Sunday, October 31, 2010

two roads

two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both 
and be one traveler, long I stood 
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth

...Robert Frost

There's more and it's one of the first poems I ever memorized, mostly because my mother loved it and passed that love along to me. I suppose most people look back on their lives at various points and think about those roads not taken. It does make you wonder, doesn't it?

She also loved autumn, as do I, and every year around this time, I get nostalgic for the autumns of my childhood. Long hikes in the woods with my cousin and a dog or two, hot chocolate made with milk and Hershey's cocoa, kicking leaves in the gutter walking home from school.

I saw the background picture of the autumn woods when looking thru a magazine for a turkey. An hour later, the turkey was long forgotten and this was finished. Tough to get a good pic with the reflection from the glass. On the left is another woods image, sideways so that the trunks echo the horizontal lines of the words, layered over a thin strip of brown polka dot paper. 

On the right, I used the packing tape transfer method for the words - works like a charm, who knew? Beneath them is several torn layers of the Starbucks bag that my scone came in a couple weeks ago. I crumpled it, lightly rubbed a brown ink pad over it, then darkened the edges a bit.

the road not taken

Saturday, October 30, 2010

have glue stick, will create

There's an art form out there called 'gluebooks.' I'd never heard the term until I signed up for an online collage class at GreenPaper. She offers a gluebook class, so I went and looked at the flickr album of past classes. It appeared to be collage distilled to it's most pure form - paper and glue.

A quick search yielded a Yahoo group, so I signed up and when I got the first digest of messages, there was a list of current 'challenges.' One of the was the Blindfold Challenge, where you close your eyes, open a magazine at random and tear out three pages. You then proceed to make a gluebook page with inly the stuff on those 3 pages.

I figured for my first attempt, it might be wise to have some guidelines, so I grabbed an old Country Living (figured I could hardly go wrong with that LOL) and ripped out 3 pages. I should have taken pictures of them but roughly, they had an image of a fireplace with decorated mantle, the lead page of an article on persimmons, three men on a porch holding pumpkins, and some misc text.

The mantle image grabbed me right off, so I glued that to one side of a spread in the little journal I decided to use as my 'challenge' book. I kept looking at the pages, clipping out words and phrases and smaller images, then trying them out on my pages until I liked them. I glued it all down, then added a few more bits here and there.

Conclusion - I really enjoyed the constraint of having only those 3 pages to work from. I think it helped me to focus, instead of leafing thru endless magazines in search of more, more, more. So, the left page is the mantle with various words that give an idea of what the image means to me.

I've never actually had a black mantle but I quite like it. The black frames with B&W images work for me too.

The right side of the spread is much busier. The background is strips torn from the 3 pages. In the center is one of the guys holding a pumpkin, only he's upside down. The text strip on the far right was some sort of antacid, I think. It's upside down too, so you don't accidentally read 'acid reflux' when you're supposed to be enjoying the collage!

I liked the house and the chandelier. The words 'comfort zone' were perfect cause that's what my house is for me.

Anyway, it's my first gluebook effort and I'm pleased with it. It's pretty much free - old magazines, a glue stick and a journal or notebook from the dollar store. Plus, just sitting down and cutting and pasting is a blast. It's like 2nd grade when you didn't have a care in the world except whether you had good stuff in your lunch and if Walt Disney was on that night.

Anything that can make me feel like that in this day and age, you can bet I'll be going back to again and again!

Blindfold Challenge

Monday, October 25, 2010

a few ATCs

Artist Trading Cards... when they first became popular, years ago, I couldn't really see the point. I made a few when I was crazy quilting, but never got the bug. Now that I'm collaging, however, I've realized they're a great size. Big enough to do something interesting, small enough not to be overwhelming.

This first one is so-so to me. I liked the little bird print but couldn't get terribly inspired about what to do with it. The bit of poem helped, but I'm not nuts about the stamp. Grunge-wise, it's fine, and I like the button and bits of old netting, but overall... not so much.

