Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stop Motion Animation with iMovies

Today my five year old daughter and I created a test animation in iMovies . I normally use Premier Elements for the stop motion animation classes I teach. But for the workshops I will be teaching in February I will be using MACs and need to use iMovies. My daughter and I created this test in 20 minutes. Pretty impressive interface on iMovies and the sound recording feature while viewing images sequencing is fabulous. I'm sold! I want a MAC again!

Click above arrow to play this simple animation. You can also see this animation at larger resolution at YouTube.

I need to familiarize myself with the sound editing tools in iMovies as I wasn't able to get the fade out function on the two sound audio tracks to work in the controls.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Matador Jacket Completed and Photographed

Matador Jacket (Traje de Luces or Suit of Light) photographed by George Young today.

 Detail of piece

Monday, December 7, 2009

Digital Textile from de Young visitor project

A few days ago I received the test fabric I ordered from Spoonflower. The colors came out great. Here is my daughter modeling the scarf I made of the textile.

The image pattern was created by scanning paper and wire tiles created by visitors to the de Young Museum during my residency a year ago. The images were aligned in Photoshop and sent as a jpg file to Spoonflower to print.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Serentripity Workshop at The Asian Art Museum

A few weeks ago I conducted a craft workshop for Serentripity Learning Vacations at The San Francisco Asian Art Museum. My workshop was part of a series of activities including furoshiki gift wrapping, Japanese teas and snacks and a tour of the Japanese exhibits. Here are a few images of the day.
Introductions by Katherine Relf-Kanas of Serentripity.

The day started with a presentation by A local company that sells and promotes furoshiki craft.

An interesting side note: The Japanese Ministry of Environment began a campaign in 2006 to promote the furoshiki as a conservation alternative to plastic bags. It has posted a furoshiki diagram that shows how to wrap objects of different shapes. This is such a nice development as modern Japanese packaging has tended to be plastic happy....wrapping food items in many layers of plastic within plastic within plastic. More info is here at the Japanese government website.

Below: Snack break! Delicious chibi taiyaki snacks provided by Sweet Breams of San Mateo.

I then conducted a three hour Japanese purse making workshop. There was a tour of the Japanese collection to break things up and our docent also brought in her own collection of unique Japanese textiles.

Below: some of our supplies: Sushi grass try for bottom of purse, plastic sushi grass, Photoshop created iron ons. Participated sewed onto strips of Filipino noodle flour bag canvas.

Below: A workshop participant working on sashiko detailing. I get my sashiko supplies at Eddie's Quilting Bee.

Hard at work.

Completed purses.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Technology in Schools

For several years I have been teaching art and stop motion animation workshops in public schools. As I draw from a past career that spanned animated cursor design for computer games to digital illustrations for educational curriculum, I am now getting an in depth look at how digital media is integrated into schools and in non-profits specializing in children's programming.

Closing The Innovation Gap
I am reading a great book "Closing the Innovation Gap" by Judy Estrin and it highlights the lack of long term thinking in culture, education and business in the U.S. She has a great quote stating to the effect that disruptive big leap innovation happens in groups no larger that a jazz band. We need to provide our children with projects and environments in which to work togehter in collaborative teams. The skill set developed in such interaction are essential for success in any career and in any life path.

In terms of technology integration into schools it is so important for schools to have a short and long term goal. I recently spoke with a school official who did not see a need for a five and ten year plan for their technology lab as we do not know where technology will be in five years. I was dumbfounded by this answer. Perhaps my question was misunderstood or I misunderstood the response. We cannot avoid planning a goal for a tech lab just because we do not know where technology will be in a few years. That is reactive and will result in tech labs used for bare minimal, unimaginative activities. There needs to be some vision of what kind of environment a lab should be and some idea of how to foster innovative and integrated technology projects.

Technology labs can compliment every academic discipline just as a library does. A technology lab should provide both enhancement of standard curriculum and provide the tools to connect with others both here in the U.S. and abroad. Below is a great resource for understanding what techonology usage should build.

National Technology Standards
The National Technology Standards, (funded by NASA and Apple) provides great top level structure for how to frame the goals of technology useage in schools:
Creativity and Innovation
Communication and Collaboration
Research and Information Fluency
Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
Digital Citizenship
Technology Operations and Concepts

National Technology Standards for Teachers
National Technology Standards for Students

At struggling non-profits it is not uncommon to see computers still in their packing stored away in cabinets, broken down computer hardware hanging out in corners waiting for repairs that will never happen, or even worse, tech labs full of banks of computers not being used in effective programming. I have seen all of the above at non-profits that do not have internal tech support or the technical resources to even know what is possible.

