Posts Tagged ‘mixed media’

They’re Not Just for Guacamole

July 16, 2018

So my BFF, Terri, recently pointed me to an article about using avocado pits to dye fabric, paper, yarn, etc. Whaaaat, really? It looked easy enough, but often the techniques that look easiest turn out to be the biggest failures. (Don’t ever ask me about Gelli plate transfers, thank you very much.)

Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to try it anyway. And, wonder of wonders, it not only worked, but was super easy, practically foolproof, and the results were awesome!

This is how easy:

Step 1: Buy avocados.

Step 2: Open avocados, remove pits.

Step 3: Rinse slimy goo off pits, place in large saucepan with a good amount of water.

Step 4: Put stove on saucepan over medium heat, walk away and forget about it. Literally.

Step 5: Run across saucepan while getting a snack a few hours later and notice, with some surprise, that the water has turned a beautiful shade of deep pink.

Step 6: Proceed to gather pretty much every white material in the house (fabric, lace, seam binding, Bristol paper, book pages, etc.) and dump it in the water.

Step 7: Stop short of dunking white cat.

merlin goin nuts

“Whew!”

Step 8: Success!

One caveat: Anything that starts out white will turn a beautiful shade of blush pink. Things that are ivory, off-white, etc. will not be quite as lovely. Some ecru lace I had turned a rather unpleasant 80’s shade of mauve, and a length of unbleached muslin came out considerably less bright and pretty than a white cotton.

I was so happy with the results that I immediately sat down and started to work on a romantic, shabby-chic, girly, frou-frou, fussy, fluffy book. Using scrapbook paper that resembles old ledger pages as the base, I created nine 9″x18″ spreads, which resulted in a fat little 6″x9″ book. Each page features at least one element that has been avocado dyed. I’m still stoked that this worked so well, and the best part is, you don’t have to worry about caustic chemicals!

The cover is heavy chipboard wrapped in the avocado-dyed cotton fabric, and I’ve added ribbons to the binding threads, made from avocado-dyed seam binding. The seam binding is polyester, so it didn’t take on the dye as easily as natural materials do, but I think the subtle pink is quite lovely!

blush cover

blush p 1

blush p 2

I tend to throw everything plus the kitchen sink on my pages. Every time I came back to a spread that I thought was “done,” I would  reconsider and then add yet another element. (Sometimes it got out of hand.)

blush p 3

Everything was “grunged up” with Tim Holtz Distress Ink to add to the vintage flair.

blush p 4

Many of the pages have scraps of tissue printed with sheet music, which is also a Tim Holtz product. I usually create with whatever is close at hand, and I had a lot of this stuff close at hand.

blush p 5

blush p 6

blush p 7

blush p 8

When I showed this spread to Dude, he didn’t even notice at first that the woman on the left is holding a fluffy white cat. I told him the “story” I made up for this page was that the woman had commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of her cat, which is depicted on the right. Dude said, “Those two cats look nothing alike.” I said, “Of course they do; they’re both white fluffy cats!” After considering for a few moments, he said, “The one on the left isn’t as fluffy.”

blush p 9

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Tea-Riffic!

June 27, 2018

Somerset Studio magazine recently asked for submissions of projects made using tea bags. I got the July/August issue in the mail yesterday and was happy to see my canvas titled “Tea with Anna” in their Expressions section!

“Tea with Anna” is one of my favorite pieces I’ve made this year. It looks simple, though it took some planning to work out. The image of a beautiful Victorian lady was printed in parts onto the tea bags, then the bags were pieced together like a puzzle and lightly glued to a piece of padded muslin to form the entire image. I like the effect of the overlapping tea bags and the various colors they produce. It looks like a long-lost family portrait that is starting to fall apart! I sewed some beads that resemble pearls onto several of the bags to mimic hat pins, and mounted the muslin piece onto an 8″x10″ canvas board. The final touch was some delicate coloring with chalks, then it was sprayed with Krylon Matte Finish to set the colors.

tea with anna sm

It was difficult to photograph this to accurately portray its beauty in real life, but as usual, the folks at Stampington did a great job! They also published “Afternoon Tea Sachets” I made by ironing tea bags flat, printing images on them and coloring with chalk, much like the process for this project, with the addition of sewing up the sides and adding cotton rounds with scented oil on them. I keep some of the sachets in my desk drawer at work; it’s always a pleasure to get a whiff of pretty scent when I’m reaching for a paper clip or a highlighter!

