Friday, December 30, 2005

ATC Making Last Night

Last night I made 14 ATCs with a baby theme for the swap that I am hosting which is due tomorrow. I decided to give each participant one ATC from me.

I have about 12 participants in the swap right now. I say 'about' because I keep getting swaps in the mail from people who never told me they were joining. The deadline is tomorrow.

I also made up extra ATC sized cards which state the name of the swap, the date of the swap, and the online chat group that the swap went through. I will give each participant one card.

Today I began gathering extra ephemera for an ephemera swap that I am doing with one person from one of the chat lists.

Today I spent time doing collage work in my journal. I also went through some of my grandmother's papers. Some that I went through today went back to 1943. Looking at the letters, greeting cards and other ephemera is like traveling back through time.

I stopped the art making as we had a family come over for a playdate.

I also discovered today and began entering our books into that online database. You can go view my books under my user name of ChristineMM. I haven't gotten to the art books yet, though.

So that is what I am up to in the last 24 hours.

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

My ATC: St. Basil's Cathedral

Here is my ATC titled "St. Basil's Cathedral". I made this in October 2005 as part of a Seven Wonders of the World ATC Swap.

The base is handmade paper (store bought). The image is a Cinderella stamp which I acquired as a child in the 1970s and saved as part of my stamp collection. (Recently I saw the set of these for sale on eBay if you can believe it.)

I looked up information about St. Basil's Cathedral on the internet and copied and pasted it inside of a Word document. I then revised it so I was not plagarizing the orginal text. I changed the font size to be a good size for the ATC and cahnged the font to one that I thought looked good. I printed the text on my computer printer on regular white copy paper. I then did a packing tape transfer of that writing.

I used the corner of an air mail envelope that I had saved from a letter from a Russian Pen Pal that I used to coorespond with. The Pen Pal project was a project for peach from the late 1980s. The intent was for Americans and Russians to make friends with each other in an effort to bridge our nations.

I used brads from the craft store to finish this off.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I Am Now an Amazon Associate

In order to try and earn some income for our income-less family I just became an Amazon Associate. If you link through this blog to Amazon and add something to your shopping cart and finalize your purchase within 24 hours I will make a small commission. This counts towards anything you buy even if I never mention it on my blog or it is something totally irrelevant to my blog's content. I get paid and your confidentiality is intact (I won't know who bought something or who bought what).

So if you want to help me make a little money and you are going to buy something from Amazon please consider linking through my blog. You can use the general search box in the sidebar or any of the links that I am going to be putting into my blog entries.

Thanks for considering it!

Cool Rubber Stamps on eBay by Mars Tokyo/Adorned Surface/Hissyfit

There is a company whose rubber stamps I love. The company is called Mars Tokyo/Adorned Surface/Hissyfit. After corresponding with the owner, I was told they sell exclusively on eBay. You may find them most easily by searching for auctions by the seller name: Sass*box.

The stamps are new and of their own design. They are unmounted sheets. The auctions I saw were 5.5 x 8 inches in size. Each auction I saw had a buy it now price on it of $7.50 and most had starting auction bids set at $6.00.

This is their Angel Policy: "We Allow Hand-Stamped Images To Be Sold For Profit. No Mechanical Reproductions Are Allowed".

Each sheet has a name and a number.

I won two of their auctions. The shipping rates were Priority Mail rates. The shipping was very fast, as if they sent it the same day as the auction closed. They are willing to combine shipping if multiple auctions are won (which for me meant just the base price for Priority Mail).

The ones that I bought were: “Robots Outsider Art #13” and “Boy Toys Clown Outsider Art #39”. Some of the images remind me of antique Sears catalogue etched illustrations.

Check out their unique artsy eclectic stamps!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Discovering Tony Fitzpatrick’s Work

In the zine Play issue 4, published by Teesha Moore, I saw Tony Fitzpatrick’s book “Max and Gaby’s Alphabet”mentioned and recommended.

I am a big fan of children’s alphabet picture books and set out to buy it. Unfortunately it is out of print. I found a copy for about $12 on Amazon—used. I purchased it and then the next day I received an email saying it was sold previously and is no longer available. Darn. I can’t find it on the web, used, for less than $47, which is out of my price range.

Here is the Tony Fitzpatrick's website. I find his work very interesting. It is very detailed and there is a lot to see. The artwork from his latest book called “The Wonder Volume One” is featured on his website and gives you an idea for what his work is like. The prints from that book, and from “The Wonder Volume Two” are for sale on the site.

Here are some of the books that Tony Fitzpatrick has written. By just looking at the covers on these links you can get an idea for what his artwork is like.

Drawing/Collages 2006 Wall Calendar

The Wonder Volume One

The Wonder Volume Two

Dirty Boulevard

Bum Town

Max and Gaby's Alphabet

Monday, December 26, 2005

Feeling Inspired by Susan Cohen’s Journal

I was reading a back issue of the art zine “Play: the Art of Visual Journals”, issue 4, for the first time. This is a back issue which I received as a gift for Christmas (yesterday). The back issues of this zine are still available for purchase from the editor, Teesha Moore, on her website.

I saw Susan Cohen’s work for the first time in this issue of “Play”. I was inspired by her use of rubber stamps and color to make collage images.

Here is a technique which is my interpretation of how she did her artwork.

I see color on pages such as is applied with paint. Rubber stamping is then done on top of the colorful page. Most of the time she is using colors other than black as her rubber stamped image’s color. Some of the rubber stamped images are on the larger side. Then she cuts up the images so that not all of the rubber stamped image is visible. These various pieces are then collaged into the journal. The journal page of hers which I am looking at uses lots of squares and block shapes. The background colors are varied as are the rubber stamp colors. There is a mix of text, numbers, and drawn rubber stamped images. There seems to be many layers of collage here. The page is full of color and images. I absolutely love the look of her work and am inspired to try it.

Follow-up: I wrote the above last night. I then went to work putting acrylic glaze (paint product) which I tinted with acrylic (craft) paint, onto white paper using a stipple brush. This dried overnight.

Today I am working on using lots of different rubber stamps in various colors all over these three pages. After they are dry I will cut them apart and will use them to make collages in my journal or perhaps even to make ATCs with.

