Monday, March 11, 2013

Heat-Distressed Recycled Tyvek Inchies

Inchies...I really thought that 1" x 1" would be too small to do anything interesting so I didn't immediately sign up for the exchange in our heARTist trading group But...I loved the inchies Karen Musgrave and Marie Johansen made and didn't want to miss out on receiving some tiny treasures, so I joined the inchie madness.

I don't usually work hugeI like anything from ATC size to 5"x7" to 24"x24", but really, what could I do on a 1" square? I started by rummaging through my scrap box. The box isn't leftover junk, it has leftover pieces of favorite projects that are too small to use, or unfinished projects that didn't quite come out right but still have interesting elements.

I found a special scrap I had been saving from a project a while backit was a rectangle of tyvek, made from a recycled USPS mailing envelope. I had painted the inside with an goldish-olive metallic Lumiere paint, splattered it with gold, white, copper and turquoise Lumiere dribbles, then (after it was dry) distressed it quickly with a hot, dry iron. Tyvek, especially the recycled kind, puckers and bubbles and melts unevenly, and you never know what the result will be. (If you try this, please wear a mask and have good ventilation!)

I randomly chopped the piece into 1" squares, then sorted through them to find the most interesting sections. Some I used as they were, and others I hand-stitched together to make them more interesting. I added teeny turquoise seed beads and some tiny chunks of turquoise stone. I backed them with peltex for stability, and instead of using glue, I attached the peltex with tiny criss-cross stitches to add texture. The final touch was adding brown fabric marker at the edges to cover the white peltex that peeked out.

It is interesting that a man-made fibertyvekcan have such an organic quality when it is painted and melted. The technique doesn't work as well using ordinary acrylic paintI have found that only Lumiere gives me the effect I like.

Now I'm ready to do more inchies! They are the perfect way to use up the itty bitty scraps that are too pretty to thow away, but not big enough for any other project.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Manhattan Skyline

Sky. That was the theme in my new ATC exchange group, heARTist trading cards. I struggled with the concept for weeks, debating whether to use sky as a color—and if so what color? Blue of a sunny day? Gray of rain? Night sky? Day sky? Sunset? Or things that are in the sky, like airplanes and hang gliders or snow and hail? Should I use a country sky or a city sky? And then there was the question of whether to use an actual sky image or whether to use the word sky as a graphic element. I worked on it on my lunch hour, on my small window of art time on Sunday afternoons, and a little in the evening after work. I counted 13 different ideas in my digital folder, and a couple more ideas that I did with paint, fabric and paper that didn’t quite work out.

I collected photos of skies that inspired me, artwork with a sky theme by current and past artists. I decided to do what I know best, what is dear to my heart, and settled on the New York City skyline. I began with a photo I took of an antique boat that was cruising up the East River one afternoon. It was such a strangely delightful sight to see on my lunch hour—the modern Manhattan skyline contrasted with the old ship going under the century-old 59th Street Bridge.
I manipulated my photo in Photoshop®, and added layers of several unrelated photos. Some layers were artfully added with soft brush strokes and semi-opaque color, others were added with rectangular shapes and sharp edges. The end design that I printed from my color laser printer was a combination of Monet softness, Mondrian shapes, and Sheeler industrial paintings.
I edged the ATCs with Tim Holtz sepia distress ink, and also added accents of the ink to each piece, along with a bit of yellow ink for subtle highlights. The last touch was enhancing the ATC with chalk pastels—white on the ship and pale aqua and white to the sky and water.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Zentangle Paper Dolls

With the moving/packing/downsizing that has been going on in my life in the past few months, I was too exhausted to do anything creative on most days, even if I could find a free hour. I missed some possible publication opportunities and art exchanges, but happily, my creative mojo is back. Last night I pulled out three different unfinished projects, located some of my supplies (I am pretty much working out of a closet!) and got to work. 

The first order of business was Zentangle Paper Dolls for my Roses on My Table trading group. Doll #1, wearing a halter top and long skirt, is Elena. I drew her clothing on my lunch hour a couple of days ago, then added arms from a template available on the Roses site. Her face is also from the template, but I added some eye details and Zentangley hair. The bracelets are snippets of ribbon, and the shoes are from The Graphics Fairy.

Doll #2 is Peanut, because her face reminds me of the old Mr. Peanut ad. (I also used Peanut’s face for my Steampunk dolls.) I doodled zentangles on leg and body templates one night, added a hat and shoes from The Graphics Fairy, and used Adobe Illustrator patterns for her arms. I added a pleated miniskirt made from checked ribbon because she looked like she had one giant body tattoo without any clothing.

Making art paper dolls never fails to energize yet relax me. It is the perfect combination of child-like play, collage and fashion design. If I am in the mood to play with faces, I draw a bunch and keep them on hand, mixing them later with crazy outfits. I often scan the faces so that I can print them out and use the favorite ones, like Peanut, over again.

Sometimes I use my fabric designs or leftover pieces of other projects to create retro dresses, skirts, pants and blouses. The charm comes with happy accidents—faces that are too large or too small for the bodies and shoes that have no relation to the dress. I also like adding whimsical elements like hats and wings. I usually don’t start with any end result in mind, I just rummage through my collection of doll clothing, body parts and scraps of fabric, paper, lace and trim until I find just the right element.