Saturday, March 31, 2012

How doilies are made: silkscreen

A shot from the setup.  See how the gray doilies underneath came to be below.

Yes, yes, we all know doilies are most commonly produced through crochet.  But for this particular styling setup (it's a bridal one), I figured to mass-produce them the silkscreened way.  :-)

First, I settled on a generic doily design, and tweaked it a bit.  I then went over to the good folks at Hocus Manila to have the design worked out on a screen.  Andrei and Sheina of Hocus are awesome--they put together custom bikes (you can also get spare bike parts), as well as produce silkscreens and serigraphs.  Lex and I are working with them in rolling out workshops, as well as bike-related merchandise.  Well, that's another story I'll share sometime else.

Just to give you an idea of why I decided to silkscreen the doilies--I met up with the bride-to-be at her reception venue, and she lamented the state the chairs were in--they were brown, and some were a bit worn.  They were the bulkier, padded chairs.  I then offered to drape the chairbacks with a bit of design (with a bit of a beaded tassel on the end), and in order to maximize this particular design, I figured to produce a modular, multipurpose piece, to use as a table-runner as well.

Well, hopping back into the process, I then proceeded to prepare the cloth to be silkscreened.  I went with katcha--a type of cheesecloth that's light and fine, but a mesh that is loose enough to be viewed as having a rustic appeal.

Putting my trusty sewing machine to work, I hemmed the edges.  The doily design is about 18 inches across, so I put in a small allowance for that.

So when those were done, I prepared the silkscreen area.  Taking the screen, I attached it to a swinging table (fashioned after the one Andrei and Sheina have) with C-clamps, and poked around the textile paint I was so generously given.

I had to mix the lighter shade of gray I wanted, which took a bit of time.  The paint was a bit thick too, and I didn't have the thinner prescribed.  But the setup was a few days away at the time, and I had to make do with what I had.

I lined the table with newspaper (which I had to struggle with later on, as the screened fabric stuck to it), took my mixed light gray, and went to work.  After priming the screen, I made a test one on paper.  When it seemed safe to proceed, I tried one, which had some inconsistencies.  The others had their bits of inconsistency as well, and I guess I'll have to find the textile paint thinner for when I mass produce these (for about 120 seats and 12 tables).  To spread the paint, I used a huge squeegee Hocus lent me (I'll give it back soon, guys!).  And after each doily was printed, I'd lay it to dry on the outdoor bar counter at home (which Creamy the cat promptly stepped all over, leaving light cat prints on the counter top).

Midway the short print run though, I ran out of mixed gray!  I hastily mixed another batch (as the screen was drying already) which ended up darker then the first, but better executed.  Lesson learned.

The doily print was fun to make, and I'm really excited to do the rest (also so that I can return Hocus' squeegee already).  I just need a better place to dry the prints.

Will post more on the preps for the said setup later on.  Things have been busy and brewing!  Lex and I have been fixing up the Craft MNL workshop space.  We had a special guest yesterday, and a crafty confluence of events will produce something wonderful in May.  Stay tuned for that.

'Til the next handmade adventure.  :-)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Taiwan Craft Haunts

The cute puppy at 39 Metal Workshop

Because it's been requested, here's a quick post on the different craft shops/workshops I was able to get contact details from in Taipei:

The ladies from Middle Handmade Studio:

  • Wool felting - (you can translate to English, really cool photos)  Email:
  • Silver jewelry - (you can translate the page too, I was using Chrome when I viewed this) Ring Creative Studio FB  Email:
  • Thread jewelry (I have no idea if this is the right term for this, but you can check the photo below for what it is exactly she does or my post on Crafting Taiwan--I met her, but I forgot her name!) -  Email: (er, maybe her name's Kitty?)
The rest of these folks are from around Taipei:
  • Sue Duan Design (where I got my wing earrings!) - (translate this too) Sue Duan Design FB  Email:
  • Steven's Glass Wonderland (cute glass knickknacks) -
  • 39 Metal Workshop -  Email:
The ladies from the Middle Handmade Studio ladies give workshops, as does Steven's Glass Wonderland.  You may want to try asking the other folks listed if they give workshops as well.

The mystery craft at Middle Handmade Studio

Friday, March 16, 2012

To go with fresh? Or with flowers that last?

Okay, I'm no florist.  But I've been into making fabric bouquets and fabric flowers.  And I say--to each her own.  :-)  Through my current styling projects I'm slowly learning more about fresh flowers, and from all of the fresh bouquets I've seen so far, I think it can safely be said that no level of artisan talent can equal the diversity and delicate aesthetic of Mother Nature.

But as a crafter I also say--craft-y-ness + creativity = the happy products of the very human yearning to create as well as to make things last (woohoo, may I dramatize the case for fabric flowers...).  Memories and keepsakes are, I think, a reflection of how wonderfully human we all are.  How we would like to cling to things, to remember things--and to be remembered by what we pass on.  But I stray.  Back to flowers.

