Sunday, September 14, 2014

Journaling: Moods and Memories

Journaling brings out unexpected memories and feelings. It brings out different sides of me. Sometimes I surprise myself, especially when a page comes out better than I expected. Sometimes it is ugly and I make mistakes and I am learning to feel okay about it. Sometimes I use dark dreary colors and let out anger or fatigue.

Today, I surprised myself and let out my girly side. I used a little fashion figure, some pink, some lacy looking stamped teabag scraps and wrote with a pink marker. I have an aversion to cutsie artwork. Somehow it seems amateurish, makes me feel like the artist--especially if it is me--doesn't have much depth. (I love the tiny house images, by Debrina Pratt, and sold as collage sheets. I printed out minis of them when I was trying to get an idea of how to do a house-shaped ATC last winter.)

The other day I randomly chose some images and made a page after work. I used a drawing of a bicycle as the central image. Maybe it was that it was a crisp fall-ish day, but I remembered a moment in time right before I turned eight. A family friend asked what I would like for my birthday, so I said "a bike!" My parents told my I shouldn't have said that to "uncle Bob" but I couldn't understand why, after all, it WAS what I dreamed of.

So, on my birthday, there was a bright blue bike, compliments of "uncle Bob." I was thrilled. Rode it for years. Rode it to the playground, to the pool, the creek, to my friends' houses. When I went off to college in the fall of 1973, my mom rode it around the neighborhood to get exercise.

The bike also triggered a memory of my friend Susan's grandmother. When we went to visit her (back in my single days, many years ago) the seniors in her  community were riding around in giant tricycles with baskets, going to and from the market, or to and from exercise class. I thought it was a great way to grow old. So, I scribbled the memory on an piece of paper and clipped it to the page.

I recently had to endure my first deposition--it was nerve-wracking and intense. When I came home I made a journal from randomly chosen photos. I ended up subconsciously picking patterns and items for the home, and the page became about home being where you are, with the people you love, rather than being about a big home and possessions.

The central focus is a tiny house, which reminded me of a quilted "Madeline" toy house I bought for my daughter when she was little. It symbolizes the small apartment we now live in, which, although cramped, is a happy, comfortable home.

The page also became about what lasts over eternity, which I don't know--since I am still alive--but hope is love and feelings of kindness, generosity, and understanding.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Before and After: Fearless Journaling

I am loving my handmade journal that I constructed in Kelly Kilmer's class at the Ink Pad. It is about halfway filled, which makes me feel good that I have done so many pages, and bad that I will soon be running out of space in it. It is still a challenge to work through steps 2 and 3--incorporating stamps/stencils and then putting words on the page. I feel a little pretentious adding the words, which is crazy, since I am the editor of a quarterly hospital magazine, monthly newsletter, and many articles on heathcare and also on art. My degree is in art, not journalism, but have been working as a writer and editor for over 20 years, yet somehow I am uncomfortable when I am introduced as "our staff writer, Linda Wyatt." I am much more comfortable being "our layout designer and part of the media services staff, Linda Wyatt."

I feel like I am going to make a mess when I add stamps or stencils, but it is definitely a an exercise I need in trying to let go of perfection, and to overcome the fear of messing things up. Sometimes the results are ugly, sometimes good, sometimes surprising, but it is always therapeutic.

Here are some before and after pages that I did this weekend. On my way home from work last week, I picked up a small flyer announcing a walk for climate change that was being passed out at the Roosevelt Island subway entrance. The tagline says "when are hipsters and bankers in the same boat?" and shows the Statue of Liberty halfway underwater. I was inspired to use some Dina Wakely face stamps that seemed like hipsters, and added the words "climate change." I also added extra white ink since the faces didn't print as well as I had hoped, then added black marker to make the images pop more. My favorite retro stencil of a 60s flower seemed to fit the hipster culture. The aqua rectangle in the center wasn't working after I added the stamping, stenciling and words, so I ripped it off. I like the raggedy effect, it seems to be a happy mistake, and adds to the hipster image.

