.

After four long hours of demonstration and lecture, most of the class had screens ready to print. It was near dinner time, I was hungry and longing for a bottle of water. When finally he showed us how to squeegee the ink onto the print surface, I was raring to go. I didn't bother with a practice sheet. I mixed my mustard yellow color, prepared the first pillowcase and squeegeed my design onto the fabric surface. The design came through beautifully, the color looked sophisticated on the gray surface. So I went squeegee crazy and applied the design onto the second pillowcase, a t-shirt, a white tank top and stretched canvas until I had my fill. I started thinking of ways I could start a business. I wouldn't be surprised if most do when they first learn to screen print.

Ironically, there was a BBQ pig roast going on at the same time just outside where we were washing and drying our screens. Yet, I didn't get a taste of it or a chance to satisfy my thirst. My friend and I were anxious to leave the very crowded, very sweaty scene, to down a cold beverage, have some dinner, and talk about what we would print next.

Jul 10, 2008

Ballet Encore

I finally got the rest of my ballerina figurines from a line I designed for Grasslands Road called "Little Ladies." I'm very excited about how beautifully they turned out. The detail is exquisite. I meant them to look like little pieces of jewelry and, happily, I think I accomplished just that, with the help of a few very fine sculptors in Asia. I wish I could tell you who they are.

I plan on putting up a section in my site to show the line. I think they're worth showcasing. It's the first gift line I ever designed, and I hope it won't be the last. Here is the group of figurines. The line consists of these plus a spinning musical figurine, frames, and plaques. They're available in specialty gift stores across the country.

Jul 8, 2008

P.S. 1...maybe it's something in the water

PS1 Highlight Exhibit

Just last weekend, not one week after my lackluster MoMA visit, I ventured out to Queens to see my friend. It was another rainy weekend, so we skipped the outdoor beer garden festival to attend the indoor/outdoor party at P.S. 1 in Long Island City. It was the first of many in the summer season. P.S. 1, MoMA's little sister, is a contemporary art gallery converted from, what used to be, an elementary school, hence its name.

Outside, the agricultural exhibit, complete with livestock, was nice. It was a lovely interactive exhibit with vegetation artfully housed in recyclable cardboard tubing. It was a little wet from the scattered rain showers, which was great for the vegetation, but not so much for the grass seating. However, with the same base, they also created a few water-proof seats using rubber sheathing and tacks. It would eventually be the perfect perch for people watching.

Inside, I could have done without the angry political exhibits (mostly installations), probably in celebration of Independence Day, but still, not what one would expect from a renowned gallery in terms of concept and execution. There was one nice Olafur Eliasson piece, but not enough to keep us inside. So we stuck to people watching outside. The sun made its entrance every so often, keeping us satisfied for quite some time in our drum chairs. So I sketched.

Sitting on grass drums

Then the ten-piece band started tuning their instruments. Well, at least we thought they were. We noticed the conductor, yes there was a conductor, swinging his baton, leading the musicians in a unified chaos of sound. The rhythm was non-existent, and what sounded like tuning instruments was actually experimental…something. Well, I never claimed to be a music aficionado. Needless to say, the crowd, save for a small handful of people, was not enthralled. My friend was lucky enough to have been to another summer event here when the Scissor Sisters played and Bono performed, unannounced. This time, a DJ saved our sense of rhythm and beat by spinning between breaks. I was hoping that, eventually, some fabulous surprise performer or band would show up. No such luck.

Soon enough, the rain fell again, so we decided to make our exit, relieved we had good reason to leave the party early.

Jul 7, 2008

Birthday Notes

My birthday fell on a Wednesday. It was a perfectly beautiful day in New York. I had lunch at my usual diner where they piled a small bowl full of bananas and strawberries, placed a lit candle on top and sang for me the birthday song. I played with the dog, worked on the children's book I'm illustrating, and went out to Manhattan with my husband, where we met 8 other friends at a highly recommended BBQ spot.

Unfortunately, the online recommendation came from someone who was probably turned on by frat houses, so my husband and I, and our eight friends, hauled ourselves 2 blocks to a lovely Greek Tapas restaurant. That's just about the best thing about Manhattan. You need not venture far to find quality dining. We dined on flaming cheese, a variety of seafoods and meats with a Mediterranean flair. My friend feared for her life every time they lit a platter of cheese on fire. It was a popular dish that night.

The popular gift to get for someone like me? Sketchbooks, sweets, Starbucks, and the bonus gift, a cool tote. I know I'm loved when I get a gift card for crack. I even got one in the mail from friends that sent their regrets. The sketchbooks ranged from Moleskine, to your fancy stationery store variety, to a recycled children's book turned sketchbook. Now if you could only see my sketches under the influence of java.

The lesson of the day, don't sit too close to flaming cheese.

Jul 5, 2008


Days before my birthday, I spent some time at the MoMA with two of my friends, the three of us hoping to see some incredible work. And if we didn't, well we'd enjoy the architecture. Thankfully my friend was a member, so she got us in for a fraction of the normally pricey entrance fee. Perhaps it was the summer season, but needless to say, while we did see inspired work, we had to work our way up to it, literally. The exhibits improved upon ascension.

Olafur Eliasson's work caused my friends to turn monochromatic.

The first two floors, consisted mainly of video installations and what looked like student projects (but weren't) with very few exceptions. Sadly I felt, floors 1 and 2 were a waste of time. Not what one would expect in such prized fine art real estate. The third floor featured installations by Olafur Eliasson. Interesting. I'm not a big fan of installation art in general, but I was able to grasp Mr. Eliasson's work, primarily because the ideas and executions were simple and elegant.

MoMA Guard

Upon reaching the fourth floor, we discovered what I was most familiar with--painting--and MoMA's permanent collection. Many of them I've seen before, but always comforted by their presence. So at this time, I pulled out my sketchbook, settled down, and drew the scene around me.

Just as we were about to head out, we poked around the gift shop. Strangely enough I was happier browsing the various tchotchkes inspired by good design, rather than muddling through the first few exhibits. I spotted a really cool perpetual calendar, so my friend offered to pick it up for me as a birthday gift!

Perpetual coolness.

After paying we were ready to exit, until we noticed that floor five featured a preview show open to members only. Since my friend was one of them, we happily proceeded to explore: Dali: Painting and Film. It was like being on the list and getting into the most popular night club in town...sort of.

While I'm not Dali's biggest fan, I certainly admire his talent and welcomed the exhibit like a breath of fresh air, and relieved that I would leave the MoMA feeling satisfied. It was a very well presented show with Dali's early film work on display, paintings that inspired the films, and his set design for the Hollywood film, Spellbound. All in all, they were some of the finest Dali paintings I have ever seen.

By the time we finally headed out, the rain came, in buckets. My (member) friend treated me to a MoMA umbrella as a birthday gift and we happily ventured out in the rain for coffee and cake.