I started making fabric flowers for head pieces I was having fun with last year.

Ribbon rose with tinted freshwater pearls on my Alice headband.  Awesomely modeled by Zee.
Then upon further research, my fabric-flower know-how extended beyond ribbon roses, and I think I had too much fun with satin and geena silk and bouquet tutorials.

I got to put this new skill to use with my sister's wedding last year.

All bouquets (except for the bride's bouquet of fresh orchids) are handmade with love.
Close up of some of the entourage bouquets.  Photos above by Nelwin Uy.
And now that I'm taking baby steps into styling, the question between fresh or lasting presents itself even more often.  Fresh is an absolute classic.  But, the mounds of moolah you spend on them sometimes end up being cast away at the end of the celebration.  Which is mainly the reason why people consider craft bouquets (another reason is, I've realized that it's also easier to match dresses to the fabric colors used in DIY bouquets which may not be as available in Mother Nature's floral palette).  The lasting DIY craft bouquets, by virtue of being handmade can also be quite expensive though.  BUT, they can also be quite the budget option as well--IF well--you make them yourself.  :-) And it isn't as hard as you think.  I'm currently cooking up a way of sharing the DIY love with brides on a budget.  Stay tuned for that.  If you'd like to check out the tutorial I based the above bouquets on, hop on over to Elizabeth Anne Designs here.  I just used a different sort of fabric flower, but once you get the base (wire whisk) down, the possibilities for these topiary-style bouquets are as endless as you make them.

Here's a sneak peek at my most recent fabric bouquet flower, using a different base and flower type.

Canvas and geena silk with hemp rope and dried flowers.
Will post more on how this project goes.  Blue roses?  No problem.  Hooray for the inspiration we get from nature.  :-)  I think it's great that we get to celebrate the beauty of what's around us together with a twist of homegrown creativity.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Craft Taiwan! ♥

Taipei seems to be quite the crafter's playground.  Our first day in the city, we went straight to the weekend market at the Red House Theater in Ximending. Apart from my heart leaping in delight from seeing so many crafters and creative entrepreneurs in one area, I also took note of what I felt was pretty remarkable--I observed a very distinct pride for the handmade, and the process that produced the wares they were now selling.

Beside tables of handcrafted goodies, you'd find the artisan or the crafter, hunched over their work (if they weren't entertaining inquiries from visitors).  In certain shops I'd walk into, I'd also see a worktable, or the equipment they use in the same area as the finished products they were selling.

Busy leather crafters selling their wares and making new products.

The integrated work and selling space translated itself to me as pride in work and in the work process, as opposed to some businesses hiding away their messy operations in a backroom or factory somewhere.  Here, they were sharing their processes, messy or not (though most of them were very neat and organized).  Well, I suppose at a craft fair that could only make sense.  But seeing that pride in their work (or were they just cramming the production of more wares...? I'd rather believe the former!) made my heart jump up and click its heels.  Now if only we could get through the language barrier to ask more technical craft questions...

I got to meet some wonderful crafters there, and those with whom I could manageably converse with, even took the time out to demonstrate their craft.  I learned quite a bit!  I'll post about that later on.

I love the Red House Theater!  If I were prone to hyperventilation, I'd probably be gasping for air while walking through the Creative Boutique and the  Cradle of the Cultural Creative Dreamer (wow, that's a mouthful).

Above is a close up of the display outside Steven's Glass Wonderland (they give workshops!).  I loved their little glass knickknacks.

The above photos are at a handmade soap store.  The lady explained that she and her husband run the business.  They make soaps out of select natural ingredients.  I really liked how you could handle their merchandise and freely ask about things.

I forget this wonderful lady's name from the Middle Handmade Studio, but we tried to converse on the technique she uses to make these beautiful flowers (and well, failed at it so I just took photos instead).  Gosh, I don't even know what you call this kind of technique/process.  I could only gush.  I tried visiting the blog address on the card she handed me, and could find snippets of photos of her work (among a lot of graphics).  If you wanna check it out, go here.  But I think it would be best to scope their studio's FB page.  I returned to their shop a few days later.  There's a whole other story there too.  :-)

I ended the craft-scoping day with a happy purchase from the artists' market at the North Square.  Thinking that I could always return to the shops at the Creative Boutique and at the Cradle of the Cultural Creative Dreamer, I spent quite sometime browsing through the stalls at the market, and chanced upon Sue Duan Design.  It was her husband I started talking to, and he proudly shared that his wife designs and creates the whimsical jewelry they sell, while he searches for materials for her.  They were too cute a couple, and I found myself quite smitten with the wing earrings I was clutching (and never let go of).

Yay, handmade.  It's quite the happy thing seeing a semblance of threads of a kinship of sorts among  crafters anywhere you might be.