Krause Center for Innovation
There is a great center KCI, Krasue Center for Innovation, that provides teachers with paid training to learn digital tools and integrate them in creative ways in their curicullum.
Their MERIT Program pays teachers for digital technology training and then further funds them to implient projects in the classroom.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Matador Jacket Completed

Yesterday I picked up the completed matador jacket from the framers. They did a great job attaching the wire piece to the black matting. After seeing the piece in the frame I though I needed a few more gold elements to tie the piece visually to the gold frame. Here is the piece with the added gold elements. I will hopefully have a professional photographer take a picture of it before I deliver it to Armando.

Media: wire, produce netting, Filipino rice flour bags, organza, Mexican food packaging labels and beads.

This is the first piece in which I started using a drill to twist wire with. It has taken me four years to complete as I have been working on it off and on. Lesson learned: Make a hard and fast deadline or all my other projects will push the one without a deadline aside. I learned a lot on this piece and applied techniques to 0ther projects.

This piece was also what let me to meeting my friend, Charlotte Kruk, an artist who uses food wrappers in her work as well. She was working on a matador outfit when I met her years ago and I was beginning this piece. Time flies!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

De Young Residency Revisited in Textile Design

A year ago I had an artist residency at the de Young Museum and designed a visitor participatory project of wire and repurposed materials.

I saved most of the visitor created tiles and have scanned a few for experimentation in my textile designs. I have sent this below pattern tile to Spoonflower for a test swatch. I have hundreds of these unique round butterfly tiles created by adults and children who visited the de Young during my residency. I selected these few for my fabric design.

You can design a repeat pattern in Photoshop by selecting the area of your image to repeat and then select Edit: Define Pattern. Below is a swatch of area created with this technique.

I discovered that I could also increase the random look by selecting "half drop" in the Spoonflower settings. I am interested in the creation of textiles that are touched by many individuals hands and imaginations. Designing textile patterns which draw upon public collaborative projects is a fascinating direction to me. What garments and objects can be sewn from such unique fabrics and how can these sewn objects reflect further on community?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Matador Jacket Almost Completed

I have been working on this matador jacket, Traje de Luces, for quite a while now. I hope to have it to the framers this week. It is made of twisted silver wire, silver plated wire, crystals, Filipino noodle bags, organza silk, red onion bags, as well as packaging graphics from Mexican rice bags, tortillas bags and cacahuetes Japones (Japanese Iso peanut snacks from Mexico). My family is getting to enjoy more Mexican foods than usual now as I have bought a bunch of foods for their packaging at a Mexican market.

I started this version of this jacket by creating flat pattern templates in Illustrator. I printed them out to scale and taped the paper jacket together to make sure it worked. I then worked the twisted wire to form the outlines of each patten piece shape.

The final display will be against black felt rather than this purple/blue.

When I first started working on this piece (for a Latino artist friend who loves the pageantry of bullfighting), I wanted to incorporate elements of different cultures. Despite the controversy surrounding bullfighting, it does draw international fans and matador aspirants from diverse countries such as Japan and China. I lived in Spain for a while, (Salamanca) and recall the dramatic bullfighting ring and posters announcing events.

There was a Japanese man, Atsuhiro Shimoyama, who was called Nino del Sol Nacientero (Son of the Rising Sun) who tried to be a bullfighter in Spain. His is an interesting story. Anyway, as a nod to him, I included Mexican/Japanese food packaging and the coloring of the piece (red for the rising sun).

In the Philippines there is bullfighting as well, but it is fighting between bulls and not with people. The backing to this matador jacket is made of a Filipino noodle flour bag overlayed with organza.
Detail images:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grant Writing!

I've been thinking for a while now that I need to do a posting on grant writing. I just received an email from an artist friend with questions regarding one grant in particular and it made me realize I am not the only one struggling to build up a new skill set in such writing and thinking.

Grant writing is important to the development of one's art if you want to engage in projects involving research and communities, if you want to collaborate with other artists and basically just necessary if you want to bring your ideas to life AND get funding for it!

