Sunday, December 28, 2014

ATC Dolls

When the Paper Traders Yahoo group posted a notice about trading ATC dolls, I was intrigued. For years I have been making and trading arty paper dolls, but making them with a rectangular ATC body instead of a human shaped or clothing shaped body was a new twist.

It seemed like a good way to use up leftover ATCs also...for almost every ATC project, I have extras--the ones that I love too much to give away, the ones that were imperfect and not good enough to trade, the false starts where a good idea didn't really quite work out, and the over-runs of extra 2.5x3.5 rectangles that just didn't get used up. The center one is has stencils from, and was a leftover piece from a recent Artistcellar ATC trade.

I added faces that began with Dina Wakely stamps, washi tape, Graphics Fairy shoes, hats and butterfly wings, and whatever else I found rummaging around in my paper scrap boxes. The pieces are attached with mini brads.

The charming part about these dolls is that they each fold up to exactly 2.5" x 3.5", perfect for fitting into an ATC plastic sleeve or tucking in one of those baseball trading card book sleeves.

These ATC dolls might just be my new favorite thing to trade!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mini Journals from Cereal Boxes

Yesterday, my daughter Amanda and I had a "mom and me" art afternoon. Amanda is a writer, and needs journals for her story ideas and "morning pages." She had told me a while back about making journals out of cardboard cereal boxes, so I had been saving them. I googled a few blog posts and got the general idea about how to make them.

We started with a basic cereal box, and cut the largest panel. That was folded in half, and made the cover. Amanda's journal (on the left) has vintage images from some "imperfect" old magazines that Susan Morgan Hoth gifted me with. She created a collage of vintage images on the inside and outside, and added washi tape at the edges and across the middle for a decorative effect.

Mine has vintage Graphics Fairy images that I combined in a Photoshop collage. I also added washi tape at the edges. Unlike Amanda's collage, mine was one sheet of 8.5x11 paper that I covered the box with.

We folded paper and cut it to size, poked holes with an awl, and hand stitched it to the spine of the book with waxed linen thread. I used cardstock since I plan to use mine as an art journal; Amanda used white computer printer paper for hers since she will be writing in it, and wanted more pages and less weight per page.

The journal, when finished, is about 8.5" high x 5.5" wide, but the size depends on the size of the box. The bigger the box, the bigger the journal. It is a little flimsy--the cardboard is not very thick or strong, so if you want a firmer book you can double the cardboard.

If you are adventurous, instead of folding the cardboard in half to make the book, you can score two lines in the cardboard  near the middle (cut a little with an exacto knife but don't go completely through) so that a spine is created. That will allow more pages to be inserted, giving you a fatter book.

Amanda did not add a closure, but I puttered with a couple ideas. I tried--unsuccessfully--a button closure and a wrapped silk cord--and finally settled on punching two holes, adding grommets, and looping elastic through it so the journal could be quickly and easily opened and closed. I wished I had some colorful elastic--the white is a little harsh, so I may try painting or dying the elastic to match.

These journals were quick and easy to make, so guess what I will be making more of  today?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

ATC Blues for Paper Traders


I joined a new Yahoo trade group recently, called Paper Traders. It's always a little scary entering new territory, with new people and new rhythms, but I really missed trading ATCs, and some of my old groups fizzled.

I have really made a shift in my artwork in recent years--I started out as an art quilter in 2006 when I bumbled onto a Quilting Arts Magazine in a bookstore. Since I had always loved sewing, art, and was for many years a fabric designer, I was hooked. I made a lot of art quilts, journal quilts, quilted postcards, quilted ATCs and various fiber projects. However, after living with neck and shoulder damage for overdoing my fiber work (from cutting through thick layers of cloth and batting with a dull rotary cutter, and painting directly on fabric using too much arm & shoulder pressure) I gradually switched to paper.

For me, paper is actually a lot easier to handle, it doesn't shift like fabric, usually doesn't bleed or fray, and you can still stitch through it if you want.

