Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roadworks 2011

There are always so many cool events taking place through out the S.F bay Area, sometimes a gal can feel totally out of it,  finding out about stuff after it's happened.  Not so this year for the Center for the Book's annual Roadworks festival.  Thanks to my girlfriend Marie, I not only got to witness the awesomeness that is Roadworks, I even got to set up shop and hawk Lolo's Laboratory goods to all the fine children running amok through the closed off streets.

 Marie, our friend Andy and I shared a table, and boy did we pack it full of stuff.

Marie with her handmade cards.                     

Andy with his nudie girl art.                                       

Marie's cards and mini notebooks.

My cuffs, sketchbooks and buttons.
Andy's nudie girls with embroidered unmentionables.

Besides the delicious food and talented venders the main event was the steam roller printing.   Using 3 by 3 foot linoleum carvings from local printmakers, the ground and a 3 ton construction steam roller become the printing press. 

Inking up the lino.
After the ink, the paper, the heavy duty blankets, comes the steam roller!
Removing the blankets...
The moment they pull the print up is pretty awe inspiring, the prints are so detailed and come out perfect.  The prints are then on sale and the profits go to support programs at Center for the Book.
We had a great day despite the almost rain.  Nothing like hanging with your good art buddies, buying crafty goods,  and eating homemade popsicles....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shrunky Dunk...

There have certainly been so many awesome technological advances in recent years, haven't there? Some folks love their I Pads, others their Smart Phones, and some love to Wii all night long.  Me, I think the greatest technological advancement of the past decade are inkjet Shrinky Dink sheets.  If you have not shrunky dunk in the past 25 years, I would say it's time to relive those awe inspiring, "wow" moments of yore and get thee some inkjet Shrinky Dink sheets asap...

Yes, the internet is pretty cool, but nothing compares to watching that thin sheet of plastic as it curls up and into it's self,  then reopens, like a flower to the sun, a 1/4 of the size it started off as.  How the heck do they do that??

With inkjet shrink plastic, the important thing to remember and to experiment with is the transparency or lightness of your artwork.   I am on Adobe Illustrator so I set the transparency to around 55%.  When the plastic shrinks, the color gets way darker so play around with your settings and know that each printer will vary, so do some tests to see what works well for your printer.

At 55%, it looks really light, but when cooked gets bright and saturated.

Now you just cut out your designs and preheat the toaster over to 375. On most shrink plastic directions it says to punch a hole before cooking.  I actually drill my holes with a drill press after cooking, but if you punch before hand keep in mind that the hole will shrink a lot.

With all shrink plastic there is an issue of it not being water proof.  This is really a problem I think with jewelry, so it's important to me since I am selling my work, that it be H2O proof.   If you're like me, you really try to avoid spray paints, so I tried many different clear coat products to figure out the best solution for water proofing and here's what I found out...


I had high hopes, especially for the Diamond Glaze, but forget it!  The DG made the ink run and it got all crackly.  The brush on polyurethane made the colors run, and got all streaky from brush strokes.  The 3D Crystal Lacquer left a bunch of small bubbles.

Totally gross!

So, this meant that yes, I am using a spray paint clear acrylic, and it is working really well.  I have wood sticks and I stick the pieces on with Handy-Tak, (love Handy-Tak by the way!!) then I head outside.  Every time I start shaking the can I hear a window slam shut from the house next door, and this mean girl gives me the evil eye...

Shrunk pieces, stuck on with Handy-Tak, and an extra blob of Handy-Tak for reference.

Over the past few years, Shrinky Dinks, or shrink plastic has been gaining popularity with artist and craftsters.  All over Etsy you will find amazing  jewelry made out of shrink plastic.   At the Renegade Craft Fair, the busiest booth in the house was an artist who does incredible jewelry using vintage images, anatomical drawings, cool circus imagery, animals, patterns, all from shrink plastic.  As a budding surface designer, I am always interested in materials and processes that will allow me to apply my Illustrator patterns to objects, products and tchotchkes, so finding these inkjet sheets has been an amazing addition to my already over flowing supply of crafting materials..

Shrink plastic for ink jet printers comes in white and clear.  Shrinky Dinks is a brand name and that brand comes in different colors such as yellow and purple but those cool colors are not made for ink jet printers.  I have only been using white shrink plastic and I bought it on line at a site called   It is called Bake 'N Shrink.

No matter how many times I watch my goods bake 'n shrink, I am always amazed at the process.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I've Got A New Toy

So I have finally begun to recover from the start of the new school year.  My classes are under control, I am ready to teach 14 year olds how to draw a tube in isometric, I am getting over my beginning of the semester cold, life is good...

There has been a suspicious looking, unattended to package sitting in my studio.  I had been ignoring it, for fear of being consumed by it's contents, but with the long weekend, I knew it was time to break it open...
It was indeed a good thing I waited,  FOR THIS TOY IS ONE I WILL LIKELY NEVER STOP PLAYING WITH!
Here's my new button maker!!!!!!! 

I am happy to report, there is not much info or instruction needed to make your own buttons.  5 minutes after this picture was taken, I became a button makin' fool.  My button maker is for 1 1/4 inch buttons.  It came with 25 count of all the parts needed to make the buttons.  That includes, the pinback back, the clear mylar and a metal piece that is the main structure of the button.  I ordered 250 more of everything and I can tell I am going to definitely go through them soon.  I also ordered the parts for magnets, which means that the pinback part is replaced with a flat disk and a 1 inch  magnet gets glued onto it.

A circle punch is essential!

When buying a button maker, the distributor will also carry circle cutters.  Unless absolutely necessary, don't buy from them!  First purchase your maker, then figure out what size punch you need.  Although I am making buttons that are 1 1/4 inch, the image needs to be bigger, actually 1 5/8 inch.  At the moment I am using a slightly smaller punch that seems to be fine, but I will be ordering a 1 5/8 punch like the one pictured above.  The punches the button maker people are selling are way to big, heavy, cumbersome and expensive.

The dies (the metal tubes) swivel and go under the press.

Loaded up with the parts and image.

Once you have loaded your parts into the dies you swivel the image side 90 degrees until it's aligned with the handle, press down the handle and pull up on the handle an now the layers are all inside the top of the die.  Swivel again until the die with the pinback is aligned with the handle, pull down and back up, and presto, behold your adorable button.

Image and top layers have been pressed, now rotate 180 and press again.  So easy!!


With 1 inch magnets...

For the magnets, the one on the left I used the traditional pin back back, but removed the pin before punching.  The one on the right I used the back I purchased specifically for the magnets.  I don't think either one looks too good, but I think I prefer the left one.  I think the magnet is too small and looks a bit dorky.  I will research and see if I can find a bigger magnet.  The magnets would look good however with the 1 inch buttons.

So I now have button fever.  I am in the process of taking my surface design patterns and sizing them and tweaking them to the right scale for the button maker.  I will be crankin' out buttons for the rest of my life, it's that much fun...The only problem with the button makers as far as I can tell, is that most of them only have one size option, so you have to be really sure when you choose your size.  They are also kinda pricey, roughly $275, but I am hoping it will last a lifetime...

Is it too much with the polka dot background...not possible!