Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Nick Bantock Site

I am a Nick Bantock fan. Today I looked at his website for the first time. If you are unfamiliar with his work, check out his site.

I see he is selling some of the original works which appear in his books. The lowest price I saw was $500.

How great is it to be a professional artist, buying ephemera in antique stores and at auction, and, if one lives in America, that would be a tax-deductible work expense? Then to make the art, reproduce it into a book, make money from sales of the book plus then to sell some of the original art for $500 and up per piece?

I am having fun making ATCs. Too bad my work is not good enough for others to pay for it. I could get used to making art as my work. It is easier and less stressful than homeschooling and raising children, I can tell you that.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Books by Beth Cote on My Wish List

If I had the money I'd buy all of Beth Cote's books right now. Here is her website. I found the books on Amazon. There aren't enough Amazon customer reviews to help me figure out if these books are worth $20 each. (Amazon is not discounting them.) I wonder if these books are available at A.C. Moore so I could use the 40% off sale coupon on them? Hmmm.

I am beginning to feel restricted by the size of the ATCs so I think I may try my hand at altered books next.

Our library is having a hardcover book sale in November with all hardcover adult books at $1. Children's books are 25 cents to $1. I may go and be on the lookout for books I can alter.

Finished "Same Background" ATC Swap

I finished making the five ATCs for the "Same Background" swap on Saturday afternoon. The backgrounds were made by the swap hostess and were yellow and a deep red color, with a marbleized paint effect.

The afternoon started out with plans to sew Halloween costumes for both of my sons. I was intimidated by the project so I phoned my mother to make arrangements for her to help me with it on Sunday afternoon. Then I sat down to create ATCs.

My husband was busy watching the Notre Dame football game so he was busy and happy. The kids joined in and made a couple of ATCs then they went off to play with LEGOs.

I had worked on this swap twice already and had creative block. This time the blocks were gone. I had fun making the ATCs. I plan to post them soon.

It was nice to have the free time to do the artwork on the front of the cards as well as have the time to make the backs, glue them on, prepare the ATCs for mailing and gather some ephemera and other gifts for the hostess. I gave her some antique ribbon which I found stored in a box that my grandmother had packed away in 1950. I also gave her four background cards for ATCs that I made last week with watercolor paint on watercolor paper. I then weighed the package, checked the postage calculator on the Internet and put the postage on. Done, with a week before the deadline. It is nice to not rush for a deadline.

This morning the package goes in the mail. Hooray!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Deli Wrap Transfer Technique

Here is something I found on the web, a beautiful looking piece can be created with deli sandwich wrap and paint! Here is a link to the technique and an illustration showing what it looks like.

This can be used for ATCs, collage, or for altered-anything.

I don’t know where I can get this non-waxy deli wrap but I may have to go hunting for it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Found Great Handmade Paper

I wrote this a few weeks ago. This was what got me hooked on the weekly trip to A.C. Moore with the 40% coupon in hand.

Three weeks ago, I was at a relative’s house, a relative who I know subscribes to the city’s newspaper. I knew that typically this newspaper carried a coupon to A.C. Moore (a large chain craft shop), on Wednesdays, for either 50% or 40% off any one item which is not on sale. I checked their paper and there was the 40% off coupon.

I had to go to the town that A.C. Moore is in anyway to fill my car’s tank with gas from Costco. So off I went.

I had planned to buy something for either lapbooking or for making ATCs or homemade cards. I wasn’t sure what I’d buy.

The first thing that I found was a “collage pack” of assorted papers. Most of the papers were about 4 inches square. The package was one pound. The regular price was $14.99 and it was on sale for $9.99. I could not use the coupon for this. I also was not finding a pack that had papers in colors that I felt I “must have”. There were way too many orange sheets and also many loud colors or weird patterns that are not my style. After much lamenting, I put them down and left them there.

I then noticed the big display of scrapbook papers and cardstock which were all on sale. I have a lot of cardstock already and didn’t need any more. But at this display was something I hadn’t seen before. It was an assortment package of handmade papers. The label says “Handmade paper by the pound” (no other brand name on it). The package was a 2 pound package. It stated that the sheet size was 4 ¼ inches x 11 inches. I like this size rather than the squares as with one sheet, I can get 4 backgrounds for ATCs. These papers also had botanicals and other interesting papers. The price was $9.99 (on sale), regularly ($12.99). I did the math and was confounded by the idea of paying $14.99 for one pound of the other papers versus $12.99 for double the amount of papers. This made no sense to me. I also noticed that with these 2 pound packs, there were groupings. One package was nearly all neutrals and botanicals, which I loved, so I bought that. Another package was a lot of dark colors or primary colors, and I bough that. I limited myself to two packages.

I still had the coupon to use. I wanted to buy some brads or decorative embellishments which I think are called eyelets. I have seen ATCs with brads and like them. I found a metallic assortment pack of tiny circle shaped brads and bought that, for $2.99. But this was not good enough to use the 40% off coupon on so I kept searching.