This trade required, in addition to the predominant use of the color blue, three layers. I was a little baffled because I never really consciously thought about how many layers I was or wasn't using. When the creative bug strikes, I go with the flow and what happens, happens. So, I had to really think about layers.

These pieces (I made 6...3 to trade and 3 to keep) started with a good quality heavy Japanese watercolor paper. I applied molding paste through a swirly Retro Café Art stencil, and when dry, painted the whole thing with shimmery Lumiere acrylic paint. I used a turquoise, then wiped on some indigo Lumiere. After the paint dried, I cut 6 atcs. I added layers of paper strips: vintage magazine text, French antique handwriting, and Chinese newsprint.

Embellishment was added in layers: first a brass Chinese "coin", attached with a brad. Next I added gold dots with dimensional paint. Each card got a tiny inspirational word, which was printed on clear Avery mailing labels. Last, I wanted more texture, so I punched a hole and added a blue grommet.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Artistcellar ATC Swap

I wasn't sure how many ATCs to sign up for to participate in the upcoming Artistcellar ATC swap, which is being done via Facebook. I love doing ATCs, but the choice was either 5 or 10, so I played it safe and chose 5. Well, I got into an ATC-making frenzy last weekend, and came up with about 30. Not that they were all fabulous...there were some ho-hum ones that didn't make the cut. But I managed to whittle the contenders down 6...I will keep one and mail off the other five. It will be interesting to see what I get in return.

I used the Artistcellar inspirational word pocket stencils...and had a "DUH" moment when I realized they were exactly the size of an ATC. Well, that sure made it easy to work with them! They also conveniently made a good template--not only were they good to trace around for a shape outline, but they are transparent, so I could lay them on top of a larger piece of artwork and see what section would look good cut down to an ATC.

I also used the Jill K. Berry compass rose and steampunk stencils, and layered the stencils on top of each other (after each section was dry, of course)

Thank you to my friend Sonja Hageman, who contributed some of the background paper and fabric. Sonja is a quiltmaker/teacher and fabulous artist who lives in Hawaii. She uses fabric and coffee filters to absorb spills when she is handpainting onto fabric, and then uses the "trash" to wrap ATCs and other small art exchanges in when she mails them out. Sonja's trash is definitely my treasure.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


An old friend and wonderful artist, Susan Morgan Hoth, not only paints gorgeous, one-of-a-kind silk scarves, she also collects and sells vintage jewelry, ephemera and memorabilia in her LaVogue Esty shop. When she looked at my artwork created by collaging vintage images that I had been posting to my blog and facebook page, she offered to mail me some imperfect vintage magazine ads that were slightly damaged. Naturally I jumped at the chance.

Part of me wanted to scan them and use printouts to create new art. The other part of me said "she is going to throw them out anyway, so just dig in and use the originals." I started with an ad for lemons and timidly put some sections of Cecilia Swatton Kalidescope Stencils in the background using soft colored, brush tipped markers.

It looked kind of cool, but didn't make a statement, so I decided to try and emphasize the retro-housewife theme with a Jane Davenport face stencil. That looked interesting, but didn't make much sense, so I added lines for the neck, some color, and a Jill K. Berry compas rose star stencil on the cheek, and a steampunk stencil on the top of the head to suggest a hat, then on the neck to suggest a necklace or blouse. I used a big white brush marker on the face to add interest.

The piece seemed almost done, but I wanted the whites to pop more, so I used white gouache and re-painted the whole face. Gouache (prononuced g'wash) which is basically a high quality tempra, was the paint of choice when I was studying textile design, so it is often my "go-to" paint.

After the addition of the white gouache, I liked it. It didn't really say "retro housewife serving delicious homemade food made from lemons" as I had intended. The plate goes through the nose and ended up looking like a giant piercing, and the fork goes through her eye, which is kind of scary. The face ended up being more 2014 than 1940, but that's the way art is—you never know quite what will happen but the journey and process is always fun.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fashionista Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead is fascinating to me. The custom of leaving sweets for the dead, usually sugar skulls, combined with Mexican folk art, flowers and kind of creepy skeletal Halloween images is so unique and compelling.

