Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Mail art, that is. 
From the round swap. This one is hand painted on a
collage background.  I love original paintings
since I can't paint worth a hoot myself, and I love the
 colors and shapes in this one.  Made by C Sadier.

From the green swap. Loved this one as soon as Karen
posted it on the blog and whooped with joy when I
saw it in my mailbox. We had an old Amazon parrot
for 17 years. Sadie died a few years ago at age 45
from cancer and I miss her still. This card reminds
me of her. Made by Tine Wittmer.
I've been doing about 80% of the weekly swaps over at MailMeSomeArt. As I've said before, I like her themes and I tend to get good-to-great cards back with only an occasional dud. And lest you're frowning at your screen and thinking "but if they tried their best, you shouldn't call it a dud", the keyword here is 'tried'. 

When I get a card, I don't judge it by how good the actual art is, or whether I even like the art. My dud comment is based on the technical aspects of making a decent card, like making sure all the layers are stuck together well, and that the edges line up (if they're supposed to), and that the elements are cut out neatly. 

From the blue swap. I like the circles - the squishy dark blue ones
made from large bubble  wrap, the smaller white ones cut from a
chemistry book, and the larger blue curves of the painted paper
doily. Made by Amy.
From Mandy's collage sheet swap. Purple
and gold were my high school colors but I
also like it for the simple design, the
vintage guy, the cool caption, and the
book text background. Another one by Tina Wittmer.
You can tell when someone slapped something together (if you do a lot of swaps, don't tell me you've never gotten one) and those are what I object to, like the one with big hunks of clear packing tape here and there where things wouldn't stay put. Really? Sorry, but packing tape isn't someone's 'best work'. Just use enough glue and weight them under a book overnight. 

Ok, opinion over - this post is all about the great cards I've gotten recently. Technically good, artfully cool, appealing to me in one or more ways. See captions for details about each card. 

If these look like fun to you, go check out the open swaps at MMSA and make a few postcards. It's so much fun to get ART in the mail instead of bills and junk!

From Mandy's collage sheet swap. First off, I love
 the caption, "eye, eye, eye..." Cracked me up cause I say that
all the time at work instead of something much worse. Also love
that paper as the background of the eye, like an alien eyeball of
some sort. Also like the outer space looking designs on the card.
Made by Gina Visione.

From the green swap. I was thrilled to see this in my mail because
it's a watercolor, which I'm very lame at. Love the subject and the
colors - most of my house is green with dashes of pink and cream,
so it fits right in.  It's on maybe 140lb watercolor paper and went
thru the mail just fine as an unprotected postcard. Made by
Lucinda Howe, who is an actual painter of no small talent!

From Mandy's collage sheet swap (and made by Mandy herself!).
Can't look at this one without smiling. Karen commented
how cool it was when she posted it on the blog, and again,
I was very happy to find it in my mailbox.  Such funny little
fish dancing along.  Love the colors and the creativity.

Monday, April 29, 2013

childhood revisited

I took apart an old photo album the other night. Nostalgic work that got under my skin a bit so today I chose a few photos and made journal pages with them, the original images. 

I didn't scan them first because I want them used up. I'm not much of a navel gazer so not sure what's going on in my head but I knew I didn't want them in the computer, lurking around for the rest of my life.

I tore the edges off most of them, saving just the story telling part, drawing on them, covering parts of them with other elements.

They don't feel like keepsakes to me, and I enjoyed using them like this. I expect I'll fill a whole book with them till this is out of my system. But I'm definitely a person who tends to look back not forward, so it may take a few journals worth to scratch this itch.

The backgrounds were already there, I just flipped thru the pile of pages till I found one that I liked with the image.

Stuck everything down with gloss gel medium cause I'm almost out of matte, then added paint, gesso, colored pencils, lettering, doodles - whatever came to mind. 

I did these without thinking too hard about it, just worked back and forth among them until I felt 'done'.

All gelli print backgrounds, except the top one which was spray inks.

I like the bottom two best, and the cat wrangler best of all. I was 4 in that picture and have no recollection of the day.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

(yet more) freebie gelli prints

I luuuuuve this batch. Love the colors, love the shapes. Love. Love. Love.

I'm finally getting a grip on how to put down the layers so that the end result is what I had in mind. These are all done on cereal boxes roughly cut to the size of the plate, 8x10". 

