Saturday, December 08, 2007

Pocket Calendars

This was a new item for me this year - pocket calendars with artsy mixed media covers. My friend Jean gave me a big hunk of primed canvas about a year ago and as so many things do, it just sat. I decided to do something with it and came up with the idea of a little book cover for pocket calendars. This way, you can buy an inexpensive calendar at the store and have a fun cover for it that will continue to work year after year. I did these by first cutting out the pieces of the cover, then transferred laser copies of images that I'd first manipulated, colorized and added words to in Photoshop. I used Golden's acrylic medium to do the transfer - brushed a liberal layer all over the face of the image, then flipped it medium side down onto the cover canvas piece and brayered it to smooth it out and make sure there was no air under it. I let that dry, then used a piece of wet (water) cotton fabric over the end of my finger to rub, rub, rub all the paper backing off the image. I then made some scratches, etc. in the image to "grunge" it up a bit. Next I applied Golden's acrylics - both heavy bodied and fluid types - to add color all over the edges and rest of the cover peices. I used rubber stamps with Stazon inks to add some additional embellishment plus bits of gold foil here and there. I sewed the covers together by machine and included a funky fiber bookmark, with little beads on the ends. Add a pocket calendar and voila! Art for your purse! I posted the few I had left to my Etsy shop, if you want to check it out!

Advent Santa

This is my new 2007 Santa. I saw a pattern for one that was similar online, but I decided to design my own pattern and think it turned out pretty well. I love his long hat, embellished with a tarnished bell. These are weighted with cinnamon scented rice to make them stand (and smell) nice. I've posted some to my Etsy store for sale if you want to look. For those of you who know me, Santas have been a big part of my life for about 20 years or so. I've made a new Santa of some sort for almost every year and hope to continue doing so. I lean toward the more primitive look in Santas and sometimes use a commercial pattern, but often just design one of my own. I take inspiration from a lot of places - the internet, my collection of Santas, and whatever art mediums I happen to be involved in at the time. But I do tend to do more in fabric because of my sewing and quilting background. Hope you like them!

Star Santa

Here's the Star Santa that I made last year. I sold a few last year, but this year the shoppers nearly cleaned me out! I only have 4 left from a total of 20! I just love this little guy - I think I relate to his fat tummy! Ho-ho-ho! Oh that reminds me - have you heard about how a big store recently instructed their store Santas to not say "ho-ho-ho" anymore!? Evidently it isn't now considered PC and might offend some ethnic groups! Santa is now supposed to say instead..."ha-ha-ha"! This really frosts me and I think, is just ridiculous. Are people really spending their precious time trying to figure out what words we've used for generations that now are not PC any longer? Give me a break! MY Santa is still going to say "HO-HO-HO!" - so there!

Christmas Projects

I've been working all fall it seems to create items to sell at the annual Open House I do each December with my good friend Dawn. We both put a lot of time and effort in coming up with new and hopefully unique items to offer. The Open House was last Saturday and as in past years, was very successful. I find it is hard to know what will sell and what will not. And this year I noticed that some items that didn't sell at all the previous year and which I offered again this year "on sale" at a slightly reduced price, now SOLD OUT completely! So I'm guessing that means my price was too high last year? Or do tastes just change from one year to the next? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this if you've ever done anything like this. Anyway, I've posted some new items in my Etsy shop if you'd like to look and will try to post some here on the blog too.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Doodle, doodles, everywhere!

Are you sick of seeing my doodles yet? Too bad! Because I'm having way too much fun with these! My close friends know that I love Halloween, hence the witch ATC! And along with that goes a love of the "Wizard of Oz" and now the "Wicked" series. These book pages are a great place to house some of the great quotes I've been collecting on scraps of paper for years. The black spread here started with the quote, then sort of evolved into an Oz spread. I hadn't intended it to have any color at all, but when I thought I was finished, I just had to add the red glitter to Dorothy's shoes! And I'm not a big fan of glitter, but how else do you get ruby slippers to sparkle?!
Oh - I should tell you about the pens I've been using so far...I'm in love with this gel pen made by Pentel, called EnerGel. It goes on so smoothly and is a dream to even just write with. But alas, it isn't waterproof so when I'm going to add color over top of it, I have to resort to the more expensive but waterproof, Staedtler or Micron pens. I do like the really fine lines I get with these pens though. The Pentel is a .5 mm pen, while the other two come in a variety of sizes and I like the .01 the best. Really, really tiny lines and doodles are possible with them!
Then of course, I had to do more bugs! I hope you can see these close up to see all the little doodling going on inside the bug shapes.