About Using Parts of Images
I am still trying to get over my “issue” with not showing entire images or entire documents. I have blogged about this in the past. If you missed it basically I have a hard time cutting up ephemera or images and not showing the whole thing. I love the look in other people’s work but it almost feels painful for me to do. I guess I have this thing with liking the entire image and wanting to preserve, keep and remember all of it. I fear that the unused portion will somehow be missed or forgotten and therefore the journal page or ATC or whatever I am making will suffer for it. However always using entire images, especially if they are large, is not always possible or really restricts the options for what can be done on a certain sized canvas. Also I have noticed that including the entire image or document sometimes ends up dominating the whole piece in a negative way.

Back to Susan Cohen
So that I could share it with you, I looked up “Susan Cohen” on the internet and found a site just loaded with her journal art. Here it is. I don’t see an example that is very close to what I am looking at in Play but these images are inspiring also. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

My ATC: Nurturing the World's Future

Here is another of my first ATCs. As with others that I made in the beginning this is just made with magazine cut-outs used to make collage. The baby face is from a magazine ad from an old Mothering magazine and some words from Mothering and O (Oprah) magazine.

Since this was one of my first ATCs, it was made before I saw a lot of other ATCs. My first ATCs had text on them, always, and also had a message behind them. Since I have been trading for four months now I see that many ATCs have no message at all, some are pretty or beautiful while others are themed but don't have some heavy message to them. Just an observation...I am not saying one is more right than the other. As I continue to post scans of my ATCs you may notice that my first ones were more original as they were not being done intentionally to do a themed swap, and they also have text and have a message. My most recent ATCs are not as serious or heavy as my first ones were.

My ATC: Mom's Happy at Home

This was one of the first ATCs that I made four months ago. This collage is from cut-outs from an about 13 year old back issue Mothering magazine and some words from O (Oprah) magazine.

Fun Christmas Video

This is someone else's artistic endeavor. Enjoy!

Here is a fun video clip that you and your children may enjoy!

Thousands of lights are synchronized with Trans-Siberian music for this Christmas spectacular.

Friday, December 23, 2005

My First ATC: Dads Tune In

This was the very first ATC that I made. This collaged piece was made with cut outs from O (Oprah) Magazine and from Mothering magazine. While making it my husband and I were having a conversation about some of the fathers that he knows who are really disconnected from their children.

The priceless comment refers to the fact that fathers are priceless. Fathers should be more than just money-providers for their families.

We both feel that it is best for children and families when the mothers AND FATHERS are connected to their children.

Research also shows that these close connections help reduce children's stress, raise self-esteem, contribute to less drug and alcohol use in minors. Additionally depression rates in teenagers and suicide rates in teens who are closely connected with their parents are less. If this is a topic that interests you I suggest reading books by Dan Kindlon.

Watercolor Pages for My Art Journal

Having Fun Making Art

I painted with watercolors one day when I woke up very early, while everyone else in the house was still sleeping. I squeeze making art in any way that I can.

These were used to make the the base pages of my artist journal.

I snapped this photo as they were drying. I laid them down on my kitchen floor to dry. As you can see the pages curled as they were drying.

After they were dry I ironed them to make them lie flat, then I painted the other sides while we were on a break from homeschooling. Here is a photo of the other side.

Later I bound these pages into a hardcover journal which I have blogged about previously.

I have been having problems uploading images to Blogger. Today I am spending time trying to upload. I am glad these worked! Now only if I could get scans of my ATCs to upload!

Problems with Photo Uploading

When I began this blog my intent was to show photos of my artwork and to talk about it. I continue to have problems uploading images to Blogger. Most of it stems from the image size of my original file being too large for Blogger’s rules. I am also having problems teaching myself to use Photoshop such as trying to figure out how to cut and crop original images to make a new file which is the shape I want it to be (such as the exact size of one ATC) then also how to save the file in a low dpi resolution so that Blogger will let me upload it. Sigh.

I want to spend my time making art and writing not using software programs to manipulate digital photos. I don’t find that fun at all, probably because it is so new to me and I am finding the online Photoshop ‘help’ section very difficult to navigate and understand. Sigh.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Abercrombie & Fitch T-Shirts Look Like Transfers

Yesterday while at the Barber Shop with my sons I looked at a large Abercrombie and Fitch clothing catalog. There was a line of tee shirts for men with what I am assuming was a silk screened image but it looked like an image transfer onto cloth. This could easily be reproduced at home.

There are two different components to the Abercrombie and Fitch tee shirts. One is that first the shirt has a look as if it was a t-shirt with an image on it that is now being worn inside-out, and then there is a ‘newer’ looking image on top of that other side.

This could be duplicated at home by printing text on your home laser printer and doing a transfer, without reversing/flipping the image. This would make the text come out backwards. If the transfer is rough and scratchy this would also achieve the look that the image was really on the other side and the shirt is being worn inside-out.

The darker, newer looking image could be applied with an iron-on transfer. You could make the graphics in Photoshop and then use the image-flip tool and print the image on an iron-on transfer sheet. This way when the iron-on transfer is applied, the writing is the ‘right’ way and would come out very solid and “new” looking.

Here is one example of one of their shirts in the “attitude tees” line for men.

I can’t find images online that matched the catalog that I viewed. Some of the new tees had a very rough and scratchy image which is very much like the image that is achieved when doing a Citrasolv or Acetone transfer. This could easily be done at home using an image printed off with a laser printer and the transfer medium (i.e. Citrasolv). Seeing those t-shirts was inspirational to me because I realized I could replicate this at home inexpensively and hey, it is ‘in style’, too!

Here are some directions for doing Citrasolv transfers, with illustrations so you can see what I am talking about, if you haven’t done them yourself yet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More Journaling Done Last Night

Last night while my husband was cleaning the dinner dishes I played with my kids. Then my kids went off to play with each other. (Later they showered themselves and got ready for bed all on their own--what a great thing for them to be able to do at ages 5.5 and 8. Hooray!) My husband began making a mincemeat pie for Christmas. I sat down at the kitchen table to do some collage work in my journal. I also wrote one page. He had the news on as usual which I don't think necessarily is good for my creative juices as honestly what goes on in the world of politics often makes me angry.

Anyway what I did was go through some papers from my daily life and added them to pages that I had already written on, such as adding borders. I also put some ephemera on blank pages. I also added things to the front cover and the end pages of the journal since they were still pretty empty.

