TV appearance

  I’m taking a quick break from the Screenprinting with latex paint series. I will be back with the conclusion of this series shortly. 

I want to share to share a short video from my recent tv appearance. I was there to help promote the kick off of Third on Third, our local outdoor eclectic market. I will be out there selling my wares, so if you are local to the dayton Ohio area, please stop by! 

Here is the video, enjoy!

Screen printing fabric with latex house paint

A note about my experience on screenprinting fabric with latex house paint…

 screenprinting fabric with latex house paint
100% cotton fabric screen printed and stamped with latex house paint.

I have been screen printing fabric with latex house paint for at least 3 years now. I have successfully printed a lot of things: napkins, pillow covers, curtains, t-shirts, tote bags, etc. I have exclusively printed on cotton, linen, and ramie, so I can not speak for synthetic fabrics.

I hesitated sharing this information because

1.) I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing before putting it out there, and
2.) I was not sure how it would be received. In the end, I figured, if it can help someone else, it’s worth the risk of an internet backlash (ha-ha!)

I mostly print on things that will not get a lot of washing, but I have successfully machine washed, and hand-scrubbed fabrics that I printed. I have found that it is best to wait at least a week or so, to let the paint cure, before attempting any washing. 

modified latex house paint on a screen. screenprinting fabric with latex house paint
modified latex house paint on a screen.

So obviously, you can not just glop on some house paint onto your screen and expect a good print. If that was the case, everyone would be doing this already. There are a few reasons this would not work out.

  1. Latex paint, used in its pure form, is too runny to be pulled through the screen.
  2. Latex paint, used in its pure form, dries REALLY fast, and will gunk up your screen.
  3. Latex paint, used in its pure form will leave a nasty haze on your screen, because it dries so quickly.
  4. Latex paint, used in its pure form dries stiff on fabric, leaving a not very pleasant ‘hand.’ Because of this, it also tends to crack over time and washings.
  5. Latex paint, used in its pure form, *may not be* wash-fast. This is debatable.

I call these ‘challenges to overcome’.

In order to make latex house paint suitable for printing, it needs to be ‘modified’ and ‘extended.’

Modifying & Extending the Paint:

Extending the paint simply means diluting it. This means that you are not using the paint at full strength.

You will be diluting the paint with a thickener. Wait, what? Yes, you are thinning with a thickener. It will make complete sense, I promise.

Latex house paint is highly pigmented and can stand to be thinned. Strangely, the color is not noticeably lightened in this process.

Extending the latex house paint solves challenges #1-4. Extending the paint will:

  1. Thicken, duh. Now you can pull it thru the screen.
  2. The extender used will slow down the drying process.
  3. Because it will now dry slower, there’s less likelihood of it drying on your screen, leaving the haze of color, and possibly blocking the holes on your screen.
  4. Because the paint has now been extended, it will dry on the fabric with a much softer hand, and the paint will not crack on your fabric with repeated washings.

Modifying the paint just means that you will add textile medium. This solves challenge #5.  to make the paint wash-fast.

Now, I’m of 2 minds regarding washability. I believe that latex paint is washable on fabric.

Think about the last time you got paint on your clothes while painting. How hard was it to get that paint out? Extremely.

I add textile medium for extra protection. I do not really believe that latex house paint needs textile medium to be wash-fast.

On the other hand, I’m nervous to leave it out.

 screenprinting fabric with latex house paint
latex house paint that has been prepped for printing.

So you want to know what I use to extend my paint, huh? 

I have tried a variety of products to make my paint screen-able. Here are the ones that I have tried.

  1. Shaving Cream. The cheaper the better.
  2. Clear, non-flaking hair gel. The cheaper the better.
  3. Unscented Lotion (yes, lotion) The cheaper (think dollar store) the better.
  4. Mineral Oil
  5. Permaset Aqua Print Paste

So there ya have it.

In the next post, we will dive into more detail about each of these materials. If you have not, subscribe here so that you don’t miss it..

Creative living means making do

Creative living means making do, in a good way.

If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me ‘you’re so creative!’ I’d be rich…or whatever.

