Inspired by Teasels


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While taking a walk at Thanksgiving, interesting spiral shapes caught my eye in the dried teasels along the edge of a meadow.

After the walk I drew this page of motif ideas in my sketchbook inspired by them. There are also shapes inspired by small puffy white wildflower seed heads that reminded me of dried cotton boles or large baby’s breath. I wished I had also taken a photo of them.

Remnants of Color


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I found this lovely pattern of used paint brushes laid out to dry at work today. I just had to get my camera and go back to work tonight to capture it in photos. Student Erin Dix had washed and laid out the brushes to dry in preparation for next week’s new student sidewalk chalk painting event.

In this detail photo, I like how this triad of red, yellow-green, and blue is harmonized through the rich variation of browns and more neutral, less saturated colors.


remnants of color washed paint brushes blue gold alice frenz 0189b 900x600-70

Here the complementary hues of the blue and yellow orange brushes interact horizontally with softer blues and golden browns, while underneath and above lay complementary red and green hues.


From Sketchbook to Scarf


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my ink and watercolor sketchbook page

After purchasing a new 11″ x 14″ hard cover sketchbook for a workshop with Susan Shie May 2017, I decided to try drawing some mandala designs. I was also trying out a new pen from the workshop supply list, Uni-ball Signo 207 Bold. It’s a retractable gel pen which dries to a waterproof ink line. The line of the Bold size pen is wider and the ink takes longer to dry than the pens I usually use, but held up nicely to painting with watercolor after drying.

Emma scarf design by Alice Frenz from watercolor ink sketchbook page horizontal 700x339-70c

one end of my rectangle scarf design

I worked with a scan of my page in Photoshop, selecting and copying motifs to create a long 11″ x 58″ rectangle scarf design. I flipped the main mandala motif vertically and combined 4 together in a row alternating the flipped versions. I then selected and copied smaller motifs to fill in the areas between.


digital printing with fiber reactive dyes on silk

On the digital fabric printer at work, I test printed a sample on silk charmeuse. The colors appear dull right off the printer before steaming. After the dye is laid down by the wide format ink jet printer, the fabric is rolled in steamer paper and steamed under pressure. That’s when the fiber reactive dyes bond to the silk and the color  becomes more vivid.

Emma scarf test sample compared to sketchbook alice frenz 0208 900x600-70c

I made a few adjustments to my file based on the test print, then printed the full size scarf on silk crepe georgette. Since the georgette fabric was more than twice as wide as my design, I printed it together with another of my scarf designs lengthwise on the fabric.

emma silk scarf blue alice frenz 600x900-70d

my silk georgette scarf designs after steaming

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I finished the scarf with a hand rolled hem.

alice frenz silk scarf design from sketchbook 0230 600x1018-70
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©2018 Alice Frenz all rights reserved

See the other scarf design I printed at the same time in this post.

Lady Beetles scarf on crepe de chine 200x300

Lady Beetles Scarf

Jazz Blossoms Art Deco Pattern


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Using Adobe Illustrator, I created the motifs for this design. Then I assembled them into an initial pattern layout.

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I exported the initial layout as a .png file and opened it in Photoshop. I applied the offset filter to wrap around 1/2 the vertical and 1/2 the horizontal distances. This moved the empty black areas to the center for editing.


I chose this method because the center of my design had the spacing just as I liked it but needed the outer edges revised. After applying the offset filter, my outer edges will now align perfectly with each other when I tile out the pattern in repeat.


Next I selected each quadrant, cut and Edit > Paste Special > Paste in Place, to get each on its own layer. I used layer masks to hide the excess black areas of the top 2 quadrants. Then I selected the top 2 quadrants and moved them together straight down to meet up and align with the bottom 2.

jazz-blossoms-pattern-photoshop-tile-in-progress Alice-frenz-786x664-85

Then I cropped the tile to the new top edge.

I used a layer mask to hide the excess black area of the lower right quadrant. Then selected both right side quadrants and moved them to the left to overlap and align, closing up the extra black space.


I cropped to the new right edge. Now I had a repeatable tile with the excess black removed.


To test the revised design, I entered the pattern tile in Photoshop’s pattern library. Edit > Define Pattern and selected this new pattern tile. Then in a new larger document Edit > Fill > Contents: Pattern and Custom Pattern: select the new pattern. An alternate to test filling in a new document is to add a pattern fill layer to the same document and scale the pattern down.


Looking at the test repeat of the tile, I could see that the repeat was working, but there were a number of changes I wanted to make.

If you compare this test to the final design below, you’ll see that I removed one each of the duplicate vertical rows of medium size motifs, changed the centers of the largest diamond motifs, and rotated the tile 90 degrees for a more horizontal emphasis.


