Thursday, July 28, 2011

we made books

My friend Julie always visits in July. Julie in July. It has a nice ring. Last year, for one day of her visit, we made some pincushions from a book we got cheap at Barnes & Noble the day before. I have tons of fabric from my crazy quilting days and the upholstery samples worked great. Those were fun, picking out buttons for the centers and admiring each other's handiwork.

When I went to see her in January, we did some dyeing. Came out great... however, I can't find a photo of it, so here's one of us in Old Town instead.

When we were planning her visit for this year, I suggested maybe some fabric journal pages like I've posted about recently. Julie countered with books because she liked the ones I posted from Lenna's little book swap that I posted about here and the next 3 posts after that. That was fine with me, so I ordered up some linen thread for binding, swiped a couple tables from work and set up a book making shop in my living room.

We had a really good time at it and ended up spending two entire days tearing up old books and calendars, measuring and cutting, trying to figure out the various binding instructions. (note to future writers of how-to books - save us all some gray hairs and test drive your instructions by having a person of average intelligence who is completely unfamiliar with what you're doing, actually make one of whatever it is)
the book making sweatshop

We ended up with half the studio supplies out in the  front room. The bird and the dog kept us company as we worked away, and we each ended up with several books to show for it.

I expect I'll use mine for journaling. Julie has no idea what she'll do with hers. She's all into the process now and has made several more books since she got home.

No telling what we'll do next time.

Julie's Where in the World book

made from a freebie calendar of California

made from a calendar of Tuscany

old turquoise shed

This marvelous old turquoise shed sits in a patch of dead grass in an older part of town. None of the buildings near it are painted the same color and I always wonder what possessed someone to paint it turquoise. Was the paint on sale? Did they just get a wild hair?

Every time I go by, I think I've gotta take pictures of that before it falls over. Well, I finally just pulled the car to the curb the other day because the light was right for some great shadows from the vine. I haven't played with these in Photoshop yet, but I bet a couple of them will look really good in black and white.

For some reason I'm really into turquoise lately...

Sunday, July 24, 2011


DH was out of town yesterday and today, so I've spent the day:
1) walking the dog in the cool of morning
2) browsing the bookstore with a mocha and a cinnamon scone
3) watching the last day of Le Tour as marvelous Cadel wins for Australia and Cavendish demolishes the sprinters
4) playing in the studio
However, don't be too jealous because in the hour before he gets home I'll be:
1) doing the pile of dishes that seems to always accumulate no matter whether anyone is eating at home or not
2) sucking up the dust bunnies who thrive under my furniture and occasionally have the bad manners to waft into view
3) shuffling the mountain of art supplies on the kitchen table back into the studio

BUT... meantime, I made another journal page using fabric and lace. I really enjoy this process, and was more confident making this one. Didn't bother Tacky gluing things in place, I just started stitching.

That's me at around a year old, I suppose, toddling around the married student housing that my parents lived in while attending Purdue University. I aged it a bit with Distress Stains, then lots of sprayed water until it ran and softened.

I used cross stitch fabric as a base. It's kind of stiff and I thought it might work well, which it did.

I lay down a couple pieces of flat lace, then the image printed onto fabric. Once those had a few seams in them, I dug around and found the very fine lace on the right edge. It was fairly long, maybe a baby dress hem or something.

Then I looked over the stamping I'd done earlier and settled on 'fragile.' Cut a bit of fabric to put to the right of it, and added some crumpled trim and some old buttons.

The bottom needed something, so I cut a point off a tattered old crocheted doily. I like the shade of it with the rest of the fabrics.

I like this a lot but it still isn't the heavily layered look that I so admire. I'm not sure I can do that LOL. It just isn't me, so I'll be happy with this and maybe try to add a bit more stuff on the next one.

This will be the right side of a spread. No idea yet what will be on the left.

Monday, July 18, 2011

practice being human

I came across a mention of this little e-zine in someone's blog a few days ago. It resonated with me to the point that I decided to do what she does - no computer except for limited email on the prime days of each month, 10 or 11 days. On those days, I'm going to read, make art, walk the dog twice as far, bake, call a friend or two - anything but let the day go by blog surfing or Flickr surfing or the myriad other things I can find to do on the puter.

Nothing evil about blog surfing, don't get me wrong. I LOVE blog surfing. I've learned a lot, seen some wonderful things, but I do it too much. I do it instead of making art because it's easier. On days when I'm not inspired, I spend hours at the keyboard, cruising around, accomplishing nothing concrete.

No more. I'm going to push thru the crust and spend those days reading, thinking, being human.

I found Practice Being Human on the 18th and made this spread the next day, the 19th, one of the prime days. It was Sunday, a day I often spend most of at the computer. Not so yesterday. I lay on the couch and read. I cleaned up my book making area in the front room. (more on that later) I tidied up my poor little studio so that I could almost see the desk top. And I made art.

