Monday, July 6, 2015

Turning Marker Doodles into Stenciled Crackle Paste ATCs

The background for these ATCs started out as a random art therapy drawing one evening. As my husband watched TV, I sat next to him with a sketchbook full of thick white paper, my collection of TomBow brush tipped markers, a koi paintbrush and jar of water.

First, I made random doodles with some of my favorite shades of blue and green. Next I added a little more color and more doodles, and then added water with the koi brush to make the colors bleed together. 

Pretty, and if it were a silk scarf, I would surely have worn it. But since it was paper, what was I to do with it?
My new motto, learned from Kelly Kilmer, is “when in doubt, add a stencil or a stamp.” So I took a gorgeous Retro Café Art large flourish stencil and pushed white Crackle Paste through it. I was impatient, so I used some small Artistcellar stencils with crackle paste to fill in the empty spaces, being careful not to smear the flourish section—the mini virtue Tudor Rose hope pocket stencil worked with the flourish stencil perfectly.
When it dried and the solid white paste turned to a nice crackled design, I loved it, but still…what was I going to do with it?
The idea lightbulb went off inside my brain…ATCs, of course! So, using an Artiscellar pocket stencil as a template, I selected the areas I liked best, traced around the template, and made six colorful, textural ATCs. After I cut them out, I glued them to an ATC blank with rubber cement. The final touch was edging them with some purple Ranger Archival Ink.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Beauty's Only Skin Deep


For years I have made art paper dolls, so after I made an collaged journal background, I decided to see how my doll parts would work in collage. I chose a few interesting, unrelated leftover body parts (mostly printouts of royalty-free vintage graphics from The Graphics Fairy) and, using a glue-stick, stuck them to the page without over thinking it. I ended up with two unrelated pages side by side. the background has charred baking parchment, printed tea bags, painted deli paper and other assorted papers.


The left side has a face that I just didn't know what to do with. It started with a small square stamp of a face, but the face had a black border around it which made it awkward to use. I enlarged it added color, a neck and hair and turned it into something that looked like Chrissie Hynde on a really bad day. It sat in my doll part box for years looking kind of sad.

The pear is a not very subtle reference to the pear shaped body type, and the little face at the bottom of the pear is a salute to pregnancy and motherhood. I liked being able to have the boot unattached to the body--it suggests a young woman who is rushing and barely has time to get dressed, maybe juggling motherhood and family and a career.

The right side is a face from a New York Times Magazine fashion spread and body parts from a vintage paper doll. I didn't intend to do a two page journal spread, but I had so much fun with the left side I decided to keep going and do two doll pages.

As I looked at it and decided what to do next, words came into my head: "beauty's only skin deep." Using mini alphabet stamps and a permanent black ink pad, I wrote out those words on the left, and on the right, the "model" joins in to the musical refrain of the Temptations hit song with "yeah yeah yeah."

Monday, June 29, 2015

Lefty Art: Painting With the Other Hand

If there is enough time on my lunch hour, sometimes I pull out a few art supplies and paint, or draw, or doodle. The other day I did a lot of typing and graphic design in the morning, and my shoulder was aching. But I still wanted to relax and do some art to clear my head. So, I decided to use my left hand—since I am a righty, it was a little tricky. With the left brain/right brain idea in mind, I thought that switching hands would help clear my head.

I used some watercolor pencils on standard white cardstock and scribbled, then used a brush and water to pull the color around. I also dipped the pencils in water and drew with them and then wet the page and drew on the wet surface. It not a masterpiece, but it was therapeutic, and the colors were pretty and soothing.

I took the scribble piece home, then selected a 4” x 6” section that I liked, and trimmed it. I enhanced it a little with a Scribe-All White Marking Pencil and a little Faber-Castell: Stampers Big White Brush Pen. The Vonnegut quote was printed on Avery clear mailing labels. The quote seemed to go along with a piece that was created left handed. The Avery labels have a sticky back so the quote adhered nicely.  I ran the edges over a sepia distress ink pad to give an aged look, and also added some gloss medium over the whole thing because I didn’t want to take a chance on the quote falling off when it traveled across the country to its destination.
To strengthen the postcard, I used a reject/unfinished piece of watercolor paper for the back, decorating it with washi tape and zetti-ish harlequin paper.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Empowerment Paper Doll

This post from a couple months ago somehow got deleted from my idea how, but I love this little paper doll so here it is...

Lately, my personal challenge has been to use up what I have on hand before buying new art materials. I have boxes and boxes of paper scraps, unfinished projects and things that just didn’t turn out quite right. On Sunday mornings my husband watches all the news shows for hours, so I have a window of undisturbed art time to putter and sip my coffee.

This Sunday, I pulled out my boxes of little bits and pieces to see what I could do. As I was sorting, I came upon a little brown cardstock figure that I purchased from Retro Café Art. It was smaller than I was comfortable with, and I had put it together with little star brads just to see what it looked like, and then put it aside.

I decided that one of the problems was that the star brads were too big, especially since they had points sticking, out so I took the doll apart. Next, I sifted through my piles of scraps to find something just right to cover the body parts. For the face, I thought I might use a mini-self-portrait from an old business card. The template had a teeny tiny head, so I cut mine a little bigger. I found some old ATCs that weren’t quite right, and used the sections I liked for the arms, legs and body.