©2018 Alice Frenz all rights reserved.

My Jazz Blossoms Art Deco design is available for sale on Spoonflower and Roostery

roostery pillow 300x334-100


Lady Beetles Scarf


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my scarf design on silk crepe georgette

I created this scarf design from my ink and watercolor sketchbook page. I used Photoshop to duplicate motifs and arrange them for a 22″ x 70″ scarf.


alice frenz lady beetles scarf design 900x720-70

detail view of my design artwork ready to print

I first printed the design on silk charmeuse to test the colors. The scan of my sketch book pages turned out to be Epson RGB instead of sRGB. I learned that “convert color profile” is the right way to change the colors to sRGB for our fabric printer. The colors didn’t come out as I expected when I used “assign color profile”.

alice frenz lady beetles scarf being printed on silk 900x720-70

lady beetles silk scarf alice frenz 600x720-70

before entering the steamer, the fabric is removed from the paper backing

I printed the final scarf on silk crepe georgette. The georgette allows more dye to pass through the fabric and shows the design on the back side more than the other silks we print. And some dye penetrates all the way through to the paper backing.


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©2018 Alice Frenz all rights reserved


Read more about my ink and watercolor sketchbook art I used for this scarf in this post.


Illustrated Pride Flag


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I spent Monday wrapped in thought and prayers for all touched by the Pulse Nightclub shooting last year. Remembering so many times members of the LGBTQ community and their supporters have touched my life, inspired creativity and shared pride in personal expression, I took to my sketchbook, trying to express emotion and meaning for each of the stripes in the Rainbow Pride Flag.


Uniball Signo 207 Bold ink pen on 11″ x 17″ Borden & Riley sketchbook

Below is a colored pencil study on a smaller size copy to show my concept for the colors. I hope to eventually create a larger version and add watercolor.


Color study in Prismacolor pencil on an 8.5″ x 11″ print.

Being out-of-town and away from my scanner, I used my favorite scanner app, Scanner Pro by Readdle Inc. to capture an image of my inked page so I could print a copy for making a color study.

I make it a regular habit to capture every sketchbook page with Scanner Pro as I finish working on it, no matter where I am. This way I always have a library of sketched ideas with me on my iPhone as a resource I can refer to in further development of my ideas.

Sketchbook: Adding Color


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This week I’ve been trying out some of the new art supplies I purchased for the QSDS (Quilt and Surface Design Symposium) class I’m taking this weekend. The class is Lucky Drawing: Freehand Sketchbook 2 Day, with the wonderful, amazing artist and teacher Susan Shie.

I started at the top of my page with a set of Loew Cornell watercolor cakes that I already had. Then switched to my new Prang semi-moist 16 watercolor oval pan set recommended by Susan for the middle and bottom rows of flowers, leaves, and insects.

The Loew Cornell colors were very chalky and too opaque, covering up my ink line work. They also flaked off the paper when I tried adding colored pencil on top. The Prang colors were much more transparent; letting the ink line work show through. Colored pencils layered over the Prang watercolor paint very nicely. I definitely preferred the results with the Prang set.

You can find out more about classes taught by Susan Shie on her Turtle Moon Studio website.

©2017 Alice Frenz all rights reserved


Read about the scarf I design from this artwork in this post “Lady Beetles Scarf”.


Laser Cut Luminaries


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I wanted to learn more about designing for laser cutting. So I designed this paper lantern, or luminary that holds an LED candle using my artwork for Friends of Faith Pruden Foundation.


First I developed the 3D shaping I had in mind and constructed hand cut tests to refine the shaping. Then I drew the 3D pattern pieces in Adobe Illustrator as vector line art. Next I added vector artwork I had created for the Friends of Faith Pruden Foundation scholarships and childhood cancer awareness work and began cutting tests of my design in the Fab Lab at CCAD.


At first I thought I would be lining the insides with yellow vellum paper to create glowing silhouettes of Gold Ribbons; the symbol for childhood cancer awareness. But when I tested my design with the warm white battery operated LED candles I had ordered, their yellowish light worked perfectly with plain white vellum paper as the lining, giving off a soft golden glow.


After laser cutting several iterations to refine my design, I ended up creating a movable lid that slides up the handle to get the LED candle in and out, to turn it on and off. I then cut and constructed 8 lanterns from my final design to donate to Friends of Faith Pruden Foundation. And had fun taking pictures of them assembled all together before they left my house.


©2017 Alice Frenz  all rights reserved

Read more about my artwork for Friends of Faith Pruden Foundation in this post.

my illustrated gold ribbons