I really liked the base of the collage page below with the crackled face. It was from a card that was mailed to me by a fellow doll maker and mixed media artist, JoAnn Robinson. I embellished lightly using some subtle techniques--fine outline on the sun stencil, filled with light gray marker; white squares through an old-fashioned touch tone phone face cover and some dots with a white gel pen. The words were printed on clear Avery mailing labels, left over from my ABCs of life doll project. As I was making it, it made me wonder some age old questions: Are we alone in the universe? What's out there? Is there life after death? I added some words with white gel marker, particularly the word "hope" since I sure hope there is a bigger, more intelligent being running the universe, because the Earth is certainly in need of help.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ABCs of Life According to Dolls

The theme ABCs of life for my August small group trade was slightly outside my comfort zone. Why, I don't know, since in my life as a 9-5 person I get paid to write. Maybe it seemed to profound, too hard to choose a meaningful word for each letter of the alphabet. Some letters had to many inspirational words, others were kind of a stretch.

My friend Karen sent me an awesome small, handmade book with illustrations and words for each letter, which set the bar pretty high. I puttered with cutting big letters out of cardstock & fumbling with mini books, but was not happy with anything.

I had an inspiration--finally--I pulled out a copy of "Beyond Paper Dolls" by Lynn Perrella.
The cover art was the springboard for my idea, which I combined with faces inspired by artwork from Mary Jane Chadbourne's online course from Roses On My Table called "The Imaginarium - Anthology of an Art Doll" I didn't take her course due to time and space constraints, but watched the progress on her facebook posts.

 My concept was to print 26 words on silk and have them suggest clothing for paper dolls.

I made six pieces in all, using a background of my own collage/printmaking, and adding reprints, on cardstock, of vintage paper doll parts and other vintage images, attached with brads. Washi tape with vintage images, tapemeasure and ABCs were mixed into the collage. I used some images from The Graphics Fairy.

I wasn't 100 percent thrilled with the end product...I loved the faces and most of the body parts, and liked the background, but the words on silk didn't quite work the way I envisioned them, so on the ones that I am mailed off to my art group, I hung the words on the bottom, more like a prayer flag than a clothing effect.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Santos Cage Paper Dolls

I had never heard of Santos Cage Dolls, so I had to do some research when JoAnn Robinson, who leads the Roses On My Table paper doll art group, posted the theme. Well, I was hooked. I liked the combination of religion and folk art, and the idea of having an openwork base--which serves like an altar--instead of legs was fascinating.

My obstacle was how to get that cool three-dimensional cage in a flat paper doll. After puttering around, I settled on using an antique dress form bottom as the inspiration, and created my own template.

I also wanted to get texture--I love the embossed look that some of my arty friends get with machines like a CuttleBug, but I don't have one. So, here's what I did: I applied modeling paste through a stencil onto heavy watercolor paper, then painted it (when dry) with Lumiere acrylic paint. I was happy with the effect, which I used for a couple of the cage bases.

I also love aged-looking images, so I painted the New York Times with a combination of Derwent watercolor blocks and Lumiere to get a rusted effect, which I used in another cage base.

I went a little crazy with this style, and made a bunch of dolls--some vintage looking and some more modern. I had a hard time deciding which ones to keep and which ones to trade with my art group.

Letting Go of Fear

Artists have a lot of fears. For me, some of the top ones are the fear that I’m not really any good, fear that nobody will like or understand what I am doing (or worse yet—consider it trite and amateurish) and fear that I are going to mess up once I finally get started on something good. Sometimes I can’t get going.  Many times I don’t know when to stop...I'm not sure if I am actually done or not.  Sometimes I am afraid to try something new or different. Often I feel like I’m in a rut. 

With the technique I learned in Kelly Kilmer’s journal workshop at the Ink Pad, I am doing regular journal pages. I don’t seem to have too much trouble finding images to use as a collage base for the pages. What I DO have a problem with is pushing through to step two (using a stencil or stamp) and step three (writing on the page).

I really liked the collage base in this page, which is on the left. I used images from a design magazine and from a Hamptons freebie publication. I was afraid to mess it up with the stenciling/stamping and writing, but I went ahead anyway and added stenciled geometric shapes, stamped words from Dina Wakely, some marks with a black sharpie and white gel pen, a little shadow with a pale gray marker, and a few words and phrases that popped into my head as I was working. 

“Toot your own horn” is a phrase that came to me as I was working, and it is something I work toward; I am basically introverted and putting myself “out there” in the art world isn’t easy or natural.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

le Pain Quotidien Journal Collage

Coffee is the stuff that keeps many of us running. My weekends often begin with a trip to my very favorite place for my morning latte--le Pain Quotidien. The hard part is which one to go to--one is closer and but has no outdoor seating, and the other is a few blocks further but has a sidewalk cafe where even Coco, our Maltese, can enjoy the coffee klatch with us.

