Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My ATC: Family: A Balancing Act

Title: Family: A Balancing Act

This ATC was made as part of a themed swap called "Found Photos". The photo was sent to me by the swap hostess.

Here is how I made it.

First I looked at the photo and really looked at the faces of the people. I looked at the body language and it seemed to me that some people were not happy. I didn't know if they were not happy to have their picture taken or if they truly were not a happy family.

I created this in mid-December when things were getting complicated with family, plans for Christmas, etc.

I wanted the focus to be on the people not on the boring background images, so I cut the family out of the photo.

I chose a handmade paper in a complimentary color and applied the photo. However it looked too plain. I decided to use a rubber stamp pad to add color to the surface of the background paper. As I rubbed the stamp pad across the surface, I was surprised to see how it picked up the raised texture of the paper. I liked the effect.

I didn't quite know what to do next. I thought I should do something to embellish this so started looking through my rubber stamps. I found two, one said "Pros" and had numbers, and the other said "cons" and had numbers. I then thought about how to keep family harmony is a balancing act and how sometimes there are pro's and con's to living near family, such as at holiday times. I used black ink to apply the "pro" and "con" rubber stamp images. (Note: I bought these stamps used on eBay and don't know who the manufacturer is.)

I used another rubber stamp with a fancy line-design in the lower corner (three times) to add a little something to that dead space.

I then wished I had some image of a scale and remembered that a button assortment I had bought about four years ago had a scale button. I cut the back off so it would not protrude as much. I used Golden Acrylic Gel Medium (regular) to apply the button.

I hand wrote "Family" onto tissue paper and applied it. The 'balancing act' is implied by the set of scales.

Lastly, to give a finishing touch I dragged the edges of the ATC across a black ink stamp pad.

I love this ATC and wished I was not swapping it out.

I wonder if the person who received this likes it?

Monday, January 30, 2006

My ATC: Men! Train Now

ATC Title: Men! Train Now

This ATC is yet another made from ads from the October 1956 issue of Mechanix Illustrated magazine. The ads focused on enticing men to learn new careers which would make a successful entrepreneur or rich with free training or a low cost mail coorespondence course.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

My ATC: Become An Expert

ATC Title: Become An Expert

Yet another ATC made from original papers from ads from the October 1956 Mechanix Illustrated magazine.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

My ATC: Money Men Free

ATC Title: Money Men Free

Yet another ATC made from original pages (ads) of Mechanix Illustrated October 1956 issue. These ads target men who are looking for a new career or profession to earn money, preferably to 'get rich quick'.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

My ATC: At Less Than Wholesale

Title: At Less Than Wholesale

This is another ATC made from ads from the October 1956 issue of Mechanix Illustrated. These ads focus more on buying things at discount prices. I am not sure if the men were supposed to buy them to resell them for profit or if they were just selling items for the consumer to use.

As with others in this series I was inspired by a certain collage I saw in a history of collage book. There was one collage made by a Dada artist which was very geometric.

I like these ATCs as they are little snapshots in time, like a little time capsule.

I was just looking at a 1969 Mechanix Illustrated magazine and see that they had changed the format of the magazine. Gone were the numerous pages of tiny classified ads and the other very small ads such as these.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My ATC: Make Big Pay

ATC Title: Make Big Pay

This is another in the series I am doing from original pages from an October 1956 Mechanix Illustrated magazine. These are ads for men about finding new careers with minimal cost or effort, that will make them rich.

These are collages done with an inspiration by the Dada movement. They are very geometric.

I love the color of the papers, the paper is a newsprint type of paper which has oxidized or 'foxed' over time.

My father gave me these magazines recently. I am not sure if he found them at my grandmother's house or if he found them elsewhere.

I am making these for fun, to keep or trade, not as part of a swap.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My ATC: Easter 1938

ATC Title: Easter 1938

This ATC was made for a swap called "Found Photos". The hostess sent me some antique photos. I was to make five ATCs from those photos. The photos were to be originals, not copies.

This photo was larger than the ATC size so I had to reduce it in some way. I decided it looked better to cut the girl out rather than to make a rectangle shape. She was standing on steps that led to a doorway of a house. The back of the photo had a date in 1938 which was from the spring. The way she was dressed made me think perhaps this was Easter and this was her Easter dress. It could have been any other day but people usually took photos of their children in their new Easter outfits.