I have a little plastic box which held organic salad mix. As I gather papers such as stamps and interesting papers from junk mail I toss them into the box, which I keep in my kitchen. I went through this box last night. Here are some things added to my pages:

Reproduction of vintage Santa Claus from a chocolate wrapper

Gold foil that lined chocolate candy that I received as a Christmas gift

Andes mints foil wrappers, intact and some which I cut with decorative blade Fiskar scissors (this is a family tradition to eat these candies at Christmas time)

Papers which I tested my new wine cork stamps on

Scrap papers from testing rubber and foam stamps on

Cancelled postage stamps from junk mail and Christmas cards

Decorative papers from Christmas card envelopes

Fancy handwriting featuring our family's name and address from Christmas cards and other mail

I also did a scrap paper swap with someone from the Gluebooks chat list and went through that envelope and picked out some papers.

The decorations on the pages are not necessarily tied in to the written content of the pages. The decorations are reflections of the papers that were coming into my life right around the date in which I was writing, so some of them show snowflakes and Christmas themes. Sometimes I found words that expressed the emotion that I was feeling at the time that I was writing.

I still am a bit confused about how to write and glue. It doesn't always work for me to do both in one day. I don't really like gluing from my bed but I do enjoy journaling while in bed at the end of the day.

I keep telling myself what I read that Teesha Moore said about journaling, there are no mistakes in journaling, just do it.

However let's say that I glue down images on one day and then want to use that space to write in, but the images conflict with what I am writing, that doesn't feel right to me. Another issue is that I had used watercolor paints to make the background pages and while doing it I had fun. Most of the pages are very vibrant. However a red and hot orange flame colored page didn't jive with the day we were snowed in due to a huge snowstorm. Do you see my challenge?

I don't like journaling against a blank white page or even into a gluebook which is a white page with collaged elements on top of it. It feels to stark to me.

I am just going to keep plugging away and having fun and maybe someday it will all jive. I have this idea that everyone else feels their journals are perfect and in sync. If someone thinks I am wrong will you please share that with me?

The best thing about last night was that I got into that flow mode which doesn't always happen.

Made Homemade Stamps From Wine Corks and Craft Foam

I was reading a book about various kinds of journals titled, “The Decorated Page: Journals, Scrapbooks & Albums Made Simply Beautiful” by Gwen Diehn in which homemade stamps were mentioned as being made from wine corks. I have heard of them being carved from erasers but not from wine corks!

I immediately put the book down and set off to try it. I save our wine corks in a decorative glass container.

In less then 60 seconds my first wine cork stamp was finished. It was in the shape of a star. I then carved a heart which I botched so that was changed into the letter “V”. I then did made a heart that looked decent. All of that took less than five minutes.

The materials necessary are a craft knife, a cork and a marker. Using a Sharpie marker and freehand, I drew the shape on the cork. I then used the craft knife to carefully cut out the design. I cut along the edge of the design, pressing into the cork. Then I made cuts from the outer edge inward toward the already-cut place, at which point it fell off. I then used the knife to clean up the designs edges.

The hardest part was figuring out how to hold the cork so that if the knife slipped I’d not cut myself.

Obviously the more detailed the design and the more curvy the lines, the harder this would be to cut. I urge you to give it a try.

The stamped design had a wonderful texture due to the cork’s surface texture. It looked a bit scratchy. I also enjoyed the way it looks since it is not factory-perfect and symmetrical.

If the surface is too uneven you can cut it down to be more flat before beginning the carving.

I think I am going to carve my own alphabet stamps from wine corks next!

Someday I would like to own linoleum carving tools so I could make more intricate designs out of erasers.

Homemade Foam Stamps
Oh, and something I did earlier this year for my son’s letterboxing birthday party was to have the children draw designs on craft foam and cut them out with scissors, then to apply them with Gorilla Glue to a piece of pine wood for a homemade foam stamp. This was very easy to do. The foam stamp has an interesting texture to it; the image does not have a flat texture.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Making More Marble Art Tile Coasters

I decided to make two sets of marble art tile coasters for gifts. One is a Christmas gift for my husband’s aunt and uncle. The other set is a thank you gift for a friend. I worked on that project each day for the last three days. This time it was NOT without problems!

Set A
I decided to pull images off the web to use to make ice cream themed coasters. The couple who will be receiving this set collects antique ice cream scoops. I pulled the images off the web giving some thought to the copyright status. I didn’t see that the images were copyrighted. I altered the images in Photoshop making them black and white and touching them up. I re-sized them and printed them on my black laser printer. If I owned a color laser printer I would have left the images in color.

(I spent so much time on the downloading and image retouching for this and Set B that it wasn’t until after the tiles were baked that I realized I had forgotten to reverse/flip the image so the text was backwards. Sigh.)

Set B

My friend supplied me with wedding pictures from her wedding, her parents, and her in-laws weddings, and one formal photo of her children. She scanned them and emailed them to me. After touching them up I printed them off. I noticed that sometimes my printer puts a lighter line across the image. I had to print more than one copy to get one without a light line going across the faces.

I also realized this is an old printer with a poor resolution. I wonder how it would work if I emailed images to my local print shop and had them print them off and paid the 10 cent fee? Would the images look better? I should look into this. Also I wonder what he charges for color copies?

Set C
Since I botched Set A I needed to make a new set for the Christmas gift. Last week while in a dollar store I found some large sized hardback books which featured Victorian women and poetry. Actually it was a bit strange as the images were Victorian and from 1905-ish and the other illustrations in the book were art deco—aren’t those two different eras? I also noticed that the illustrator credited on the title page is not the illustrator of the ladies. I think those images were in the public domain. Anyway each book was $1 and I bought three with the intent of cutting them up to use in artwork. I want you to know I restrained myself as there were about a dozen more on the shelf that I could have purchased!

Anyway what I did was cut out color images of the women. The illustrations were large and I decided to use a close-up image of the faces to be on the coaster as that is what would fit. I fashioned a template out of scrap cardboard so I could have a window to view the image through to decide where to cut. I used a metal ruler with a little squiggly edge and tore the paper against that so the edge had a fine torn look to it. The image shape was a square, I didn’t cut out the image.

