Saturday, February 28, 2009

Coptic Stitch Book

As promised, here are some photos of my weekend project. I decided to make a Coptic Stitch Book using some Japanese Paper Samples and Fabriano Drawing Paper. I have been making several Coptic Stitch Books because it is certainly a developed skill. You have to worry about thread tension, sewing patterns, etc.

For this book, I decided to line each signature with a decorative paper sample that would stretch across the spine of each signature. Because this type of book has an exposed spine, you would be able to see all of the papers next to each other. Similarly, the first and last page of each signature would show the paper. When you move from the end of one signature to the beginning of the next signature, you would see the decorative papers next to each other.

The other beauty of this type of binding is that it stays flat so it is a great type of book for artists. This book will be given away to someone who wanted a small sketch book that she could put in her purse.

The opened book.

The spine of the book showing the decorative papers.

The spines of two signatures.
A closeup of the spine of the book.

A closeup of the stitching.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Paper Fridays--Book Project

These are samples of papers that I am using in a current project. I will show you the project next week when I finish it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Joy Postcard Final Step

So, the final step of the Joy Postcard is the Gocco printing of the word "Joy" on the opposite side of the postcard. This is the easiest step in that all it takes is printing the image. I am using an outline font to print out the word. I flash the screen and print. I used blue ink out of the tube and lightened it up with PearlEx powders hoping to add some iridescence but that didn't work.

Now the big question is "What does a dog in a tree have do with Joy?" Well, I have always marveled at the unbridled energy of animals--especially dogs. To see a dog run with joy, chasing squirrels, fetching a ball etc. always makes me smile and feel joy. Sometimes we should just take it easy and enJOY the world and/or simpler pleasures in life.

This is a picture of my boss' dog who died last year. Bella (the dog) was such a pleasure to be with and she would love to bark at the birds and/or squirrels in the tree. She was happiest in the country where she could run around being a dog.

This image still brings a sense of joy to my heart.

Joy Postcard Step Two

The second phase of this postcard is the photo transfer. I choose a photo and print it out on regular copier paper on my laser printer. I prefer a black and white photo but color photos work too. I prefer black and white because I usually place these transfers on a colored background. Let the ink set on the paper for a couple of minutes to set.

Once the ink is set, cut a piece of clear contact paper slightly larger than your image. Cut the image from your print out. Peel the backing off of the contact paper and place the image (image side down) on the sticky side of the contact paper. Cut the image and contact paper down to size. With a bone folder or brayer, rub down the image so all air bubbles or wrinkles are gone. You should now have a laminated image.

In a bowl (I use a Tupperware container) put some hot water. Place your laminated image in the water and let it sit for several minutes. The image will curl in the water so don't fret. When the image is cool enough to handle (or wait until you have time), start to rub off the paper backing of your laminated image. Don't rub too hard or you will scratch the image. I use the meaty part of my thumb rather than a fingernail. Keep rubbing until all of the paper have been removed.

Once you have removed the paper run the transfer under warm water to remove any stubborn paper or gumminess remaining. You are now ready to adhere the transferred image to a project.

I place a thin layer of ModgePodge to the project (rather than to the transfer) and lay the transfer over the ModgePodge. Use a bone folder to press out all of the bubble and glue out from under the image. Do not get heavy handed with the ModgePodge because you don't want glue spot under your image. Just use a very light coat and it will dry clear under the image.

Here is the image that I used on one of the cards from the series of watercolor images that I showed you yesterday.

Photo transfer over watercolor background

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Joy Postcard

I have started working on the Joy Postcard which is due by the end of the week. It is not that I have been procrastinating but I have been busy doing other things. Someone asked me to provide the step by step process of these postcards so I am obliging.

The first step is to paint the single sheet of watercolor paper with the background. I use Arches watercolor pads. I love these pads because all of the sheets are bound together. You work on the top sheet and because they are bound, they dry flat without warping/buckling.

You don't have to have a lot of talent to be able to do this type of project. You are simply providing a watercolor wash. Use the colors that you like or that you have in mind for the project. I use Dr. Ph. Martins concentrated watercolors in the bottle. In essence, you just play--almost like finger painting. You get your brush wet, put on some color and move it around. The only recommendation is that you start light and work to dark. Your darkest color should be the one you use the least. With my watercolors, you more water you use, the more transparent (lighter) the color.

Once the paper is dry, you ModgePodge the whole sheet--while it is still attached to the paper block. You can use a brush. I use a plastic shopping bag from the grocery store that I scrunch up into a ball. I dip the ball into the ModgePodge and tap away on the painted paper until the entire surface is covered. You only need one coat.

Let that dry and cut the paper to size. I use the 18" by 30" size paper so I can get about 15 4by 6 inch postcards.