The background is watercolor paper which I painted upon with watercolors. The blue is an oil pastel crayon. The black ink is a permanent drawing pen ink with my own handwriting.

I wanted something else to fill the ATC so looked through an old Hermes tie catalog. I found the images of the Easter bunnies and eggs in that catalog. Yes, those are designs from a Hermes men's tie. I would have preferred to have antique images of Easter themed things, but when I tried printing images from the internet on my home printer they were a terrible quality. The quality of my home laser printer is just terrible. The copies showed too many pixels.

I liked the way the ATC turned out. I am still wondering what the little girl is thinking, though!

Monday, January 23, 2006

My ATC: All Will Be Well #2

My ATC: "All Will Be Well #2"

Here is another ATC I made for Lynne.

Again the text message is the main focus. Therefore there is not a lot of visual clutter.

The background paper is watercolor paper and it has been painted with watercolor paint. The message is a line from my favorite hymn "Through the Love of God Our Savior" by Mary B. Peters. The text was written with a drawing pen. The heart image is my hand carved stamp (from a wine cork). The border is a blue rubber stamp pad ink which I dragged the ATC through.

Simple and Clean. It gets the message across. It meets my goal.

Friday, January 20, 2006

My ATC: Profitable

This ATC is called "Profitable" and was made from the October 1956 Mechanix Illustrated advertisements. It was inspired by a Dada collage I saw pictured in a book on the history of collage.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My ATC: Do You Want To Own Your Own Business?

This is my ATC which I titled "Do You Want To Own Your Own Business". I had fun making a series of collaged ATCs from original papers from an October 1956 Mechanix Illustrate magazine. My father gave me this magazine which he found at my grandmother's home. It was going to be thrown away.

I cut ads from the pages which were advertisting careers for men. Some of the ads touted free training for careers while others advertised coorespondence courses. Some ads promised riches from various industries such as laminating plastic or importing items for pennies per unit and selling them for $2.

Each ATC is like a tiny time capsule. Some of the text is very tiny. I am not sure if the resolution is high enough for them to be seen well on the screen.

Let me know what you think of these. I am going to try to post one ATC per day. So far I have made eight in this series.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

ATC Play Yesterday

I was really happy to be able to spend some time making ATCs yesterday. I was coming off of a week of heavy duty decluttering, putting away Christmas decorations, new toys, and doing a bulk cooking marathon. I needed to have some fun. Some alone time was also needed. My children went to a friend’s house for a playdate. My husband went to visit and help out his parents. And I was alone in the house!

The sum total of what I did yesterday was: some cooking, some light cleaning, and played with making ATCs. (I almost said “worked on ATCs but it is really fun play so I changed the wording!)

I made five easy ATCs for a person on an ATC chat list whom I don’t know who suffered a stroke at what I think is a very young age. I put thought into them. The technique was easier than I usually do. I started posting images of these on this blog. These are much simpler than the ATCs that I usually make. Since I wanted a definite message to come across I felt that the text should speak for itself. As I made these I was praying for her. I packaged these up and prepared them to go out in the next day’s mail.

I made five new ATCs using a 1956 issue of Mechanix Illustrated magazine. In the Dada and art deco type style I made collages using original ephemera from pages of advertisements.

I also did more work on five ATCs that I thought were finished but really looked ‘unfinished’ to me. I didn’t like them as they were. I played around with some tinted acrylic glazes, gel pens and stamp pads to further embellish the ATCs. I like them better now.

It was nice to have a few hours to myself. I was able to get into that flow mode, then I took a break from it to do some cooking then I got back into the flow mode again. I find that it is a great escape from the stresses of reality and when I am finished I am left with a very calm and happy feeling which remains with me for the rest of the day.

Today I need to make the backs for the ATCs and then they will be ready to swap out.

