Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Baby Wipe and Paper Towel Paint Technique

I had heard of this technique on chat forums about making ATCs in the past. Now the technique is represented and explained in the book "Artist Trading Card Workshop" by Bernie Berlin. Since I knew it before and it is not a big long process I'll explain it here.

You basically put paint onto a baby wipe. Period.

Some people use baby wipes to clean up their ink or paints. Then they dry the used baby wipes out and use them as backgrounds.

For mine, I did some with watercolor paint (intentionally) and some with liquid acrylic paint (intentionally).

For some of a different but similar technique I used paper towels to clean up alcohol inks, another time: rubber stamp ink and another time: acrlyic paint. Then I used the dried out "rags" of paper towel to make backgrounds for the ATCs.

Each brand of paper towel and baby wipe has different patterns or embossing to them, so there are numerous possibilities. One baby wipe brand we had in the house was covered with tiny teddy bears. I didn't want that but maybe someone would like that.

You can either use the solid sheet as a flat background or you can tear the toweling or wipe randomly and layer it onto a stiff background material with acrylic gel medium as the adhesive. Let it dry then do whatever you want on top of that to make an ATC. This of course would also work for other things like larger collages.

Have fun.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Finished ATCs for Swap: Watercolor Paint on Baby Wipe

Phew. Today I finished my ATCs for a swap with the technique of “watercolor paint on baby wipe”. That technique makes the background then we get to do whatever we want on top of it to finish the ATC. This technique is one that is taught in the book “Artist Trading Card Workshop” by Bernie Berlin.

I had made the backgrounds quite some time ago.

One set came out much, much brighter than I intended. The colors are bright red and a bright blue (together on one background). Some of them were more mixed to make a deep plum purple color.

Each time I sat down to make these ATCs I had creative block. Those bright colors were just killing me. They look cool, don't get me wrong, but they are a bit like tie-dye shirts rather than what I am used to working with.

As I blogged last week I’ve been very busy doing outdoors fun stuff in the late spring and this early summer. I have not had a lot of time to make art. I have been squeezing it in here and there. But in reality more of what was happening was squeezing in time to sit and have creative block. I'd plan to make the ATCs then I'd sit down and just be frozen. I'd stare at those backgrounds and my mind was absent of ideas.

The deadline for the swap is tomorrow so I just carved time out today and forced myself to do it.

I know from reading what others have said, to just “make art” and the block will lift. I literally forced myself to make some ATCs and the first ones had mistakes and failures. I started off trying rubber stamping. Even the black Staz-On ink was not making dark impressions, it was coming out light despite there being adequate ink on the stamp. I then switched to embossing with rubber stamping which does not at all work on that background, it was so odd how the embossing kind of sank into the baby wipe and disappeared.

I then switched to sifting through my papers, ephemera and found some good stuff but it was not jiving with the background colors. The second set was a jade color green, by the way. It was frustrating but I kept going.

I finally made some decent ATCs. I then seemed to find one great idea after another. I forced myself to stop when I finished the tenth ATC. I only had to make six! So it got to a flow point where I just was on a roll and so I made some extras.

In a few minutes I’ll scan them, write my name on the back then seal the envelopes to get them ready to go out in tomorrow’s mail.

Frankly I am glad the swap is finished as I was under a lot of pressure to get them finished before the deadline. I am very good about doing my swaps on time and am a stickler about it with others so of course I am holding myself to the same standard.

I have two swaps left to go, one with a June deadline and the other in the second week of July. I have not signed up for any more swaps as I want some time to relax and do summer stuff.

I’ll post the scans when I have time to reformat the scans into an up-load-able format.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

ATCs for Greeting Cards

I have been thinking of an idea. Then a friend from my ATC trading world emailed me saying she did a very similar idea. The base premise is the same, use an ATC as the front of a greeting card.

My idea was to take some of the store-bought blank greeting cards that come pre-folded with envelopes and to put an ATC on the front as the decoration. I was thinking about ways to attach it that would allow the recipient to realize what they had was also an ATC and to have it removable.

My first idea was to use clear fishing line to sew the card onto the front of the card. I imagined sewing in the four corners, enough to keep it attached. The clear color would not obstruct from the design of the ATC. This would be cut off so the ATC could be kept, if one wanted. I thought of putting some note on the back of the greeting card to say the front is an ATC and to explain what an ATC is. I figured since I was giving this away this would not get me into any trouble with the ethics of ATCs which don’t allow for selling of the ATCs. I planned to do this with ATCs made by other artists, which I own due to the fact that I swap ATCs with other people. I have a bunch here that are high quality but just not my taste. The ones that are for holidays would be just perfect for this use.

My second idea is to glue a clear plastic pocket sleeve onto the front of the card, then slip the ATC inside it.