Purrfect Painted Paper Pet Portraits!

February 13, 2018

At the end of January, I was fortunate enough to take a class with the amazing Elizabeth St. Hilaire, the author of Painted Paper Art Workshop. The class was held in beautiful Mt. Dora, Florida, and lasted three days. Elizabeth creates amazing mixed-media works by tearing painted papers to use as “brush strokes” on canvas and the results are stunning.

Elizabeth-St.-HIlaire-Nelson-Peacock

Elizabeth is just as talented a teacher as she is an artist. I was mesmerized by the breadth of her work and her friendly, encouraging style. She’s quirky and adorable!

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This class focused on memorializing our favorite pets – or, any animal we liked, actually. I was surprised to learn that, out of 17 students, I was the only one who brought a cat to paint! There were lots of dogs, but also a fox, a llama, a cow, a horse and other creatures you wouldn’t normally think of as pets.

small chloe

This is my dad’s cat, Chloe, adopted from an animal shelter a couple of years ago. My dad is quite smitten and loves to take photos of her!

Our “homework” consisted of tracing a photo of our animal onto an 11″x14″ canvas, then roughly painting it in to use as a template for the next step: tearing painted papers and gluing them to the canvas. We spent the first day learning about the process and getting started on painting our papers, using Elizabeth’s tips and techniques. She provided lots of supplies for us to use, including gel printing plates, stencils, stamps, etc. On the second day, we started ripping and gluing. It was messy and fun! Inspired by this cat painting of Elizabeth’s, I put flowers on Chloe’s head to bring in some bright color.

floral cat

Here is the finished work. Can you believe this is ALL torn paper? Even the tiniest bits, like the highlights in her eyes and the stripes on the pillow. We weren’t allowed to use scissors, so it was a challenge. I enjoyed the process immensely!

chloe 8x10 sm

I used papers from an atlas, a children’s large print storybook, a collection of essays about finding joy in life, a novel from the 60’s, sheet music and a bible written in Chinese, all of which came from the thrift store; plus rice paper and mulberry paper. It was fun to pick out words that fit the subject, like tiger, velvet, baby, and pixie. (I sincerely hope the Chinese words are “nice” ones, too!)

chloe close sm

Elizabeth makes whiskers on her animals from torn, twisted paper, but I just didn’t have the patience for that (nor was I confident it would look good), so I drew on Chloe’s whiskers with a black Pitt pen. Yes, I did “cheat” a little bit…but I never pulled out the scissors, so I think I’m still good! 🙂

New Year and New Priorities

January 1, 2018

Here we are, already well into a new year, but my celebration began a few days earlier, when I got word from the editor of Art Doll Quarterly magazine that my submission was accepted for publication in their first issue of 2018! The theme for the Spring issue is the horoscope sign of Aquarius. When I saw the call for submissions, I immediately wanted to participate, as Aquarius is my star sign and I have loved the 5th Dimension song Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In since childhood.

I’ll admit I am quite intimidated by the amazing artistry showcased in Art Doll Quarterly because I am by no means a doll sculptor, not even a mediocre one! But – glimmer of hope! – they publish one “paper persona” in each issue. Paper I can do!

I covered an 8″x10″ canvas with painted paper made on a Gelli plate, then cut a silhouette from black cardstock to serve as the body of the “water bearer.” I dressed her in a gown of tracing paper that had been painted lightly to retain its translucence and then outlined everything with black ink and used charcoal to create shadows and depth. The Aquarius constellation is depicted on her watery gown in black ink and rhinestones.

aquarius small

The fine folks at Stampington did a much better job photographing her than I did, though their version is a bit paler than the original.

Mallette_ADQ0218-page-001One of my resolutions for 2018 is to submit more work for publication, and to attend more classes and art retreats. Usually I don’t have the time and/or finances for these activities, but this year I will make them a priority as they bring me the most joy. Life’s short and time stops for no one, so why not make the most of it?

