Friday, May 23, 2008

ATC's - Garden Statues

Here are the finished Artist Trading Cards for the California Art Girls swap. This month's theme is "Garden Statues". I wrote a bit about the process in a prior post. I sent them off today to the swap hostess.

But i did want to share how they came out. I mentioned making them hinge somehow but rejected that plan when i could not decide what to put underneath the flap. You know, like something of "significance" to make it interesting. So instead i used pop dots to raise up the statues to give the cards a 3-D effect. I found garden related phrases in a book and cut them out and glued them on. I then randomly smeared rub'n'buff metallic paints to give a verdigris finish to the stone. I love how the shadows fall on the background.
I finished off the backs with a garden image torn from a magazine ad and a butterfly sticker. People wonder if you "have" to do the backs. You don't. But hey - why not put something there besides your name, so that it will be just as much fun to turn it over and look at the other side. I created a simple label on the computer with the swap name and the number of the set, ie 1 of 6, 2 of 6, etc. I have seen other ATC traders do that and thought it looked so professional, like limited edition prints! I added a touch of colour to the labels with cat's eye stamps. Nothing i hate more than when WHITE computer paper stands out on a collage. PLEASE always make it blend in to the background - so it doesn't scream BRAND NEW WHITE COMPUTER PAPER, especially on a vintage sepia tone collage.
Ok - rant over. I shouldn't tell you, but in my early altered book swapping days, i often added colour to the prior person's work - when i thought their elements looked too incongruous. It takes about 5 seconds to dab a bit of an ink pad direct to paper, or to swirl on some glaze. Or splash on some of Aileen's super fab Color Mist sprays.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Make it Mondays - Where you Live

For this week's Make it Monday Challenge: "where you live", i created an ATC using an aerial photo of my street from Google maps. I live in a lovely townhome community in the rolling hills north of San Francisco in California. We are on the circle (more of an oval really) shown here. The homes are surrounded my vintage oak trees and our place feels like a tree fort - and not at all like a condo.
We often see wildlife roaming around the circle, like deer and flocks of turkeys. My neighbour Greg keeps threatening to bag one for Thanksgiving - but so far he has left them alone!

Little Pink Things

Lori at the Nova Studio asked me if i could do something with some little matchbooks she had. Lori teaches candlemaking, in addition to DIY soap and other beauty products. These little matchbooks come in handy when lighting your latest candle creation. These are a great idea if you are gifting someone a candle, like for a hostess gift, why not include some darling little decorated matchbooks to go with it?

I cut out some images from Ten Two Studios Pink Things collage sheet. They were the perfect size for this project - about 1 1/2" x 2". I edged the image with some cat's eye ink pads (my personal fave) and added some coordinating paper to the back.

To give them an extra sweet touch i attached a pink brad to the front - like a mini drawer. The final touch - a bit of bling applied with a sticky glue dot.

The candle above is from Anna Corba.

Please use **CAUTION** when striking a match with these decorated matchbooks. Better yet - just enjoy how pretty they are and use a lighter!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Who's your Dada Doll?

Ok - this is WAY harder than it looks. My hats are off to the artists i was inspired by shown here. I had everything we needed to create some book dolls at our monthly altered book swap group. Sadly due to circumstances beyond our control - only Carol and I were able to attend. ok - more goodies for us to play with!

We had the books, the rusty metal parts created here. And all the junk that one might want to include like doll limbs and heads, spools of thread, wooden and glass beads, and like a dozen different kinds of wire.

So maybe i should take a class with Michael deMeng or the O'Briens. There is clearly a skill involved with wrapping wire that I do not possess. Oh, yes - i am good at a great many things. Making wire look smooth and artfully coiled? Not so much. Click on photos to see how mangled my wire joinery is. Don't click and live blissfully unaware of how yucky they look up close...

I chose a book entitled Lucille to start. I wanted her to be a "girl" since i found those awesome brass pieces that i just knew would make the coolest wings EVER. Like in the history of mixed media artwork. Too bad her name is very faint and doesn't have the impact i would have liked. Because i had all the rusty metal parts, but wanted her to be feminine, i used a mixture of screws and bolts, but added pretty beads and shank buttons for hands and feet.

For my next piece i wanted to use the book titled Human Being - because how creative would it be to use an old circuit board to adorn his chest? get it? like he is human in spirit, but robotic in form? whatever....!!

I added a non-matching set of limbs, including an old hook and some washers. That's a fancy coat hook he is hanging from - not metallic hair sprouting from his faucet handle face. But wouldn't it be cool if it was?!