(Note: after the transfer was complete I realized the image was white ink on paper which means that because I didn’t trim the image right along the face edges, the white color transferred onto the tile. If the image is printed on white paper and the background is not printed with white ink then the paper would have lifted off and the non-face areas would have been the color of the tile. I don’t know if there is a way to know that this will happen ahead of time or not.)

Next Steps
I dusted off each tile. I selected tiles that had the same tints. I was surprised to see some of the tiles had a gray cast to them so I used those as one set.

I tinted acrylic gel medium with burnt sienna acrylic craft paint. I applied this to the tile and let it dry for 30 minutes.

I applied acrylic gel medium to the image and placed it onto the tile. I baked that for 15 minutes at 150 degrees. It cooled for 15 minutes. Note that I made sure the brush strokes were all going in the same direction so they would have a consistent look to them.

I applied water to the surfaces and let it soak it. I began removing the paper by rubbing it. The weather was cold so the heat in the house was on. It was hard to do this step as the paper kept drying out. Unlike the first time I did this, this step had to be repeated over and over, taking hours to get all the paper off. I rubbed so much with my finger that I rubbed my fingerprint off.

I got desperate and tried using fine grit sandpaper which ended up ruining the image. This was a chance I took. Lesson learned.

I did realize that rubbing with a dampened rough dishcloth also works well. The cloth cannot be so rough as to damage the surface.

In the end I turned the coasters upside down on a jelly roll pan and poured water into it. I let it sit for about eight hours. I then rubbed more and all the paper came off. Some of the transfers developed little bubbles under the transfer as a result of doing this.

To dry the very soaked tiles I baked them at 150 degrees for 15 minutes, and then let them sit overnight to dry further.

The images of the women did not work well. This paper was thick and glossy, unlike the copy paper and newspaper I have used with success in the past. No matter what I did there was a film of white over the image, except when wet. I decided to do an experiment. I applied a couple of drops of olive oil to the surface which made the image look ‘normal’ and not foggy. I let that sit for a while then I used a clean paper napkin to wipe off the excess. I let it sit for a while then re-wiped it. I let it sit overnight and saw it still looked good. I wiped it yet again and it seemed dry and fine. I did wonder if the oil would make the acrylic top coat not stick. This was a gamble that I took.

Finishing Them Off
For Set B I painted the edges and a border on the back with black acrylic paint. For Set C I decided to leave the edges showing the burnt sienna wash color.

I applied two coats of acrylic mat medium for the final coat.

I used my big paper cutter to make straight cuts in pieces of wool felt that I had on hand, for the cushion for the bottom. I used tacky glue to apply the squares of felt to the bottom of each tile. I let this dry overnight.

As I said this process was spread over three days. This time the project took many hours of work and was not as fun.

Lessons Learned About Paper

In my experimentation with these marble art tiles I realized that the thinner the paper, the better. The easiest transfers were done from images from the newspaper. I have a lovely transferred color image of the Nutcracker ballerina from a Nutcracker ad from my local newspaper on one coaster.

I wonder what these should price these at if I were to sell them. They took many hours of work, mostly the rubbing off of the paper part, which actually got kind of annoying and not fun after a while. (The issue is that if you don’t get all the paper off, when it dries you see a film of the white paper like a haze over the image. You have to re-wet it and try again.)

I will scan the coasters before giving them away and will post them here.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Cool Art and Techniques: Tatt22edGoddess_Art

An artist named Sharon (who lives in Australia) who is on one of the Artist Trading Cards chat groups that I am on has her own Yahoo Group! to display her artwork.

In addition to displaying her artwork on this Group!, Sharon also explains the techniques used on her art. She makes ATCs, altered books, altered CDs, gluebooks, and various other altered art. She experiments in various styles. I especially love that she explains her techniques and that is the reason I joined her Group!; there are plenty of places on the web to look at artwork but there are not many that explain the techniques.

You join the list if you want to view her art. If you are 'no mail' setting then you won't get any emails, you can just view the art in her photo albums and read the information in the files section or browse messages online. If you sign up to receive emails you will receive announcements from the artist and the emails explaining her techniques.

This is not a chat list. Members are not able to email the group or chat.

I find her work very inspiring. Sharon is the one who opened my eyes to the fact that something called 'gluebooks' exists.

This is the name of her Yahoo Group!:

If you are curious you can join her Group then if you are not interested you can unsubscribe, simple as that.

Check it out!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Journal Fear, My Journals and Journaling with My Children

I will admit here I am having some fear about journaling. Here is what is going on.

I made a journal out of watercolor paper. I chose to paint the paper before binding it between hard covers. Each page looks so wonderful that I don’t want to cover it up with collaged images of any kind. So far my journal pages have mostly writing on them. Last night I journaled for an hour and was unable to put any images on it. I have lots of ephemera that I like and also ephemera from each day’s ‘events’ but I don’t want to “ruin” the page by covering up the water colored image.

Two nights ago I started a gluebook (aka glue book). A gluebook is a book in which a person does pure collage. No writing, no painting, nothing but glued in papers. I thought perhaps this method would free me. If I was collaging upon plain white paper then I would not want to cover it up. The problem with this type of background is that it is flat and boring. I finished one page and started four others. I then felt compelled to write on the pages to explain or discuss some of the items which appear on the page. I held back from doing because as per the ‘rules’ a gluebook is just a gluebook.

Then I was telling myself who cares what the definitions and rules are. I can do whatever I want. I guess I am in such a beginning point that I worry about doing things ‘right’. The other part of my brain tells me with journaling there is no ‘right’. It can be whatever I want it to be, I am free, I can do what I want.

Using whole images vs. pieces

Here is my other problem. Not only do I not want to show the whole background but I also have a problem with the image. I tend to want to use an entire image even if to do so takes up a ton of room.

I have seen work by artists who use portions of an image. Example: I would include the whole train ticket while someone else may have ripped off one edge of it and used a small piece of it (and that looks great). I am telling myself that if just a portion of the image evokes the same image or feeling or captures the moment or whatever, then that is doing its job and that is all that was required—seeing just a piece of it not the entire thing. However I am having a hard time doing it. I also hesitate to just shred up a piece of ephemera. I am actually afraid to do it. It seems silly for me to write that and admit that. Perhaps to get over this I should make some color copies of things then shred the copies and then once I am comfortable with that, start tearing and cutting up the originals. (I prefer to use original ephemera since I have so much of it all around me.)

