White Line Woodcut; a Brief How-To

Here's my second white line woodcut. Below left is the white pine wood cut to about an 8" square. Below right is the finished print.

A BRIEF WHITE LINE HOW-TO

Here's how I made this print - first, I transferred my drawing to the wood using transfer paper. Then I used an x-acto knife to cut along the lines of the drawing. Using thumbtacks, I pinned my paper to the right side border (this kept the paper out of my way when I was painting since I'm a lefty). To print, I painted watercolor onto a section of the wood up to the edges of the carved lines, then lowered the paper onto the surface of the block. To transfer the color to the paper, I rubbed the backside of the paper (in the general area where I'd just applied paint) with a spoon. I continued painting and printing until I was finished. 

white_line_woodcut_rabkat.jpg
white_line_woodcut_print_rabkat.jpg
 

"In the Beginning" Baby Quilt Tutorial

If you are reading this, you may be considering making this quilt. Of course, most quilt designs can be made from an existing stash of fabric, so before you go any further, I just want to give you a heads up that the making of this quilt requires a purchase at my Spoonflower shop (see below).

If you're up for that, read on! If not, please check back at some point in the future - because I have some designs brewing in my sketchbook that won't require a Spoonflower purchase...

This tutorial explains how to make the quilt pictured on the right, but it doesn't teach how to quilt. If you've quilted before, this will be no problem for you. If you've never quilted, check out the amazing tutorials you can find on YouTube, or better yet, take a class at your local quilt shop or community school (and then come back here!) Finished size of quilt is approximately 28"x38". 

IMG_3541.jpg
 

SUPPLY LIST

"In the Beginning" whole cloth quilt top

1 yard of turquoise 100% cotton fabric (I used KONA - turquoise)

1 yard of batting (I used Warm & Natural)

quilters ruler

rotary cutter

self healing mat

basic sewing supplies


 
 

STEP 1

The first thing you'll need to do is purchase the "In the Beginning" quilt top fabric which is available in my Spoonflower shop. You can do that here.

When making your selections from the pop-up menus in the shop (see screenshot below), make sure you select as below:

1. Choose Fabric: Kona Cotton Ultra ($19.00/yd)

2. Choose Amount: 1 (quantity), Yard (42" width)

When the fabric arrives from Spoonflower, machine wash, dry, and iron it.

 

 
 

STEP 2

Cut a piece of batting several inches larger than the fabric on all sides and smooth it out flat on the floor or a table top.

Take the fabric outside and spray the back with quilt basting spray.

Bring the fabric inside, center over batting, and place directly on top of batting.

Starting from the center of the fabric and working your way out towards the edges, use a circular motion to smooth the fabric out over the batting. The two layers will adhere.

Flip so that the image is facing down, and from the center

 

 
 

STEP 3

Using a quilter's ruler, rotary cutter and a self-healing mat, trim the edges of the fabric and batting. Leave a 1/4" white border around the entire perimeter.

Turn trimmed piece over (so that the image is facing down) and place on a large flat surface. Pat down (rather than smooth out) any areas that aren't lying flat. Spray with basting spray.

Lay backing fabric (wrong side up) on a large flat surface. Center quilt top with batting (image side up) over the backing fabric and place directly on top.

Flip entire sandwich so that image is facing down. Starting from the center of the backing fabric and working out towards the edges, use a circular motion to smooth the fabric out over the batting.

 

 

 
 

STEP 4

Trim the edges of the backing fabric. Leave a 1" border around the entire perimeter.

 

STEP 5

At this point you can quilt the three layers together by hand or machine. I did some light free motion quilting and just followed along the lines of the illustration, but you can do anything your heart desires!


STEP 6

To bind the quilt, follow the steps below...

 A. Fold backing border in half so that the raw edge aligns with the edge of the quilt top. Then fold border up and over the quilt top to cover the white border. Pin in place approximately every 2".

A. Fold backing border in half so that the raw edge aligns with the edge of the quilt top. Then fold border up and over the quilt top to cover the white border. Pin in place approximately every 2".

 B. When you get to a corner, fold corner fabric on a diagonal so that the bottom edge of the triangle that's formed sits parallel to the edge of the quilt top as shown.

B. When you get to a corner, fold corner fabric on a diagonal so that the bottom edge of the triangle that's formed sits parallel to the edge of the quilt top as shown.

 C. Hold the corner fold in place while you fold the backing border in half as (as shown in photo above) Then fold up and over the quilt top so that the inside border edges meet.

C. Hold the corner fold in place while you fold the backing border in half as (as shown in photo above) Then fold up and over the quilt top so that the inside border edges meet.

 D. The fold should lie on a diagonal and the corner should come to a neat point. You may have to play around with steps B and C to make this work just right!