Only a Year Early

July 5, 2017

I am an art retreat freak. I love the excitement generated when you’re among like-minded people, learning new techniques straight from the artists, creating and trading artful trinkets, shopping for unique supplies…all that added to the thrill of packing a bag and heading somewhere new. Really gets you out of that daily rut, and you come home refreshed and creatively recharged!

Back when rubber stamping and scrapbooking were reaching their peak of popularity, mixed media conventions and art retreats were seemingly everywhere. I could easily attend two or three a year and not have to drive more than 100 miles. Now it seems there are only a handful left, but those that survived are the best of the best. Art Unraveled, held every summer in Phoenix, has been on my “wish I may, wish I might” list for years. Unfortunately, I could never justify the cost; something else always had priority at the time, and I couldn’t justify spending that much all at once.

They say the definition of crazy is performing the same action over and over again and expecting different results. Hoping and dreaming wasn’t getting me anywhere. Planning and saving are what will make this happen! Starting this month, I’m going to put money into the savings account specifically to be used for attending Art Unraveled in 2018. I added up the cost of travel, accommodations, workshop fees and miscellaneous expenses and have worked out how much I need to save to make this happen. At this time next year, I’ll be ready on Day One to sign up, and it won’t be just wishful thinking!

I’m using a small notebook to keep track of deposits and for travel checklists, resources, ideas for trades, etc. One page is devoted to ideas I jotted down for creating a travel journal. True to form (see my yearly journals that I started in the middle of the year before), I got a bee in my bonnet and made it already! I decided to go with a fabric book so it will travel well. (Easily squished into a suitcase and no sharp corners.)

art unraveled front

Art Unraveled doesn’t seem to have a logo of any kind (not one I could find, anyway), so I made up my own! I combined a beautiful watercolor of the Phoenix skyline with clipart of a large half sun, and typed “Art Unraveled” in the space between them. This was printed onto fabric and sewed onto the cover.

art unraveled back

I sewed a heart on the back because I put hearts on pretty much everything – and because I’m going to love being there! Canson heavy mixed media paper comprises the inside pages, so I’ll be able to paint, draw, etc. I have a small photo printer to bring along so I can journal daily and have it completed by the time my plane lands back in Florida!

art unraveled open

Is This Meta?

June 17, 2017

So I’ve been wanting a sewing machine cover for a very long time. Dude asked me, “Why, is your sewing machine too dusty?” I told him I’d read that dust is fatal to sewing machines, so it was, of course, a purely practical desire. Secretly, though, I wanted to make something for my studio that would be unique, colorful and awesome, and because I already have too many impractical things stuffed in there, a sewing machine cover seemed like the perfect project.

Also, it will keep the dust off.

sewing cover front

(I had to take photos on the front porch because it’s too dark in the studio and my outdoor photo booth isn’t big enough!)

The idea was planted a couple of months ago, when I watched a video about using a Gelli plate to print on muslin. The ultimate project in the video was a book cover, but I got to thinking, why couldn’t I make any fabric item I wanted to with Gelli prints?

sewing cover back

After spending a couple of hours happily Gelli printing a yard of muslin, I used several different rubber stamps to add more detail to the designs. I had measured my sewing machine and added an inch on each side for good measure; this came to 11″ wide, 13″ high and 17″ long. (This allowed space to keep the thread spool on the top, as I didn’t want to keep removing and replacing it.) Using those measurements, I cut five panels from Pellon fusible Flex Foam interfacing; this stuff is great for making sturdy fabric items that will hold their shape.

sewing cover front 1

The printed muslin was torn into smaller “patches” and ironed onto the Flex Foam, then I sewed various decorative stitches along the edges of each patch. Because I love hearts, I also used leftover printed muslin to create layered heart patches to sew on at random spots.

Black and white fabric with a tiny flower design was cut into one-inch strips, wrapped and stitched around the edge of each Flex Foam panel, then the panels were sewn together to form the cover. It fits perfectly, pops right off when I need to use the machine, adds a fun splash of color to my sewing area, and, the best part: it’s unique!

sewing cover back 2

So, is it meta that I used the sewing machine to make a cover for the sewing machine?

