Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Roosevelt Island Cherry Trees

What a beautiful surprise I had at 5 PM today when I left my office on Roosevelt Island. The cherry trees along the East River were blooming, the sky was bright turquoise and the sun glimmering on the water.

The cherry trees, planted at the river's edge in front of Goldwater Hospital, were donated many years ago by some swanky residents of Sutton Place who didn't want a big, blocky public hospital maring their scenic view of the East River. The trees really aren't tall enough to accomplish their intended task, but they sure are gorgeous, and both patients and staff enjoy them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

What Color is Rain?

For our Arts In The Cards April ATC theme, the color prompt was rain. Rain? Rain is clear isn't it? So how could I interpret rain as a color? I thought of rainwater collecting in a jar on the back porch when I was a child; my mother ran out with a big pot every time it rained so she would have water for her steam iron. Our well-water was so full of minerals that it clogged the iron. Usually the rainwater she collected was clear, but sometimes rain looks light blue or gray or or even yellowish brown.

I went back and forth trying to decide between pale aqua and ecru for rain, and finally gave up and did half and half. I used recycled tea bags, and randomly printed two blocks--one a paisley Tibetan woodblock and one my own hand-carved tulip--with white screenprinting ink. I mounted some of the printed teabags on white board, and for some I put an underlay of a pale aqua silky fabric, then the printed teabag. The finishing touches were a strip of very sheer lace and pale aqua chalk accent.

The paisley shape, quite accidentally, reminded me of a large raindrop, and the tulip print reminded me of the plants that grow from the rain. I tried to convey the clearness of summer rain by the subtlety of the colors and sheerness of the teabags and lace, and the brownish stains on the teabags reminded me of the minerals that are in rainwater.

If you want to see more interpretations of "rain" go to:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Faux Lace from Recycled Tea Bags

I have been saving tea bags and coffee filters for quite a while. I often adhere them to a big piece of fabric or paper, then stamp over them with my handcarved blocks. As I was silkscreening some small art-o-mat pieces last week, it occurred to me to try printing on the teabags.

I was inspired by Canadian mixed-media artist Deborah Burnahm's work. Her printmaking and painting has an ethereal quality that I admire. Some of her work has a very subtle, imperfect-on-purpose white lace in the background which adds depth and mystery. [Deborah's Esty shop is called Land of Nod Studios]

I grabbed some white printmaking paint and applied it to my own stamps. The first few attempts were awkward; the printed image was uneven and incomplete. I decided to try draping the teabag over the painted stamp and pressing gently to be sure the image transferred. The result was just what I wanted.

I stayed up until midnight playing with my ecru paper and white paint. I used two stamps: one was my own handcarved swirly tulip, and the other, a Tibetan carved wood paisley that I purchased at a little shop in New York's East Village.

At midnight, I snapped a quick photo, then emailed it to myself. The light was bad, but for a change the bad light gave it an interesting sepia color and made it look aged.

On my lunch hour, I played with the photo, and used it as a background, then photoshopped in two beautiful images from The Graphics Fairy,, for some romantic tags. I used words from a vintage French sign and a beautiful antique rose.

This weekend I used the stamped coffee and tea paper to make atcs. I glued the printed teabags to a cardboard atc base with PPA [perfect paper adhesive] and added a touch of lace that I found at M&J Trim to finish it off.

Here is a quick step-by-step on my printed tea bag lace:
1-save tea bags and let them completely dry out. It is best if you pull them out of the hot water before adding any sugar, milk or lemon...otherwise you will have a sticky mess and get holes when you try to use them.
2-carefully remove the staple and tag, and empty out the bag; then carefully open the teabag into one small sheet of paper. I love the uneven color that results.
3-take your favorite stamp [a lacy or floral one works well] and apply white acryllic paint.
4-drape your teabag over the stamp and gently press down. Remove carefully, and you should have a complete image.
5-repeat randomly. Try using an assortment of stamps. Also, the print does not have to be perfect; it adds depth when they are uneven or incomplete.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Art O Mat Reiki-Inspired Designs

Art-O-Mat, also known as Artists in Cellophane finally gave me the thumbs up on some new designs. I hand silkscreened my designs on commercial batik fabric. [I print with thermofax screens that Lynn Krawczyk, aka Fibra Artysta, makes from designs I send her.]
The one that looks like a musical note is the reiki energy symbol, which is in gold on a purple batik. Purple is the healing color in reiki, so it seemed an appropriate color combination. The others samples are made from my own squiggly designs: a leaf with a spiral inside it in two colors--black on red and gold on purple, and a floral shape in black on red. Red is the color of the root chakra, so that seemed like a good choice in addition to the purple.
Why the black and gold paint? The gold on purple seemed magical...and black was the only color that really showed up well on top of the red batik.
Art-O-Mat vending machines are all over the country. They take vintage cigarette machines and re-tool them to vend small pieces of affordable art. It is a great way for artists to get their work out into the world. I like the idea of making art that anyone can afford, not just big collectors with megabucks. Not that I would mind if some big collector with megabucks was interested in collecting my bigger pieces...