D. The fold should lie on a diagonal and the corner should come to a neat point. You may have to play around with steps B and C to make this work just right!


STEP 7

Hand sew along the edge of the binding using a slip stitch to secure it to the quilt top.


I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and that is was helpful for you!

Quilted Bookmarks

My sister Liz loves to read, and often works her way through 2, 3 or even 4 novels at a time. She keeps her books stacked on her nightstand, and on one of my visits earlier this year, this stack sparked a gift idea for her - a set of bookmarks.

Never one to hesitate on starting a new project, I immediately designed three bookmarks, each meant to appeal to her modern aesthetic and love of nature. I selected just two high contrast solid colored fabrics to give big impact to these tiny creations. The nature themed icons are bonded to the fabric using fusible web. I quilted fluid lines over the appliqué in attempt to add a sense of movement to the design. They're also meant to suggest the wind, the flow of water, and the flight of a bird. 

 

 The first three quilted bookmarks I made use two contrasting colors of cotton quilting fabric.

The first three quilted bookmarks I made use two contrasting colors of cotton quilting fabric.

vicky katzman quilted bookmark
 The middle bookmark is made with wool felt and embroidery. The bookmark on the right is lower in contrast due to the addition of two shades of gray.

The middle bookmark is made with wool felt and embroidery. The bookmark on the right is lower in contrast due to the addition of two shades of gray.

What I love about this project is that it's quick. I finished the three bookmarks I initially set out to make (see above left) and then went on to experiment with contrast, color and construction techniques (see above right). 

I made a pattern and tutorial for this bookmark project which is available here as a free pdf download. If you make the bookmarks, please send a pic of your work - would love to see how they turn out!

5 Steps to "Mind Like Water"

I thoroughly enjoy the process of making, and sometimes that's reason enough for me to sew a quilt, carve a woodblock, or cut a paper design. Getting lost in the flow of creating something is a wonderful thing all around - body, mind and soul.  At other times, a project starts off with an intention (a gift for my niece,  a tutorial to market a sewing project, or an illustration for a book jacket), and that's a wonderful thing as well -  to be able to send something I made off into the world to fulfill it's purpose.  I love taking the time to make something by hand so that it's unique and special. I love giving handmade gifts, and I love being able to earn an income by doing something I want to be doing regardless.  For all of this, I feel lucky, blessed, and fortunate.

Sometimes though, in the middle of all this making, my mind becomes cluttered.  I feel overwhelmed and distracted, and start to lose focus and direction with my work. At this point I stop what I'm doing and look around... my workspace is usually in chaos: the floor is littered with scraps of paper, fabric, wood or linoleum carvings, so that it's difficult to walk across the room.  My tools are lost amongst the piles of paper that cover the work surfaces, my computer is stuffed with large files and keeps crashing.  My e-mails have accumulated and my to-do lists and calendar need updating. The chaos around me mirrors my state of mind.  Cluttered, confused and crashing.  

At this point I need to step out of the studio and take a break, that's for sure.  But when I go back inside, I take a series of steps to clear my mind. I got the idea for doing this after reading Getting Things Done, an amazing book by David Allen which has really helped me organize my life.  What follows is my version of what he calls a mindsweep, which is basically gathering up any loose ends that might be occupying your thoughts and sweeping them out. The result, what David Allen calls mind like water, refers to "a mental and emotional state in which your head is clear, able to create and respond freely, unencumbered with distractions and split focus."  Here are the 5 steps I take to achieve mind like water...

1.  Clean up any projects in progress.  Even if I want to work on something later in the day, I still put all the art supplies and tools back where they belong. Trash any unusable scraps of paper or fabric, and stash the usable. Only the actual project can be stored on a work surface.

2.  Sort through the piles.  Piles of sketches, finished art, articles, contracts, notes. Everything has a place where it belongs, whether it be my inbox, a flat file, a hanging file or a binder, I file it away until all the piles are gone.

3.  Organize computer files.  While I'm working on my computer, I tend to keep things on the desktop so I can access them easily. I might have multiple versions of an illustration (some greater than 500 MB each), scans, stories, logos or photos. I'll file them all into the appropriate folders, delete multiples and unwanted versions, then rename and label what remains so that it fits in with my filing system.  I do this until nothing remains on my computer desktop.

4.  Sort through e-mails.  This means dealing with every e-mail - responding, scheduling, filing, until my inbox is EMPTY.

5.  Update to-do lists and calendar.  Calls to make, supplies to buy, projects to finish, projects pending.  Cross off what's been done, rewrite what remains, star priorities. If somethings been on a list for too long, it's reassessed and either moved off the list for good or filed for future review.  Anything that needs to be done on a certain day is put on the calendar, anything that needs to be done at a certain time is put on a reminder list on my phone with a reminder alarm.