The beauty of the project is that you never know what you are going to get until you cut your postcards. You can think that you have ruined an entire piece of paper by adding a color but when you cut it down to size, it doesn't look bad. Similarly, if you don't like a portion of the page then you can only use the portion that you like.

I thought that I had ruined this sheet by adding a huge swatch of red on a background of blues and greens. I wanted a dramatic color to offset the more subtle shadings of the blues and greens. Now that I see it on the smaller scale, I rather like it.

Four of the basic watercolor cards.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Love Postcard

Front of postcard

Back of Postcard

So here is my final design for the Love Postcard. I decided to go with a Love Quote and some of the hearts that I had left over from my Valentine's Day projects.

I had a hard time deciding how to finish the card. After the color wash was dry, I had to decide how to print the quote on the postcard. I tried to use my laser printer but the watercolor paper was too thick. I then had two choices--do a transparency overlay or print on my InkJet printer. I decided to use my InkJet but how should I go about it? I know that I wanted to use ModgePodge on the postcard as a high gloss medium. If I printed before using the ModgePodge, I was pretty sure that the ink would smear. And of course, it did.

On another card, I printed on the postcard, sprayed with varnish, and then applied a coat of ModgePodge. This seemed to work fine although my studio still smells of varnish and I am starting to get high off of the fumes.

On a third card, I applied the ModgePodge and let it dry. Then, I sent it through the InkJet printer and it worked fine. There wasn't any smudging as long as I printed on the "coated paper" setting.

After the inks and/or ModgePodge dried, I applied the die cut hearts to the front of the card and placed it under weight to dry.

The back of the card is printed with the word "Love" in large 3" letters in pastel pink Gocco Ink. I will then address the card and write my message on this side of the postcard.

As a whole, I am pretty pleased with the outcome. Unfortunately, there are only 12 postcards per batch.

Friday, February 20, 2009

More Swaps--Love Postcard

I have joined several new swaps on Swap-bot and I am hosting some swaps as well. I am hosting swaps in the Handmade Postcard group. I was going to host a swap based on colors but switched to a swap based on Emotions. Every month, a new swap will be hosted based on emotions. For February, we had two cards due. The emotions for the months of January and February were Love and Joy. We had two postcards to make because I started the swap late and want to have 12 different postcards by the end of the year.

The Emotion for March is Awe.

With Valentine's Day over, I can now start to concentrate on making these postcards. I have the cards designed in my head but I just need to execute the design. I have decided to make these postcards out of Arches watercolor paper.

For the Love card, I am doing a watercolor wash for the background. I then plan on using an overlay with printed images (either a copy of the wedding section of the NY Times or a Love Quote from my Valentine's series). I then plan to collage some hearts on the card.

For the reverse side of the card, I want to Gocco Print the work LOVE in large letters across the entire card in an iridescent ink so I can write a message and address across the image.

I will let you know how it all turns out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I am so tired!

It is the afternoon lull at my office job and I am about to fall asleep at my desk. I have already run the office errands so I could get that fresh slap of cool air that is travelling through Manhattan at the moment. I even made an excuse to run to the Post Office rather than let the mailman (yes, he is a man) pick up the office mail.

The reason for being so tired? I am a knuckle brain--plain and simple. I decided to work on a book project and seemed to be in a zone during the whole project. I just couldn't stop. I would get one step completed and would rush into the next step with such anticipation and excitement, I didn't want to stop the creative process.

The book is a hard case pamphlet made with beautiful Fabriano paper. There is a story line throughout the book based on 9-11 with pictures that I took on that day. First, I trimmed the signatures. Then I chose the pictures. The I chose the mats. Then I mounted the pictures.

I kept on looking at the clock and knew that I should stop and get some sleep. As I kept moving through the project, I kept on thinking--just one more step and then I will take a break and go to bed. Before I knew, it was already 5:00 am. YIKES.

I woke up at 8:15 am and had to get ready for work. Now, I am so tired and to make matters worse, I have one of my bookbinding classes tonight (that I am taking). I hope that I don't cut off my finger in class.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Working Journal

I mentioned my Traveling Journal in a previous post. My Working Journal is my second type of journal. Other people would call it an "Idea Book." This journal consists of clippings of other work that I like. For example, I subscribe to various paper and rubber stamping magazines. When I see a sample that catches my eye, I will photocopy the example and place it in this journal with a simple notation of what I liked about it. Other entries include techniques that I would like to try and products that I would like to consider.

Samples of work that I like.

Another section of the journal includes my ink samples. I have a sample of every stamp pad ink and re-inkers that I have. I used to have a bad habit of buying inks pads that I already had in the studio. Now, I do not buy any supplies without my Working Journal by my side. If I am out shopping and notice something that I might want, I will write a note in my TREO and will see if I already have it by looking in my Working Journal. I have also reduced my costs by shopping online for products that end up being considerably cheaper than NYC prices.

