Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Heart Lab: Feed the Dog by Carmel Killin

I really hope everyone who owns a Feed the Dog cushion knows how lucky they are. Just look at how much work goes into one of Carmel's one of a kind cushions ranging from $60 to $80... a steal and a deal if you ask me! I love how she effortlessly combines screen and lino printing, top stitching and appliqué, creating the most unique cushions on the market.

Oh and don't forget to check out her blog to see what she's up to and to say hello!

1. Lino cut bird print
- Sketching & lino cutting a variety of bird shapes - 6 hrs.
- Test printing different colors onto fabrics - 2 hrs.
- Cutting out bird shapes - 2 half-watched episodes of The Sopranos
- Stitching onto fabric - 5 mins.

2. Appliquéd scrap fabric trees
- Sorting through bags of scrap material & combining colors & textures - 2 hrs on ipod shuffle
- Cutting free form tree shapes & organizing into neat piles - days, endless days
- Mixing & matching trees to suit other elements of the design & constantly rearranging positions - hours of indecision
- Cutting & tracing fusible webbing & ironing onto trees to hold them in place while machine stitches - approx. 1 hour per group of three

3. Lino cut pattern
- Drawing a grid onto a piece of lino, tracing perfect circles onto grid, cutting imperfect texture into the lino - half a day, including cup of tea & many moments of forced eyesight breaks, ie. staring at the beautiful magnolia trees outside my window.
- Preparing table & equipment, loading the roller & printing onto fabric - 30 minutes...

>> continue reading Heart Lab

4. Multi-layered house print
- Scanning original house drawing by 5 yr old nephew into Photoshop, scaling & touching up the image, separating into 4 different layers to be made into screens
- Sorting through suitable pieces of fabric then printing my own original patterns (both lino & screen) onto them.
- Overprinting each of the four screen images of the house onto these patterned fabrics (when dry).
- Cutting out all the individual parts of the house, windows, doors, etc.
- Mixing and matching different parts of the house then applying double-sided fusible webbing to keep in place
- Matching stitching to cover

ALL OF THE ABOVE - approx 2 - 3 days and cancelled dinner dates/ coffee meet-ups with friends & family

5. Handcut screenprint tree
- Drawing trees, handcutting a stencil - couple of hours of talkback radio
- Test printing different colors on fabric - 1 hour of laughing, smirking, pondering the ridiculous/ enlightening chat of talkback radio
- Printing onto fabric - 20 mins.

6. Lino cut pattern
- Cutting stencil, painting onto fabric - 30 mins.

7. Hand stitching
- Choosing thread color, stitching onto fabric - 15 mins.


8. Making my own custom-fit pillow inserts
or adjusting pre-bought ones to just the right amount of "bounciness" - at least 30 mins. per insert

9. Sewing the pillow pieces together
Cutting & sewing two webbing ties, one label & one lino cut bird to reverse side THEN sewing & serging edges together - 30 mins.

10. Heat setting the fabric
(to make the design washable & long-lasting)
Initial ironing of fabric cover with completed design then a blast of heat from an industrial tumble dryer - 30 mins.

11. Making my own labels
Designing in Photoshop, getting labels made into a screen, printing onto fabric and cutting out the labels by hand - approx. 2 days

12. Making own sewing tags
- Designing, printing cover of tag onto cardboard
- Cutting, gluing & sewing fabric scraps
for reverse of tag
- Hand cutting final circle shape
- Hole punching each circular tag
- Attaching string to tag then tag to cushion

ALL OF THE ABOVE - life is just way too short to be engaging in this!
(but they do look fabulous & I get so many appreciative comments)

13. Equipment clean up
Thoroughly washing tools, screens & other printing materials - a lifetime of feeling guilty for contributing to current national water shortage

14. Creating new colors
- Mixing fabric colors by eye to get just the right shade & tone
- Experimenting with different color palettes
- Experimenting with the different effects of colors on different fabrics & textures

ALL OF THE ABOVE - days, weeks, who knows?

15. Designing on the fabric itself
Endlessly arranging & shifting shapes on fabric - days/weeks until satisfied with the composition

16. Journeys to suppliers
Driving to fabric, ink & accessories suppliers -
2 full tanks of petrol per week, 3 hours of small talk, 2.5 liters of water consumed on journeys, a couple of headaches when I've forgotten my water, 324 minutes stopped at traffic lights, and x milliliters of carbon emission

17. Taking photos to promote & advertise products
- Another two tanks of petrol & x milliliters of carbon emission driving pillows to the homes of wealthy friends & families who have exquisite interiors that do justice to my pillows (ie, enhance their beauty. look more beautiful = will sell more pillows)
- Taking photos
- Bottles of wine, chocolates & other small gifts to thank friends & family for the use of their interiors
- Downloading & touching up images in Photoshop
- Producing two versions of images: web-friendly and high resolution print-friendly
- Uploading images to various online shops & directories & printing for catalogs & other advertising material

ALL OF THE ABOVE - a missed weekend or two playing with my nephews

Thanks Carmel! Thank you so much for taking the time out to give us such an in-depth look into your art. I think you need to increase your prices :)

See other Heart Labs »»


Unknown said...

Hi Marichelle- I just found your blog through Jenny, over at wiksten. My, my, what a gorgeous space you've got here and a great way to showcase independent designers and their goods! Consider yourself bookmarked.

ckillin said...

a big big HEART to you marichelle for this amazing surgical procedure you've performed on my cushion! (okay, i helped out with the info but your visual surgery, WOW, superb!).
thankyou for this experience, it was a real eye opener for me. I would urge all creative creatures to dissect their work in this way .. i found it both satisfying and horrifying. but ultimately, one of the best things i've done in a long while...

Anonymous said...

found you via wiksten. love the blog and love this heart lab feature. i'll be back!

Mama Mia said...

wow! You made that? Beautiful~!

Marichelle said...

Kristina: Thank you for the kind words and I'm so happy that you'll be back :)

Carmel: my pleasure, you made my job SO EASY!

rifferaff: thank you!! I'm glad you enjoyed your visit and hope to see you back here soon!

Lina: Don't I wish! You can learn more about Carmel Killin and Feed The Dog at and her blog at