Monday, January 16, 2006

My ATC: All Will Be Well #1

"All Will Be Well #1"

This ATC has a background of watercolor paint on watercolor paper. I wrote some lines from my favorite hymn "Through the Love of God Our Savior" by Mary B. Peters. I wrote it with a calligraphy pen and ink.I was annoyed to see the ink bleeding into the paper. I then rubber stamped over the whole thing with a large rubber stamp of botanical images. The color was too bright so I painted over it with a glaze which was tinted yellow, however, that smeared everything a little, just enough to be bothersome to read. As a last ditch effort I re-wrote over the original text with a drawing pen. I thought it was now alright to read. I finished by making a border by dragging the edges of the ATC on a rubber stamp ink pad in the same color green as I used for the botanical print stamp.

One note is that for whatever reason the colors on my computer screen are not accurate. The real ATC has a deep and more orange tone. What I see on my screen is a bit more garish and more yellow. If the real thing really looked like this I would throw it away!

My ATC: Love Heals All

My ATC: "Love Heals All"

This ATC was made on watercolor paper with a watercolor painted background. The text is rubber stamped. The heart stamp is one of the homemade stamps that I made by carving a wine cork. There is a thin border of pink ink which was done simply by dragging the edge of the card across the ink pad's surface.

This ATC is not be high tech or complicated. The goal of this ATC was to get a message across, a message of encouragement and healing. I think it fulfills that goal and it is pleasing to my eye.

Made Five ATCs for Lynne Today

Today I worked on making some ATCs for a new member (named Lynne) of an ATC chat list who suffered a stroke. I do not know this person but learned of this through Lynne's friend who posted an email to the Group about Lynne's condition. This hit too close to home as she is the same age as I am (38). She lives in an area close to where my mother grew up (in another state). I was just there last week.

I made five ATCs to send to her with a typical Get Well card. As I made these I was praying for a full recovery for Lynne and I was also praying for her family and friends to remain strong and keep their thoughts and prayers positive and hopeful. I feel strongly that prayer can help healing and that conversely, negative or pessimistic thoughts can hinder healing.

Things didn't go so smoothly today for making these ATCs. To get five good ATCs I made mistakes and messed up four others.

All five ATCs were made on watercolor paper with a watercolor painted background. Some were rubber stamped with text messages which I wanted to be the primary focus of the ATC. Some were hand written by me and are quotes from my favorite hymn which is called "Through the Love of God Our Savior" and is Hymn #350 from the Christian Science Hymnal. That hymn can be read and the tune can be heard here. Because I wanted the ATCs to have a clear message these are more text-focused rather than being centered around visual images.

My creative juices are flowing now and after I post this I want to go make more ATCs, perhaps with collage. I also want to do more experimenting with painting with tinted acrylic glaze.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Thoughts on Quality of ATCs We Swap Out

Here is a copy of a post I put on an internet chat list tonight. It is about quality of ATCs that we swap out.

The conversation started when someone asked to do blind swaps in small quantities. A person replied saying she received various poor quality type ATCs in those kind of swaps. She asked that anyone who does a blind swap should put their best foot forward and not send junk or ATCs which were mistakes. Here is what I added to the conversation.

Will add that if you send ATCs with embellishments in a plain envelope they make break in transit. So if you have an embellishment on there I advise to use a bubble wrap envelope.

With that said I like to tell myself that ALL the ATCs are made with the best foot forward. I have a feeling that when I think something is ‘sub par’ that the artist thought it was good. If I thought people were intentionally sending junk it would depress me too much!!

My current pet peeve is when a digital image is used and it is manipulated or for whatever reason when it prints off with a lot of pixels showing rather than looking like a clean image, and/or it is stretched out and weird (and it is not intended to look abstract), that to me is poor quality. (I have tried using some online images and sometimes it looks great on the screen but I guess my printer is not that great and the printout looks lousy—so I don’t use that image.)

One last thing I want to throw in is that a newbie sent me some ATCs that were not on cardstock. We cooresponded privately and I politely explained that they are not supposed be on magazine-thin paper, it is too flimsy and will damage quickly, that the cardstock thickness (or thicker) is a rule. She said that people on the list keep saying the only rule with ATCs is the size. Well I think if anyone says that they need to remember it is a ‘card’ and the 2nd rule is that it be cardstock or heavier! Gentle reminder there for all of us.

