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.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Can art prevent another giant spider invasion?

Scientist and giant spider. of course.
Here's another one of my science-inspired collages. A better term might be "science wary." As in "I'm strangely obsessed by science but also a little suspicious and fearful."

Maybe I've seen too many old sci-fi movies where scientists lose control of their inventions and giant irradiated spiders take over the world.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book review: Collage Sourcebook

Whenever I'm at my local library, I wander through the art section to see what's new. That's how I discovered Collage Sourcebook, a thick book filled with projects by collage artists working in different mediums and styles.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Collage is never dull -- Making 40+ abstract backgrounds in just 15 minutes

Altered magazine page
Tuesday was another half-day collage class, hosted by artist John in his well-stocked and well-ventilated garage. It was over 80 F outside (which qualifies as heat emergency in the Northwest), but we stayed cool amidst our paper scraps, matte medium, solvent and stencils.

Today's lesson was surface transformation. That's a fancy artist term for changing the material you're working with -- paper, fabric, whatever.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What on earth can I do with paint chips?

Paint chip bookmarks
Admit it. You can't help yourself. After all, they just sit there, unguarded, practically  asking for it, aren't they?

I'm talking about that irresistible hardware store temptation -- paint chips. Those thin paper strips in every color of the rainbow. They inspire even the most jaded crafter. (Here's one of many Pinterest boards devoted to paint chip crafts.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A few of my favorite June ICADs

ICAD 2014 cardsI just finished my first month of ICAD -- no, it's not a brand of CrossFit or summer programming camp. It stands for "Index Card of the Day." Every day there's a prompt (like "orange" or "Star Wars") and each week has a theme, usually a technique or material. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Part 2 of my art-intensive week -- starting a mixed media art journal

making a mixed media art journal
Last week was jam-packed with art. Just a few days after a Gelli plate class, I began an ongoing art journaling workshop. Our small group will meet twice a month until the fall to try new materials and techniques while building an art journal.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Part 1 of my art-making-intensive week: Gelli plate workshop

gelli plate print
I'm in the midst of an art-instensive week. It started last Saturday, with a daylong workshop on Gelli plate printing, one of my addictions passions.

We printed on paper, file folders, cardboard, card stock. For designs and texture, we used all kinds of recycled refuse for masks and stencils -- cupcake holders, wrinkled plastic bags, bubble wrap. 

Here are a few of my favorite prints.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sketching at the museum

old timey pencils
Some people fantasize about being famous, winning the lottery, or escaping to Bali. I've always had a different kind of fantasy -- sketching at a museum.

Once when I visited Chicago's Art Institute, I saw a group of art students sketching a sculpture. How cool, I thought. I'd love to do that. But how could I? I'm not a real artist. 

Maybe now I am.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Treasury of truly kitschy art and photos from the 50s

Ford Treasury of the Outdoors
Every time I pass a second-hand bookstore, I dart inside and head for the young adult section, always looking for more Nancy Drews to turn into Kindle cases

On a recent trip to Half-Price Books, I spotted a stack of the yellow-spined hardbacks hidden behind a shelf. Ha, they can't fool me! But the real treasure was a few aisles away, in the Vintage section -- a 50s era book called Ford Treasury of the Outdoors.