This year, I made just one piece of art, which I traded with my friend Karen. I was tempted to keep it, but I let go of my inner hoarder and mailed it off, telling myself I can always make another.

I used a fashion figure from a perfume ad in a glossy magazine, added flowers from the Graphics Fairy and some bone pieces, and of course, a sugar skull. I collaged them all onto some paper I had created in Photoshop using my own printed teabags. The finishing touch was to add some brown chalk ink at the edges for an aged look.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Return of the Pink Pup

I was stressed and tired the other night after work, so I thought painting in my journal might be just what I needed to do to relax and unwind. There’s nothing quite like randomly applying pretty paint colors to clear the mind.
I started by making scribbly marks in pinks and harmonious colors with Derwent blocks on a blank white page. I added water with a Koi brush and smushed it all around, and added more color here and there until the page was filled and it said “pretty” to me.
A few days later, I got a bunch of new stencils, so I decided to test them by applying molding paste through them onto the painted pink journal page. First, I used the harlequin stencil on the bottom two-thirds. When that was dry, I applied more molding paste through a Jill Berry compass rose stencil on the top of the page.
The look was soft and pretty, and I could have quit there, but the page seemed to want to be a background for something—a photo, some poetry, or maybe inspirational words. After auditioning a few items, I settled on a printout from a Photoshop® ATC collage I made a few seasons ago, and using matte medium, adhered it to the page.
The mischievous Coco Wyatt, with a dashing bowler hat, is at a table sipping tea. His face is pink not from the tea, but because of some artwork he “helped” with back in 2008 when he was just a young lad. If you follow my blog, you may know the story. If not, here is a link to why Coco is all pink!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tree of Life Triptych

A friend of mine has a cool tool that she uses to emboss paper. I love the effect, but wanted to see if I could achieve the effect without buying yet another fancy tool. I used a Tree of Life stencil that I had on hand and applied molding paste through the stencil onto a heavy watercolor paper.
Once dry, I painted it with shimmery acrylic in indigo and turquoise. The embossing effect worked, but I didn’t quite know what to do with the experiment, so it sat on my shelf for a few months.

When I got my pots of old gold and green viva décor inka gold, I rubbed it on the unfinished tree of life to see what happened. I liked the effect, but still didn’t know what else to do. So, I cut three of them to a uniform size and machine stitched them together into a triptych. The pieces were joined with a strip of wool felt.
I carefully applied molding paste through three of the Artistcellar pocket stencil inspirational words, and then when dry, enhanced the words with a white signo pen. The effect reminded me of old, tooled leather, and I added some “studs” made of brass-colored brads from the five and ten to give it an Old West look.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Frida Kahlo Santos Style Day of the Dead Paper Dolls

With Halloween and Day of the Dead around the corner, what could be more fun than a Frida Kahlo paper doll, especially with a Santos doll base?

For this fun project, I collected a bunch of vintage Halloween images and searched online for Day of the Dead images. I used a paper doll template (If you do an online search of paper dolls, there are hundreds of resouces.) I adapted a free vintage paper doll bodice, making it thicker in the waist, and using matte medium, covered it with Halloween paper. I cut the arms in half so they could be posed, and made one arm flowered to simulate tattoos.The pieces are joined with mini brads.

For the Santos skirt/bottom, I designed my own using a vintage dress form photo as my inspiration. I drew it on some printed teabags that had been stamped a little, and adhered with matte medium to heavy watercolor paper, then carefully cut it out with an exacto knife.

After some puttering with the elements I wanted to use, and rummaging through my many boxes of papers and pieces, I had the skirt/base, bodice and head ready to assemble.

Here is the almost finished Frida. She looked a little unadorned, especially on the bottom, so I added a bunch of crazy elements: a couple of sugar skulls, a vintage cat, butterflies from washi tape, a chrysanthemum, a matching witch hat and wings. I added dabs of dimensional gold paint to give it some extra pizzaz.

Santos Frida needed words, so on the base, I added some inspirational words that were printed on silk, and trimmed the to fit. Using a black ink pad, I stamped some more inspirational words on the wings.