Started with at least two layers of a bright but fairly dark blue done without much in mind except getting some color on the cardboard. Began adding turquoise to the blue for the next few layers and doing some sort of texture, either bubble wrap, a stencil, that marker holder thing that makes dots - anything to get something other than a smooth sheet of color.

I did about 12 of these in rotation, pulling one and setting it aside to dry, doing the one next to it, etc, until everything was well covered with 6-8 layers of blue/turquoise. Then I let them dry while I went off and did something else that I can't remember now (this was a few weeks ago) and when I came back, it was time for the oranges and rusts!

These I did thru stencils or by laying down color on the plate, pulling some back off with bubble wrap, pressing the bubble wrap to a cardboard, then putting another cardboard onto the plate. There are so many ways to use color and implements with the gelli plate - I'm still figuring out new ways to do things.

Anyway, this batch came out just like I'd hoped because after Rhonda was here on Easter Sunday, I had gelli print envy something fierce and had to make some of my own like hers that I so admired. Job accomplished! Then I scanned them for posterity and cut them in half for postcards. 

Scanned at 300dpi, use them however you like, just don't sell them. 

Linking up to Mandarin Orange Monday.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fresno journal spread, sheep, ice cream

While cleaning my art desk the other day, I came across all the junk ephemera I'd gathered up in Fresno, and thought I'd better do something with it to commemorate a fun weekend. An hour later this journal spread was done. 

Gelli print backgrounds, altho nothing's left of the right hand background.

On the right side - I bought a deck on vintage Flinch cards in the original box ($2 - SCORE!) at the Mennonite quilt auction and tore one of the "3" cards up since there were 3 of us amigos. Added bits of brochures, a few choice words.

On the right are some of the more interesting artists' cards I picked up when we gallery hopped on Thursday evening. Fresno has a First Thursday Art Hop and altho it took us a while to actually find any galleries (faulty map reading on my part), we eventually saw a lot of cool stuff.

The next pic is the inside of a brick water tower that's now a store that sells a variety of pieces by various artists. I bought a mug.

While walking to what we thought were galleries, we passed a cool old Art Deco theater, The Crest. 

Also drove by a field full of more sheep than I've ever seen in one place. All milling about and eating down the stubble. Kris was fascinated so we sat there for a while on the side of the road watching them while they watched us. Wouldn't have noticed them at all except we made a left turn when we should have made a right and had to make a u-ey to fix it.

Then... then... for dinner we had ginormous ice cream sundaes at Superior Dairy in Hanford. They were huge and delicious. For dinner.

Fresno, I think you used 
to be the murder capitol of California or something equally awful but we had a great time. 

pearl earring

I enjoy the book Girl With A Pearl Earring, and I think the painting is just lovely. How incredible it must be to wield a brush with that much talent. When a mailer from the de Young art museum in San Francisco arrived, I was pleased to see that they're having an exhibit that includes this painting. Not sure I'll be able to get to the museum but I knew I wanted to use the girl in a piece of art.

From all those gelli printing sessions, I have a pile of postcard-sized gelli printed cereal boxes on a shelf. I pulled them down and shuffled thru, auditioning the girl against various backgrounds until I found one I liked. (the back is Great Grains Cranberry Almond Crunch!)

The words had been sitting on my desk since I cut them from a page, just waiting for the right thing to come along. They're from the author's notes of Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson, a book I really enjoyed. (bought the large print edition in Fresno with the intention of cutting it up for collages, but got hooked and had to read it first)

The white leaf shapes are gesso pounced thru a stencil that I cut on my Silhouette. Added a few white dots, some ink scribbles. I quite like it and think it will go in a small frame and up on the wall.

the front hall

We moved into this house in March of 2012, a little over a year ago. Since then I haven't done a hell of a lot of decorating on the main floor. The upstairs guest room is all foo-fooed up but it's mostly white-wall city in the rest of the house.