Carol created the coolest doll person of all, using a book entitled The Girl from Montana. When i bought this book i wished i had a mini cowboy hat. But Carol managed to capture the essence of the frontier with a decorative button and tassles turned to make pigtails for her button head! Then brass drawer pulls create "hands-on-hips" with western attitude. Because she too is a "girl" book, she gets sparkly beaded sleeves, stars for hands and swirly chains for legs. A bright red faucet handle means she is ready for you to turn her on. Doesn't get more girly-girl than that.....!

Advanced Beeswax Collage Workshop

Well, we were a small group - just myself and three students - but we had a relaxing and productive workshop at the nova studio in Point Richmond, CA. Since i always mention how cute it is - i thought i may as well show you what i mean!

The store front window has samples of all the classes you can take from soap making, candles, PMC jewelery, and other assorted bath and beauty products - almost all of it with 100% natural and organic materials. In addition to my collage classes you can take an image transfer workshop with expert Angela Silva, or business courses relating to converting a hobby into a profitable pursuit.

To get started with our class we took two cheap (ie plain old stapled on the back)8" x 10" stretched canvases and applied a thin coat of melted beeswax to the back, which will be the front. Next we selected a background paper, stiffer scrapbook type, to create a niche - by cutting a template and marking it on the paper and cutting an "X". This is used to create the corners that guide where to fold little flaps.

This paper was placed on the canvas and another coat of beeswax applied, especially where the flaps meet the canvas - to create a firm bond. Repeat with the other canvas. With the basic structure

complete we were ready to select focal point images and other collage materials from the assortment i supplied.
I went with a bird theme (surprise surprise) alternating printed papers, ephemera and mulberry to create layers.

Once the niche side of the canvas was mostly done, it is time to flip them over and collage the back. Apply a coat of beeswax to the back, and while you are at it - the sides, top and bottom. I chose to go simply with sheet music, some ledger paper and some torn printed tissue - finishing with a couple of butterflies.
I trimmed the edges of the canvas with thin strips of scrapbook paper, then turned my attentions back to the focal point - the niches - to create some three dimensional whimsy. I used moss and twigs to create a nesting place. I tried to add some speckled eggs, but they were too large in scale to the birds.

Now to complete the artwork, two brass hinges are screwed into the edges. And as a final touch i added the words FLY FLY. (yes like from Silence of the Lambs, go figure!)

One of the great things about working with beeswax is there are no mistakes. Don't like what you did? Just melt it with a heat gun, remove the papers, and start again. I used a diagonal composition on my piece - alternating top and bottom for each element. But i found that the dark brown mulberry paper on the top on the right side was too heavy - like a big black storm cloud. So i melted the wax, removed it and added a lighted turquoise blue. Much better - don't you agree? Try doing that with a normal gel medium collage!
A touch of oil pastels around the edges and smeared into the wax harmonizes the piece.
Here are some images of the beautiful artwork created by the students. (note they are perhaps not quite finished - but you can see how striking the are) They had the most fun i think rummaging through my supply of interesting metal do-hickies. They add a great textural effect to the collage.

Thanks to Carol, Kate and Sharon for fun Sunday creating Beeswax Collage artwork.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Altered Book Calamity Family

I just finished working in Shelley's book, The Calamity Family. Her inspiration was a lot of cabinet cards she bid on on ebay (but didn't win). She said they all looked so depressed and sad and thought they must be the Calamity Family - a la Calamity jane.

She tucked some sad sack pictures of people into the book for us to use if we so chose. I picked a trio of sad looking guys and then tried to think of a calamitous event to befall them. First they needed names - so my husband came to the rescue. He is very fond of old-timey names like Phinneus and Aloisius. Thus the Calamity cousins: Thaddeus, Horatio and Percival were born.
(thank heaven we never had children...)

Next I needed a suitable event for them to have suffered through. We ran through various ideas - like they invented DC electrical current - or something to do with dirrigibles.

But here is what i settled on. Thanks Wikipedia for supplying some of the facts. The fictional parts came from me!

The Calamity Cousins Thaddeus, Horatio and Percival, had lofty goals in life. Growing up bored on a farm called Spindletop Hill, Texas, they convinced their father Abner to sell the property to invest in a hotel in Galveston.

Galveston was fast becoming a vacation paradise for wealthy cotton merchants in the late 19th century.

After turning the small and insignificant Beach Hotel into an architectural masterpiece, sadly on September 8th, 1900,a killer hurricane swept ashore killing 8000 people including the Calamity cousins. And destroying the Beach Hotel.

Interestingly the farm they sold for 50 cents an acre, turned out to hold the largest oil deposit in North America, creating millionaires and the birth of Texaco.

