Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Box me up

I want to talk about cardboard for a minute. Here is another chance to pretend I am more of a recycler than I am. As I have said before I do recycle the usual stuff – plastics, cans, bottles, cardboard, paper. However, I would pay for cardboard if I had to – it’s a miracle that you can get it for free just about any place! Altering cardboard gives amazing effects – my favorite of which is something I’ll call the grunge wall effect for lack of a better term.


This is where you paint the cardboard and then strip and tear off random swatches of the cardboard’s “cover” paper - thereby exposing some of the ridges beneath. You can then either paint the ridges a different color or decoupage them with printed tissue, or spray them with ink – there are tons of things you can do with a piece like this. It always reminds me of an old broken down bit of wall that has had layers of billboards come off over the years – or that has had plaster over brick over those wooden slats and is all falling apart at different speeds of time.


In addition to making a fine altered surface, cardboard also provides a sturdy substrate for all kinds of things that need it, like beeswax collages for example – or works made in tissue paper.


On my way to the recycling bins over by my library, I might have to stop by the store for some more white acrylic and........well whatever is on sale of course.

For the love of newspaper

I would like to say that the reason my studio is full of newspapers is because I am a recycler – an upcycler – and that this is why so many projects I do have altered newspaper in them. I do try – and I do recycle the usual suspects – but I am afraid I would buy newspaper (and pay dearly for) if it were not free from a recycling bin. I am not using old newspapers to save the planet. While I am happy to help – the fact is that newspaper is one of the most versatile and amazing substrates that any paper artist could ever alter. First – there is the scale of it!
Newspaper pages are larger than other papers we can typically get our hands on – large enough to wrap things in! Large enough to make whole booklets from a single sheet – large enough to braid or weave – large enough to cover whole canvases – it’s luscious!

Next – the way it takes gesso and ink is not to be believed! Color saturation is like no other paper. If you have not seen the gesso/ink technique – please see my you tube – you’ll be up all night. And paint! It LOVES paint – watered down, inked up, as a glaze – you name it. Then there is the thinness! You can collage layers and layers of it without creating too much height! It collages into beeswax like a dream – lies flat and becomes translucent.
I could go on and on but I will end with the fact that it comes “pre-prepared” with words all over it so that whatever you put on next already has delicious depth behind it. I have altered sheets and strips of it hung from clothespins on hangers and bound by large binder clips all about the place – stunning. When I begin a project, I go to the nearest wall and pick some – like succulent fruit from a tree.......and away I go.clip_image008

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chinese Calligraphy Brush for Good Whacking

Today it was time to clean up the studio because I have a class coming in tomorrow. I love having classes here – I love to share my space and my students can check put products they have seen but never used before. I hate having classes here.......cause I have to clean up. When you are in your studio – and you are spending time cleaning instead of working on things, sometimes it’s just frustrating. It seems like the minute I start cleaning, I always know exactly what to do with the bits and pieces that are laying all over the place as I am putting them away – except that I don’t have the time to do any of it cause I have to clean! Anyway....I am throwing things into boxes and bins – getting ready to teach the gessoed newspaper class. I am moving around way too quickly considering the amount of stuff that is precariously piled up on top of more stuff all over around here – and sure enough – BAM - ....down comes a big can of soaking bamboo Chinese calligraphy brushes right on top of some of the newspaper sheets I had made as samples for the class (which were drying out by laying on the floor).


I just stood there and stared down at the papers while time stood still for a moment – I was just kind of dazed..... then......I noticed the pattern..... It was kind of a spray of the perfectly sized droplets. I had tried before to apply paint splotches by bending back and releasing painted bristles on a toothbrush – but the droplets were too small for the scale of the newspaper. I had tried whacking paint brushes of all sizes but the droplets were more like splotches...they were either too big or too watery. The droplets I was looking at were perfect! I grabbed one of the Chinese brushes and my sunset gold Lumiere paint.

clip_image004I mixed ½ paint with ½ water into a small dish – and then using the calligraphy brush - I flung and whacked beautiful perfectly round and perfectly sized random golden nuggets over my newspaper samples. It was so beautiful I decided to get a handful of background cards I had made the other day – and I whacked those as well.