I picked up one of their catering brochures thinking that I liked the beige paper it was printed on, and that I might use it as part of a journal page. Somehow the word Catering emerged as the central element. The rest of the collage is bits and pieces of my textile designs, photoshop collages, a hand carved stamp, some stencils and stamping. The words in a circle are a line from a Goo Goo Dolls song, a leftover part of some mandala designs I made a few months ago.

I also used the tiles on the walls of their 49th Street@2nd Avenue location for my Indigo Girl paper dolls a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rediscovering Journaling...With a Kelly Kilmer Twist

It’s been a few years since I did any regular journaling. I have gone in fits and starts, and have large gaps in my journaling. Years ago--and for several years straight--I made a monthly 8" x 8" quilted piece, but due to neck and shoulder issues I have moved to paper. 

Yes, I have been busy. Super, crazy busy. But super crazy busy in your personal and/or work life (in my case both) can make you frazzled, panicky and maybe even sick. 

I did do small art pieces, but journaling got put on the back burner. The closest I came to journaling was using an old moleskin planner of my daughter’s and repurposing it as a journal, but not one I drew or painted or collaged in. I glued or taped all my little scribbled doodles and ideas into the book—ideas for paintings, art series, new ideas, and the beginnings of books that I someday hope to write.

A great side benefit to last weekend’s course with Kelly Kilmer, I learned how to make my own journal from scratch, was that I also relearned how to journal. Kelly’s technique is to pick five or six background items from your hoard of ephemera and pretty papers, and one focal piece, then play with them instinctively until you have covered the journal page and glued them down. She also adds a little washi tape or torn snippet of paper here and there. Here’s the scary part—on top of the “finished” collage you do two more steps: 1) use either a stamp or a stencil on top of the collage, then add color with markers or paint to the stencil/stamp. 2) write on it, using a prompt or a favorite line or whatever words pop into your head.
I must confess that I just don’t have time to journal every day. I do, however, have the desire to journal every waking minute. This weekend I did about six or seven journal pages, and even took a trip to the Ink Pad and Utrecht and purchased some new supplies—gloss medium, washi tape, a cool rolling stamp, new stamp pads, t-pins, a new carved wooden stamp, a new rubber face stamp, acrylic blocks for mounting my previously unmounted cling stamps, sewing machine needles and an awl.
I am thinking about making a little “to go” box for work so I can journal on my lunch hour. I might get carried away and accidentally-on-purpose forget to get back to my job though.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Priming the Well of Creativity After 26 Years

I was long overdue for a new art challenge--26 years overdue. The last formal course I took was a night course at FIT right before my daughter Amanda was born. Not that I stopped creating--I constantly draw, paint, collage, make fiber art pieces and mixed media work--but I hadn't done an in-person course in such a long time.

Last weekend I took a course at The Ink Pad--well it was really at the Westbeth building, but sponsored by the Ink Pad. I took a course from Kelly Kilmer and learned how to make an accordion journal from scratch, including using an awl to poke holes and waxed linen thread to hold the book together.

After the book was constructed, we did some journaling. Her collage technique and my new journal really has fanned my creative flame. Well, after 26 years, it's about time I took a course.

I also picked up some Dina Wakley stamps and tried them out on a paper doll. I was really happy with the results. I was in a rut using either my own hand drawn and painted faces, Graphics Fairy vintage images, or old photos.

Here is my finished doll, which uses my own printmaking work, painted newsprint, Graphics Fairy shoes, some hands I found online, washi tape, a painted Dina Wakely head, and a snippet of a photoshop collage.

I am also working in my new journal. Somehow having a journal that isn't "precious", one that I am not afraid to mess up, makes it easier. I have several beautiful journals that are just too pretty to mess up, so they sit empty. Maybe messing them up will be next on my agenda.

Here is my new, handmade journal, with just the first page. I snapped a shot after I finished making it. The cover is an olive rice paper. It is smallish--8.5" x 5.5"--but each of the five signatures have about 10 pages.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Indigo Girl Dolls, Geisha Tags, and Alice & the Hare Dolls

Somehow I am computer-deprived. I can't post to my blog from work and our home computer has been moved to my husband's office, so I have to sneak onto my daughter's computer when she isn't looking.