Little do they know that me ‘being creative’ means I make hundreds of quick mental calculations all day, just to figure out how things relate to each other.

I guess growing up in a time and place where there was no excess will teach you that.

These days it seems like there’s a solution for every single problem that we can imagine.

This past fall I asked my kids to help rake up the fallen leaves in the back yard. My request was met with some major balking, so I explained to them the importance of learning these practical skills for when they became homeowners in the future.

I was promptly informed that they would never need to such menial tasks when they get older since their robots would take care of it.

Well, shut the front door!

You’d best believe, they raked every leaf in the yard, to my satisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic that we live in such an age of abundant options. Having these options readily available also means that we are conditioned to go out and buy, buy, buy. Which means we start to lose the ability to think of creative ways to use what we already have.

I’m guilty of this sometimes. If I really want to, I will invent a need for a (not so) quick run to ol’ blue and yellow . In the heat of my desire to visit the land of beauty and order, I will quickly forget that I have way too many storage knick-knacks that I don’t use.

I will then later suffer from buyer’s remorse as I go through yet another big purge.

In my old age, I am learning to slow down and think through my purchases.

A wise man once said (and by wise, I mean I don’t know who) that being creative is being able to see the connection between 2 seemingly unrelated things. By the same token, [tweetthis]living creatively means seeing connections between 2 unrelated things.[/tweetthis]

Here’s a look at my thought process when ‘being creative’.

Consider for instance, plain ol’ boring clear Contact Paper (aka shelf liner). Did you know that this thing is magic?

  1. You can use it as a privacy film on your windows.  If you’ve ever looked at ‘privacy film’ in the store, you will realize that it is essentially the same vinyl material. Sometimes there are designs on the surfaces. So go a step further and cut out some designs into the contact paper for a clean modern look.Window with contact paperwindow with contact paper

(Apologies for the sideways photos…there is some sort of glitch.)

  1. Use that same clear contact paper as a screenprinting stencil. Or use it as a wall, paper or fabric stencil. Like this smart lady did here. So, screen printing huh? You really just need something to make a mask on a piece of fabric. That something can be the self-adhesive contact paper. Perfect.
  2. This same contact paper can be used to transfer a vinyl design that I have cut on my silhouette machine to the wall or any other surface. I told you that lady was smart.  Why? well, have you looked at the transfer paper sold for the Silhouette machine? It’s really the same thing, but with slightly less adhesive. Remove some of the adhesive by sticking the contact paper onto another surface first.
  3. Laminate without a laminator with the same clear contact paper. Contact paper repels water. That is its sole reason for being. So repel some water off that printed paper!
  4. De-Lint your clothes with it in a pinch. Hey, you could do this before doing number 3, killing 2 birds with one stone!

See? for as low as $1 (dollar stores carry the stuff), the humble contact paper goes a very long way. You are welcome.

So next time you need something, think about what you already have that you can substitute. Sometimes you may have to walk around the house with a dreamy far-away look on your face while  looking at all your stuff before it comes to you. Your family will think you are crazy, but hey, you’re saving money!

So I’d love to hear from you! What are some things that you use in outside-the-box ways?

Midwest Craft Con Recap


Last weekend I attended Midwest Craft-Con, the conference for crafters and makers in business. The conference was held in nearby Columbus Ohio. I was super-excited to find out that there would be a Crafter/Business conference only one hour from me…these things usually take place in bigger cities, far, far away. I registered pronto, and eagerly awaited the conference.

Midwest Craft Con Recap

With fellow Dayton Crafty Business Women Shannon Rea (l) and PJ Golden (r)

What a fun, relaxing, and inspiring event it was! It was really nice to get away for one weekend to hang out with a community of makers. Not only did I get to hang out with some of my crafty friends from Dayton, I got to meet so many people, and learn so much!

The Highlights

I got to meet one of my illustration idols, Lisa Congdon, who gave a very inspiring keynote. One big takeaway I got from her speech was to ‘Sail your own ship’.