Years and years (decades!) ago I bought one of those old wooden expandable cup racks at a yard sale. Remember those? They had, like, 9 pegs and you hung your coffee mugs on them? Well, this was one of those, only this one had... wait for it... 75 pegs! I've never seen one like it before or since.
I've got this long from hall, which is actually one wall of the living room, but since the living room is my art studio and filled with a ton of tall furniture (storage!), it has created a long hallway effect coming into the house from the front door. There's a bench and my Boone hutch (with my mom's old butter churn on top, next to the original glass flour canister for the hutch), and an old ladder and an even older trunk, but I had this long chunk of wall above the bench that was bugging me. I played around with the 75-peg-mug-rack and discovered that it would stretch reeeeally long, so I hung it up and dangled all sorts of things from the (75!) pegs.

It was fun going thru my boxes of collected stuff and finding things that looked good on the rack.

The pics are a bit grim because the light was terrible that day and I don't have the oomph to do them again right now. But I'll do another post soon on all the hanging goodies.

The third image is a little bench that I made out of some old red fence boards a long time ago. (So I lied in that last post where I said I had no red in my house. I forgot about the little red bench, but it's all worn and isn't the hurt your eyes sort of RED that those postcards were.)

On the bench is a piece of wood with grooves cut into it that had some other purpose entirely but now I use it to hold ATCs and postcards and collages, done by me and other folks. In the first image, the bench sits between the bench and the hutch. I also have a doily collection you wouldn't believe and the last two pics are the shelves of a piece that sits across from the bench. It has vintage things on the shelves and dog walking paraphernalia in the drawers.

The last pic is a vase of dried curly willow branches that I picked up on about 150 dog walks from a house on the other side of the block. Every time we got a good wind, I'd walk the dog that way and collect some more fallen branches. So far, they're on the mantel, in this vase, in a pot by the front window, and sticking out of a vintage glass lampshade that you can just see behind the standing up spindles in image 5. Oh, and a pile out on the patio drying.

RED swap

MMSA is having a RED swap, so I paged thru a few magazines until I had a pile of RED stuff, then got to work.

Added a bit of paint and then gesso pounced thru stencil waste, doodled a little and called them finished.

Not much more to say about these except they're done. RED just isn't my color. I don't think I have a stitch of it in the house anywhere and I own only 1 RED piece of clothing - a sweater I wear only at Christmas. Mr. OneWomansHands looks good in RED cause he has dark-brown-might-as-well-be-black hair and the right skin color.

Why would I even enter a swap where I don't like the main thing about it? Well, I just like working to prompts because my own head seems to be mostly empty of ideas lately. Once prompted I can do a mildly creative job, but I mostly need to be kick started by someone else.

Which is fine.

altered playing cards (APC)

MMSA is having an APC swap so I dug out my cards and did a few. Made me remember why I like ATCs so much - the tightly defined design space. You have to be creative in 8.75 square inches - the area of a 2.5" x 3.5" ATC or a standard playing card.

I've recently been paging thru Artist Trading Card Workshop by Bernie Berlin, trying to add a few more tricks to my usual collage/gelli/stencil/doodle repertoire. It's one of my go-to books  because the techniques are mostly ones that use supplies I already have on hand and it's chock full of finished ATCs by a variety of artists so there's lots of idea-inducing eye candy.

Anyway, I had the hots to do some gel medium transfers so I dug around for likely looking images of women or kids and slathered a few layers of gel medium on them.

While they were drying, I collaged some gelli printed book page onto one of the cards and some white tissue paper layers onto a few others. Sprayed the still-wet tissue paper with inks, then with water and let two of them drip onto the third. Two got two layers of tissue but on the third I wadded it all up and made a highly textured surface. Took forever to dry but it looks cool.

As I was rubbing the paper off the transfers I tore the eye area off the little girl, and said a dirty word. Then I realized it wasn't a disaster, it was a design opportunity! (put another layer of gel on the other two transfers cause one 'opporunity' a day is enough for me)

I get impatient with the rubbing-paper-off part and always get too rough with them. They are very delicate, and I know that but I still do it pretty much every time. (what's the definition of 'stupidity' again?)

The top two pics are the correctly done transfers and the third one is the one-eyed girl. Shoulda put her a one-eyed Jack card, huh? Didn't think of that till just now. Darn.

Found some appropriate text in my folder of old book pages, drew a branch on the textured one, and wa-la - four APCs for the swap. They didn't all have to be green for the swap but that's my color family these days.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

lovin art

***ACK! I see now that I DID post this. They say the memory is the first thing to go... Well, read on anyway, I talk about my Mom a bit.***

A journal page from a couple weeks ago that I forgot to post. There's that turquoise again, used in a stencil Rhonda brought with her on Easter Sunday. I was just reflecting that I've almost always had some sort of artistic thing going on in my life. Macrame, sewing, crochet, knitting, spinning, weaving, quilting, crazy quilting, dyeing. And now all this paper fun.