A fellow artist and new friend, Colleen McGinty, works for Faber-Castell and she kindly sent me a couple sets of their markers to try for my doodling, so they will be used for my next doodles. I'll let you know how they work! Right after I get done soldering some new pins I have in progress...are you starting to see why I called this blog "Art Frenzy"? LOL!

Doodle ATC's

Here are some of the ATC's I've been doing in spare moments. I do these in the car at lunchtime while listening to books on my MP3 player. I even keep a few blank ATC sized cards next to the phone at work for those times when I'm on perpetual hold! Now my boss won't have to wade through my doodles on the sides of all the invoices we pay! The eyes may look a bit odd and truly are not my normal thing to draw, but I saw another artist drawing eyes and thought what a good way to build your skill at drawing parts of the body...and DOODLING at the same time! The colored ATC's here were done with more of the ColorBox Cat's Eye pigment ink pads. I did find though that if I put the colored ink on last, it sort of greys out the nice black gel pens I'm using. And if you put it on the card first, you have to give it a few days to dry really, really well, or the gel pens don't want to write over it.

More doodling

A couple more pages from my "doodle book". The leaves page is actually the first one I tried. I gessoed the page first. I like that you can see a ghost of the original type in the background. I am not great at freehand drawing, so on scrap paper, I sketched a couple leaf shapes, then cut them out and used them as templates to draw around. Then I sectioned off the inside of each leaf and started filling in the sections with doodles. Lines, dots, circles, stars, wavy lines, spirals, you name it! After the leaves were all doodled to death, I used ColorBox Cat's Eye pigment ink pads to smear on color, using a separate makeup sponge to move and blend the color to my satisfaction. The black page is just black gesso (I'm now in LOVE with black gesso! so rich and dark!) with white gel pens for the smaller lines and the bigger stuff is done with one of the pen-type correction pens for great coverage. I have to give credit here for the little "bug" shapes. A totally awesome artist - Ingrid Djikers - is where I saw these little bug shapes the first time. I've since seen them in a number of artists work, so evidently I wasn't the only one who fell in love with them! Ingrid does some amazing things with her bugs using collage, but I saw them as perfect little shapes for guessed it!....DOODLING!


Oh boy - don't read this if you don't want to become addicted to doodling like I have! If you love details this will be right up your alley! One of my friends, Lou McCulloch shared her book "The Humument" with our club some time ago. I fell in love with this book and all the lovely "doodling" that the author, Tom Phillips did over top of the pages of an old Victorian novel ("The Human Element"). I was inspired to try my own hand at "found text" and "found poetry" - obliterating most of what was on the pages originally and only leaving some (or sometimes none) of the original text while adding my own art on top and around it. I enjoyed playing with trying to make a free-form poem out of the original text, but for me, the big draw to this genre of art, is the doodling. I feel that I am primarily a left brained, organized, toe-the-line sort of person. I work with numbers and facts all day in my job and that organizational bent of mine follows me into my personal life as well. When I'm doing any sort of art, I feel like the right brained part of me kicks in goes to war with my left brained, tightly organized self, trying to burst free of the "rules" I impose on myself. This doodle art, as I've come to call it, allows both parts of me to meld nicely and feel right at home! And the tiny little patterns I draw on the pages is very relaxing and stress-free and sort of....well....mindless! I'm definitely addicted to this and have even taken to carrying ATC sized cardstock in my purse to "doodle" on. I'll post some of those here too for you to see. Hope you're inspired to give this a try too!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Autumn Fire

One of my silk scarves - I just love doing this silk dyeing. It is so rewarding to apply the dyes and watch them blend and move on their own, then I can add my own touches with alcohol, chemical water or salt to move the dyes even more. There is just something so scrumptious about the colors and the sheen of the silk, once the dye has been steam set and rinsed and dried is without compare! I took a class at the university where I work from a great teacher - Joann Giordano and I'm eternally grateful to her kind tutelage for getting me started working with this medium.