I have an Indigo themed small art trade for June. I puttered for hours with hand needle felting, stitching, painting tyvek and designing various indigo patterns in photoshop. After all that, I came up empty and uninspired. So, I went to my default happy place--paper dolls. I used designs that were inspired by tiles on the wall of my favorite coffee place and translated it into the clothing, printing on extravorganza for the skirts and on cardstock for the limbs.

The Geisha themed tags were for the June Roses on my Table trade. I went to my favorite printed teabag technique with sheer lace and gold accents.

The Alice dolls are also for a Roses on my Table trade. Alice has a kind of Zetti meets RunDMC feel and the hare is just crazy with the fish hat.

I am currently working on Santos Cage Dolls this weekend, which is a new theme for me. It is reminiscent of the Day of the Dead and Frida Kahlo and I am very intrigued by it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Experimenting with Retro Arts Café Pre-cut Templates

Part of me swoons when I see the gorgeous mixed media work posted online made using templates and unfinished parts from Retro Arts Café. But a little voice in my head says: “Why waste your money? Build your own box or recycle one. Make your own doll template.” It also whispers: “Stop spending so much money on art supplies! Save your money for something more exciting than cardboard blanks, like learning how to use encaustics…” and “Come on, part of the fun of creating is starting with your OWN template…why spend money when you can download templates off the internet for free?”

Well, I finally broke down and ordered a bunch of Retro Arts Café items. I started with an ATC holder and a paper doll. (Some of the items I ordered are still waiting for me to find the time to experiment with them.) The ATC box was easy to put together and well cut. I stayed inside my own comfort zone and decorated it with printed recycled teabags and my favorite lace. I added dots of dimensional gold paint to cover the joints. After I was done I realized I should have painted the interior, but it really didn’t show once I put some ATCs in it. I also realized that I should have put it together first and applied the teabags after for a better fit on the sides.
The doll forms were kind of weird. I ordered a small and a large. The large was a little larger than the size I usually make, and strangely elongated. And the head was tiny and out of proportion. The small doll (which I have not used yet) is really miniature and much smaller than I am comfortable with. I covered the large doll with my favorite recycled, printed teabags and made a skirt of assorted laces. I just couldn’t use the tiny head that came with the doll, and chose a face to go on top of theirs from The Graphics Fairy’s free vintage images. The dolls came in a rectangle, and I had to pull the pieces out, which left a negative space doll. It was fortunate that I had the leftovers since I somehow lost a leg and had to recreate one on cardstock. 
I also ordered some stencils, which I have been experimenting with. They are made of a lightweight durable paper, so I was afraid they would turn to mush when wet, and dry all buckled-up, but they did stand up to repeated paint application and washing. Now I just need to find a big chunk of free time and a bigger space to work on than my living room table!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New York's Hidden Architectural and Industrial Details

Sometimes I stop in my tracks to admire little details that often get overlooked...things people see every day but don't really see. I snap a photo, thinking that sometime in the future I will use it as a reference for a painting or a design. Often the photo just sits in my iPhone camera roll waiting to be rediscovered.

Yesterday as I was leaving 125 Worth Street, where I had gone for a business meeting, I stopped at the women's bathroom. As I left, I noticed the doorknob. Very cool...industrial, deco-ish geometric design and a little piece of history in a most unexpected place. I knelt down and snapped a pix with my iPhone, getting curious looks from the corporate types walking by. As I scanned the fifth floor hallway, I noticed several identical doorknobs.

I love the thickness of the letters, the little flowers between the C and N, and between the F and K, the little dot between the W and Y. The geometric shape, like a stop sign, is balanced, functional and pleasing. Do you think the people who work in the building notice the doorknobs? Probably not. The building is old, and not in a charming way. It is pretty cold, industrial and uninviting, and needs serious renovation. But many years ago, someone proudly and skillfully designed, manufactured and installed the knobs, which have withstood the years very well.

Later I was looking at my camera roll, and noticed several other unexpectedly beautiful industrial photos--especially manhole covers. The NYC Parks Department has a beautiful leaf, yet has the unexpected word "India" on the side. The industrial mini artworks usually have great textures on the surface, have endured years and years of use, yet still remain viable. The Parks Department manhole covers may not be as old as the doorknob. This photo was taken in Central Park last summer. I liked the leaf design--so simple yet effective. And somehow I am drawn to circular designs, maybe because they are so naturally balanced and pure, with no beginning or end.

