Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hand Needlefelted Native American Inspired Cuff Bracelet

A month or two ago, Cloth Paper Scissors magazine had a reader challenge for needlefelting. I had an unfinished piece of needlefelting that I had started two years ago, then tucked in a drawer. I didn't quite know what to do with it--I liked the colors and texture, but couldn't find the right embellishment. I pulled it out and reexamined it. The turquoise beading on the edge was already done, but it needed more. Then I remembered some silverish adornments that I purchased at the annual Pow Wow on the Shinnecock Reservation (in Southampton, NY) and tucked in my bead & button bin. I think they were designed to be studs in a leather belt...but they worked pretty well in the needlefelting. I used three, which distributed the weight better than just one. The buffalo head design worked visually with the turquoise and earth tones of the fiber. I added a few silver floral shaped findings from my jewelry-making stash, some turquoise seed beads and a velcro closure. The needlefelting was done with a little knob, like a drawer knob, that has felting needles sticking out of it. (purchased from I added machine stitching in a variety of colors and designs to strengthen the needlefelting and adde visual interest. The bracelet didn't make the pages of Cloth Paper Scissors, but I still really like the bracelet...which will be just the thing to wear to the upcoming Pow Wow, coming up labor day weekend. I can model it for Mary Big Horse, who is a noted medicine woman and the person who sold me the buffalo embellishment.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Art Tag Using Vintage Advertising Images

There is a wonderful site called The Graphics Fairy where all kinds of vintage images are available for free. New images are posted daily, and you can also search the site by category to find almost anything, from apples to zebras. I have discovered that I have a penchant for vintage advertising images. I love the antique graphics and fonts and colors. I recently made a 12" x 12" collage in photoshop with some of my favorites. After I printed it out on cardstock (I reduced it to 8x8 to print and flipped the image so that there was a little extra 3x8 piece at the bottom of the page) I decided to cut it up and make art tags. I overprinted the vintage ads with white paint on some of my own handcarved stamps, and also added some recycled teabag 'lace' that I made by printing white on used, dry, empty teabags. Last, I added some extra color in spots with Derwent inktense pencils and blocks to enhance the color and give more of an aged look. I am posting the "before" piece, the uncut collage as I arranged it in photoshop, for comparison. Although I love the vintage images just as they are, I knew I needed to do something to make them uniquely mine. I really love stamping and printmaking, so overprinting the vintage images seemed to be a way to keep the antique look, yet soften it. The use of the teabags over the collage softened the look and the faux lace teabags added a bit of romance. After I cut the tags to the size I wanted, I glued them to commercial tags for strength. There were some little pieces left, so I was able to make a few more tags than I expected by collaging the leftover pieces into some new tags.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What Color is Cucumber? Embossed ATCs

The color prompt for the August Arts in the Cards ATC group trade was cucumber, so I thought of the soft green, almost white inside of a cucumber, but also of the dark green exterior. As I rummaged around in my stash of paper and fabric looking for pieces in the green family, I found some artistically paint-splattered coffee filters from Sonja Hagemann. Sonja recycles her daily coffee filters by using them to blot up paint spills, or puts them behind fabric that she is hand-painting to absorb the excess. She often uses them as packing material when mailing her ATCs. I found two that had a green cast—one was in soft greens and beiges, and one with darker, earthy green tones. The question was: How do I split two round filters up for 10-12 ATCs? I decided to divide the circles into 12 pieces each, and then used a glue stick to adhere a light triangle and a dark triangle to an ATC blank. It wasn’t a perfect fit, so I added a strip of my “faux lace” (made from stamping white designs onto recycled teabags) to the right side. I decided the ATCs needed more interest, so I printed a vintage butterfly from The Graphics Fairy on silk fabric, painstakingly cut them out, and then glued the butterfly onto the card. But…it looked too much like my “Fly Free” ATC from the “Dew” trade a few months ago. So, I decided to use white embossing powder to further enhance the card. I selected three stamps: half of a wrought iron gate inspired stamp, and two Tibetan wood blocks—a paisley and a small OM symbol. Each card was embossed slightly differently. I tried not to obscure the butterfly too much so it would still be partially visible. There was a bit of a color shift—the heat gun that I used to emboss the designs cooked the paper a little, and the green cucumber colors became slightly more olive, and the butterfly colors a tiny bit duller, but overall I was very happy with the end result. The final touch was a little dot of dimensional fabric paint on each corner.