After dinner, I turned on the computer for the first time that day, checked email, quickly looked thru my reader for any interesting blog posts, then went back to the art side of my office and made more art.

I understand that it may seem artificial to choose fixed days to stay off the computer, and it may not always be convenient, and I'm sure I'll fall off the wagon now and then, but I really enjoyed Sunday without that feeling of needing to check email all the time in case... in case what? What did I think was going to show up in my inbox that was so important?

Absolutely nothing, that's what. I'm looking forward to the 23rd.

Practice Being Human is a free download. Check it out.

mom in fur and lace

I like this picture of my mother. She has a fur coat on (beaver?) and it's snowing. I suspect it was taken in Dayton OH where she lived after high school, working at a newspaper, and she's maybe 20 years old. Hard to tell and it's not dated.

I've been admiring the wonderful lacy fabric journal pages done by this artist and this one for quite a while now. I have all the stuff to do this - fabric, lace, buttons, old photos - just needed to wait for the right moment to come along, I guess.

This afternoon, after the dog park, after two loads of laundry, after baking gingerbread cupcakes and chocolate chip craisin oatmeal cookies, I finally felt like giving it a go.

I used a page from an old book that I'd painted green, then played around layering tea-dyed fabrics and bits of lace until I liked the look. I stuck each piece down with little dots of Tacky Glue so that the whole thing wouldn't shift around while I was sewing.

The image of my mom was printed onto really thin fabric years ago, literally, and I didn't bother trying to peel the paper off the back, or she would have been too transparent.

The lace that's sewn around her is from a big old ball that I bought probably ten years ago and have used steadily ever since. I never measured how much was in the ball but it had to be twenty yards cause I've been using it forever. And I paid a buck for it. I remember cause it was the day I bought home a big old bag of stuff, none of which I paid more than a dollar for. Don't find deals like that much any more.

Added a few mother of pearl buttons and called it done. It'll be the right side page of a spread in the journal I started for the 4 Artists 4 Ways class, which you can see here, here, and here. It features me, my mother and her mother, and I did multiple spreads using each of the four artists' techniques. This will be the first spread using Lisa's lessons. I'm quite happy with how it turned out and will be doing more of these soon.

I have to admit that while looking thru my laces, at first I had the thought, 'oh, this is too good to use.'


No, not really. As soon as I thought that, I grabbed the piece and used it. I absolutely refuse to die with all this wonderfulness and have someone pawing thru it at a yard sale going, 'I wonder why in the hell she didn't use this stuff when she had the chance?'

dog park adventures (& art)

Another morning spent at the dog park. There were two dogs there I'd never before seen in person, only on Animal Planet - Thai Ridgebacks. Gorgeous dogs, very short coat, wide backward ridge running up their backs. The girl had a black one named Diesel and a blue named Isis. Maggie took off at a dead run, but Diesel ran her down in no time and took the lead. They flew around the park for several minutes at top speed, then slowed a bit and galloped around some more before finally stopping to do the sniff thing.

There was also an abandoned Chihuahua that someone had apparently tossed over the fence. He looked healthy enough but wasn't very friendly. The Thai Ridgeback girl had already called animal control to come get him and once the truck showed up, she left. The dog catcher lady (DCL) came in and tried to make friends with the Chi but didn't have much luck. I thought she was nuts trying to pick up an unfriendly stray dog, but she didn't seem too worried about it. She trailed around after him for a while, trying to lasso him with a leash, but he dashed out of reach each time she made a toss.

Then we tried to lure him into the safety gate area, so she could grab him, but he was wise to that old trick and just stood there looking at all of us crammed into the 3x6 area like we were crazy. The DCL didn't want to get her net cause she said it made her feel like the prototypical bad guy dog catcher, so she finally sat on a bench and sweet talked him into coming up to her. This all unfolded over the course of an hour or so. I had taken these supplies - my misc journal made with an old book as a cover, some charcoal pencils, my Inktense pencils, and a water brush.

While she worked on the dog, I sat on a bench and worked on this.
It is a direct result of having watched this Julie Fei-Fan Balzer video, which was posted by Lenna earlier today. (oy, the linkage...)

I'm not thrilled with my drawing and painting skills, but when I saw this vid, I thought 'I can maybe do that,' so I grabbed my stuff and headed for the dog park, bound and determined to make art!

And I did. These don't really look much like hydrangeas, I suppose, but I've had hydrangeas on my mind lately as they're in bloom around here right now, AND I'm in the process of choosing plants for a new back yard bed.

They actually look more like grapes, huh?

hydrangea spread (6 x 9") in duct tape journal
pages are from an old book on horse racing (left) and one about
investigative techniques for the private investigator.
I masking taped the center seam, then used clear Gesso to
prep the pages. I really like how the text shows thru a bit.
Ah, well... I like the colors, and I like the charcoal accents, so it's all good. I'm really not one of those people who beat themselves up too much about things not being good enough. I wish I could draw better, but I'm philosophical bout the fact that I just don't have a ton of skill in that dept. Maybe I'll improve with time and maybe I won't.

