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 CafĂ© 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.