This one I like a lot. I printed the woman onto brown wrapping paper and used it as a shadow for the color print of her. The bit of map was town from an ad and the text was from an old book. I like the button this time as it pulls the color from her dress. The colors look rich and the torn paper background, altho ubiquitous in collaging - works here. The very top bits are masking tape that I rubbed over with a brown stamp pad to cover up some words that I didn't want showing.

This one makes me think 'Old Masters.' It just has that feel.

The picture of the pointing woman grabbed me immediately. I could just hear her shouting at the man to get the hell out! But don't forget to write. The aqua stamp pad I bought on a whim worked great here, picking up the background paper when I rubbed it along the edges.

The tiny image of the stamped letter was torn from a package of little paper bits that I bought. The scrap of lace is from my stash. Looking at it now, I maybe could have toned down the white letter piece some, it's a little bright, but overall, I like this one, mostly because of the feisty lady. For no particular reason, I imagine her speaking Italian.

I'd love to hear what you think of each of these. Art is very subjective, but comments help me see what you see, which helps me see differently, which helps me think outside my particular box.

thrift store haul

Except for groceries and household supplies, I hardly ever shop in a regular retail store any more. Thrift stores are way more fun. They offer the thrill of the hunt plus bargain prices. Half the time they may not have what you're looking for, but they almost always have something worth getting.

Today I was on the hunt for old books. Books with cool covers, interesting end papers, odd diagrams, and usable text. When Julie was here in July, we went to a little church-run thrift store here in town and did pretty well. I remembered they had a back room full of books, and at the time, I was disappointed that they had mostly old hardbacks cause I was looking for readable paperbacks. They opened at 10 this morning and I was there at ten after. The 50% Off Clothing sign caught my eye, too.

After 45 minutes of rummaging around, I paid my $10.85 and lugged a big box full of stuff to the car.

I got a cotton sweater in my favorite shade of gray for $1. The little white dish and the 3 green glass jars were $0.25 each. I'll add them to the ever-growing collection of stuff on the shelves. The puzzle was $1. I needed a puzzle with small pieces for collaging. The three frames were $0.75 each.

And the books...

Well, the books were a whole quarter a piece. All twenty of them for $5. Some of them are marvelous old things full of diagrams and charts and blueprints and graphs - all the sort of stuff that works great as background material.

Some of the titles are: Structural Theory, Identification of Organic Compounds, Design of Modern Steel Structures, Interrogation For Investigators.  The torn up one at the far end is Treasure Island and it has some neat illustrations.

The little old ladies who run the thrift shop eyed my big pile of oddball books but didn't say a word. I unpacked them onto a shelf in my office/craft room and I can feel them behind me as I type, waiting to be torn up and come back to life as art.

Friday, October 22, 2010

from the shelves...

When I set up my collage area, I made a point to use all my old boxes, tins, and bowls. No more cardboard and plastic. Over the years, I've collected several old carved or wood burned boxes. I've seen them called glove boxes, altho not all of mine are the long and slender shape I'd associate with gloves. I love the look of them on the white shelves, along with canning jars of button, bowls of threads and laces, and whatever else I have stashed there at the moment.

Since moving my collage area into my home office, I've rearranged the stuff on the shelves about 20 times, trying to fit it all in, keep the most used stuff closest, etc. Here are some pics of the current incarnation.

The bottom right box is a drawer from an old sewing table. I have a few of those on the shelves, as well. The lace is a doily I found on a thrift shop run with my friend Julie. On top of the upper box is a little glasses case I made from an old quilt and to the left of that are some old leather curlers with a piece of metal inside. I can't even imagine using them to curl your hair. Seems like the leather would smell when wet. or maybe they aren't curlers, but I can't think what else they might be.

I'm the horse and my cousin is about to shoot me in the head. I haven't written about the pink flower pin yet, but it's soemthing I made in a class I took at Nostalgic Needle Arts several years ago.

This is an old cigar box that my mother had all her life. Inside are small tin figures of animals and objects. Tons of them. I thing they were a giveaway in boxes of tobacco or something when she was a child. I need to figure that out cause they might actually be worth something and I certainly don't need them all.

The top box on the right is one of my favorites. Clear, strong designs in relief against a burned background. These old boxes almost always smell good inside - musty and old, but good.