So where I am at is I have been journaling in my artist journal and have started a gluebook.

The gluebook I started is in a spiral bound artists sketch journal which I bought 1.5 years ago while at a homeschooling conference. There is a great paper and art supplies vendor who attends this certain conference. The vendor has inexpensively priced paper which they custom bind into various tablets and pads. The company is called Miller Pads and Paper. They have a paper mail order catalog and an internet site. The Miller Pads and Paper sketch pad is 6x9 inches and cost $3.50.

I remember buying pads of watercolor paper (seems to be 140 lb. but I am not sure) for $3. This has not pilled on me and seems fully functional! There were 25 sheets in each pad. You can’t beat that price!

I also had purchased from them some other supplies which we have not used yet. Some of the greatest things were hardbound books with plain white covers and blank pages within that look like children’s picture books. However adults could use these books. I think I paid under $3 for each of these. There were various sizes. I have three in my basement which are 9x12 inches. I don’t know the page count off hand but it is low such as perhaps 32 pages or maybe less.

What my kids are doing as of two nights ago is journaling. My children are aged 5.5 and 8. I gave them their sketchbooks and said they are for gluing in, using stickers in, drawing, and/or writing in. I said they could do whatever they wanted with it. I also had one for me and sat down to go through pages of a magazine and I collaged upon the pages. My children chose different things to do. They ran to get their big art kit, a box of markers, a gel pen set, and the box of stickers. They alternated between creating their own drawings and making collages out of stickers.

Note to self: I need to get more stickers for the kids to play with.

My younger son also asked me to make some drawings for him. He is at that stage where he wants his drawings to be very realistic, as true to life as a photograph. He then refuses to draw if his drawing doesn’t look the way he wants. That first night I caved in and drew him a figure of Obi Wan Kenobi and then a picture of our house.

Last night I sat down to journal and both the kids ran for theirs. My older son did one page of stickers that looks like a crowded collage, then moved on to drawing his favorite thing: trains. He used gel pens. The first was multi-colored. Then he got an idea to do one with only shades of blue. There were about a dozen different shades of blue gel pens in the set (half sparkle ink, half matte).

My younger son wanted me to draw a Sith Lord with lightening coming out of his fingers and electrocuting a Jedi (yuck) and I refused to do any drawing. Instead I traced his hand on the page and he drew lightening coming out of that. Then when he complained of an inability to draw in a realistic manner I suggested he draw shapes instead. I introduced him to oil pastel crayons and I showed him how they could be blended. He did one page of abstract shapes and a second page was more like a border of the page outlined then repeated over and over toward the center. He had a blast blending the oil pastels but didn’t like it when he saw his hands were covered in dark colors. Thank goodness 99% of it washed off with warm water and soap.

Journaling in the evening right before bed has been a very relaxing experience for all three of us. I think we are going to keep this up. It is also nice that I am getting time to journal and not feeling that me doing that is ‘time away from them’. We are all doing it close to each other but working independently.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Rubber Stamp Business?

I will share something I was thinking about a few weeks ago.

I was thinking about all the great antique books that I own and how I have purchased some books just because I loved the illustrations. I was thinking about doing various kinds of transfers and how I could use these books as the source image for transfers.

I was on a rubber stamp company’s website and realized I recognized the illustrations from a children’s picture book. I then realized that anyone could use illustrations from old books to make and sell rubber stamps so long as the images were in the public domain and copyright free.

I got to thinking about how with rubber stamping the image can come out much clearer than with transfers. Well packing tape transfers are similar but you can’t work with the image as much and the ink color cannot be changed from the original color. There is also the problem of the packing tape transfer having a high gloss finish.

I then went to Google and searched about how one makes rubber stamps. I found a kit for $299 which is a soup to nuts kit. They said the cost ends up being 20 cents per square inch, if you average in the cost of all the various chemicals and supplies. Once the consumable parts of the starter kit are all used up, you can buy more chemicals and the consumable products from the same company. The process was basically two steps: take the image and make an etching and then make the rubber part of the stamp. The way they described the process seemed very easy and manageable for a person like me to be able to do.

I also saw some ads in a rubber stamping magazine advertising that if you send your etching to them they will do the rubber stamp making part. I believe the ad said the cost was $5.85 per 8x11 inch sheet of unmounted rubber stamps. This is MUCH less than 20 cents per square inch cost.

I saw another ad for a rubber stamp making vendor, who makes stamps from a person’s own designs. This ad was saying they are confidential and will keep your images secret. I then began wondering if there was some kind of underground problem whereby people send in their images to a company to have rubber stamps made then the company turns around and makes more and sells them. I would never have thought of that but it would not surprise me if that was the case. All kinds of unethical things like that go on in America.

I was then thinking that since I am so desperate for money perhaps I should go into the unmounted rubber stamp business from my home and run a web catalog. I could use images from antique books that I own and I’d have to verify the copyrights have expired.

I talked with my husband about this but he was leery. Frankly I don’t know if there is money to be made in this or “if I build it, they will come”.

If the start up costs were low and I use my free time to do this, maybe it would work.

I also wondered if I’d have to go on the rubber stamp convention circuit to promote my products.

Who knows, maybe someday I’d be on the Carol Duvall show?

Back to reality.

The reason I was thinking about this in the first place was to have rubber stamps to use for my own artwork that were designs that appealed to me.

After my husband gets a job and we can afford a $299 purchase on a hobby thing, I’ll buy that kit and check it out.

Another thing I could do is join a chat list for rubber stampers and see if anyone else has tried this kit or tried designing their own rubber stamps.

Monday, December 12, 2005

About Big Al Taplet

In 1998 I met Big Al Taplet. Big Al is a folk artist whose ‘real job’ was a shoe shine man. He is a self-taught artist who would paint primarily signs. He needed a sign for his show shine shop and he painted one with not only words, but with illustration(s). A passerby asked if he could buy the sign and he sold it for $10. Big Al reportedly was surprised anyone would want to buy his sign. The next sign sold for $15. Ever since, Big Al has been making folk art and selling it.