Many people photograph Grand Central Station, but on a recent trek through it, I saw it with new eyes. The ceiling and steps are magnificent. But the small details are too. I have been through it thousands of times, but noticed the grill work for the first time on a recent Saturday afternoon. The grill work that surrounds the ticket-sellers booths is amazing, as these photos testify. But most people coming and going are in a hurry--rushing to catch a train, late for work, bumping into each other, and rarely look carefully at the little details of the famous building.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

British Royals ATCs

I know next to nothing about British royalty, and pretty much don’t care—except that some very distant relative with the surname Edkins was the official gun-maker to the king—a fact that has no bearing on my ATC-making whatsoever.

One thing I did know was that I didn’t want to get all sentimental, with photos of Princess Diana and images of a candle in the wind. I didn’t want images of the newest royal baby either. I opted to research British royalty, and selected the oddest and most interesting faces. I explored King Edward III; King Edward II; Queen Alexandra, Princess of Wales; Margaret Tudor; Mary Stuart; Queen Elizabeth; King Henry II, King Henry VIII; King John and the homeliest image available of Queen Victoria.
On some, I manipulated the images in Photoshop®, trying different filters and colors. I printed everything out on cardstock, then cut, pasted and puttered with arranging them on my ATC blanks. I fell back on some old favorite techniques: using my white over-stamped painted backgrounds, adding my favorite sheer lace, embellishing with gold dimensional paint dots, and edging with liquid chalk stamp pads.

There were a couple of favorite images that I really liked and made extras on—King Edward III with a gold crown on the background of roses and music, and the pretty Queen Alexandra, Princess of Wales.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tea Party Mixed Media ATCs

"Tea Party—Mad or Otherwise” was the theme for the April Roses on My Table ATC trade.  The theme conjured up all kinds of ideas in my head, from charming English high tea to bizarre Alice in Wonderland images. I played and played with the idea, mixing teacups, teapots, forest animals and stuffed animals. I merged layers in Photoshop®, and cut out new and vintage images…but nothing really worked. So, I rummaged through my box of semi-finished ATCs, and began ripping about some old, half-finished work. I mixed portions of my Photoshop® collages (using free vintage images from The Graphics Fairy) with old pieces of my own printmaking , recycled teabags, and snippets of lace. I adhered them to lightweight ATC boards from USArtQuest, then ran the edges along a brown chalk stamp pad to give the ATCs an aged look. I made eight in all, traded four and kept four for myself.



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Vintage Typewriter Tag & Ransom Note with Eric Hoffer Quote

On a recent visit to the Ink Pad, I splurged on a great stamp of a vintage typewriter. It spoke to me for several reasons: it is a striking graphic image, I work as a both a writer and graphic designer, and I am also married to a long-time newspaper reporter/editor/publisher. It also reminded me of a really cute photo of my daughter, Amanda, when she was about three. She is sitting in Dad's office chair poised at the manual typewriter, and it is clear that she inherited the writing gene.

I tried the stamp two ways: as a tag and as the centerpiece to a ransom note. I inked the stamp with a black Stazon pad for both pieces. I love the contrast and simplicity of it on the yellow tags that I found at my neighborhood Jam Paper. A little checkered ribbon, and the tag was done.

I have been working on pieces in the Ransom Note style, so it seemed like a good idea to put a typewriter stamp in the center, surrounded by some words on the border. I chose a quote by the philosopher Eric Hoffer: "Rudeness is a weak man's imitation of strength." Living in a city that is famous for its rude people, it struck a bell...not that I really feel that people in New York are exceptionally rude as a rule, but it seems to be a mecca for extremes on both sides of the aisle.

Do I love this little piece of artwork? Not really...the print of the typewriter is a little uneven, the newsprint in the background of the border doesn't add the oomph I had hoped for, and the spots of color in the letters fights the crispness of the black and white.

What I DID learn from this little piece is that I don't have to make a masterpiece every time. I can learn from mistakes and I can redo pieces if I feel like it. I am a Virgo, so I am always striving for perfection and seldom achieving it, and I have to tell myself that it is okay to not be great, okay to make mistakes, okay if a piece doesn't turn out the way I envision, and that it is the process of doing art--especially collage--that is healing in itself.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ransom Note Portraits

I had never heard of the Ransom Note art concept, so when my friend Karen Musgrave suggested doing some, I thought it would be just the thing to get me out of my artistic rut. I Googled the theme and found a lot of inspiration.