I can thank my mother for starting the art fire within me. She was a painter of some skill and I have many of her works around the house, including the somewhat odd painting of cats and sunflowers that I have hanging by my front door. Unfortunately it isn't signed or dated (unlike her) but I know it was done when she was in her 20s, so sometime in the 1940s. (there's that turq and orange again... it's EVERYWHERE!)

It's about 10x14, done on a canvas board. Our house always smelled of oil paint and linseed oil and turpentine cause she usually had a painting or two going. In her later years, she worked on commission in the little Ohio town she lived in, doing portraits of people's houses and pets and kids.

Thanks, Mom.

journal pages from Fresno

Old bit of journal page, leftover grid from cutting
out squares on Silhouette machine, strip of
woodworking clamp tape, book text.
I recently spent a few days in Fresno with a couple girlfriends. While there, we worked on art projects - they on making small intricate dolls, a la Salley Mavor, and me art journaling until I got the itch to make a doll also - and these are the pages I made.

I had limited supplies with me but Kris had brought a file folder of some things, so I rummaged thru and used some of her things in with mine. And Julie brought me an old shorthand book which I used some pages from.

The backgrounds were already gelli printed so I just added some ephemera and book text and called them done. They are a bit minimalist, reflecting my mood at the time (in the evenings around the little table in our motel room, after a long day of driving/museums/quilt auctions). I like them and may do more along these lines.

Some Neocolor II swirls, shorthand text,
torn handmade paper, strip of perforated
packing paper, book text.
The gelli print backgrounds are already pretty interesting, what with the tone-on-tone colors and the not-quite-covered areas and the grungy bits. Especially the grungy bits, actually.

My mom was always salvaging things and bringing home junk she'd find on the side of the road, and I've carried on the tradition as best I could within the limits of the size of my house and my husband's tolerance lol. So the whole shabby chic thing is still alive and well here at One Woman's Hands.

The pages are 5.5x8, from a Strathmore Watercolor Visual Journal that I took apart and have been printing on every time I get the gelli out. It's nice to be able to just grab a page that's ready to go when I get the urge to collage.

As you can see, I'm still totally hooked on turquoise. Love it with its complimentary color orange, and also with tan, rust, and gray. It's just a really good color.

Oddly, or maybe not, I don't have much of it in my home. I'm mostly shades of greens here - sage, celery, olive, moss, a bit of lime.

Neocolor II thru sequin waste,
gelli'd phone book pieces, key tag on a
bit of mulberry paper, words printed
on vellum, bit of gel pen doodling
around some orange Neocolor II dots.

Friday, April 12, 2013

MMSA outgoing postcards

Two for the pink swap and two for Lee's collage sheet swap.

For Lee's, you could use only the elements on the collage sheet she provided, so I printed it a few times at two different sizes and went to work.

The definition "in abundance" (small white rectangle) inspired both of these as I used the girl more than once on each. Did misc machine stitching on them as they looked a bit plain to me when I was done collaging.

The top card has "Alice" stitched on one girl and "twice" on the other. Alice, twice. Get it? Anyway, I like both of them and can't wait to see what other people do with the exact same elements.

The background is kraft card stock stitched around the edge tpo a piece of white card stock to hide the other stitching and give me a place to write.

The pink ones are mostly scrapbook paper backgrounds except for a bit of painted paper bag on the first one. The various elements are from magazines, sometimes as is, and other times I cut petals from a pink item. Got going on flowers because of the hat, i guess. Plus it's spring (more or less) so I'm seeing flowers everywhere.

 A couple bits of old large-print book text, some stitching, a few doodles.

The card I got back in the green swap were great, so I'm looking forward to the pink returns.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

freebie gelli prints

For those of you who may not yet have a gelli plate, or who have one but still lust for more art fodder anyway - here are some more gelli prints.

They were all made on Easter Sunday when Rhonda came to play for the day. Today was all about stencils and layers.

Hi-res scans, free for you to do with what you will. Just don't sell them.