Friday, January 30, 2009

Vintage Pattern Thank You Note

A dear friend of mine treated me to lunch this week, along with another out-of-work friend. It was a nice ladies-who-lunch event. Well, except for Bob, who, well, isn't a lady. We had a lovely time, a yummy meal and i just had to send a thoughtful thank you note.I spied that people on are selling these vintage patterns. I had been thinking i would create some fun collage with these types of images. So why not use it for the card? Well since Mary also gave me an old blouse in green silk shantung (it had a tear and she thought i might like the fabric), why not somehow encorporate the fabric into the card.
So I did! Here's how:
Print out the image on heavy paper - i used my favorite matte photo paper.
Trim the photo
Make a slit at the top of the dress along the neckline and the shoulders.
Cut a slit at the waistline.
Cut a slit at the hemline.
Cut two strips of fabric, one narrow for the bodice, one wide for the skirt.
Fold in the edges and use a bit of glue stick to secure.
I used a piece with the button to act as a brooch on the dress.
Slide the fabric under the slit at the neckline.
Fold or pinch the fabric and slide into the waist. adjust to cover the image and "fit".
Gather up the wide piece and slot it into the waist band. Be careful not to tear the paper.
Tuck the bottom of the fabric into the hemline slot.
Glue the image to a backing paper. I used a textured green that looks like eyelet. Trim with rick rack.
Glue to a cardstock card.
Looking at the scan, it would be better if i had run a quick stitch through the top of the skirt to make tighter gathers. But it was quick this way and looks nice and couture. Mary will love it!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

AB swap and Collage workshop

I had my altered book swap and workshop today with my small but committed AB group. My altered book, "Music", from the fall was returned to me filled with lovely pages all reflecting the artists favorite songs, or a song that cried out for a page to honour it!
read about my pages here.
These are the pages from Shelley - she went overboard with a multi layer house flip book within the book. to represent the song Our House. Here is another of her spreads - when you flip up the card on the left it actually PLAYS the guitar riff from Bad to the Bone! Dorothy did this beautiful page with the song Everyone's Gone to the Moon. She also did this one where she used one of the songs already in the book called Sweet Miss Mary. I have two good friends named Mary - and they are both very sweet indeed!
Carol did this spread in her clean simple style with one of my favorite songs, In My Life, by the Beatles.
She also did this page with a disco vibe and the song I Will Survive. She included a cut out version of Bette because, she is still going strong in Vegas!
My sign-in page shows the CD's the girls decorated with one spot left for me I guess!

Not only did i get my book "Music" back from the fall swap, i got a new book to work on. The themes the girls chose were quite varied:
"Sounds greek and roman to me" will be a book filled with whatever links back to ancient rome or greece, like the gods, the planets, good food - whatever.
"Written on the body" is a all about beautiful vintage nudes and encorporating words into the imagery
"Houses" - well, don't remember the exact name - but we will get two house shapes to alter, that Dorothy will later assemble into an art piece.
I'll be sure to post the pages as i work on these projects over the next three months.
For our workshop we each created a collage inspired by Jo Schukar's work in Somerset Studio that i wrote about in the prior post. Scroll down for step by step instructions. As luck would have it i forgot not only my digital camera, but also my artwork to show the gals.
But i did have the magazine and of course my blog to see what i made. Anyway, i needn't have worried. They all did AMAZING collages, WAY better than mine, if i do say so myself. Our hostess took some pics and here they are: I am very proud of their talents.
Tulips By Carol
By Dorothy By ShelleyAnd by me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter Bouquet