I started by randomly cutting words and letters in various sizes, colors and fonts out of magazines. Next, I researched famous quotes, and then made a short list of the ones that I liked best. I tried using words on a solid background, and then on torn strips of newsprint. One was too boring and the other too busy. So, I decided to try using faces in the background. I used two Graphics Fairy stern looking portrait images and one of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits.

After the letters were adhered to the background portraits, they still needed something to make “make it my own,” so I added some stamping with white printmaking paint using my own hand-carved stamps, and edged the finished pieces with liquid chalk stamp ink. The “Beauty” piece also uses, in the background, a commercial William Morris-style stamp in coffee-colored distress ink. I put some washi tape of a measuring tape at the bottom to suggest how beauty is literally measured in our society. The "William Morris" stamp and washi "measuring tape" are from a great little store in NY called The Ink Pad.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Quirky Paper Dolls as Art Therapy

Paper dolls make me feel seven years old. They make me feel like a fashion designer, a crazy artist, sometimes a dancer, and sometimes a wizened old woman. They make me forget about my troubles. Making quirky paper dolls is my “go-to” project when I don’t quite know what to do but I want to have a little art fun.

I use vintage paper dolls or blank paper doll templates, and combine body parts with scraps of paper and fabric. Sometimes I use faces I have drawn or painted, sometimes I use famous faces, sometimes I use vintage photos. I occasionally take apart dolls that didn’t quite work out, like the Frida doll on the left, who once wore a Halloween costume that wasn’t quite right. The little child is a Graphics Fairy image, but I discovered after I printed her on cardstock that she had a head, chest and legs, but nothing from the waist down.  So, I improvised a skirt from some watercolor paper that was printed with bubble wrap—exactly the right color and concept for a little girl!

The shoes, black hat and hands holding roses are from the Graphics Fairy The blue hat used the black hat as a template, but I cut it from my own paper, blue painted watercolor paper printed with a white commercial stamp. The striped band is from an M&J Trim bag. Most of the parts are attached with mini brads to make the dolls poseable.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Queen of Hearts Tags & Bubble Wrap Printed Heart Boxes

Where have I been for two months? Unable to post, but I HAVE been doing some small art pieces. Here's what I've been working on.

Queen of Hearts Tags: I hadn’t joined the Roses on My Table tag trade in ages, so when I saw the January theme, Queen of Hearts, it sounded like fun. I researched various queens, and decided on some romantic looking images from The Graphics Fairy. I played with them in Photoshop: one was flipped and arranged like a playing card; another was arranged inside the frame of an old valentine.

I mixed the Graphics Fairy images with some painted watercolor paper that I had stamped over the Christmas and New Year holidays, added lace and some accents with faux gold royal coins and gold certificate stickers as well as fancy ribbons at the top.


Heart Boxes: A few arty friends are trading small pieces in 2014. There aren’t too many rules other than a monthly theme that we can interpret any way we want, and the rule that the artwork needs to be less than 6 inches. January’s trade theme was hearts.
I make and collect little art boxes, so that was my starting point. I wanted to paint some pre-made heart shaped boxes, but only had one on hand, so I did some Internet research and found a template for making my own boxes.
I enlarged the template and printed it on cardstock, then glued it to some painted watercolor that I had printed with white paint using bubble wrap. When folded up, the underside of the heart closure is visible, so I used printed teabags for accent. As an extra, I used some of my own hand-felted fabric, cut freehand heart shapes, edged them with a blanket stitch, and added a small bead made from rolled fabric, then tucked the felted heart inside the painted box.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Verdigiris Paper Doll

It is really hard not to purchase every new and exciting art supply that I read about, but my drawers and closets are overflowing with supplies, and my shelves house shoeboxes full of unfinished projects, recycled materials begging to be used, and little scraps that are too precious to throw away. So, my personal challenge--and perhaps a New Year's Resolution--is to try to work with what I have on hand and only purchase what is essential.

When I want to do a little art, but don't have time or space for a big project, my default project is creating paper dolls. For this doll, I started with leftover pieces of ATCs that I saved from an exchange that had the theme "Verdigiri". My process is detailed on an older blog post, I started with the doll's dress, glued the central flower from the ATC, and added a little from another card at the neck. Next, I added legs and arms using paper from the first issue of Just Steampunk Magazine. I rummaged through my baggies and boxes of paper doll heads and found a printout of one of my original doll heads that was just the right size and color.