With matte medium, I glued some vintage advertising typography from the Graphics Fairy to the arms. The legs are floral sections of cast-off ATCs, and the upper body has printed tea bags with a snippet of sheer lace. The bottom torso has a stamp of the OM symbol—also from a section of an imperfect ATC—and some beaded trim at the bottom edge for the suggestion of a skirt.
This time, I put the parts together with tiny mini brads in pastel colors, which worked better than the stars. Any points that were sticking out from the backside were snipped shorter with a jewelry wire cutter.

One of the fun parts of art paper doll making is putting it together—you never quite know what the doll will look like, and what kind of “personality” it will have until all the parts are connected. I often switch out faces or clothing until it seems right. I didn’t like the face as much as I thought I would, so I rummaged through my baggie of faces and found one I had made a few months before. I made a bunch of heads when I tested some Dina Wakely face stamps, using Artistcellar's black ink pad and Derwent blocks for spots of color. (Non-water soluble ink works best if you are planning to add color after the stamped image dries.)
The new head was oversized for the body, but it added to the eccentricity of the doll. It also wasn’t a happy, beautiful face—it is actually kind of sullen—but then, who is always happy and beautiful?
For pizzazz, I added a pair of vintage boots, also from the Graphics Fairy. Somehow my dolls don’t seem complete without wings and a hat, so I added a bowler hat and my favorite Graphics Fairy butterfly (cut in half and glued to the upper arm with matte medium, carefully avoiding gluing the brads, so that the doll will still be poseable.) The finishing touch was a saying from a Yogi tea bag: You are unlimited.

The doll reminded me of an angst-filled teenager who doesn’t fit in anywhere. It seemed that she needed the extra oomph of the inspirational words from the tea tag, the OM symbol and the butterfly wings, to empower her and know she is okay just the way she is.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tutorial: Faux Lace from Recycled Tea Bags

-ATC Box with paisley stamped tea bag faux-lace,
lace trim and gold dotted accents-
Tired of spending a lot of money on art supplies? Here’s a frugal way to recycle and make some cool art and craft.
1)      Save your used teabags. Pull them out of the water BEFORE you add milk, sugar, honey, lemon or any other flavor-enhancer.
-figure A-
2)      When the bags are completely dry, carefully open them and remove the dried leaves. (The paper is very delicate.) [A]

3)      Flatten out the paper. You will see mottling/staining—that’s part of the fun. Paper will be different colors depending on what kind of tea you use and how long you steep it. [B]
-figure B-
4)      Choose a variety of stamps—I prefer lacey feminine ones with good detail. You will need to experiment to see what you like best. You can also use hand-carved stamps and/or wooden stamps. [C1, C2]
-figure C1, hand carved stamps-
-figure C2, commercial stamps-
5)      Apply white printmaking paint to the stamp. You can brush it on or use a brayer. (Printmaking paint stays wet longer than other paints.) [D]
-figure D-
6)      Drape the teabag over the stamp and gently press it down all over. [E]
-figure E-
7)      Gently pull the paper off the stamp. If it didn’t print perfectly, don’t worry…it can often add textural interest to have an imperfect stamp. (I use the imperfect ones for collage and the “perfect ones” for ATCs and tags.) [F1, F2]
-figure F1 shows the printed tea bag as it is pulled away from the stamp-

-figure F2-
8)      Drape the empty sections of the teabag over the stamp and press. (You will probably get paint on your fingertips. I keep a wet paper towel or rag nearby to wipe my fingers as I work.) I usually reapply paint every other time.

9)      Keep filling in sections until the whole teabag is covered. You can also mix stamps—you don’t have to use the same stamp on each teabag. [G1]

10)   Once the painted bags are dry, you can make all kinds of things with them:

a.       Collage them into one big piece and use it as a journal page or background for other artwork [G1, G2]
-figure G1-

-figure G2 has a tea bag lace background overlaid with a
vintage wedding photo printed on sheer silk, with lace and
button trim-
b.      Cover a small box with it and decorate with lace (atc box). Be sure to cover box with white gesso first (and let dry) so that the nuances of the printed tea bags show up. [H]. I often use recycled boxes but this one was purchased from Retro Café Arts.
c.       Wrap it around an ATC or tag for a base. You can also layer it over a colored paper or fabric background [I1-I5]
-figure I1-

-figure I2-

-figure I3-

-figure I4-
-figure I5-
d.      Scan the design into a photo editing program and manipulate or mix with other images to create very personal art or background papers. [J1-J4]
-figure J1-

-figure J2-
-figure J3-

-figure J4-

e.      Use it as “skin” or a base of a Santos cage on an arty paper doll [K1-K6]

-figure K1-
-figure K2-
-figure K3 used a Dina Wakley stamp face,
Graphics Fairy shoes and tea bag lace arms-


-figure K4 uses faux tea bag lace on a large paper doll template from
Retro Café Arts-
-figure K5 has a tea bag faux lace base and arms
with Graphics Fairy wings and face-
-figure K6 has faux lace arms and legs, an original face
hat made from a recycled, painted coffee filter and
Graphics Fairy butterflies -