The Foundation Center is a great resouce and the whole month of October was Funding for the Arts month so they had a whole series of free workshops. These workshops are not only great for the information delivered by the presenters, but also wonderful for meeting other artists. I met one very understated artist who had insightful feedback on my first tortured draft of a grant application. It was obvious to me that he was very knowledgeable and generous with his information. I looked up his website when I got home and was so glad that I did. His projects are brilliant and his writing style elegant. His name is Todd Gilens. I really enjoyed his playing cards project for the Delaware Art Museum. .

Narrative Hook
In one of the workshops I attended we were told that there needs to be a narrative hook in the writing, some fragment of imagery from which the rest of the writing hangs. I struggled to understand what this meant until I read Todd Gilens' bio. It got me to thinking about what was the root of inspiration for all my art? What in my childhood was like his experience of sitting on a giant concrete ground sloth? (OK, if that doesn't get your interested in clicking on his bio link above, I don't know what will!)

I realized that although I, too, lived in L.A. and visited La Brea Tar Pits, I had many homes growing up...about 12 addresses in all. I began to think about how that shaped me. Reading Todd Gilens' bio helped me frame an application for an individual artist grant (Silicon Valley Arts Council Artist Fellowship) with a personal narrative at the beginning:

As a small child I was frequently tucked into the car and wrapped in a patched quilt of kimonos, rice bags and faded Hawaiian aloha prints. On long cross country drives to a new home on one side of the country or the other, I carefully studied the fabrics rolling in small hills across my knees. They whispered of rustling sugar cane fields, of great aunts cooling off in rice bag slips, and of kimono doll dresses made of apple wrappers. The fabrics were warm reminders of family life and blended cultures on islands far away. They are the inspiration for my mixed media art today.

At the end, I had this to bracket the whole Artist Statement:
My art is rooted in the knowledge that textiles anchor us to cultural memories and help shape new identities. I will always be that child gazing in wonder at the diverse fabrics patched into the rolling landscapes of my life.

My point here is to read other artist's bios. It can light a spark of memory in your own life and help with formulating your voice.

Sharing Resources and Info
Another great thing about meeting other artists and joining arts organizations is the resources and information they share if they are generous. Not all artist are generous. I have come to really appreciate the ones who are.

After sharing some of my textile experimentation with Mr. Gilens he sent me this link on intricate Islamic tile work. It is a fascinating article.

John Kuzich is another very generous artist. After only meeting him a few times, he showed up and helped me pack up the evening before my de install at the de Young. His residency at the de Young was this past summer and his show and reception were fantastic.

I have a network of friends who are artists, arts educators and teachers and it is great to be able to pool our information. A few months ago I applied for the Rambus-KCI Innovation Award. I happened to hear about it from a friend and would not have known about it otherwise. Last week I was notified that I was the final runner up for the award. It will be wonderful to meet the other arts educators honored at the ceremony.

Hire a Grant Writer/ Reviewer
I have also been working on a Creative Work Fund letter of intent with a museum. Until a few months ago I didn't know what a letter of intent was. Now I know it is a letter explaining your grant concept with preliminary budget and timeline. If the funder likes it, you get invited to formally apply for the grant.

I consulted with a great grant writer/artist, Nancy Hom, who read draft after draft of my concept. She posed many insightful questions which helped me to tighten up my ideas.
Nancy teaches a 2-part workshop on grantwriting from time to time (next one starts on Nov 16, 2-4 PM at the International Hotel Manilatown Center), plus gives private consultation.
For more information, contact Nancy at

I highly recommend getting the help of a grant writer when attempting a grant for the first time. I felt like I took an intensive online workshop with Nancy Hom and I learned a ton from her. Even if the museum and I do not get invited to apply, I have greater knowedge of the process and feel it was a very worthwhile experience.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Silicon Valley Textile

I am experimenting with cultural artifacts (Chinese food wrappers, sushi grass, rice bags), and computer chip elements to reflect on Silicon Valley and its rich cultural mix. This is just a test. I'd love to incorporate elements from Indian saris, Mexican textiles, and other prominent cultures here in Silicon Valley. I have also included a hint at San Jose's agricultural past in the strawberry leaves. Rough and ragged test done in three hours. I need to work on coherent color schemes more.