I think blind swaps are risky but not more risky than any type of swap other than a private swap in which the person viewed the online image of the ATC. Oh and sometimes the online image of the ATC looked great but in person it wasn’t that great, so I guess even that is not foolproof.

In the end we are all human. I try my hardest on my own ATCs. Sometimes I like certain ones better than others but don’t send out any that I think are mistakes. I hope others don’t do that!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

About PostSecret

A couple of weeks ago I discovered PostSecret.

I found out about this while shopping on Amazon and saw that other people who bought the books I own had also purchased the PostSecret book, compiled by Frank Warren.

In reading about the book I found out this started with a website. I immediately pointed my browser to the site to check it out.

Apparently millions already know about PostSecret, so I have been in the dark. I will share the information in case you are also in the dark.

Here is what it is and how it works. If a person has a secret, being defined as a secret that they have never told anyone else, and then they qualify to participate. The person designs their own 4x6 inch postcard and mails it to a certain address. This is done anonymously. This is kind of a confessional and catharsis thing.

Selected postcards are featured on the PostSecret website. The new images are uploaded each Sunday. The site only shows the images for one week; there are no archives.

A book has been published which is a compilation of some of the submissions to date. The book is fascinating. I bought it with money that was given to me for Christmas. Unfortunately I don’t feel that it is a good coffee table book for our family as some of the images and content are inappropriate for children.

Last week an art exhibit in Washington D.C., of PostSecret postcards ended. I read that over 15,000 people attended. I would have liked to have gone!

I find some of the postcards hilarious and others very sad. Some have even brought tears to my eyes. It is hard to believe some of them, I wonder if some are made up for shock value just to get published.

Before you view the site be forewarned that some of the content can be emotionally disturbing or inappropriate for young children, or for you to view while at work! Some of the content may even disturb an adult or be against your morals or beliefs. For example the secret may be about a rape, sexual abuse, sex, or any other type of sin. The secrets are also sometimes funny or silly. Some have nudity. You never know what will appear. A recent one that caught my attention was a reference that a woman is scared she will never be able to conceive a child again, and stated she ‘killed’ her first baby (I assume through abortion).

If a person’s postcard is featured on the site the person sometimes writes in with comments or background information about their postcard.

If you want to send in a postcard, here is the address to use:

13345 Copper Ridge Road
Germantown, MD 20874-3454

What do you think of PostSecret?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hosted My First ATC Swap

Today I spent time swapping out ATCs for an ATC Swap that I am hosting. This is the first swap that I am hosting. The theme is "Baby". The requirements were that there must be an image of at least a baby face on the card, everything else was up to the players.

I am learning some lessons as I go. I think I will write these up and post them on another day.

My favorite part of this is seeing all the different ATCs that people make. I also am keeping one from each player so I get to choose my favorite one of each grouping, which is great!

Originally I said it was a 5/4 which meant that they send me 5 and they get back 4. However since I had about a dozen participants (in the end), I decided to make one ATC for each person. Now each person is getting 5 back so in reality it was a 5/5 swap.

I really think that for all of the time and energy that I spent that sending one extra so the hostess can keep one is not asking too much. A few people sent a few extra goodies in the way of ephemera to me as a gift which was GREATLY appreciated and very fun to receive. Since I first heard of that practice I have been doing that for all the hostesses.

On one of the chat lists a recent discussion was about that topic and some said that they would refuse to participate in a swap in which the hostess wanted to keep one for herself. I hope that each person who feels that way will someday host a swap and see all the time that it takes. I would estimate that including emails back and forth through this whole process plus preparing the swap and going to the post office, that I have spent about 5 or 6 hours on this task!

One bummer is that someone from the Netherlands said she sent her envelope on December 7 but to date it has not arrived, so she did not participate in the swap after all. I wonder if it will just be delayed in getting here or if it is truly lost?

Anyway I look forward to hosting another swap in the near future. I really liked hosting, it was worth the time and effort!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Thoughts on My Journal & Recognizing Artists Work

I am at a point where when I read books or magazines about journaling or collage or 'altered art' I can recognize some of the artists just by their style. I am surprised that this is happening. I now can pick out immediately, work done by: Teesha Moore, Tracy Moore, Lynne Whipple, Lynne Perrella and Claudine Hellmuth. Pretty good for someone who has been into altered art for just four months. Or maybe that means I am doing too much reading about this topic!!

