Monday, December 30, 2013

Altered Mint Tins

I've been teaching an Altered Mint Tin workshop at Shake Rag Alley for the last couple of years. I'd sold all of my altered tins, so when I had another class coming up in November I needed to make a class sample. But this time I took a slightly different approach than I had in the past. Instead of thinking of the tin as a decorated container, I viewed it as sort of a substrate for creating art. Sure, these are basically embellished tins that do open and could function as containers, but I wanted to create objects that could stand on their own as interesting artful pieces aside from any potential utilitarian purpose. Hope I succeeded, but regardless, I had so much fun making the first one that now I'm totally hooked.

Here are a few samples of what I've come up with. I really like putting feet on the boxes and search my stash of junk for anything I can find that will serve the purpose from chess pieces to plastic plumbing fixtures (I transform plastic pieces into faux metal with acrylic paint and metallic rub-ons  - one of my favorite craft materials). The tins are covered with a combination of commercial papers and fabric papers that I make myself. I sometimes decoupage the entire lid, but I prefer to take advantage of the color of the tin and only cover the lid's flat portion letting the original color on the edge of the lid be part of the design. My design mantra for the top is "layer, layer, layer" using anything and everything at hand.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Altered Book with Gesture Drawings

At our Monday night figure drawing sessions we always start with a half dozen 2 minute warm-up poses before moving on to the evening's long pose. Over the years I have accumulated quite a stack of these gesture drawings which I tossed in a pile and never looked at until recently. When I finally did go through them, somewhat to my surprise I found that I actually liked a number of them. There was a certain charm in their energy and rawness that gets lost in my carefully rendered finished drawings.

So I decided to do something with them.

They were all pretty soft since they were done in pencil on newsprint. So I scanned them and did some Photoshop magic to punch them up. In so doing I discovered that the newsprint background began to look like yellowed old paper, a rather nifty effect which I then enhanced even further. I then printed them out on drawing paper. Since I've been somewhat obsessed lately with the book format as a vehicle for presenting art, I used these prints to make this altered book. It's something of an homage to one of my greatest pleasures - figure drawing.

I entered this piece in the Wisconsin Regional Artists Association State Exhibit at the Pyle Center at UW-Madison (702 Langdon St, Madison WI). It will be on display through September 21st. If you are not familiar with the Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP) or the Wisconsin Regional Artists Assocaiation (WRAA), you can visit their website or click on my WRAA/WRAP tab to learn more. And if you've never seen one of their State Conference Exhibits at the Pyle Center, do check it out. There are over 100 pieces on display and the artwork is always terrific.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mixed Media Workshop in the Quonset Hut

The first Shake Rag Alley workshop in the new Quonset Hut was Mixed Media Paint Layering held in mid March. The Quonset Hut is pretty funky around the edges and scheduled for renovation, but nobody minded at all, especially not me. What a great space to spread out in! I had room to set up a separate demo station for the first time ever. It was glorious.

There were 10 terrific students and everyone did great. We first made some fabric paper which is an overnight dry meaning they would have to take it home wet for later use. (But we had ample room to spread it out - yeah!)

Then we moved on to layering thin coats of acrylic paint (glazing), collaging, and stamping on watercolor paper to build up patterned paper with lots of depth.

This was a very short class, only three hours, so there wasn't much time to take these papers and work them into a finished piece. But there were lots of stencils and card stock on hand for anyone who wanted to use some of their newly created paper to make a card like these pomegranate and hand cards.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Altered Book Workshop

I've had two great groups of students for workshops so far this month. Both through Shake Rag Alley, but both firsts in terms of location.

At the beginning of the month, two women from Rockford who were here for a Shake Rag Alley custom retreat weekend, joined me in my studio for an afternoon making Altered Books. First workshop that I've taught in my own studio. Really a plus to have all my supplies at hand for them to use.

My second class was the first Shake Rag workshop in the new Quonset hut! More on that class in a separate post.

Both Rhonda and Barb are veteran crafters so they really moved right along and got a remarkable amount done in only three hours. Here's Rhonda's amazing book. Can you make out the image of the man peeking out from under the torn pages in the detail? Very clever.