Altho it would be nice if my faces didn't all look like rejects from the art department of the next Alien movie...

The DCL eventually lured the Chi close enough to slip the leash over his head. She scooped him up under her arm and headed off to the truck. I finished my banana bread, glugged down the rest of my water, then Mags and I went home.

The End.

Friday, July 8, 2011

you bug me mail art

I'm in a little mail art group of 3-4 women and the theme for July was bugs, but they had to be hand drawn. None of us are hand drawing pros, we're more the collaging/journaling type, so hand drawing a bunch of bugs was a challenge. I knew I wanted to use the words 'you bug me' on my envelopes, so I wrote that on the front in big letters, then added bugs every place. On the back of each envie, I drew one large insect. Added a bunch of stamps and mailed them off. Too much fun.

I wrote the addresses in the E in ME. The recipients liked them, so I consider them a success, altho I'll never make a living illustrating entomology books. (the purple squiggles are not part of my art, it's where I blanked out my address in Photoshop)  I did the black work with various permanent markers, then colored with my Copics.

I've received one of the three I'm expecting. When they all arrive, I'll blog about them.


swap-bot ATCs - photo heavy post

I joined Swap-Bot recently and earned my chops by doing a bunch of ATC swaps. S-B has a ratings system to keep out the flakes, and before you can join some of the more involved swaps, you have to rack up some points. To do that, I searched out ATC swaps, something I know how to do fairly well.

Vintage Women - scrapbook paper background, vintage sheet
music, scrap of old paper from the back of an ancient picture
frame, bits of vintage lace, gel medium transfer of woman.
Luuuv this one. Almost couldn't give it away.

Arch ATC - background is a page from an old book,
old text stamp in brown ink, ads from May 1948 issue
of Popular Mechanics,  gel medium transfer of vintage
man in bathing suit.

B is for... - this was an alphabet swap for the letter B. Hand
drawn bird on watercolor paper, colored with Copic markers,
3 stamped Bs.
Color my ATC - the idea is to draw something that the
recipient can color in. I, of course, drew a bird, what else. Added a flower and some leaves.

Mixed Media ATC - had to use at least 3 techniques,
I think it was. I used paint, stamping, stencils, tissue
paper, collage, ink, gel medium transfer. I called this
one Ghost Riders and I really like it.
Green - everything on the ATC had to be green. Started with
a paint chip and just kept adding stuff. The green vertical
strip at left is the edge off computer paper. 

Paint chip - the background is a paint chip from Home Depot.
Papers, Distress Stains, watercolor, more cut up paint chips,
more computer paper edges, tissue paper. I called it
Day at the Beach.

Pointed hat or crown - old book pages, bit of an old map,
Distress Stain, floral images, cut out vintage child,
crown cut from wine label and tarted up with metallic

Pointy hat/crown - old book pages and papers, roses
from a magazine, stenciled sequin waste, paint, vintage
image, crown cut from wine label.

Starbucks was the theme. Background is part of one of their
brochures, stamped circles from another brochure, cut an
Italian lesson from a book, tissue paper strips, Distress
Stained the edges, dribbled some watercolor paint,
stamped Starbucks.

icad 7/1 - 7/6

This week's cards.

the first one I did at the bookstore with the book club ladies - just doodles

2nd one I did at the bookstore with the book club ladies - doodles in letters
playing with watercolors on the 4th

my dog sleeping in DH's lap on the couch

this one started life as just circles but once I began to color them,
they started looking like life savers to me. I journaled about life being a circle
and the concept of living your life over and over until you get it right.
What if you never get it right? How do you know which parts to work
on the next time around?

What I've learned from ICAD is that I can't do something artsy every day. All the encouraging blogs and projects that push the 'aren't you worth ten minutes a day?' idea sort of just end up making me feel bad. I don't even have an especially crazy life but my moods are usually my determining factor as to whether or not I can make art on a given day, and some days it just ain't happenin'.
So... coming completely clean - I usually do several icad cards when I sit down to work on them, then date them out ahead. Sometimes I end up a week and a half ahead, sometimes I'm one short, like today. I think I did another card at work the other day but forgot to bring it home for today's roundup. On the days I don't do icads, I try to journal or work on swap ATCs or whatever else I have going. I think I sort of have to get in the mindset of working on that size canvass, and once I do, I want to do more than one.
After icad is over, I think I'll use ATC backgrounds as my art-every-day thing. Then I'll always have a good stash of backgrounds available when I'm ready to make ATCs, which have turned out to be my preferred art format.
Can't wait to read what everyone else got out of icad.