Room Boxes

As much as we all hate to think about it, Christmas is less than 4 months away. And for those of you who like to make gifts, I thought I'd share one that I've done in the past and which has been fairly well received by friends and family. It looks like a gift box from the outside. It is covered in some beautiful fabric of your choosing. And when you lift off the lid, two of the box sides drop down to lay flat on the table. Inside the remaining two standing sides of the box I put a small Christmas tree - decorated however you like with gifts underneath and any other bits and pieces you want to add. The two sides that drop down flat can each hold a small vignette of furnishings - cupboards, chairs, rugs, whatever suits your fancy. I usually try to coordinate some of the details of each room box to the person it will be given to: a quilting or fabric them for a friend who loves to sew, a music room for a friend with a penchant for the tunes, etc. I've created some instructions - by trial and error for these boxes and will post them here in a day or two, so check back if you're interested in making one of these fun gifts!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Digital Collage

I know people who do digital collage almost exclusively, but I must admit I've always thought that if I did it, I'd somehow be "cheating". Well, I finally gave it a try and it was fun! And what I love about it is that now that I've done the work, I have a digital file of this image that I can use repeatedly. I can sell cards with this image, or just make some fun art for my own use or for gifts. I think it took me a bit longer than doing actual collage, but then the return on that investment of time is larger and longer lasting, so it is definitely worth it. I did this in Photoshop and as I'm still learning all the different bells and whistles of that program, I'll likely get faster as I use it more. This little girl only had a left arm showing and I took a copy of that arm and flipped it to use as a right arm. And I did use some ink and stamps to sort of "finish" it - see the dots, spirals and numbers? I just had to do some stamping on it! And I added a bit of that gold foil here and there after layering up the image with the brown and blue cardstock panels. I don't think this will ever replace my love of working with diffferent mediums and materials, but it was FUN and I'll for sure try it again sometime!! If you haven't tried digital collage yet - go ahead - give it a go!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Oh So Charming Swap - continued

Before mailing off my charms for the Oh So Charming Swap I took pics of the whole bunch of charms. They just seemso much cooler all together for some reason! Forgot to take a pic of the little tag I included with my "Fly Away Home" charms though. It was done in a similar fashion to the one shown with my "Blue Moon" charms. I've seen some wonderful charms in the postings for this swap so far and can't wait to get them all in my hands to ooh and aah over. It seems that a lot of charms are done using recycled or "found" items. Wish I had thought of that too, but we'll have a nice mix this way.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wire-Worked Bracelets

Well now that I've made a bunch of charms and
will be getting a bunch in the swaps I'm in, I
figured I better have a bracelet on which to hang
them. Also, my group of close friends in the
"Radish Ladies" wanted me to demo how to make a wire bracelet for THEIR charm swap. So I set to work playing with copper wire to see what sort of linked bracelets I could find to make.

I admit to finding link designs all over the internet and I reproduced them to make my own bracelets. Some were harder than others. Two were free-formed using just chain nose and round nose pliers. The one with heart links and the one with a sort of "S" link were formed using a Thing a Ma Jig with little pegs to bend the wire around - and pliers too.

Oh So Charming Swap

I just had to try my hand at some of the very cool
hand made charms I've seen posted on the 'net. So
I joined the art-e-zine sponsored "Oh So Charming"
Charm Swap that is hosted by Dawn Sellers. What
fun! And of course, I can't ever seem to just do
something "a little bit" - I had to make TWO sets
of 25 charms! Now two of my other (face to face)
groups are also doing charm swaps within their

My first charms - "Blue Moon" were made with
some little cobalt blue glass mosaic pieces I found
at the craft store - wrapped with 18 ga. copper wire.
I added a little dangly with more copper wire and
some extra beads and added an extra jump ring for
hanging on the bracelets.

The second batch of charms - "Fly Away Home"
were made with a purchased polymer clay,
flower-caned bead that I found in the 25 cents a
pack aisle - whoo-hoo! - at the craft store. I used
antiqued brass wire for this one and made two spirals
for the top and bottom of the bead, plus a loop at the
top and added a dangly with a ladybug and another
little antique brass bead, all hung off another big jump

If you get the chance to participate in a charm swap,
I highly recommend it. Even 25 charms don't take
huge investments of time or money and with a little
warning, you can even be on the lookout for "found"
objects to incorporate. Can't wait to get my swap
outs back and see everyone elses handiwork!