I finally found a pack of metal embellishments. One of the designs was a train and my older son begged that I buy it. These embellishments are holiday or seasonal themed. The price was $19.99, and with the coupon, I paid $12.00 for this.

I needed the equipment to get them onto the paper. There were many to choose from and also a large kit for $40. I decided to not buy the tool this week, as I’d wait for the next 40% off coupon.

When I got home I made some ATC backgrounds by gluing the handmade papers onto cardboard from food containers (cereal boxes, etc.).

My son got into the ATCs and made a dozen of them using the handmade papers for the backgrounds and using cut out images of LEGOs and Star Wars items, from catalogs that we receive in the mail.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Stamp Shaped Die Cutter on My Wish List

The AC Moore 40% coupon thing has me in there all the time now. I went today to buy cardstock for 6 cents per sheet in colors that didn’t come in my multi-pack set, and also bought the die cutter thing to make corners rounded—both (with the 40% off coupon) can be used for ATCs and for gift card making.

But I found something else I want: die cutter in the shape of a square stamp. I was thinking that it could cut the outer shape in white paper then either hand cut, or if they a have a square one the right size, I could make my own (non postage) stamps for use on ATCs with whatever designs I see in magazines or with my own painted images or whatever (glue colored square onto white background so it looks like a postage stamp). The possibilities are endless, aren’t they?

I put off buying it until the next 40% off coupon sale. LOL. If I don’t stop going in there I may take up scrapbooking…LOL. (I have avoided scrapbooking as I was afraid I’d go nuts and want to own everything!)

Swap Lost in Mail and Behind on Posting Scans

I have been so busy lately that I haven't had time to post scans of my ATCs. I have scanned all that I made, and I scan all the ATCs before I send them out in the mail. However I just haven't had the time to dedicate to cropping the large scans and making a new document with just that scan then uploading it to my blog. Sorry!

I am also upset because on Saturday I learned that the last swap I participated in seems to be lost in the mail. It has been eight mail-days (9 calendar days) and the swap still hasn't made the 1500 or so mile journey to its destination. I am really disappointed in this as I worked really hard on these. I tried a new technique for me, packing tape transfers. I also did my first embellishments with metallic eyelet decorations. The swap was for the "Seven Wonders of the World". I used 'Cinderella' stamps (stamps which are not postage stamps) from 1974, which were part of my childhood stamp collection. I placed the stamp on a background of a coordinating colored piece of handmade (store bought) paper. I then found text on the internet about that Wonder and copied it into a Word document. I then edited the text a bit so as to not plagiarize. I then changed the font size and font style to make it look nicer. I printed that off on my laser printer then did a packing tape transfer. I added this to the ATC. Then I added postage stamps to each one (most from the 1950s). These stamps were a gift from a former neighbor. They were given to me when I was about 10 years old; she gave me her entire childhood stamp collection, which she put together in the 1940s and 1950s. (Who knows, some may be valuable!)

So all that work was for naught. The swap hostess held up the swap waiting for at least, my ATCs to arrive. I won't be getting ATCs back as part of the swap.

I am so disappointed in it that I decided to hold off on signing up for any other swaps for the time being. I also am dealing with family health issues and that takes energy away from me and is a blocker of creative energy.

Halloween is around the corner so my most urgent project is to teach myself to sew so I can sew costumes for my two children. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thoughts on book "Collage and Construction" by Harvey Weiss

I have been reading a book titled "Collage and Construction" by Harvey Weiss. It was published in 1970 and is one in the series called, "Beginning Artist's Library".

Weiss states that with collage often the artist does not begin a project with an end product in mind. Instead, the artist uses different materials and lets the materials "tell" the artist what to do with it.

I loved the description of where the artist finds the materials that he uses.
"The collage artist doesn't usually go out looking for specific things. He is more likely to clip photographs and pictures he finds interesting, or he will wander about picking and choosing odds and ends--bits of wood or metal, scraps of cloth, twigs, paper, pebbles--out of the rubble and junk that can be found everywhere." (page 8)

The author goes on to say that what a collage artist needs most is imagination.

Unlike other books I have read, this author describes collage as having one of three different categories. Collage is either realistic, (such as a collage composing the image of a face or a landscape), a design (not a picture of anyone or anything, it doesn't tell a story), or an image that evokes an emotion.

"One of the most interesting things about collage is its ability to take common, ordinary pictures to produce an entirely new and uncommon image." (page 13)

We are encouraged straight away to begin collecting papers and items to use in our collages. Keeping an eye out for anything that interests us, we can soon collect quite a number of materials to use in our collages. The author also urges us to collect various objects found in nature, such as seeds, dried grasses, etc.