Book detail showing
face peeking through

I'll be teaching the Altered Book workshop again in the fall at Shake Rag Alley on September 28th. 
Registration will be open by late April. See the workshop tab above for a class description.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Altered Book

I was asked if I would teach an altered book class for a group of women coming to Shake Rag Alley for a custom retreat, a girls getaway weekend. I was dubious. I hadn't done anything with altered books in years, plus they wanted only a three hour class...a pretty short time to complete an altered book. After some thought I concluded it might be possible to create a niche and get two pages and the cover completed in three hours if I prepped the books before class. 

So I needed a sample. This is what I came up with. Not in three hours mind you, but admittedly I got a little carried away. In fact I had a great time doing this book. I decided to give it a heart theme, maybe in part because I had hearts on my brain after a January of obsessing on Valentine card making. But actually, I just like the heart imagery.

I found that I really like using the book format as a substrate for art. I get a little tired of thinking that art always has to hang on the wall. There's something really appealing about an art object that you not only are allowed to handle, but actually HAVE to handle and hold and manipulate in order to see all of it.

So now I'm completely obsessed with altered books. I'm working on one about drawing and have lots of other ideas, more than I will probably ever get done. I'll post more when they are finished.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Iowa County Courthouse Exhibit

The Iowa County Courthouse in Dodgeville invites local artists to show their work on a rotating basis in their second floor atrium space. I will have an exhibit up throughout the month of February with 5 drawings, 12 collage/mixed media works, and my large canvas wall hanging.

It's a large, wonderfully open area with exhibit space for hanging on either side of the central staircase. Lots of natural light from a large skylight. Even on a somewhat gloomy winter day there were no lights on and yet it was bright. I'm very pleased with how the show looks. Jan Johnson, another Mineral Point artist, also has a wonderful exhibit on the first floor. Stop by and have a look!

Iowa County Courthouse
222 N Iowa St
Dodgeville, WI
weekdays 9am to 4:30pm
through February, 2013

Park in the lot behind the building and use rear door.
Exhibit is on the second floor.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mixed Media Paint Layering Workshop

We were a small but enthusiastic group for my Mixed Media Paint Layering workshop last weekend at Shake Rag Alley - they were really into it. But then what's more fun than spending an afternoon playing with collage and paint?

Some fun stuff created by the students:

Lynn's sweet collage (wouldn't it make a great card?)

Really like the layering in Christine's pomegranate piece.

Ron's piece - great combination of colors!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Some Fun With Valentines

Just can't get enough of making valentines.

Here's one with used palette paper for a background:

Here are a few little valentines with layered pieces of fabric:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mixed Media Valentines

Every year I look forward to the Shake Rag Alley Valentine Sale.

I absolutely love making valentines for this event. Gives me the perfect excuse to haul out ALL of my supplies and play with EVERY technique I can think of. 

Here are are few of my mixed media cards with lots of layering. I use just about any sort of scrap from my stash of materials - fabric paper, muslin that I have hand stamped and colored with acrylic paints, collaged papers, old book pages, hand-made paper, package wrap...basically whatever I find in the studio that just looks great. Oh yeah, and stitching.

These two are samples of a very clean, simple design I like to do. It's so fun and easy to discover a terrific looking heart in just about any piece of fabric paper, cut it out and hand sew on an interesting old rusted washer or a bent wire metal shape. Glue the heart onto some nice paper backing, then glue that to the front of a card and the effect is quite elegant.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Art Charm Jewelry

I've been busy making little Art Charms from various junk. Here's some of what I've come up with.

The dangles on these earrings started out as a pair of semi-translucent plastic beads or buttons (not sure which) that I had in a box of buttons and old jewelry I picked up somewhere. I decoupaged them and used a couple of washes of acrylic paint. Thought they were a bit bulky for a bracelet, so added a few beads and made them into earrings. I originally intended to hang the dangles from a chain instead of a beaded wire so I could call them my Ball and Chain Earrings, but the beads are these very nice aged metal that just seemed right.

This is a mismatched pair of dangle earrings made from hairpins. I was trying out a few different designs. I think I like the longer one on the left best. The other one just doesn't want to hang as nicely.

And here's a completed charm bracelet made from a bunch of Art Charms, most of which were shown in an earlier post. The chain, like much of my raw materials, was a thrift store find. Added some buttons and wooden beads to kind of pull the whole thing together. I see many charm bracelets with widely spaced charms. Great for appreciating each individual charm, but not surprisingly, I go for the wild and totally mixed-up chunky look.