I learned via the web that originally Big Al owned a small shoe shine shop in New Orleans. He used to sell his artwork from the store front. At some point he stopped having a shop for shoe shining and began selling work on the sidewalks around Jackson Square.

His artwork was sold outside of Jackson Square in New Orleans, when I met him. He’d hang his signs on the iron fence. I was drawn to many of his pieces. Some that I would have loved to buy were priced at $85. I don’t remember being priced any lower than that. Actually the prices were not on the pieces, you had to ask him what the prices were. There were some great signs that I thought would be perfect for hanging in my kitchen (because I couldn’t imagine hanging signs featuring breakfast foods anywhere else but in the kitchen).

Big Al was fun to talk to. We chatted for about ten minutes as I admired his art. He tried talking me into buying some of his artwork. He laughed a lot and was quite a character. Big Al’s art is not my husband’s cup of tea. I decided not to buy any as I thought my husband would complain if I hung it up in our home, and frankly, that he’d freak out if he found out I’d paid $85 for it. Another thing that kept me from buying it that day was I didn’t have enough cash on me at the time. I regretted this decision as early as that night, because his art stayed in my mind and I had this great image of the art hanging in my kitchen. When I went back the next day he was not there.

When I visited New Orleans again in 1999, 2001 and 2002, I was hoping to buy some of Big Al’s work. I was ready at that point to buy it despite the complaints that I’d get from my husband. I also knew my family and my husband’s family would laugh at me and put this on their mental list of why they think I am weird. Anyway when I was in New Orleans on these trips I never saw Big Al again. Frankly I was wondering if he had passed away or was no longer making art.

I also wondered about Big Al post-Hurricane Katrina. I checked online today and saw that he is indeed alive and well and still is making ‘outsider art’. Here is a site which states he is living in Texas currently.

Big Al’s work often contains misspellings. A lot of his paintings feature shoe shining themes. He also makes a lot of art with the theme of no shoes, no service and also no money, no eggs (or other breakfast foods).

Here are some sites if you would like to see his artwork, photos of the artist and articles about him.

Article One

Article Two

Article Three

Article Four

Article Five

Article Six

Here is an article about Big Al in Houston after Hurricane Katrina hit.

This is a great long article about Big Al and Hurricane Katrina, and about him now that he is living in Houston

More on My Experience with Outsider Art in New Orleans
Twice while in New Orleans I’d visit a folk art gallery/shop. The work in there was amazing. The store was overstuffed. I could barely walk through the shop. Art was stacked on the floor, on the walls, and on every horizontal surface. I could have spent hours in there. Too bad at the time my son was a toddler and was in a stroller which was near impossible to navigate while in there. I saw many interesting pieces of art but again didn’t buy any as my husband would have detested them all and been angry that I had spent money on them.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Puzzled About Collage Sheets as a Business Venture

I am still surprised and puzzled about ‘collage sheets’. Let me get this right: someone purchases antique photos, scans them and sells copies of them as ‘collage sheets’ at $4-5 a pop? Do people really buy these?? Are these companies really making money?

Here is one online seller of collage sheets of vintage photographs, called B-Muse.

I once emailed the owner of one of these businesses after she placed an ad on an ATC chat list which I am on. I politely asked her if she really makes money on this type of business. She did not answer my questions. I was polite and was hoping my question would not offend her. It was an honest business question, I thought.

Over the years I have purchased antique photos at flea markets when I saw some. I always have been drawn to them. I wonder what the stories are behind the people captured on film. Some of the people and children are so interesting looking. I usually pay $1 per photo for them. I don’t have many, perhaps 20 total. My husband always thought I was nuts to buy them so I would limit my spending. The best source of them for me is the Wellfleet Drive-in Movie Theatre Flea Market in Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

My grandmother also has a collection of family photos which I could copy and sell, if it were a worthwhile endeavor.

I have always been drawn to old skeleton keys, which also usually sell for $1. This is another thing that my husband thinks I am strange for buying. I only have about 5 or 6 of them, but I digress.

Anyway I would really like to know if there is money making potential in selling these collage sheets. This is what I worry about:
The cost of running a website
How much time is invested in the business vs. profits actually made?
Can a profit actually be made?

If money can be made this way then all one needs to do is buy some of the photograph lot auctions which are on eBay. “Lots” of photos are going for less than $1 each.

A question I’d have is what type of printer would be high quality enough to use to print off these sheets. Could I use my home printer, would I have to buy a new one or would I pay a local copy shop to print them off for me?

Perhaps the solution to our lack of income and unemployment is me going into a business of this sort? Could it be that easy?

I spoke to my husband about this idea. He just said, “Be the seller, not the buyer”. I think he was worried I was going to go on a spending spree to purchase collage sheets. So far, I haven’t spent a dime on them, so he can rest easy.

By the way I am miffed about the copies of old photos or documents, not collage sheets of an artist’s original artwork (which seems more legitimate to me). Here is an example of an artist who sells her original artwork on collage sheets: Teesha Moore.

Finished First Art Journal Last Night

Last night I finished off making my first art journal. What I mean by that is I bound the papers into a hardcover binding. The journal is now ready to use. It is a 72 page journal with already-painted backgrounds of watercolor paint on watercolor paper. I ended up blending two different sets of directions on how to make a journal. I also didn’t have waxed upholstery thread so I improvised with waxed dental floss that we had on hand (!). It works just fine so far but it does seem a little thin. The next time I am near a fabric store I will purchase a spool of the right kind of thread.

Last night I made my first entry and also began decorating the cover and inside of the cover. I decided to leave the front cover up for ongoing collaging, as well as the inside of the front cover.

I was so tired and really wanted to get to bed so I took some magazines and a pair of scissors to bed with me with the intent of finding words and images to put into the journal. However, right then my younger son vomited and so then the plans for the night were changed.

My older son loves the journal and is asking that I make one for him. I think I will make one with regular paper (not watercolor paper). I have some large sized 120 lb. paper here intended for children’s drawings which would be sturdy enough for a book like this. I think that a journal such as this for an eight year old is a great idea, because the pressure is not on writing with words, composition, and handwriting (all of which are still difficult for a child of that age). The focus can be on adding things in, in a scrapbook or collage sort of way. Perhaps this can also be a place to journal and share feelings and thoughts? If it only ends up being a visual art type book that will be fine.