For the next spread i chose a sad girl with ice skates. I invented a story about her too, as told to her Auntie in note cards:

November 4th, 1927

Dear Auntie Annabelle,
Today I tried out for Coach Howard Nicholson at the Central Park Ice Skating Rink. He said my chances are good and that with his guidance I can win a gold medal at the next Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz.
Your loving Niece,

Caroline Calamity
January 12th, 1928

Dear Auntie Annabelle,
I just can’t stop crying. Some nobody named Sonja Henie has convinced Mr. Nicholson that he should coach her over in Norway or some awful cold place. My chances at making the Olympic team are ruined. I’ll bet my piggy bank she falls flat on her face and never amounts to anything.
Your loving Niece,

Caroline Calamity

Parts of this are true - Norwegian superstar Sonja Henie was coached by an American and she did win three gold medals. Of course this was all WAY before my time - but i know all about her from the Carol Burnett show! Carol used to do a mean spoof on SonjAA HenEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Here is the sign in page from Shelley's book:
This was a fun one to work in. I don't usually create a narrative for my altered book pages. I am more about pretty pictures then profound statements. But it was actually easy to take historical events and just change a few details and turn it into your own story. Next I'll be scripting made for TV melodramas...!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ATCs in progress...

I have a project due to create 6 ATC's (artist trading cards) for a swap with the California Art Girls this month. Here is my progress so far. The theme is Garden Statues. I chose two images from my stash - not sure where they came from - but i suspect they are images from a cemetary. Well, hey, they can be quite garden-like and beautiful!

I printed them on matte photo paper in multiples - 9 of one, and 4 of the other - since the sizes were different. I cut them out and edged them with cat's eye ink pads to remove the white edges.
Next i had to choose a background. Well - what better than my supply of Martha Stewart Living magazines to find a beautiful garden background. I selected two images from two March issues - the big Gardening issue. (i store my Martha's by month - so they are easy to grab when let's say i want a stuffing recipe - grab the stash of Novembers) I scanned them on my all-in-one but used a piece of paper to frame the section i wanted. This would save waste later. Then i printed out 8 copies of the background images. My printer automatically asks me whether i want one image per page, 2,3,4 or 9 - in corresponding sizes. Otherwise i would have no idea how to do this!Now i have the background and the focal point image - but how to attach it? Since the statues cover so much - i think instead of gluing them down i will create a hinged flap so you can peak underneath and see the flowers and trees.Well that's as far as i got.
In the meantime here are some random images. First my husband alerted me to yet another stunning sunset - like the hills were on fire. The picture honestly doesn't do it justice.

This other image is a bit of bragging. At what a good housekeeper I am. NOT. In fact these are all the abandoned vases that my husband found filled with dead flowers that accumulated on the deck all winter. He used one of these for the rusting project shown here.

He cleaned and scrubbed and ran them all through the dishwasher and set them out on the hearth for me to see. So you see I am bragging about my sweet husband! Don't they look so clean and sparkly? Just waiting for some fresh picked flowers....oh sweetie??

Monday, May 12, 2008

Make it Monday - Eyes

Here is my latest installment in Go Make Something's Make it Mondays Challenge. The theme this week is Eyes. I created this 5"x5" mini canvas collage using images from Ten Two Studios collage sheets titled Passage to India. I thought this gentleman had intense eyes - and we have to guess what is deep inside. Thoughts of his lovely bride to be?
The background on this piece is actually Sari fabric that i ran though my Xyron. Some bead trim and a sparkly gold flourish complete the composition.

It is fun to see each week what other people are creating using the prompts published every Monday at It is a terrific way to challenge yourself to create something new and also to meet other artists and crafters out there in the blog sphere.

You can also check out the images uploaded to Anyone can play along and you don't have to post on Monday - just get out there and do something creative.

And don't forget to leave comments. The most rewarding thing about having a blog and sharing ideas is knowing that someone out there is reading it!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Mom....!

This is Mom on her honeymoon in Hampton Beach, NH in 1952.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Ok - who knew you could actually manufacture your very own rusty things? Well you can and it's EASY! Following the instructions from Cloth Paper Scissors, the article written by Leslie Riley, my husband made some super fab rusty things for me this week.

Step 1 - select some brand new or old metal things to rust. Some will work better than others i imagine. What you want is as much iron as possible - ie not stainless steel.

Step 2 - find a suitable container. Like a large glass jar or a bucket. Do not use your favorite etched glass pitcher like my husband did here.

Step 3 - create the potion. Two parts bleach (like Clorox) and one part vinegar. Do this outside for the fumes and be careful with the bleach - you know, like it will bleach your clothes if you spill it on you. Better yet - get your husband to do this for you while you are out of the house. Remind him not to use favorite pitcher.

Step 4 - insert metal things. Adding a rusty or partially rusty item apparently makes this go faster. We threw in some toilet seat bolts we found in the garage that had a bit of rust.