Texture collages are collages which are made from three dimensional objects or with objects that are thick or have a unique texture. The artist encourages the use of PVA glue (i.e. Elmer's brand white glue), diluted with water. When working with bulky materials, the glue should be painted onto stiff paper or some other strong, hard surface, with a paintbrush, then the objects can be applied to it (rather than trying to paint each item and then lay it onto the dry paper). Some examples of collages shows are dried bean collage, fabric, sand, grains, and seeds.

Constructions are three dimensional objects made such as a sculpture. Some of the examples shown in the book use strong paper (such as tag or oak board) to make creations that look a bit like tree houses or contemporary houses with ladders going up to the doors for entry. Some of these creations are then decorated on the sides with collage images or are enhanced with items such as egg cartons for a roof!

The next topic is boxes, making shadow boxes as pieces of art. Directions to make a simple box out of wood are given. The box can then be lined at the back and also at the sides. The exterior of the box can also be collaged, including all sides and the back. Three-dimensional objects are then inserted and permanently installed inside the box. Items are either screwed in or glued in. The blue must be a strong type in order to hold the heavier items. The artist explains his thought process behind one of his creations.

Making stained-glass window like decorations out of paper is also covered in this book. These are simple creations, drawn and cut out of black paper, and then tissue paper is glued onto the back. When the light shines through, they look like stained glass windows.

Some other examples of constructions are what I would call sculptures, made out of a range of silly objects. These finished pieces of art are strange and whimsical. Again the photographs are so silly that no one would be intimidated by them. My husband's comment to these was that they look like bunches of trash glued together!

The last type of construction that is covered is the use of line as the form. Wire sculptures are shown (which do look too difficult for most adults). Three dimensional structures made out of sticks are shown. Nails inserted on flat wooden surfaces, then strung with string make patterns and shapes that are interesting.

In concluding, the author states on page 62:
"What you need is confidence if your own ideas, judgments, and imagination. If you decide you would like to try out something, then you must go ahead and try it. If you like what you are making that is reason enough for making it. If you feel that work is not successful--try to figure out where it went wrong--and the next time you'll do better. And if your work does turn out well, that is reason enough to experiment with different materials and new ways of making collages and constructions".

All that is needed to know to begin making a collage and a construction is covered in this book. All of the illustrations are black and white photographs, which is disappointing (yet typical of the time that it was published). The items shown are mostly odd or simple looking. Some look as if they could have been made by a preschool aged child--so don't worry of feeling intimidated by this book! The language of the book is simple enough to be read and understood by a middle-school aged child, or even read aloud to an elementary-school aged child.

This book definitely inspired me. I now know what to do with the drawers of the old desk that we were going to throw away--use them as shadow boxes. I also am anxious to work with my children to make three dimensional paper houses and structures.

(P.S. My friends want to know when I find the time to blog. I wrote this while at a public library while one of my sons was taking part in a homeschoolers book discussion group last week. I composed it online on Blogger and saved it as a draft. Today I had time to proofread and edit it while at home.)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Great Tag Sale Find for ATC Storage

Today I was driving down the road and I noticed a church harvest festival. I noticed up in the back, what looked like a tag sale. The festival had recently ended and they were cleaning up, but I went in for a look. I was hoping to find some old board games for inexpensive prices, that I could use pieces of for making ATCs.

What I did find was an old, aged, wooden, plain recipe holder box, for 3x5 inch recipe cards. It was marked $1. I was thrilled. Sticking out of it was an envelope and I didn't even look inside of it. I assumed they were blank recipe index cards. When I got home I realized they were clear plastic sleeves. These are perfect for use to protect ATCs while in storage or when mailing them.

Now I can take my ATCs out of the zip top plastic baggie!


Simple doesn't take much to make me happy.

Oh, and I did find one child's dinosaur game (for 25 cents) which, if it is a dud to play with, I may recycle the parts to make ATCs with.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

All Confused!

I have been too busy lately to do ATCs. I have been out of the house a lot and rushing from here to there.

A few days ago I sat down to work on a swap for "Seven Wonders of the World", which is the next swap that I have due. I began working on backgrounds, then had to abruptly leave the house (leaving the kitchen table completely a mess).

The next day I received an interesting random act of kindness (RAK) in the mail. It was an ATC made with the meaning of my first name as the theme. The artist asked that if I wanted to, could I send her back one with the meaning of her name? I decided to do this and began working on that. I didn't finish. I cleaned off the table so we could eat at the table (what a concept).

When I went back to it the following day, I somehow got confused about what swap was due. I left the unfinished name ATC and began working on a "Vintage Circus" swap, thinking it was due in just a couple of days.

Then, I have been busy and not home again, and today rushed to finish up the "Vintage Circus" swap. When I went online to find the snail mail address to send the ATCs to I realized that swap is not due for another 14 days!!

I then wondered what swap was due shortly. I checked my records and rediscovered it is the "Seven Wonders" swap. It is due in three days. Now I have to get moving on that swap!!

This is an indication that I am too busy! I am getting all confused!

I also am over-stressed and really do need the time to do something fun for myself.

Okay, off to get cracking on this swap...