Scrappy Tag Books

June 14, 2017

What a thrill it was to open my mailbox today to find an advanced artist’s copy of my favorite magazine, Somerset Studio! They had put out a call for tag art a few months ago, and, because I have approximately 900 tags (this is no exaggeration), I thought it would be fun to make a few tag books to send along. I hadn’t sent anything for publication in a very long time, and I missed the excitement of being published.

som studio jul aug 2017

They did a great job editing my article and the photography is breathtaking (as always). One thing did disappoint me a teeny bit: I had sent three books in, and you can see all three stacked up in one photo, but they did not show the cover of the third book, which happens to be my favorite.

bird-tag-book-1

But as Dude very practically pointed out, “They liked the other two best.” And he’s right; I can’t complain. I love how the article turned out. I’ve always said, it’s wonderful – and essential – that everyone is different with their unique likes and dislikes. Thank you, Stampington!

Compendium of Curiosities Challenge #28

May 14, 2015

Have you been following along with the challenges over at Linda Ledbetter’s blog? We’ve been working our way through Tim Holtz’s Compendium of Curiosities III book; there is fun to be had and prizes to be won! This time we’re turning to page 57 and learning how to do Alcohol Ink Ombre.

This challenge is sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique and wouldn’t it be great to win a gift certificate? All you have to do is create something with the Alcohol Ink Ombre technique. Check out the Curiosity Crew’s great examples on Linda’s blog for inspiration. They always do amazing work!

Admittedly I had some trouble with this technique at first. It came down to my reading the instructions and then, in my silly mind, replacing one simple three-letter word with another. Note to self: “tap” is NOT the same as “rub”!

Once I re-read the directions and figuratively slapped myself upside the head for doing it wrong, I was able to achieve a very nice ombre effect. I made three pieces; one brown, one teal, one orange, and decided to use them all in one project. I pulled out one of my favorite Tim Holtz stamp sets; stamped one image on each color and colored one of the images with markers.

tim butterfly 1

The brown piece was attached to a black card and the others were adhered on top with foam tape for added dimension. A couple of metal corners rubbed with Mermaid Lagoon Distress Paint completed the card.

tim butterfly 2

Once I figured out what I was doing, this was really fun and I love the ombre effect!

Gelli Cats

May 14, 2015

In the Jan/Feb issue of Somerset Studio, there’s an article by Melissa Johnson explaining how she’d made a piece called “Jeweled Elephant.” You can see most of it here by clicking on the table of contents image near the bottom of the page.

I was so intrigued by the process that I wanted to try it right away. Some of the prettiest papers I have are those made with the Gelli Plate; I have a giant stack of them made on deli paper. I chose three of my favorites and glued them down to 7″x8″ pieces of manila file folders with Mod Podge.

Elephants are nice, but I’m a cat person, so I chose a silhouette of a cat from Google image search, traced around it on another piece of manila file folder, then cut it out and used it as a mask.

gelli cat 1

After brushing acrylic paint all over the folder, I removed the mask to reveal…a Gelli cat!

gelli cat 2

I added more color to each piece by applying and smearing Gelatos with my finger (actually, Gel Sticks, which are the “kids” version of Gelatos; I can discern no difference between them except the price). The deli paper crinkles and wrinkles nicely, which makes it easy to add texture. A few dots of acrylic paint at the bottom, swirls with a gel pen and stamped words completed each piece.

gelli cat 3

These were still a little curvy when I photographed them; a few hours under some heavy books flattened them nicely. They’re the perfect size to add to my art journal.

These were fun and fast experiments – all three took less than an hour total before the stamped words were added – and I’m quite happy to have this great technique in my repertoire!

Two Worlds Collide: Compendium Challenge #12

October 10, 2014

I’ve been taking part in the bi-weekly challenges over at Linda Ledbetter’s blog, where we’ve been working our way through Tim Holtz’s third installment of Compendium of Curiosities book. Unfortunately I couldn’t participate last time because the challenge was to use one of the current colors of Distress Embossing Powder, and I only had a few of the discontinued ones. (I’m going to hoard those until retirement and then sell ’em for a million bucks on Ebay!)