Midwest Craft Con Recap

Image courtesy of lochnessmpls

I love this so much. In this age of instant access to literally EVERYTHING, it is so easy to get caught up in what your competition is doing. If you are busy focusing on your own journey, There’s no time to worry about what another ship is doing.

I also got to meet Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of the Craftsanity podcast. I have been listening to this awesome posdcast for about a year, and have learned so much and discovered new aroosts, makers, and business resources. In fact, I first learned of the conference whole listening to an episode of the podcast.

Midwest Craft Con Recap

With Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of Craftsanity.

Jennifer is a fellow printmaker, so we clicked instantly. She recorded several interviews from the conference, one of which is mine. Stay tuned, you may just get to hear me in a future episode. Our conversation also spurred a project I am embarking on. You’ll hear more on this later.

If you are not familiar with this podcast, be sure to subscribe on iTunes, or anywhere else you listen to your podcasts.

Midwest Craft Con Recap


I really enjoyed Mei Pak’s seminars. Mei Pak is the founder of Tiny Hands Jewelry, which is a line of scented food jewelry (I know, right?!) She is also the founder of Creative Hive Co, a craft business consulting firm. Her seminars were jam-packed with very useful practical information for social media and content marketing. And she’s just so cute!

Midwest Craft Con Recap

Mei Pak, photo courtesy of

Last but definitely not the least, I got to attend a seminar with the great Abby Glassenberg of Whileshenaps. Her session was also jam-packed with useful and practical information. She continues to provide valuable information (as well as her cute sewing patterns) on her site.

Midwest Craft Con Recap

Abby Glassenberg of

The Lowlight

There were so many different seminars I wanted to attend. One (tiny) pet-peeve I have about conferences is the format of simultaneously having 3 sessions going on at once. I understand the reasoning for this however, I wish that there was a way to have the different seminars offered more than once, so attendees could have a way to attend them all.

I know, I know,  I’m being greedy, but….conference organizers, if you’re listening, this would be a great way to improve your conference.

All in all…

The Midwest Craft Con was well organized and informative. I left feeling like I’d received an enormous amount of information, and needed to brain-dump. I met cool new people and found a renewed sense of purpose. I look forward to the next one!

Midwest Craft Con Recap

The Return

Well hello there!


After much thinking and questioning, I have decided to return to the AfroMartha.

Back at the end of 2014 when I decided to shutter the blog, I thought that was what I had to do. A lot’s changed since then…I’m older, my hair is shorter, my dining room is now the lovely dark gray you see behind me…

Honestly, I have missed it, and you (those of you still checking in 🙂 Things just never felt quite right without all the other parts I felt that I had to cut out.

I find that I have a lot to say, and I look forward to saying it here.

The blog will be part art/print-making, part tutorials, part decor/diy, sometimes food,  and hopefully always inspiring.

Let’s do this.


As 2014 comes to a close, I have decided to bring AfroMartha to a close.

It is a thought I’ve wrestled with for months, as my focus has changed.

I find that I really can’t be “AfroMartha” anymore as I’ve developed more as a Surface Designer, and not the all around jack of all trades home improvement/homemaker person that I’ve been.

I will leave the site up indefinitely and you can always contact me by email with questions. I hope you decide to follow me to my new home:

Thank you for 4 wonderful years.

See you on the flipside.

Hostess Gifts Studio 2014

This past Sunday I held a Block Printing Studio workshop in partnership with Peace on Fifth, our local Fair Trade Shop. The focus was making Hostess gifts for all those holiday parties that you’re sure to be attending. We printed up napkins and coasters… How fun!


What I love most about teaching the printing classes is seeing what my students come up with. Sure I love printing for myself, but I can get kind of caught up in my own designs. It’s great to see what others with a different design aesthetic come up with. It is also so gratifying to see people who previously thought they weren’t artistic, suddenly discover that they are!


Here is the ever-meticulous Wendy planning her fabulous Mid-Mod design


And Celeste in the background…


There was paint, coffee and divine Fair Trade chocolates provided by Peace on Fifth!

Did you miss this one? There will be another on 11/24/14. We will be printingTote Bags! Sign up here.

This holiday season, don’t forget to buy handmade!