Step 5 - wait 24 hours. Remove rusty things to some newspapers to dry. Husband used BBQ tongs. Do not rinse. We worked on the concrete patio - if you use a table top - protect it with plastic and paper.

Step 6 - since we have the icky rusy solution - why add more metal things and do another batch?

Step 7 - argue with husband over ruined favorite etched glass pitcher. Husband will say, "if it was so special why has it been sitting out here on the deck all winter?"
You know how that is, you have a beautiful bouquet of flowers that sit on the dining room table until the flowers are dead and a toxic green sludge has formed in the pitcher, so you carefully move it outside and promptly ignore it.

Step 8 - agree with husband and move on.....

So some notes about the whole process:
Using the rusty solution for a second batch? Not nearly as successful as the first batch - see here the results. Compared to the first batch - there is just a hint of rust. The first batch was so successful - my husband was reminded of the relics from the Titanic on the ocean floor. I guess there must be an intial chemical reaction between the bleach and the vinegar that gets the rusting started that you don't get with the second batch.

So off to the store for more bleach and vinegar to do the rest properly. We scoured the garage for random metal things that might look cool attached as limbs on the book doll bodies. Like a spring, some hinges and some large discs. See previous post HERE that explains what all this rusty stuff is for.

(So yeah - i finally figured out how to create a link to a nother page or site - so much cleaner than the whole URL spelled out!)

Happy Rusting!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Beeswax Collage Workshop - Hinged Canvas

This is a small hinged canvas beeswax collage i made in a workshop with Tim Holtz a few years ago at Scrapbook Territory in Berkeley. It was a thrill ride of three workshops in one day with Tim, who is a talented and knowledgable instructor with Ranger Industries. He did a really fun thing for this class. He told us we would create a collage with a word - but we could not pick our word. We had to reach into a bag a pull out a letter. I picked an R. He told us not to worry about thinking up a word that began with the letter chosen. He had a special book for that. Oh yeah, special. It was a dictionary! DUH! You know, it really worked. It got people to think outside their comfort zone. Since i spied some paris themed elements on the "help yourself" table, i wanted a word that was French - actually a lady at my table helped me choose Risque - perfect!

The great thing about taking a class with Tim is his expertise about tools and materials. Needless to say you end spending a LOT of money taking one of his classes. Not because you are coerced into anything, but because his enthusiam for his products is so infectious it just makes you want to have it too! That is also a benefit of taking a class at a craft store - everything you might want is two feet away, sitting on the shelves, saying "please buy me"! I spent about $120, just managing to escape without buying a mini iron for ironing wrinkled paper. (oh yeah - at the time i REALLY wanted one!!)

Well, that is not the case at my classes! I teach in a lovely little picturesque town, Point Richmond, at the Nova Studio, which is dedicated mostly to teaching how to make soap and natural beauty products. It is filled to the brim with the wonderful scents and smells of organic additives like flower petals and herbs, essentials oils and sometimes, melting beeswax. And i don't sell anything! Well, other than i hope you enjoy the class, and tell all your friends, and that i see you again at another workshop in the future.

Sadly we had to cancel the altered book keepsake box workshop scheduled for this Sunday due to insufficient sign ups. Because it is a lot of work to gather all the supplies and set up the classroom, we request a minimum of 5. Generally though - I'll do the class with 3 or 4 just because i hate to dissappoint. But we only had two - so we had to call it yesterday. Then someone inquired today, but it was too late to get the other people back on board, you know how it is - people plan their weekends, so no class this Sunday.
However, we DO have a class NEXT Sunday, May 18th - Advanced Beeswax Collage. This is a really fun and challenging class designed for students who have taken the beginner beeswax class, but we do allow talented indivuals who can pick up techniques quickly to take this class without the prerequisite.

In the beginner class each student makes two 5" x 7" canvas board collages to hang on the wall. In the advanced class we step it up a notch or two. Once you have learned the basics of applying the wax, you can tackle a larger project. In the advanced class we take two 8"x10" canvases, you collage both front and back, and sides too, including creating a three dimensional effect inside the niche created in the back of the canvas. Then the final touch is hinging them together to create a folding diptyque artwork to stand or be hung as you like.

In our last class i brought everything related to birds - lots of bird themed papers, florals, leaves, and three dimensional items like nests, branches, butterflies and more. I went a little over the top creating a fanstasy of yellow birds and flowers. One student created a very zen-like composition using a buddha image she brought from home and the word BREATHE with the letters i brought for the class. Another student created the lovely bird and ephemera collage pictured above.

You can see the class had a great time and created something they were really proud to show off. I am not sure yet exactly what theme we will be making next week. It is too far away for my muse to decide. Suggestions are certainly welcome!