I paid 25 cents for this old restaurant bowl because I loved the green stripes. That's my shade of green. I wound some old crochet cotton around some old spools and put them in there with some vintage crochet hooks and other sewing doodads.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flashback Friday - Magic Web Pin

This week I'm looking back at a piece I made in a workshop with Christen Brown. She's a fabulous fiber artist who lives and works in San Diego. (where I used to live and still miss terribly!) I first met her through the Visions Quilt show where she had items for sale in the shop and was volunteering during the show. She had the cutest, tiniest store - The Store On The Corner in Old Town San Diego, packed full of more goodies than you could even take in during one visit, and we always took visiting crazy quilters there to spend a few bucks.

Magic Web Pin - class taught by Christen Brown
She moved the store at one point, then exhibited her items within another store, and now she has a website and an Etsy shop. I took many classes from her over the years - bracelets, tassles, one all about buttons - all were fun and informative. She still teaches in her charmingly converted old garage, and that's where I took this class. We used a variety of materials, most of which I no longer remember, but the gist of it was that we created a 'fabric' from Solvy and threads and snips of fabric and ribbons and laces, all randomly sewn down by machine. We embellished the fabric with beads and buttons, and then made a pin from it.

Mine is a seafoam green with touches of darker turquoise and bits of gold and bronze. I wore it occasionally and still love looking at it lying on the dresser scarf. I see that she still teaches it. It's called Magic Web and it was a full day of laughing and talking and walking to lunch at a nearby cafe. Some of my most fond memories are of classes I've taken with a group of like-minded women, sharing our materials and our passion for creating.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

one woman's hands...

I've been a crafter of one sort or another since I can remember. My mother was an artist - mostly oils - but I didn't seem to inherit the ability to draw or paint, only the desire to create. Macramé, weaving, quilting, crocheting, knitting - I've done them all with varying degrees of dedication and success, but I settled down to just one when I discovered crazy quilting. Judith Baker Montano, specifically. Here we are at a workshop around 2001, I think.

Her lush pieces, full of dreams and memories, intricate stitches, and lovely color combinations hooked me the first time I saw them. I dove in with a vengeance, collecting fabrics, fibers, buttons, and laces until you could barely squeeze into the craft room. And then I began to learn my way through the art of crazy quilting. Along the way, I learned to needle tat so that I could make just that perfect little bit of lace because I didn't happen to have it in the 47 boxes of lace stashed in the closet.

My early efforts were clunky, lacking both the personality and the complexity of Judith's, but I persevered and over the years became adept at wielding the finest fibers, the tiniest beads, and the thinnest needles to my satisfaction.  I met my good friend Julie when she hosted Betty Pillsbury at her house for a 2-day CQ workshop. Boy, was that ever fun. All day Saturday, crammed into Julie's family room, twelve of us sweltered in the heat wave San Diego was having that summer, learning from Betty, buying stuff from the store-in-a-suitcase she'd brought along, making friends with women we'd known only online until then. In the evening, we spread out into the kitchen and living room, all of us stitching on projects, talking and laughing, eating dinner together. Then we did it again the next day. That weekend remains one of the standout experiences of my life.

But gradually I developed osteoarthritis in my fingers, and by 2007 it simply hurt too much to stitch. Working those tiny needles and fine threads through several layers of fabric required more grip than I could handle, and I slowly stopped working on projects. For a while, I didn't really realize that I missed it so much. A year or so later, I got my yarn back out and resumed knitting and crocheting, branching out from scarves to mittens, hats, shawls. I enjoy that, but for me, it isn't very creative in that I'm following a pattern someone else thought up. I'm just a laborer, more or less. I'll have a lovely finished object when I'm done, but it just wasn't scratching my creative itch.

Anyway, somewhere not long ago, I came across a mixed media collage and it sparked my interest. it uses a lot of the goodies I collected during my CQ years, and the sky's the limit, creativity-wise. I reorganized my home office/craft room more efficiently, got rid of boxes and boxes of stuff I'd been hanging onto for no good reason other than I'm a pack rat, bought a few shelves, and now I'm set to go. I'm hoping this will be a pursuit that can take me creatively through my senior years.

It's good to be excited about something again.