Sunday, April 13, 2014

Postcard swap redux -- a peek at my first two collages

iHanna Postcard Swap
What has 4 sides, is paper thin, and flies hundreds of miles in just a few days? A postcard, of course!

Last fall was my first time in iHanna's DIY Postcard Swap. I made 10 collaged cards, sent them off, then received 10 cards from artists around the worldI had so much fun last time that I signed up for the Spring 2014. 

I just finished cards #1 and 2. Well, almost finished. They're not done until they slip through the slot at the post office.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How a mixed-media collage unleashed my subconscious

Claudia wielding a brayer at collage workshop
This weekend, my husband and I took a 2-day workshop called "Mixed-Media Recycled Triptych." I wasn't sure what to expect. I liked the sound of those first 3 words, but the tzarist overtones of "triptych" scared me.

The instructor was John Arbuckle. I follow John's blog, but I'd never met him before. His collages are full of symbolism and narrative, so I wondered if we'd be delving into our subconscious. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Playing with Gelli

I fancy myself a trendspotter, noticing soon-to-be-popular things before they take off. I started carrying re-usable grocery bags way before it was fashionable (and in some places, the law), for example. 

So I always have my antennae tuned for new trends. And I think I've found one -- monoprinting with Gelli plates.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Everything you ever wanted to know about Scrabble tiles. Almost.

tile bracelet
I just tied the last knot to finish a custom order of 10 Scrabble tile bracelets. I'm happy that they're going to be part of a charity event benefitting foster kids. But I'm chagrined that my customer had to send me 5 extra C tiles to finish the order. I ran out. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Making bookmarks out of money -- play, money that is!

bookmark business card
Recently, I donated one of my Nancy Drew book tablet cases to Book'd in Burbank, and the organizer asked for a stack of my cards, to distribute to participants. 

I obliged, but couldn't help imagining all those people tossing the cards into the recycle bin. I can't blame them -- I never know what to do with cards and other handouts hiding in my goodie bag.

Then I got thinking. Could I make a business card that people would actually want to hold onto? And showcase the fun of upcycling at the same time? Sure, I could.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My favorite part of upcycling

Nancy Drew
I enjoy upcycling for many reasons. It allows me to shop guilt-free (almost). It makes me feel virtuous (just a little) for keeping things out of the landfill. It enables me to indulge in nostalgia without getting sentimental.

But the thing I enjoy most? Combining the old with the new.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Carving repeating stamps -- it's all in the details

Making repeating stamps
I finally finished working my way through Julie Balzer's new book Carve, Stamp, Play. In earlier posts, I described learning the basicsmaking my own alphabet, and mastering (ha) curves. In the last part of the book, Julie demonstrates an advanced technique -- making stamps that repeat to produce patterns.

I was eager to try carving these fancy stamps. Julie makes it look so easy. But for me, not so much.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Creating art without Undo

black and white photo
Years ago, I inherited a darkroom from my uncle. Well, not the room itself but everything that goes in it. I learned how to process my own film and make film-noirish black-and-white prints. 

I loved waiting for the ghostly image to appear on the paper. I hated all the time and money I spent trying to perfect each print. Every mistake meant another sheet of costly photo paper and another 10 minutes cycling through the chemical baths. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Turning a goofy photo into a cool stamp

making stamp out of a photo
Last summer I visited my good friend in Chicago and got to meet her 9-year-old son for the first time. Turns out we have a lot in common. Like mother, like son! He's smart, curious and creative. We both like to draw, play video games, ponder big questions. And we both enjoy acting a little goofy. 

For instance, when we went to a local thrift store, this happened.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Inspiring blogs from five creative women

inspiring women
Yesterday I had coffee with a good friend looking for a little creative inspiration. Not necessarily from me! I asked if she followed any other artists's blogs. I do, and reading their posts often gives me ideas for my own creations. Or makes me feel better about being stuck. I feel lucky to have found such talented and generous virtual mentors.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Not quite an art journal -- but more fun

colorized black and white photo
If you're a real artist -- especially a mixed media one -- you need to keep an art journal. Right? I was ready to give it a try. But then I started looking at pages created by other artists. Clearly, their journals were mini artworks. 

I just wanted a place to doodle, play with color, and practice new techniques. A blank journal wouldn't work (even though I make them for other people). No, those bright white pages would just be an invitation to get all serious and perfectionistic.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dangerous curves ahead -- carving curvy stamps

carving curvy stamps
I continue to work my way through Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's book, Carve Stamp Play. I don't know why, but turning small slabs of rubber into tiny pieces of art is so much fun that I can't seem to stop.

But I did slow down when I hit the next set of carving workshops in Julie's book. These were more challenging. Like me, these stamps had lots of curves. Dangerous curves.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

There's a fine line between stash and hoard

I've been upcycling for a few years now. I've honed my skills and narrowed my focus. I've also amassed piles of fabric --  dozens of pairs of gently used jeans, assorted dress shirts, retro-looking designer skirts. I use them in making tablet bags and sleeves, purses, and lining for tablet cases

I store all this fabric in clear plastic boxes. The XXL ones. Last week I stacked these boxes one on top of another, just to see what I had. The result was horrifying.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Making my own alphabet stamps

Carving alphabet stamps
In a previous post, I described my first attempts to carve my own rubber stamps, with help from a new book by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. I'm devoting this post to the alphabet. As in "a, b, c, d, e, f, g…." As in carving 26 individual (and quite small) stamps.

One of the goals of this exercise, Julie says, is to learn patience. Boy, is she right.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Making my own stamps with help from a new guide, "Carve, Stamp, Play"

Carve Stamp Play by Julie Balzer
I started following Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's blog last year. She's my kind of multi-media artist -- she likes to try everything. Like carving her own stamps. 

So in the midst of tending my Etsy shop, learning to paint, serving my 3 demanding cats, writing this blog -- I decided to get her new book "Carve, Stamp, Play" and teach myself to make stamps, too.