My AB group meets monthly to swap books and do a small workshop or project. For this month i chose as inspiration the artwork by Jo Schukar in this month's "With One Pallette" feature in Somerset Studios magazine. The pallette she chose was Black, White and Green. The overriding theme in the January issue was black and white - so it was nice to see how a splash of green gave life to these collage pieces.To get started i needed a base. I decided to use some heavy weight black cardstock i recently purchased at a art supply warehouse sale. The paper was huge - 20" by 14". Kind of an awkward size, so i cut it in half to give me a 10 by 14 strip - which would be suitable for a "portrait" orientation.The background in the magazine artwork was various black and white papers, but i recently acquired a huge quantity of scrapbook paper with a lot of grey tones. So i went with that. I cut several coordinating prints in geometric shapes. If it helps, think of them as the table, the floor, the wallpaper and the drapes.
Next i needed a vase. I had a an assortment of textured papers that would make nice contemporary vases. I chose a heavy texture and left it quite cylindrical.For the flowers i used roughly torn circles from old sheet music. The leaves and stems are green mulberry paper.
Once all the background shapes were glued to the black paper, i softened the patterns with some gesso. Applied lightly so not to completely cover the paper. I also applied a bit of gesso to the sheet music flowers. Once everything is gesso'd and glued down it is time to add some drama with Portfolio Oil pastels. I just LOVE these things. You just outline your paper cutouts then smooth and blend with your fingers. it gives a painterly effect to a collage that it otherwise somewhat childlike. Although - that can be cool too!
I used light and dark green to accentuate the leaves and stems. Black for the petals and stamens and to add shadows. Then i as inspired by Jo's artwork, i added a mid century modern squiggle along the top left and bottom right edges. A smidge of yellow bightened the whole thing up.
Once done i found that the whole thing was too high on the page. The flowers were kind of bunched up at the top and there was a big space at the bottom. So again to emulate Jo, i added a couple of pears, cut out of mulberry paper and outlined with oil pastels.
Well, I don't love it - i think my flowers are too much in rows or something. But for my first attempt, not bad. I'll be back to share my second attempt and the art created by my artistic friends. I hope they enjoy this as much as i did!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Altered Book 2009: A Gift of Life

I just finished preparing my first altered book of 2009, A Gift of Life. I will be swapping the book with my AB group on Sunday. here are some pics of my pages. The book i chose is an illustrated poem book from Hallmark circa 1971. I purchased the book at an estate sale. I decided to use the book's images as the theme - all things nature. Like trees and flowers and birds and bugs and forest animals. The book is quite small, so by the time my AB group is done each creating their own pages, it will be jam packed with the essence of life.
For the cover i used a flocked paper (yes like old wallpaper) with a brown floral pattern on a green background. I decided NOT to add the book's title to the cover - since it is so simple and pretty as is.
Inside the cover was a giant butterfly. I wanted to add another large butterfly and make it pop. But i ended up using a page with dozens of butterflies instead. The ones in the middle pop up and the ones on the right are "loose".
Every altered book that you plan to swap should have an intro. This explains your theme and highlights any do's and dont's for your friends. Next is my title page. It is facing a page of vellum printed with silkweed pods. I used a strand of eyelash yarn to accentuate the feathery-ness of the seed filaments.
The right hand side of this page has the original illustration. A deer (buck?) behind a tree. To compliment the picture i went to my folder of "nature" clippings and papers. I found this magazine pic of a collection of leaves. Without over thinking it, i just cut it to size and glued it into the book. I started doing this kind of collage when i participated in a calendar swap. You had to encorporate the images in the calendar into your collage and journaling. I just worked fast and intuitively, with whatever i had close at hand. After i glued in the leaves i had a space at the bottom that was a perfect fit for a piece of green hand made paper, that i happened to have punched out some leaf shapes for another project. I filled them in with golf glitter dust. I did not know what to "say" on this page, so i added the french dictionary entry for a buck or CERF. Then when looking for something else i found the pewter buck sticker. Well he just finishes this off nicely.
The next page had an illustration of a snowy egret. (at least that's what i think it is!) I had just purchased a pack of scrapbook paper from costco that i split with a friend. it has a similar water fowl sketch on linen-like paper. I like how the grey tones match. I found a audubon event postcard in my stash with another white bird, so i added it too. I made it into a tag with a cluster of fibres. on the back is a poem i found about a blue heron. Embroidery seems to be popping up everywhere, so i added a scrap of fabric and some buttons, choosing ones with thread still attached for that needle work look. When i frayed the edges of the linen, i thought, why not use the threads to accent the reeds?
This spread grew organically. The vellum had weeds on one side and a frog on the other. I added the sepia toned floral and the stones along the bottom. The frog could be seen through the vellum. But it just wasn't strong enough. So i added a BIG frog which actually glides along the ribbon as if to leap off the page. The short poem is about a toad. the eggs were in my "nature" file - no idea what they are or where it came from - but i love how it all looks together.