I was inspired by this artist, Angie Bacskocky who created the textile surface design for fashion designer Alexander McQueen. I have also begun to research Basso and Brooke an interesting fashion design duo....a Brazilian graphic designer teamed up with a European fashion designer. Amazing digital textile designs in their collections. Here are some more images of their work: I especially like the surface design on their Spring RTW 2009 collection as it incorporated Japanese textile motifs.

Digital Textile Printers:
I have been researching digital textile printers specializing in silks and fine fabrics for apparel. I found these two:

Below: I am no fashion designer, but I sketched this to show the scale that the textile might be used at.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fruit Leaf Studies for Fabric

I just discovered that one can create a pattern that has transparency in Photoshop. This is great because you can apply one pattern over another. Here are studies of apricot and strawberry leaves bases on a color scheme from a kimono I have. If you look closely you can see I made a mistake in the tiling on the apricot leaves (the red ones). I will need to review online tiling tips to learn how to eliminate these misalignment of register.

These preliminary studies below were draw in Illustrator using photos as templates. My neighbor was kind enough to give me an old Wacom Tablet to use. It has certainly saved my hands in drawing on the computer! I used to demo for this company years ago at trade shows such as MacWorld, but no longer had a tablet. It was great to get one for free. Perfect timing for me.

Below: Free form pattern test using Chinese and Mexican food wrappers, Japanese sashiko stitch pattern and cherry blossoms. It would be fun to echo the yellow sashiko stitching pattern by hand stitching yellow thread over the textiles.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

More Fun with Digital Textie Design

Here are more experimenting with digital tiling for textiles. I sent this out to Spoonflower in two different color schemes for fabric swatches in different types of cottons. I also ordered a color chart on different fabrics. You can order the color chart here I am still trying to figure out how to download their color chart into my swatches palette in Photoshop.

Below is my pencil sketch of a Chinese peony motif. I designed it to look a bit like flames as I am researching the last of San Jose's six Chinatowns, Heinlenville. It was brick. It was walled and it was locked. It was a unique enclave build by a German immigrant for the Chinese community in response to the arson burnings of other San Jose Chinatowns in the late 1800's. So the hint of flame, for me, alludes to a special community that emerged from the ashes of arson attacks.

I redrew the flower in Illustration incorporating strawberry motifs alluding to the agricultural economy which brought many early immigrants to San Jose. Into the flower, I inserted an image of an actual Chinese coin from Heinlenville that was lent to me by the historian, Connie Young Yu. Her grandparents had a store in this Chinatown. This coin was front her grandma's till box.

A common Japanese sashiko stitch motif was re created in Illustrator and applied in Photoshop to the initial tile image above. Japantown San Jose formed around Heinlenville. Below, De La Rosa peanut candy wrappers were added to the pattern. I spoke with San Jose Latina artist Lydia Sanchez and she told me that this particular candy represented a tangible (and tasty!) tie to her heritage growing up. I visit Mexican markets in San Jose for these yummy treats. Mexicans, Japanese, and Chinese all labored in the strawberry fields of Santa Clara. The final print tile (below and at top) is a blending of three cultures important to the shaping of San Jose's early cultural mix.

I'm working on a grant application relating to this. Here are some thoughts on it:
Textiles anchor us to cultural memories and help shape new identities. This project is rooted in the knowledge that Santa Clara county is the most ethnically diverse county in Northern California. Cultural exchanges and creative cultural blending occurs on a daily basis on many different levels. This project is an opportunity to reflect on the past while shaping a context in which to understand the present and envision the future. Digitally blending cultures and histories into innovative technologically created fabrics invites us to reflect in fresh ways on who we are as a community. These textiles honor the experiences of ethnic groups who shaped the Valley's agricultural past while also celebrate the blending of ethnic groups today and the digital economy driving it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pattern Tiling

About ten years ago when I was still a digital graphic designer I dabbled a little in digital image tiling. Now I am excited to explore it through digitally printed textiles. Here is my first experiment as I refresh my memory on tiling. There are very good instruction on tiling with Photoshop at this site:

Above: Original image.
Below: Tile of image using a filter (other: offset) in Photoshop. Inner seams of image are adjusted with the clone tool.

Below: The tiled applied to a larger area.

Below: The larger area of the tiled image is then overlayed with other graphic images (coins).

This then becomes one large tile. This image below is of the tile with the offset filter applied so that it will tile seamlessly. Yep, this does look Halloween in flavor!