Coincidentally my friend emailed me with a similar concept. She didn’t know what I was thinking but said that she had been adhering ATCs to the front of greeting cards with glue. The recipient did not know that the design was an ATC. I think it is funny that we were both thinking of similar ideas and that she had already been doing it. She said the recipient of a box of cards said she absolutely loved them. What she did was make a box of greeting cards to be used as thank you notes and gave them as a gift for a baby shower gift. She said the guests loved them also.

Tonight I plan to give the fishing line idea a try.

Update: The sewing idea didn't work. I went to plan B with the plastic sleeves and it worked. I made over 40 of them last night and today. They look fantastic, actually, better than when they are in a 9 sleeve card folder inside a binder.

Two comments came in today about making slits in the paper and tucking the ATCs into the corners. Thanks for sharing that idea also. I will try that too.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My ATCs: Paint on Paper Towel Technique

Here are six of the ATCs that I made this month for an ATC Swap using the technique "Paint on Paper Towel" to make the backgrounds.

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My Collage: Marilyn Monroe

I made this 5 x 7 inch collage a few weeks ago. I made it then cut it into four pieces to become four artist trading cards.

This was made while in that wonderful creative flow zone while listening to music. I just relaxed and let the collage put itself together while I sifted through my ephemera.

Elements used:
background is tissue paper that came with a new pair of mens shoes (replica of stock quotes)

Marilyn Monroe images from a book that got water damaged and mildew-y

book and watch image from gift wrap paper which a mail art swapper gave me

hand and drink from junk mail

butterfly die cuts (punches) of magazine pages

garden image from a garden seed mail order company (junk mail)

two images from a UNICEF mail order catalog that I used a square die cutter (punch) to cut from

orange-ish piece is a photograph from my wedding that I altered with bleach

Scraps from other projects:

map images with white gesso painted on the top

purple tissue paper

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My ATCs: Made With My Hand Carved Stamps

Here are nine ATCs that I made with some of my hand-carved art stamps (rubber base).

The skull one was carved in July 2006 with a base inspiration image of a Pirates of the Carribbean logo which I modified.

The two in the upper right hand corner had backgrounds made with paper towel and Ranger alcohol inks. This technique was learned from the book "Artist Trading Card Workshop" by Bernie Berlin. In the book they used paint but for this as I said I used alchol inks. Actually what I did was work on making backgrounds for ATCs on glossy cardstock with alcohol inks and these paper towels were used for clean up and then recycled later into actual backgrounds. I love to reuse instead of putting things in the trash, some good things come from reusing or "re-purposing".

The smiling face was based on a doodle I made in my art journal while watching TV.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Some Thoughts on Doing Transfers

This week in between running here and there I have been working on some transfer techniques for an artist trading card (ATC ) swap. The theme happens to be “cemetery angels” and we can do what we want with it, but that is secondary to what I have to share today. To be clear the swap is not about transfers but that is what I chose to do with my cemetery angels.

I have learned yet again that when working with transfers the result is unpredictable. It is very much not a good idea to leave working with transfers as a last minute thing if you are working with a deadline.

Earlier this week I did some Citrasolv transfers. I learned some lessons. I was using toner based print outs from my home computer printer.

1. I tried a Citrasolv transfer onto glossy cardstock which had been colored with alcohol inks. The glossy paper didn’t take the transfer well and it smeared very easily. It was as if the ink slid on the glossy surface. Secondly when it dried the Citrasolv bleached out the color of the alcohol inks.
2. I did a Citrasolv transfer onto a heavy cardstock with a texture. The transfer only takes onto the very top surface of the paper’s texture. So that didn’t look so great.
3. I saved the original paper which the transfers came from and used that to make an ATC, so far that is the best one of the bunch.

Some of these mistakes are going to be thrown in the trash. One turned out looking very ‘artsy’ and ‘cool’, I think. Yet because this is an ATC swap I worry about the recipient of this. If they are a fan of the scrapbook and sticker crowd they will think this transfer is a piece of ugly trash. My son said it looked awful and asked if it was garbage. I am in a bind. Today is the deadline to send out so I will make time today to work on this project!

Working with transfers is fun. But again, they are experimental, results are not guaranteed, and in the process sometimes original things are used and ruined and you must have more source material to use if your first attempts end up in the trash bin.

I will share also that the images I used were digital photographs that I took. That was an outing in and of itself to go to that cemetery and take the photographs. I then altered the photographs using my computer and Photoshop elements to change them to black and white and to play with the lightness and the contrast. That took time. I then made toner print-out’s and used those for the transfer. So for this project of mine the work is not just in doing the transfer but it was in the prep work behind it also.

I need to get offline now and go work on more Cemetery Angel ATCs. Wish me luck.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Thoughts on Making Photo ATCs

I just finished a swap of flower photo ATCs.

I found the most fun part was keeping my eye peeled for good subjects, then taking the images.

Not as fun was looking through the photos on the computer to see which came out well and which would look good on an ATC.

Very not fun was uploading the photos to Costco’s photo developing website then driving down there to get them.

Not fun was realizing I sized the photos incorrectly and that each needed individual trimming.

