Saturday, November 21, 2015

International Mail Art Journal Collage

Journal collage page using mostly recycled pieces
from mail-art packages and ephemera.
Sometimes I lament the fact that I don't have the time or space to do big, "important" art work. With full time job and a small apartment, my work has to stay small and flat, and be completed fairly quickly. So, being part of mail art exchanges of small items like ATC, tags, and postcards with other artists, and working in my journal are pretty much all I do, other than the commercial art that I do at work.

There are quite a few positive aspects of exchanging artwork: first, you receive some gorgeous small pieces in the mail. Additionally, you learn new techniques, "meet" new cyber friends, and accumulate a lot of interesting tidbits and ephemera. Those tidbits are papers or fibers that are tucked into a package or wrapped around the artwork that comes in the mail, as well as international stamps and gorgeous mail art envelopes.

Today's collage uses mostly items that came in the mail from people in the yahoo group Paper Traders. (Here's a link to their blog.) The top right corner was part of a hand-decorated envelope from an artist in Northern Ireland, the clock and French butterfly napkin were tucked in with ATCs. The checkerboard tape was recycled from an envelope. On the bottom right is a corner of an envelope, with the cancelled stamps from Australia.

The ticket in the center was from a recent event at work--everyone who came received a ticket, which was entered into a raffle to win exciting prizes...well, maybe not so exciting...they were tee shirts and umbrellas, but at least the prizes were useful.

Following the Kelly Kilmer collage technique, I added a stencil, using one of my favorites from Artistcellar. I added the little dots in the center with a marker. The last step was my addition of washi tape and hand written words that popped into my head as I was working on the collage.

Here's a few other journal collages made from mail art and ephemera that was tucked into envelopes form other small art traders.
Mail-art envelope on bottom of collage, including
Maya Angelou stamp; vintage ephemera mainspring
envelope; doodles, stamping and vintage royalty free images.

Paris-inspired napkin section, stencils, stamping,
stamp from Australian envelope indicating
photographs inside.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ricola Wrapper Nesting Doll ATCs

The wrappers on Ricola candies are almost too pretty to throw away. The little delicate flowers on the original flavor remind me of edelweiss and the Sound of Music. The cherries on the cherry flavored Ricola are even more striking. So, I started saving them and incorporating them into my ATCs.

When Paper Traders yahoo group announced a nesting doll swap, it seemed a perfect fit for me. I love dolls, especially traditional Russian nesting dolls. I set about cutting and pasting to create a unique and original design.

I combined an original design of my own, a tile design (you can see the fabric I made from my tile design here) with some gingham paper and a zetti-ish diamond pattern.

The cherry Ricola wrapper had a nice color and feel to it, so I made sure to use it in the biggest doll and also in the background, near the hidden quote.

Here are links to some of my other ATCs than incorporate the Ricola wrappers:
Splatter House ATCs
Fly Free ATC

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Metal and Paper ATCs

Printed tea bag background, copper mesh,
brass mesh, copper foil, metal brads, turquoise
scrapbook paper. Number is cut from Lumiere painted,
heat-distressed Tyvek.
The Paper Traders yahoo group is celebrating their 10th anniversary. So, the latest exchange will be ATCs that include the number 10, and also include tin or some other kind of metal, since tin is the traditional 10th anniversary gift.

I decided to go bold for this project. Sometimes I feel subtle. Sometimes I like girly, lacey, pink themes. But sometimes I like to go bold and graphic and simple. Lacking a fancy machine for embossing metal, or tools to weld little pieces, the only way to really incorporate metal into my atcs was to use big chunky sections.

Using heavy gel medium, I adhered the number to the rusted heart. The number 10 was carefully cut from a piece of painted Tyvek. I used Lumiere acrylic paint and heat distressed it with a hot iron.

The background is my old favorite: printed teabags. The strips of copper and brass mesh were attached with mini brads in metallic colors. The mesh is sewable, but sadly, I discovered that my sewing machine was broken. The broken sewing machine forced me to think of another solution, and the metal brads not only kept the metal on the card, but also added some texture and visual interest.

The little copper strip on the bottom is a stick on tape made of real copper; I found it at the Ink Pad. The turquoise strip is scrapbooking paper that I was gifted with from one of my art friends.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Try Something New, But Do What You Do

The doll body is from a vintage thread advertisement.
Dina Wakley stamp head, stencils, washi tape,
watercolor, acrylic paint, marker, glue stick.
The art and craft worlds are full of gorgeous magazines and books, many touting the latest gizmo and technique, bombarding you with offers for in-person on online classes where you can learn to use all the new products and techniques. Hot new artists come and go, and electronic media, with the multitude of posts and tweets and websites and blogs, can be overwhelming.

Being part of some online art/craft communities keeps me connected, and making small art pieces and trading with other artists keeps me sane and gives me exposure to new ideas.

The question is, where do you draw the line between trying a new technique and product and ignoring it and staying true to your own style? Well, it seems to be a pretty wavy line, and varies with the expansion of--or shrinking of--my time and budget.

When in doubt, I pull out my little journal and collage a page, pull out my favorite art supplies and get to work doing what I DO know. I recently started puttering with some molding paste, stencils and acrylic paint, trying to understand an artist that my group was doing an homage to. I just couldn't wrap my head around the project. Not that it was outside my comfort zone entirely, but there was a fine balance of texture and monochromatic color, mixed with a suggestion of steampunk, that wasn't working for me.

Artistcellar stencils, molding paste on deli
paper, chalk inks, newsprint, and colored cardstock.
So, I quit. I pulled out my journal and did a few pages. I used the soft colors and paste and stencils in my own way, which was much better for my mental health than attempting to imitate another artist. My chalk inks and favorite colors, combined with some cool Artistcellar stencils, deli paper and newsprint felt, felt healthier than me doing an imitation of somebody else.

Vintage advertising paper doll parts from the Graphics Fairy, with stenciled deli and scrapbook paper, a partial cover from a freebie magazine, accented with an old favorite stencil (plastic rectangles from on old touch tone phone!) made me feel like me, made me feel lighter and happier. It made me remember that my journal is a place to try new things, perhaps to fail, to take something that looks like a mess, cut it or rip it and make something new. It is a place to hone my techniques, and to write.

So, I wrote the words that popped into my head. Maybe they were inspired by the antique body with the oversized Dina Wakley stamp I used for a head. It looked a little freaky, but it looked a little cool. So, "fly your freak flag" popped into my head. The words remind me to be true to myself, not to try to imitate someone else.