After taking these steps, I'm left feeling like a new person. My studio is clean and orderly. My lists are made and I know what needs to get done. My priorities are set, I have a renewed sense of clarity and focus, my head is clear, and I'm ready to get back to work.  This is an amazing feeling!

After running through these 5 steps the other day, I was inspired to share . If you happen to stumble across this post and are in need of a good mind clearing, try this, it really helps.  Let me know how it works for you, and if you have any comments or questions I'd love to hear them.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gift Bag

 
vickykatzman.com/chanukah
 

This quick tutorial accompanies the Peace, Love, Chanukah cut & sew I designed for the Spoonflower holiday gift bag contest. I used my cut-paper design which I originally used as a Chanukah card illustration. Enjoy!

Supplies:

  • Peace, Love, Chanukah cut & sew pattern.
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon or String
  • Safety pin
  • Needle & thread

 

How To:

1. Cut out the pattern pieces along the dotted lines.

vickykatzman.chanukah2.jpg

2. Place right sides together. From top of design, measure down 1" and place pins at the 1" mark on both sides. Continue pinning along the side and bottom edges.

 step 4

step 4

 step 7

step 7

3. Starting at the 1" mark, backstitch then continue to sew around the perimeter using a 1/4" seam allowance until reaching the 1" mark on the other side. Backstitch to secure.

4. Trim tips of the bottom corners at an angle.

5. Press seam allowances open.

6. Turn the unfinished top edge under 1/4", iron and sew.

 step 7

step 7

7. Turn top edge under again, this time 3/4", iron and pin. Starting at a side seam, sew around the top of the bag, keeping seam 1/8" from bottom edge of fold. Backstitch at the start and the finish.

IMG_5810.JPG

8. Turn bag right sides out and iron seams flat.

vickykatzman.com_chanukah_gift_bag_tutorial
vickykatzman.com_chanukah_gift_bag_tutorial

9. Measure anywhere from 20" - 40" of ribbon or string depending on how long you'd like the finished handle to be. Pin the safety pin through one end of the ribbon, then thread safety pin through and around top seam of bag. Pull ribbon through until both ends align, then make a knot near seam opening.

All done...time to fill it with your gift!

vickykatzman.com_chanukah_gift_bag_tutorial
vickykatzman.com_chanukah_gift_bag_tutorial
vickykatzman.com/chanukah_wine_bag

Just for fun, changed out the ribbon to this slightly fancier one with a silver trim. This bag is wide enough for two wine bottles!

vickykatzman.com

Included in the Peace, Love, Chanukah cut & sew available through Spoonflower, follow the same instructions as listed above to make this one. Disregarding the fact that I need to practice my sewing skills.... this little bag is the perfect size for  gelt. Happy Chanukah!

How to Paint a Rain Barrel

vickykatzman.com

A couple weeks ago I walked past the offices of the Hackensack Riverkeeper, a great organization that helps restore, protect and preserve the Hackensack River and it's watershed. It also educates the public through eco-cruises, bird-walks and presentations, and offers plenty of opportunities for volunteers to pitch in their time and resources. I had taken my family on one of their eco-cruises several years back and really enjoyed it, so when I saw their street sign, I took a couple minutes to step inside and check it out.

The people working there were super friendly, and I loved all the nature posters they had hanging around the walls and cubicles. I was inspired by their mission, and since the idea of volunteering my services had been bouncing around my head since... forever, I did just that. "I'm an illustrator, and if there's ever anything I can do to help you out, just let me know", I said, and as fate would have it, they happen to have a rain barrel in need of some art. It had been donated by the  BCUA for the Riverkeeper's annual fundraising event as an auction item, and the thought was that a little paint job might boost the bids.

I took the rain barrel home and immediately began researching the process of painting a plastic surface which would ultimately live outdoors. As I perused multiple sites to figure out how to do this and compiled a list of all the supplies I would need, I was surprised I hadn't come across a sight that had all of this info conveniently presented in one blog post. I wanted a quick instructional video to give me an overview of the process, as well as a .pdf download of the supply list, and a written set of instructions that I could bring into my workspace.  Since it didn't exist, I decided to put it together for all the future rain barrel painters of the world. Rain barrel painters - unite!

So here it is... my first instructional video and accompanying .pdf download. Although far from perfect, I hope it helps! 

I welcome all feedback, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section of my YouTube channel, Art & Nature Time. If you like it, please leave a thumbs up! Also, I'd love to see your end results, so when you've finished your rain barrel, please send me some photos. Here are some pictures of mine...