If you want to get in touch with your inner-child, or want to have some art fun with your very own child or grandchild,  please take a look at the paper dolls on my blog. I have many, many that will surely amuse, and maybe inspire you to play with dolls again.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tea With Helen

I had my "debut" as a member of the Artistcellar design team yesterday.
For my first Artistcellar blog post, I started with a favorite technique—printing on recycled teabags—and used a vintage photo of my mother, Helen, circa 1934. I printed the photo from an inkjet printer onto printable silk fabric, trimmed it to size, and removed the paper backing.
For the base, I started with used teabags. After drying them, I emptied out the old tea, carefully opened them, flattened them out, and printed on them using white printmaking paint applied to an assortment of hand-carved and commercial stamps.

Once the printed teabags were dry, I randomly collaged them onto cardstock using gel (matte) medium, which adheres like glue, but dries flat, and you can stitch through it with ease.
When I laid the translucent silk photo on the teabag print base, too much of the background showed through, so I applied viva décor inka gold old gold to the central area, which made the silk photo easier to see. I added a little matte medium to hold the photo in place, and edged it with a favorite sheer lace, also adhered with matte medium.
For strength, I added a felt backing, then clamped the artwork to the felt and carefully stitched the edges with a machine blanket stitch. To give the piece even more of a vintage effect, I sponged on extra viva décor inka gold old gold to the edges and corners.

The piece especially touches my heart because, growing up, the kitchen was the central gathering place in our house, and mom always had a pot of tea to share with friends and family around our kitchen table. The dress she wore in the photo was made of a rich indigo velvet and I remember feeling ever so beautiful in it when I played dress-up.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Romantic Journal Collage Page

I have been working feverishly this weekend to get ready for my debut as the Friday Blogger on the Artistcellar website. I can't show any sneak peaks of that, but I hope you will go to and read my blog, as well as all the other terrific artist who will be posting during the week.

As I was rummaging though my journal for inspiration, I saw this page. When I made it, about a month ago, I thought it was too "me" to post...too much what I always do, that I wasn't stretching myself.

Well, it IS very much in my comfort zone. I used a variety of soft colored papers and newsprint on the background and a giant floral--from the Graphics Fairy free online images--as the focal point. I used a variety of stamps, some with black ink and others with white printmaking paint, as well as a floral stencil.

Even though the page is very busy, it is soft and soothing with the muted colors and rounded shapes, and the little kitty and Japanese stamp are a surprise, as is the vintage typewriter on top of the flower. It is kind of a visual scavenger hunt to find the almost hidden elements.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Inspiration & Joy: Artistcellar, Quilters Take Manhattan & Amy Butler

A few days ago, I was asked to join the Artistcellar design team. Naturally I jumped at the chance to test the Artistcellar products, use them and blog about my experience and process weekly. I will be the new Friday blogger.

The good news is that there are pretty much no rules, so I can do what ever inspires me--art quilts, dolls, wall hangings, triptychs, journal pages or anything else I can think of. I just have to take photos of the process and write about it...which is something I do anyway.

To celebrate my recent birthday, I treated myself to today's Quilters Take Manhattan event at FIT. It was full of beauty, inspiration and really nice people. I met Jamie Fingal, and will be taking a class with her tomorrow at City Quilter. I also met Stephen Fraser, owner of Spoonflower, who was super nice. I have a line of fabric for sale there (under the name Edzellinni) so it was great to chat with him. I met Allie Aller, and got an autographed copy of her book Crazy Quilting.

The featured speaker was Amy Butler. She designs a gorgeous fabric line and was such a heartfelt, poignant speaker. Her presentation made me step back and realize that with the many things going on in my personal and business life,  I had slid away from the mind-body-spirit connection a bit and needed to clear my mind of clutter and negative thoughts, especially any worries about my new design project with Artistcellar.

I made this journal page a few weeks ago. It reminded me of Amy Butler's designs a little, with the rose, paisley and light airy feeling. It also made me think of Artistcellar since I used several stencils on top of the collaged base.

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.