Everything looked like it had just a breath of gold on it – in some places jeweled and in other spots just barely a hue..........including the black pants I was wearing.....and as it turns out, my tennis shoes. Oh well.....who can’t use more “art” clothes? I am sure these are appropriate attire for my trip to the store – which I have to go to right get more Lumiere....

Monday, December 12, 2011

Painting and Flattening Texture Fades

Today I found out the coolest thing! know how you can paint over the texture fades (or as some know them....embossing plastic folder thingys) to create a grunge or shabby chic look? Well if you don’t know the painting trick you can go watch my you tube on it – it’s a guaranteed way to turn any crazy background you made that you don’t like, into something spectacular! clip_image002
Anyway – there is a certain look you get with that technique; it doesn’t look like stamping. I bring that up because there are texture fades that are exact replicas of stamps (for example Tim Holtz – from back when he was with Stamper’s Anonymous – V4-1096 stamp otherwise known as “Carte Postale,” and the texture fade that is the same image and size from the Sizzix Alterations collection).
Since one habit is to “emboss” with the folder and then run an ink pad over the raised areas to bring out the image – one might argue – if you are going to do that why not just use the stamp of the image to begin with? Well with the paint technique it is an entirely different look – a look you can’t get with a stamp and ink. However, if you want to then use it in a collage – you kind of have to accept and enjoy the fact that it is extremely textured with bits and pieces raised up everywhere.....until now! I figured out today that you can texture fade (dry emboss) and then do whatever you want to it using the raised areas to grab paint a certain way or ink a certain way etc. Then you can run it back through the embossing machine (I have the big shot) with both plates and a paper shim and take away all the embossing – it will be flat again! This is too cool! I have so many backgrounds I have made that I could not use for certain things because they did not lie flat – now they do! The best example of why you would want it to lie flat again is in the case where you want to decoupage (collage) an image to it – you can’t do that when there are raised areas. I’m gonna have to go buy the rest of the texture fades collection – I just saw that there is a new one out by Tim Holtz....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Future Floor Finish Magic

Today found out how to save a good piece of work that I thought I had destroyed. I had over worked a piece of card stock that I had collaged – I mean I sanded it, tore it, scraped at it, wet it, sprayed it – I basically beat it to death. I don’t know what the heck I was trying to do – age it more I guess or something. What to do – what to do...?. Then I spotted the Future Floor Finish I had been working with just the other night.....hmmmm.......I was day dreaming about the commercial I used to see as a kid – the one where you are in a kitchen and the floor looks like it is under scratched up Plexiglas, scratched up so bad you can’t see through it. Then a very well groomed woman in a 1950’s party dress comes out with a mop and the Future – where ever the mop swipes the floor with the Future – voila! – shiny cleaness.
I snapped out of it and grabbed the bottle and squirted some onto my work table – I dipped my finger in and began to rub the future over my scraped up, scratched up and ruined collage. clip_image002
    HOLY COW! It came back to life!! I couldn’t believe it!! Then – I went crazy – I started beating the crap out of a bunch of things and experimenting with what the Future Floor Finish could do. The BEST thing I figured out was that you can squirt out about a quarter sized amount of FFF and then put a drop of ink into it! That creates a glass-like but completely transparent colored finish over your work! clip_image004clip_image006
Yellow ink really wakes things up – green, blue, pink – what fun!! I need to go get another bottle of Future.....before they stop making it.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

stationary box for those who asked

Here are the links to parts 1 & 2 for the staionary box for those who watched painted paper magic and wat to do the box project :-) Part 1 can be found at and part 2 can be found at ENJOY!