I made way more photos than I needed for this swap of nine ATCs so I had a lot of work to do.

I didn’t want to send the ATC out on just photo paper so I then trimmed very thick paper, thicker than normal cardstock, to ATC size. I then used Golden acrylic gel medium in soft gloss to glue the two together.

During drying, they warped a bit, bending in a slight arc. I can only hope that they will flatten out over time or that when placed in nine pocket sleeves that they will lie flat.

I now have a ton of left over flower photo ATCs to swap out.

It was a very different process to have the creative thing done separate from the construction. I am more used to collage when the creating is done at the same exact time as the construction.

I got the ATCs packed up and ready to go out in today’s mail.

Now I need to scan them and upload the images to my blog if I can find the time to do that!

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Working On Flower Photo ATCs

For the last month I've been taking digital photos of spring flowers, both "just because" and also for a flower photo ATC swap I'm participating in.

I kept forgetting, though, to look at the images and select which would be good to make the ATCs with. I finally sat down and did that yesterday.

Then I had my husband resize them and upload them to Costco to be printed out. (I don't print my own photos at home.)

Today I ran over to Costco to pick up the photos.

After dinner I trimmed the photos. I cut the cardstock to ATC size. I then adhered the photo to the stiffer, thick cardstock background.

They are drying now then tomorrow I will sign the backs and send out my swap for Flower Photo ATCs.

I also have a lot of extras for future trading on hand!

This is the first time I am making ATCs with straight photos (unaltered).

I also saved some of the trimmings and will alter those with bleach then use them to make abstract collages in the future.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Spring Activities Hinder Art Making

I have been busy with spring activities, or shall I say our family has?

We have been doing hikes and other outdoor adventures in Connecticut State Parks as part of a competition/family event called No Child Left Inside/Great Park Pursuit. So far we have gone to five different state parks (one was a 90 minute drive each way and another was over two hours). The driving and the activities have been using our time.

We had a few year-end special Cub Scout events. I spent a day outdoors at another nature preserve where my children take a class, for the special last day/graduation, last week.

I have attended two different two-day conferences which took me away from home and got my mind completely off of art.

We took the patio furniture out of the garage and put it out on the deck. Yesterday I spent the afternoon cleaning out the garage, sweeping dust away, spider webs and getting rid of a mouse nest.

The fun we've been having as a family and spending time outside has been robbing me of my art-making time. I think that is okay to have things fluctuate based on the seasons. However I am signed up for swaps for ATCs and I'm now getting down to some deadlines, down to the wire.

I will be making time today (even if I have to stay up late) to finish some ATCs and get them ready for swapping.

I think then I will have to slow down on signing up for committments to do swaps. I'll give myself time to enjoy the summer with my husband and children and will make art when I feel like it. Hey, I may just stockpile ATCs to swap out in the future and resume hosting swaps in the fall with gusto (using ATCs already 100% completed).

I hope you enjoyed your spring and that you also enjoy your summer, whether it is still making a lot of art or whether you are slowing down a bit for the season!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My ATCs Made Last Week

ATC Quilt with Red Flower

ATC Potato Beetle with Asparagus

(Apologies for purists, I should have matched the asparagus with the asparagus beetle. However I was in my right brain mode not my left brain mode at the time.)

ATC Asparagus Beetle

ATC Five Rectangles

ATC Green Car

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Made Five ATCs Friday Night

Friday night while my husband prepared dinner I sat at the kitchen table, chatted with him and made five ATCs.

I pulled out already-prepared backgrounds which I made in the past.

I pulled out a little Rubbermaid container which I have tiny scraps of paper in and cancelled postage stamps. I scattered these little papers on the table and began looking through them.

Certain postage stamps jumped out at me as interesting. I then looked for backgrounds that would compliment those colors. Working quickly I pulled paper scraps with other complimentary colors.

Using acrylic gel medium soft matte (Golden brand), I adhered the papers to the backgrounds.

Voila, four ATCs were finished!

For the last ATC I looked through a falling apart insect field guide for interesting images. I chose a potato beetle and cut it out very carefully (not easy). I then collaged that onto a background which was a crackle finish made with acrylic paints. It needed something else. On the next page was some great artwork showing asparagus and the eggs of the asparagus beetle on the stalks. I chose parts without the eggs and cut them out carefully. I made an interesting composition that looked good to my eye and voila, the fifth was finished.

I have been trying or wishing to have a many hours long block of time to make some ATCs in. It is not working out due to a busy schedule of appointments and going places and being away from home for the whole day and things like that. I am left to squeeze in time here and there to make ATCs in.

Also yesterday it was brought to my attention that a scan I uploaded just a few days ago which was viewable and fine is no longer viewable here on my blog. Blogger is having problems with photo uploading abilility. Now something must be amiss with just viewing graphics/photos that were already uploaded in the past. I barely have time to blog here let alone deal with problems like that so for a while I won't be uploading scans of my ATCs, I guess.