Even though I didn’t take part in that challenge, I was very busy with creative work. It all started when my bestest gal pal, Terri, decided she wanted to try quilting. She and I are paper artists, for the most part, so this was quite a departure! Also, I am not a “precision and perfection” kinda gal by any means, nor do I have the patience for any project that takes weeks or months. Hours to completion is more my speed, so the idea of quilting didn’t really appeal at all. But then I discovered the wonderful, fun and highly satisfying world of rag quilts! What is a rag quilt? Only the best way for a beginner (or impatient, non-perfect, non-sewer) to make a beautiful and useful quilt in hours instead of days! The quilt is constructed by sewing squares or strips together, seam side out, then snipping the seams so they’ll fray in the wash. The end result has a lovely, soft, shabby-chic look, and the best part is that you can be a little “wonky” with the construction and it won’t even be noticeable!

When I get into any new creative endeavor, I tend to go nuts and make zillions of them.  Happened with book making, soaping, knitting, felted handbags, gelli plate printing…the list goes on. Rag quilts are no exception; I have made five of them in the last two weeks and have plans for at least five more. I think they’re going to make amazing holiday gifts; suitable for both genders and all ages. The creativity and fun are in picking out fabrics and laying them out together, and the construction is so easy and quick.

Here are four of the rag quilts I’ve made so far. I have given each of them a name; it seemed appropriate to name them instead of having to refer to “that one with the orange-y fabrics” or whatever. The first one was made with flannel fabric donated to me by a lovely gal I met on Etsy. When she heard I wanted to try rag quilting, she insisted on sending me a box full of pre-cut squares! She had made her first quilt with donated fabric and wanted to “pay it forward.”  Thank you, Deb! I will remember your kindness every time I snuggle up under “Kiddy Pool.” Isn’t it cute and fun?

kiddy pool

My husband named it “Kiddy Pool” because it’s mostly blue and because of the rubber duckies swimming in one of the squares!

My husband also named the next one, which is almost big enough to fit a queen-sized bed. (I got ambitious after making a small one and wanted to go big this time!) I told him it had a vibrant, tropical vibe and he immediately said “Hawaiian Punch.”  (Sure, why not?) I made it from fabric gotten for a song from an Etsy seller who had long strips left over from other projects.

hawaiian punch

My favorite so far is a little throw made from pre-cut squares from yet another Etsy seller. (It’s so convenient to use pre-cut squares; it saves a lot of time and my cutting skills are still very amateurish!) This one is called “Manitou Blue,” named after the street my friend Terri lives on. This one is for her.  🙂

manitou blue

Finally, the rag quilt I made for my niece’s Sweet Sixteen birthday earlier this week. It took a LONG time to cut, sew and clip all those hearts (and the letters spelling her name), but it was so worth it. I love this so much I decided to make a similar quilt (without the name) in a size to cover the bed in our guest room, which is decorated in the shabby-chic style.

i heart muffins front

So what does all this have to do with the Compendium of Curiosities challenge? Mixed media, baby! The challenge this time is hand-tinting photographs with Distress ink products. I LOVE hand-tinting photographs; I learned how to do this back in 2005 at a convention from Tim himself. The method described in the Compendium is slightly different now in that it uses updated products, but the technique is much the same. I had forgotten just how enjoyable the process is and I hand-tinted many, many photos in the last few days.

Because I’ve been so into rag quilting, it occurred to me that it would be fun to make a mixed-media project using a rag quilted piece as the base of a wall hanging, and then add all my “usual” fun stuff to that. Two worlds colliding!

hanging 1 girl 1

hanging 2 flower

hanging 1 girl 2

hanging 1 key

hanging 2 girl

hanging 2 butterfly

I picked up four coordinating fat quarters from Joann’s, pieced together the hanging and sewed it “rag quilt” style, with the lovely, shabby-chic frayed edges. Then it was just a matter of adding the tinted photos and some pretty embellishments, like a flower, lace, beaded hat pins, metal key and a paper butterfly colored with chalk.

hanging 1 close

It turned out so pretty and was so much fun to make and I still had more tinted photos.  Soooo…

hanging 2 girl 2

…I made a second one! This time I added some Stickles flourishes. Can’t go long without getting out the Stickles!

hanging 2

Won’t you join us at Linda’s? We’re having a wonderful time creating our way through Tim’s Compendium; there’s so much inspiration from the design team and the possibility of winning a fabulous prize package during each challenge! The sponsor of Challenge 12 is The Funky Junky Boutique, for all your “frilly and funky” projects!

hanging 2 close