I am inspired by the work that others do. I am at a point though, where I enjoy looking at some of it, and am inspired by some of it, but I am not always interested in copying and recreating what someone else has done. (This is why so many of the paper arts magazines and books do not appeal to me. I want to create my own thing not just have a step by step process of what someone else has done.)

The best thing for me is to be inspired to try something new and to interpret it in my own way. For example I may try a paint technique that one artist wrote about, but I use a color that is more appealing to me.

What it has underscored for me is that what I think is important for me at least to find my own style and to feel happy with it. I do have my own way of doing things but sometimes in the recent past I'd read or see something and feel that perhaps I should be doing THAT instead of THIS. Sometimes it would make me feel that what I was doing is not good enough.

I am my happiest when I am creating things in my own style. I did a lot of work in my artist journal last week. What I did is unlike anything I have ever seen pictured, and that is now okay with me.

I have stopped beating myself up about my journal because it doesn’t look like someone else’s. I don’t like it when people say you should do this or that. That includes the recommendation that in a journal an artist should really work to have a minimum number of words vs. images or artistic elements. Right now what feels right for me is to have a blend of words with artistic elements. Now I am journaling using fewer words than I used to. My past attempts to journal with words only never became a routine thing as just sitting and journaling in long hand writing was boring to me. (Actually blogging is a form of journaling; it is just online so I do spend time daily on this blog or blogging on my other blog.)

Anyway at this point I am having fun. My journal has watercolor painted background pages which were fun to create and are fun to write on. I am having a blast collaging on top of the pages with ephemera from my daily life or with images or cut out words or phrases that apply to my life or to what is being written about on that page. I also am doing some rubber stamping in the journal. This is a nice balance for me.

If I get brave I may post a scan of some of my journal pages. I am not ready for that yet, though.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What I Am Doing This Week

This week my children and I are in Maine visiting my grandmother. My husband (and cat) are home holding down the fort.

Due to me not having a computer up here (other than this slow connection at the public library), I have more time on my hands this week. I am using it to make art and relax.

Monday night I was stressed due to having the kids on my nerves. I put a movie on for them to watch and went into the other room. I took out ephemera that I gathered while on the 500 mile drive up here (maps, travel brochues, etc.) and cut out some stuff to glue into my journal. I also wrote in my journal.

Tuesday I visited the library and found a large bunch of free magazines. I took four and on Tuesday and Wednesday cut them up after reading through them. My children and I all were cutting them up. I glued pieces into my art journal. My kids glued things into their own gluebooks. Actually they are now also drawing in their gluebooks so I guess the right term for them is now a journal.

Right now I am at the public library and will see if there are any other good free magazines that they are giving away.

Three times so far this week I got into that "flow" thing which is always great to experience. My journal is turning into something quite unlike any other journal I have seen pictured on the web or in various books or magazines. I think that is a good thing as it is turning out to be a reflection of me and my style, instead of me copying what someone else is doing.

I keep telling myself that there are no mistakes in journaling. I can't remember if it was Teesha Moore or Lynne Perrella who said that but anyway...it is true. I am experimenting and if I don't like the outcome I change it. I am not chastizing myself if something I try doesn't come out well.

Altered Book

This week I started my first altered book that is not a board book base. What a pain this is turning out to be.

I am doing the method where I glue 12-15 pages together with acrylic gel medium (Golden brand) and holding that together with bulldog clips until it dries. I am trying to be careful but it is messy. The clips are getting glued to the pages themselves.

Not all the pages stick and I had to reglue some.

Some of the glue is bumped up and a mess. I bought some sandpaper from the local hardware store (gasp--it is not a Home Depot!). I sanded down the edges to try to fix that.

I have watercolor and acrylic paints up here, as well as my tinted glazes.

I am wondering why I have not seen anyone complaining about the not so perfect side of making altered books. Or am I the only one who is experiencing this?

If it is always going to be a pain I will stick to making my own journals from thick paper and binding them myself. Really, it was not hard to make my own hardback journal.

Okay I must get off the internet now. We are limited to 15 minutes at a clip here at the public computers at this library.

Happy New Year!