Thanks everybody And to those who've mentioned it, yeah, this is a great project for kids, especially with the right kind of styrofoam. I found that with this particular stuff, I got the best results using a knife rather than just indenting with a pen or pencil, but I think takeout/lunch trays work well for the other method. (you can also *buy* styrofoam sheets especially for this purpose, but it's way better to reuse the styrofoam trash that is already lying around!)
StatGirl -- really? I don't think I've ever seen a styrofoam recycling place in the grocery stores around here. I'll have to ask. We don't have the usual chains here in Pittsburgh, so maybe it's different. Good to hear, though!
shelleibean -- that would definitely be worth experimenting with! The tricky thing would be that you need to be able to get the right texture to "roll up" the plate. If the ink/paint is too thin, it would probably just bead up on the surface or fill in the depressions. Also, acrylic dries rather quickly, so you'd have to be fast about it. It would probably be most doable with smaller designs. If you try anything, post it up! I'd love to see how it works out.
Last [insert winter holiday] my boyfriend and I decided to go handmade, and the present he made me was this really awesome cribbage set that all went inside of a book. So this year I was thinking I'd continue the game board theme and make him a checkers/chess set. I was originally thinking I'd make it before he went on a big trip abroad, but my sewing machine went on the fritz, so it's the holidays now. But yeah, I went with felt and embroidery to make it easier to travel with. The sewn board is a bit bulkier than I wanted -- I'm thinking I might redo it and just paint/print the black squares on a big white piece of felt, but I'm really happy with the pieces and the embroidery. I haven't really done much embroidery before, but it was fun winging it. Anyway, photos!
And a closeup. The backs of the pieces are blank, so you could flip them over for a game of checkers.
And here's the back. The Chinese silk in the middle is because my boy has been in China since early August, until mid December.
sactownsue and karin -- I used Speedball's water-based block printing ink. It's actually kind of crappy, but it's the most readily available relief printing ink, and it's easy to clean up, since it's water-based rather than oil-based. You ought to be able to find it at any art supply store, in little tubes that cost between $3 and $5. You can get inks of a better quality from Daniel Smith or Graphic Chemical. Oil based inks are especially nice, but they're much harder to do in a small space, as they're harder to clean up safely and take much longer to dry.
I sort of doubt that acrylic paint would work very well, especially if you're making multiples, as it dries out so quickly (actually, that's sort of one of the problems with Speedball's ink, too, but I think acrylics would be worse). Also, it needs to have the right consistency to "roll up" properly on a brayer and on the block. You could certainly experiment with it -- maybe there's something you could add to make it better -- but it would be much easier with regular block printing inks!
minkeyfeet -- that's funny, I actually did name them all, and I wrote a short little bio-story for each one on my flickr! The top row from left to right contains Andrew, Kenneth, and Leon, and the bottom row is Walter and Hank. The prints with multiple colors were actually pretty simple, printed in one go -- I would just roll up different colored inks on the same block, cleaning my roller off when necessary to avoid polluting the colors too much. The heart is actually done with just two colors of ink, blue and red, and where they overlapped is the dark purple.
For the past few weeks, I've been experimenting with making block prints out of that dense styrofoam food packaging -- like the kind meat is packed in, or styrofoam egg crates, that sort of thing. For some reason, my grocery store uses that stuff for *everything*, especially vegetables, so I wanted to find a way to at least get extra use out of it all.
Here's what I came up with. If you want to try it out on your own, it's super easy. I just use an x-acto to cut out the shape of what I want to print, and then use the same blade to make linework. I like to go over the lines again with something pointy; I use an etching tool, but you use any sort of stylus to just widen the lines slightly. You can even just draw into the styrofoam with a pen, or anything that will indent it -- but I like the nice lines you get from using an x-acto. Printing is exactly the same as a linocut, except that you have to be careful inking multiples, as the edges get squished down a little bit. This material doesn't work well if you want a print with a lot of thin ink-colored lines or small shapes, but it's great for simple, bold shapes with fine, cut linework. Here are a few prints I made with the styrofoam:
And this is what the materials look like after being cut and printed:
I like doing linocuts or woodblocks, but this process is so fast, it's really satisfying. Plus, it's great to use materials that are both recycled and free!
Mind explaining that a bit more? How do you embroider like that with a regular sewing machine -- is it just a straight stitch with a thicker thread? Do you have a clearer macro shot of what the embroidery looks like?
Really beautiful results, anyway. I have to agree with everyone -- toss something on underneath and wear it out! It definitely ought to be shown off.
The differences for the other two pairs are pretty simple. For the pair on the left, I just started inserting decreases and built up the sides of the shoe for a couple of rounds instead of adding straps, and the pair on the right I just stopped when it fit the sole of my foot. Then for both of those, I actually wove the bag "yarn" back and forth along the edges to make the tops, rather than crocheting. Pretty easy!