She needed accessories, so I chose, from, a vintage man's hat (I added a strip of the aqua paper to match her dress) and some boots that were from an old advertising card. She needed a bit of a skirt, so I used some white paper that had been printed with a stamp and ink from a Distress Ink pad.

The template is from Roses On My Table, an online group that trades all kinds of art, including original paper dolls. I altered the template by cutting the arms and legs in half, rounding the edges, and reattaching them with a mini brad to give even more poseability.

Below is a finished Verdigiri ATC that I kept for my own collection.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Funky Flat Angel Dolls

The heARTist trading group side trade for December was flat angels or flat Santas. I started researching both angels and Santas. I found cute, I found pretty, I found sentimental, I found bizarre and creepy. But I didn't find an idea that spoke to me. So, I started puttering with my shoeboxes full of doll parts and scraps, which usually leads me to something interesting and therapeutic.

There were some leftover scraps of white on red printmaking that I used for my house-shaped ATCs, so the scraps became bodies. I used an assortment of vintage and original doll heads and body parts. The main thing that makes an angel is a set of wings, so each has some gigantic wings with gold dimensional paint accent. All the parts are attached with mini-brads to make them poseable. I added a finishing touch of some sheer lace that resembled snowflakes, extra dabs of gold paint here and there, and ended up with an assortment of very funky angels.

I decided to keep one angel. It was hard to choose a favorite, but settled on one that used a vintage Pierrot Clown Lady paperdoll image from the Graphics Fairy.

 Thank you Karen Watson for your wonderful site of free vintage images!

Christmas House ATCs

The Roses On My Table online group had a theme of "House Shaped Christmas ATCs" for their December trade. I must confess, I am a bit of a Grinch about Christmas so I didn't want to get all sentimental. Why am I a Grinch? Well, I hate the commercialization, the TV commercials that air right after Halloween, urging you to buy, buy, buy. I don't need any presents. My family doesn't need any presents. There are so many homeless people, so many world disasters, that is seems crazy to buy into the materialistic Christmas agenda. Still, I wanted to try the theme because the house shape was so darn cute.

I bumbled on a test print I did of an Indian wood block I recently purchased in the East Village. The block has stripes on the top and bottom and a paisley/floral shape in the center. I had a lot of red cardstock left from a project, and had done the print on red with my favorite white printmaking paint.

I decided to start with the print and cut it into little house shapes, 2.5" x 3.5". I added a simple door, made of cut paper that came in a pad of ugly scrapbooking paper that I received a gift. The ATC was beginning to shape up, but it needed more, so I pulled out my very favorite lace, purchased at M&J Trim, that gave the feeling of snowflakes. The finishing touch was a star shaped mini-brad as a doorknob.

NYC Subway Map ATC

Maps were the theme for the December 2013 heARTist group ATC trade. After researching  antique maps of all sorts, I still felt uninspired. Then, a little voice (voices of teachers past) said "Do what you know." With that advice ringing in my head, I settled on the New York City subway map, and centered on the routes I take on a daily basis. I zeroed in on the east side of Manhattan, where I live, and included the tiny Roosevelt Island, where I work, and Harlem, where I will be working in the near future. (Roosevelt Island is the little pill shaped island between Manhattan and Queens.)

I cut out the map and adhered it to a greenish batik, then added a mini metro card and the vintage subway token that was in use when I moved to New York many years ago. The edges were touched with a gold paint pen, darkened with a liquid chalk stamp pad and the ATC finished with a coat of Modge Podge for shine.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jazz Cabaret Paper Doll

I am making an effort in my artwork to use up what I have on hand. I have a shoebox full of doll parts, so this doll was a result of opening the shoebox, sorting out heads, arms and legs, choosing the ones that worked together, and then finding unused scraps for clothing.  The face is one I drew/painted myself (her name is Enid...I don't know why, it just seemed to fit the face). The dress is a piece of my own fabric (printed at Spoonflower). The arms and legs are from a vintage doll I found in an online search, but I cut both the arms and legs in half and reattached them with mini brads so they would be more poseable. Her hat and shoes are compliments of The Graphics Fairy (I made the white shoes yellow with a little magic marker so they would match the dress). She reminded me of Liza Minnelli in Cabaret, especially after I added the hat and beaded fringe on the bottom of the dress. Can't you just hear her singing?