Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trick or treat or…de-stash?

Upcycled Halloween Treats
I'm always on the lookout for ways to lighten my stash. How many playing cards and game pieces can one person upcycle? Halloween presents a perfect de-stashing opportunity. Wouldn't little monsters and princesses love to get a bag of fun, non-edible treats?

Only if they also get candy, or so my husband says. So this year, I created treat "envelopes" and put fun items inside.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Two more new (to me) art journal techniques

Last week I started the second round of my Mixed Media Workshop. Artist John Arbuckle, our fearless leader and teacher par excellence, welcomed us to "Level 2." Wow -- we didn't even realize we'd graduated from Level 1! Or even that it was "Level 1."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gonna mail myself a letter -- making custom postage stamps from old books

making custom postage stamps from old books
The more I dabble in mail art, the more fun I have. Some of my ideas come from the book Good Mail Day, which is a good guide to the long history of this art.

Until I read the book, I hadn't realized that some mail artists make their own postage stamps. A few create back stories (and entire fictional countries) to go with their stamps. I'm not that ambitious (yet), but this week I did make a few of my own stamps.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Most likely to succeed -- turning old yearbook photos into collage art

Queen Anne High School Yearbook 1940
Last year I picked up an old high school yearbook at my local thrift store. Really old. I planned to use it for collage ephemera. But once I started flipping through it, I had second thoughts. Based on the handwritten notes covering the pages, I figured the yearbook's owner, Marjorie, had been a popular girl. Or at least "swell," the word almost every classmate had used to describe her.

My favorite part, besides the film noir feel, was what the graduating seniors listed as their life ambitions. I read each one, comparing the goal with the face of its aspirant. One very ambitious girl promised to be "the first woman U.S. president." No, it wasn't Hillary. But she did have an impressive career.

These ambitions inspired a new accordion book collage.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Gelli plate to the rescue! Junk mail makeover

junk mail
I am the victim of a vast conspiracy. You probably are, too. I am being smothered in paper I don't want. Phone books and free "newspapers" pile up on my doorstep, junk mail clogs my mail box, and companies insist on sending me paper bills and return envelopes even though I pay online. 

Everywhere I go, people try to give me more paper, even my beloved library. And don't get me started on paper receipts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2 New Postcards

I sent off two new postcards a few days ago. I'm happy with how they turned out, especially the second one. The images come from a couple of old National Geographic magazines and a elementary school science textbook.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Make your own abstract stamps for just a dollar

 Print and Stamp Lab book
I found another great book at my library -- Print & Stamp Lab: 52 Ideas for Handmade, Upcycled Print Tools. Some of these ideas I've tried before,  but many are new to me. Author Traci Bunkers turns all kinds of household stuff -- rubber bands, flip flops -- into stamps. 

My inner Type A self wants to try every one of the 52 projects. I started with an easy one, involving cheap foam beads. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Another accordion book -- more colorful, more bizarre

mini collages in Gelli print book
I'm happy with the way my first accordion book turned out, so I decided to make more, this time using Gelli prints as the background. 

I grabbed a stack of old manilla folders and started printing. It works best, I discovered, to cut the file folders into thirds before I print them. That way, I can extend the print all the way to the edges.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Watch the art unfold -- An accordion book filled with tiny collages

Barbie eye
During my 2-month immersion in making mini-collages (ICAD 2014), I ended up with a pile of surplus images. Recently I discovered a fun way to use them -- in small accordion books, made out of old manilla folders. 

My inspiration comes from Tammy at Daisy Yellow, who shares her expertise in several video tutorials here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fun with Foam Stamps

making stamps out of craft foam
I never expected that I'd be one of those people. You know the type. Stamp lovers. Stamp addicts. They never met a stamp they didn't like. 

I started slowly, lingering in the stamp aisle of my local Michaels. Then I started carving my own stamps (thanks a lot, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer). For Gelli plate printing, I heated up some moldable foam and pressed all kinds of odd things to make abstract stamps.

But I'd never made stamps out of craft foam. Until last week.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Contemporary art in the Windy City

mobile by Alexander Calder
Last week I visited a good friend who lives outside Chicago.  I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and got to see works by two of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo and Cindy Sherman

Here are highlights of my visit.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rewind: Using old VHS cases to organize my colored pencils

upcycled holder for colored pencils
The only thing I love more than finding a new use for something old is when the upcycled thing helps me stay organized. Like turning empty aluminum cans into storage for yarn or transforming a shuttered folding door into a kitchen organizer.

That's why I was so happy when I made this holder for my colored pencils last year. I'd gotten a beverage carrier from the University of Washington surplus store. (I imagined a muscle-bound arm grabbing a water bottle on the sidelines of some collegiate sporting event.)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

5 things I learned from making art every day for 2 months (ICAD)

One of my cards from ICAD 2014
I'm one card away from finishing a two-month community art project -- ICAD, or "Index Card a Day," sponsored by artist and blogger Tammy Garcia. Each day, Tammy offered a creative prompt and hundreds of artists made small works of art on their 4 x 6 flimsy canvases.

I'm behind -- my last card was due on the 31st. I'll finish it (I'm a neurotic completer). But today I wanted to record some of the things I've learned by participating in this 2-month-long creative marathon. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Looking at My Chin-Colle Collage

chin-colle collage
Art always sounds more artsy in another language. In this week's mixed media workshop, we dabbled in something called chin-colle. That's French for "pasted tissue." (I keep thinking of the song from the movie Mary Poppins called "Chim-Chim-Cher-ee.")

The true chin-colle process involves binding together tissue-thin paper using a printing press. We didn't have a printing press handy, so we used a faux technique ("fake") -- applying matte medium.