On the next page you can see the original frog. I added the underside of the large frog and a clipping from a french dictionary - la grenouille. Opposite that a vintage botanical cut from wrapping paper.
Next spread was inspired by a large hand woven bee hive i found in my files. It need a background - something green. I found an old book dust jacket entitled one thousand beautiful things. well my beehive was indeed beautiful, but i was mostly struck by the arch of trees and how it echoed the cone shape of the hive. One small problem - it was too small to fit the page. Back the nature file where i found another arch of trees - perfect! Some vintagey scrapbook paper about the meaning of flowers completes the background. I added some rafia to the edges of the hive to give it some tactile effect. a little tin bumblebee is the only other embellishment.
Then i found ANOTHER cool bee paper - a painting of pears swarming with bees. Well darn, i want to use that too. as luck would have it the very next page in the book had a simple illustration of a fruit tree. I added some sequins to make the flowers pop. The final touch to tie these two spreads together is a poem by Kahlil Gibran called give and take.This spread had green and gold leaves printed on them with a portion of the poem "and summer turns her riches to autumn's gold. I simple covered the whole spread with some leaf printed cellaphane that came wrapped on a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store. To finish off the page i went fibre crazy along one edge.
For the sign in page i decided to capture the book's original poem, since so much will be lost with all the collage. yes - i typed up the whole darn thing. After i cut it out, i needed to keep the sections in order, so i stamped 1-2-3-4. I used these as envelopes for the sign in tags. Each artist will decorate her tag and sign her name. hopefully they will replace the simple string with some more fun fibers!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Here in honour of this special day, with apologies to Shepard Fairey, here is my Obama collage. It looks better if you squint at it!

Someone once left all this patriotic red white and blue scrapbook paper at a craft swap, so i took it home. Being Canadian, i thought i'd never use it. But i think it was put to perfect use here. We got up to watch the inauguration this morning and i wanted to do something creative to mark today. As much as this blog is about art and not politics, i still need a job and i am as hopeful as most americans that today is the beginning of renewal for the country.

If you are interested in doing this yourself - here are some basic instructions. Print out an image like this, a photograph converted to blocks of coulour. Or you can take any photo and use editing software to convert it to grey scale. Enlarge it as big as you can - the bigger the pieces the easier it will be. Obama was challenging, to get all those squinty lines. Keep your original to have a reference.
Cut out the largest sections of lights and darks These are your pattern pieces. Lightly glue them to the BACK of paper. Cut them out. Remove the pattern. Place the cut out pieces on a background. Note that your collage will be reversed from the original. Lightly glue the large patterns onto the contrasting paper. Cut out the next smallest section of the image. repeat until you have cut out all the different shaded areas.

I used the same technique to create this puppy out of scrap paper shown here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

mixed media monday challenge

This week's mixed media monday challenge was to use both primary and secondary colours. For those of you that failed art, they are red, yellow and blue and orange, green and purple. I created this large (12" by 14") collage from scrapbook paper and heavy black cardstock.
To create this piece I was inspired by the work of the artist James Denmark. I found these images on a posters website. I wanted to try a collage that had a colourful background with the silhouette of a person in the foreground. Here are two of his paintings. You can surely see how these would inspire a collage artist to try something similar with paper.For my piece i found an image online of a torch singer in a jazz club. It is called Jazz Samba and is by artist Trish Biddle. I cut out the woman in silhouette on black cardstock. For the background i chose to go with the bright primary and secondary colours as per the challenge, as opposed to the rich neutrals in the original painting.
I found 9 colours of paper in my stash, which are conveniently sorted by colour. Unless of course they have specific images, like "floral" or "vintage". It was interesting to treat the colour spectrum as lights and darks, rather than using greyscale. Clearly the yellow was the brightest colour and should be used for the spotlight. But which is darkest? The blue or the red?
I threw in a few extra pages to have some gradation between red and orange and green and blue. The figure sits on top of the collage, much less cutting that way! Please check out mixed media monday's comments section for all the participating artists in this colourful collage challenge.