Now my husband is asking that I make such a book as a photo album for his father, of the cruise trip that my father-in-law took our entire family on earlier this year. I will have to think about that. I need to figure out what pro’s a handmade book has over purchasing a photo album. For example I wouldn’t want to watercolor the pages and put all that effort into it if most of the page will be covered with photos. If I do this the photos will look like regular photos, they won’t be cropped and ‘scrapbooked’. Sorry, but I still don’t like at all, the look of the typical ‘scrapbook’ fad albums.

I also was thinking of making some small books as gifts for friends. I can’t remember the name but there is a name for little books in which people write their favorite quotes or poems. As one is found, it is added to the book. It becomes a custom built inspiration book!

I will take some photos and will post them one of these days.

I plan to try and find time each day to make entries in my journal! I am so excited!

Rubber Stamping—Stamping Madness

Okay here is a sign that a person has stamping madness: everything they see is considered a possible item to use for stamping.

If my husband reads this he may have me committed. Okay, here I go.

The other day I finished off the last egg from the carton. This carton was Styrofoam. I realized the crunched up bottoms might make an interesting texture if I stamp with them. I saved this.

I finished a cartridge of Mentadent toothpaste last night. The bottom is an oval with two circles side by side inside of it. The cartridge is a hard plastic (I think #5) which my town does not recycle. I was wondering how this might look if I stamped with it. This thing I did throw away.

I saved the foil tops that come inside of powdered drink containers: Carnation Instant Breakfast, Ovaltine, Ghiradelli Hot Cocoa mix and Pacific Chai Tea mix. These are round and have little raised dots. I tried stamping with them and they make an interesting dot pattern. I found that stamping with acrylic paint worked better than rubber stamp ink.

I saved an onion bag the other day.

The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Serendipity: Foreign Language Books Found, Free

I have been looking at library sales for books in foreign languages, especially dictionaries, to use while making art. Back when I didn’t want them it seemed I saw them at every library sale.

The other day I was at a public library. In the lobby was a lot of free literature and also there was a box of free books. There were eight in the box.

One was a French/English dictionary. It is an old book with nice paper, a bit of foxing that gives it character. The spine is broken and pages are falling out. I won’t feel at all bad about using some pages to make art.

I also found a book that teaches Italian which is primarily lists of words, which looks very interesting for using for art. Actually this looks so interesting I may want to keep it to use it if my children or I ever want to learn to speak Italian.

Both books smell badly of cigarette smoke. I wonder if that is why the library is not keeping them for their annual book sale?

I took only those two books. I wanted to leave some for others to take.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Working on My First Art Journal

My Progress:

Sunday: Painted one side of 23 sheets of watercolor paper. This is some cheap brand that I had on hand and paid $3 for the pad of 23 sheets. It seems to be working fine, not pilling, etc.

Monday: Painted other side of 23 sheets of watercolor paper.

a. Selected my favorite 18 pages to use for interior pages and arranged them in an order that is not offensive to the eye (colors not clashing).
b. Folded papers and ironed to make sure they were flat and creased well.
c. Decided to make three signatures of six pages each.
d. Printed out directions from internet about how to make a journal from scratch. Printed the directions I used last May to make 20 small journals as party favors for my son’s Letterboxing Birthday Party. Also printed out the directions on
e. Read through both sets of directions and realized I am making a different size than these specify so now I have to use ‘math for daily living’ to figure out sizes for the cover board, paper for cover, end papers, etc.

Wish me luck.

Art Advent Calendar: Free Art Gifts for Us

This site was created by a person on one of my ATC chat lists. She shares one cyber gift of art with us daily through her cyber advent calendar. Each day a new PDF file is available for us to download and use in any way that we desire.

This is a creative idea. I am grateful when people make and share things like this with strangers, connecting together in cyberspace!

Monday, December 05, 2005

My First Two Marble Art Tiles

These are my fist two marble art tiles, which I blogged about recently (read blog entry here).

Technical note: Blogger was not uploading the other image. There was no error message, it said it was 'done' but there was no image. I read in the help section that if the image is too large it can't be uploaded. I downsized the dpi of the scan and then it worked. I wish Blogger would have an error message explaining that so I'd/we'd understand the cause of the problem without guesswork!

Dover 50% Clearance Sale

Dover's online store has new items in their Clearance Center--50% off. I see lots of items here for making art. There are art history books and fine art postcards. There are stickers of Victorian babies and children. There are clip art books and books of images in the public domain. Their gift wraps can be used as collage elements or for decoupage.

I have ordered from Dover online before and the customer service was great and the items were received quickly and without error.

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Huge Art Day Today

I have been very busy lately and unable to make art. I have been helping my mother by attending doctor’s appointments for her Breast Cancer. I also spent a day with her when she had her surgery.

I have found what appeals to me most while sitting in waiting rooms for hours and while faced with such a depressing thought as my mother having Cancer is reading about making art. I hope to write some reviews and summaries of the books and magazines which I have been reading soon.

Last night was the coldest night of this season so the heat was really going in our house. As a result, I had one of those horrible dreams where my mouth and throat are all dry and no matter how much I drink, I cannot quench the thirst. I woke up to realize this was just a dream but did find myself completely dried out. It was five in the morning and I was well rested and unable to get back to sleep. So I got up to make art.

I began by working on an ATC for a Found Photos swap which has been difficult to make. I worked with it a little but still felt discouraged. I tried working on a swap called “Scavenger Hunt” but still can’t find images that are required for this. I am considering backing out as this is not fun anymore.

I then decided to begin altering the thrift shop finds. I put a coat of Golden White Gesso on these items:
Seven Christmas ornaments ($2)
Lid of metal heart shaped container (25 cents)
French Flower Vase ($2)
Wooden box with lid (25 cents from a thrift shop)

(I took 'before' pictures of these items which I will share with you another time, if Blogger will let me upload them.)

After that dried I lightly sanded each then applied a second coat.

Everyone was still asleep so I decided to make the beginnings of a watercolor paper journal. I took out a watercolor paper pad which I bought last year for $3. I don’t know the weight of it, but it is good enough to not pill or come apart when I paint on it. The pad had 23 pages in it.

This is how I like to work with the watercolor paints. I dampened the surface of the paper with water. It is not soaking wet, it is just damp. I then squeeze tubes of watercolor paint onto a palette. I think this is a cheap brand of paint; I bought it in an overstock store for $1.95 for 12 little tubes of paint. I am not disappointed by it so far. Hey, this is all I can afford right now so this is what I am using! I then dampened an old shaving brush and dipped it into the paint (undiluted). I brush this across the paper. I add in a second color and sometimes also white. If the color is too dense I dip the brush into the clear water and then paint on the paper with it. I make sure the entire paper is covered.

Today I worked primarily with shades of pink (made with red and white paint), shades of red with a touch of orange/yellow mixed in, and some blues with white paint mixed in. The green page I made was not a pretty color, it looked a bit muddy (perhaps this is a consquence of using cheap paints?). I made two purple pages which came out quite dark and frankly I don't know if they can be written upon (maybe I should try bleaching them?).

The pages dried very quickly due to the house being so dry because the heat is cranking due to the weather being in the 20s today.

Oh, I forgot to mention that when I woke up there was snow on the ground and it was falling the entire time. This meant that church was out of the question. Also the roads were not plowed and that meant our brunch plans at our friend’s house was also cancelled. So I was relaxed enough to play at art and not feel guilty. It was great to think the whole day was committment-free all of a sudden, what a luxury.

When the watercolor paper dried it was curled up at the edges I was not going to give up, though. I decided to iron the very-dry papers. It worked. On an ATC chat list which I am on, when someone asked about this problem/dilemma, they were told to buy more expensive, heavier pound paper.

Anyway I hope to make an artists journal for myself and also I’d like to give one to a friend who keeps a (regular) journal. Perhaps the painted pages will inspire her more than her journals grid-paper.

An open question is what do I do about the backs of the pages? Can these be painted upon also? I will experiment with this. However if you have the answer I'd love to hear it.

My children then woke up and they wanted to make paper snowflakes. This was inspired by last week’s Cub Scout meeting in which my Co-Leader had the Scouts making snowflakes to give to residents of a nursing home at which we will be singing Christmas Carols and other holiday songs. My older son insisted on doing things his way so all of his snowflakes came out square. I took out some square tissue paper we own and we made more with the colored tissue paper. Later I ironed some of these so that they would lie flat. My older son refused to allow me to iron his as he said he preferred the look of the folds being visible. (I live with children with strong opinions.)

I also worked on painting the French Flower Vase. After the two coats of Golden white Gesso I applied one coat of burnt sienna colored acrylic craft paint. In some areas where the brush strokes were I could see the white background. I decided I'd like it to be a more muted color, so for the next coat I applied an acrylic glaze to which I had added a cream colored acrylic paint as a tint. When this was dry, it looked too white and bright to me, it didn't come out the way that I had thought it would. I decided to apply a coat of bronze metallic acrylic paint as a wash (the paint was diluted with an equal part of water). This effect worked great. In the areas that looked too white and bright I added plain paint and worked it in until it looked good to me.

I painted the exterior and the handles and the top rim. I left the interior the way it was, which is painted a solid cream color.

My original intention was to collage on top of this paint. Frankly, it looks great the way it is. I will put this to the side for a few days while I ponder the next step (if there is one). I also will ponder what kind of images I would want to collage onto this and also what will I use this for? (And I do want the other three which are still for sale at the thrift shop for $2 each.)

As I write this it is approaching 6 p.m. and dinner is over and already cleaned up. I might have more time for making art before we go to bed.

Thrift Shop Finds: For Altering

My brother, parents, and grandmother have been donating a lot of things to a certain thrift shop in their hometown in the last year. I helped my grandmother do a decluttering this summer and fall and we donated at least 20 large bags or boxes of items. (My brother did the drop-off’s.) I had never visited the shop until two days ago.

The shop is not open often and never past 4 p.m., and it is 35 minutes away from me (without traffic), so I had not been there. However I did get to visit with a goal of finding things to alter, two days ago.

I found a French Flower Vase (actually there were four but I only bought one). I decided to try to alter it and if it worked, I’d go back and get the other three (or send relatives to buy it). I am now kicking myself because I paid $2 and I see similar ones for over $55. These were all in ‘like new’ condition. Here is a picture of one which looks very similar. However the design on the exterior of mine was a different and better looking (to me) muted rose pattern.

I bought a little cabinet with a door. This appears to be melamine but maybe it is real wood. It has a nice nautical scene on the inlaid panel on the door. I paid $5 for it.

I bought a wooden tray intended for cutlery. This is quite sturdy and nice and cost $3.

I bought a tiny heart shaped tin with a vanilla scented candle in it for 25 cents. Today I am burning the candle out and will alter it to be a little container.

I bought a bag of Christmas ornaments; there were eight in all, for $2 total. Upon further inspection of them (they were in a sealed bag), I realized these are Styrofoam bases coated with decorative papers and sealed with what looks like Mod Podge. I say it looks like Mod Podge that because one was quite yellowed and cracked in two spots, so I threw it away. (People keep telling me that Mod Podge yellows and can crack over time.) There were four circles/balls and four heart shaped (three dimensional).

The goal of buying things at inexpensive prices to alter is threefold: I can’t afford to buy new expensive things to alter; I would not want to spend the money that way even if I did have it, and if I botch the job then I am not out very much money. Oh, and this is yet another way to “reuse and recycle”. Lastly, the money I spent on these goes to a charity, so they benefit from my purchase as well.

Subscribed to Art and Life & Wish List

With money that my Grandmother is giving me for Christmas I just subscribed to Art and Life magazine. This is a magazine published by Teesha Moore. This is a new magazine.

Issue #1 was sold out. I saw auctions for them selling on eBay for over $20 per issue.

However today, on, I see that they have reprinted additional copies of Issue #1 and they are selling for $10 for that single issue (however shipping is $7---OUCH!).

My 5.5 year old son just asked me what I would like for Christmas. He said that he would write a letter to Santa on my behalf. I asked for Issues #1-4 of Play magazine.

However after I said that I realized that now that I could have Issue #1 of Art and Life, I want that also.

I guess the letter should be amended.

However I reminded my son that Santa only buys presents for children, so this will fall on deaf ears. He got a little emotional and said he wants me to have some things that I want for Christmas, that not just he and his brother receive gifts.

How sweet!