Ink samples.

A third section of my journal includes scanned copies of all of my brass stencils. I keep the actual stencils in a three ring binder with baseball card holder sheets. As I get new stencils, I will scan them and print out a copy to be included in the journal.

Scans of my brass stencils

Finally, the biggest saving grace of this journal is that I have an all inclusive list of all of my books and magazines. I have a compulsion when it comes to books about my paper interests. I find that I am rather impulsive when I am in a bookstore with a good craft section. At one point, I had already double bought five separate books and ended up having three copies of the same book! This journal prevents me from doing that again.

Whenever I am in an artistic funk, I simply pull out my Working Journal and always get inspired.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Paper Fridays--Christmas Sale

I just love an after holiday sale. I was walking through my some of my favorite stores just wasting time on an extended lunch break when I decided to go to Kate's Paperie on 57th street in Manhattan (between 6th and 7th Avenue). I shop at Kate's often--actually so often, they know my name ala Norm in Cheers--so it was no surprise that they rolled their eyes knowing that I was going to make someone work hard in the paper or card/envelope section of the store.

As I was walking the paper aisle, I noticed that one of the A-frames has a discount sign on it. All of the papers were Christmas related and this was almost Valentine's Day. Most of the paper was wrapping paper which is usually too thin for my purposes but then they had this Cavalini- type paper that was perfect for a future project. Originally $4.50 per sheet, it was now on sale for $1.00. I never have this kind of luck. Normally it happens to people like Shu-Ju who are much more bargain savvy or lucky than I am.

So, needless to say, I bought out their stock. I already know what type of project that I will be working on. Maybe I will go trolling for sales after Valentine's Day.

One view of the Christmas paper.

Another view.

Even another view.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Cards

As promised here is one variation of the Quote cards that I have been working on. The hearts shown on a previous entry are interchangeable. The cards are all similar but the quotes will change.
The cards are made from Fabriano paper. The hearts are cold pressed watercolor paper.
Front of card
Inside of Card

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I can be so dense

Here I have been busting my butt to get all of my Valentine's projects done. I have been working until about 4:00 am, taking a nap, getting up at 8:00 am so I can get to work between 9 and 10. My studio is a mess. I have projects drying flat, I have projects hanging to dry and I have clothes drying in the restroom.

All of this so that I could have all of my Valentine's projects completed by Wednesday so everyone can deliver them for Valentine's Day on Thursday!

But guess what? Freaking Valentine's Day isn't until SATURDAY. Why didn't I know this?

For some unknown reason, I have been running crazy thinking that Valentine's Day was this Thursday. All I had to do was look on the calendar to find out. But NOOOOOOOO that would have been too easy. My boss asked me if he could get his Valentine's Day card early on Friday because he wanted to leave the office by noon and wanted to take his card home so he could give it to his wife on Saturday morning. I looked at him and said "Have you been drinking--I'll have it for you on Wednesday so you can give it to her on Thursday." At which point, he tells me to go look at a calendar and decide who had been drinking.

So, I went to bed early last night and had dreams of dancing hearts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Up to my elbows in . . .

HEARTS. I have hearts falling all over the place--even after I cleaned up my studio space. I found one in my shoe. I found one glue side up stuck to one of my socks. I am working on a series of "Quote" cards for Valentine's Day. Each card features a different quote about love. On the front of the card is a cut out of a heart. When you open the card, there is a die cut of a heart.

I had painted and textured some watercolor paper using a variety of techniques. I used modeling paste for texture, embedded some mulberry paper, used water colors and ink from the bottle for color. I poured salt on some of the water color pieces for texture and a small bit of glimmer and I used glossy Mod Podge for others. I then used these pages for the die cut hearts. After punching out all of the hearts, I was finding them everywhere.

What a mess.
BTW, those imperfect hearts on the bottom row where done on purpose. The card will read "I know I am not perfect . . . but will you still be my valentine?"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

In the Weeds

Ever since I have returned to NYC full time, I have been inundated with projects. I am struggling to get my Valentine's Day orders ready. I will post pictures when I get them all finished. I am also doing Valentine's Day cards for children this year (actually the third year). The problem is that I have to make two sets of different cards because the two children are in the same class. The first year that I made them everything was fine. Then the second year, the mother of one of the boys that had received a card from the first year wanted cards for her son as well. So now, I have competing mothers who are trying to outdo each other.

Mother One: This year, I want at least 3 colors.
Mother Two: This year, I want my cards to look better than Sylvia's (Mother One).
Mother One: I will pay you more but my cards MUST look better than Carolyn's (Mother Two).

I guess that I could have worse problems.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Japan Journal

Here is another set of journal pages from my Japan Journal. The left page features a direct to page ink technique using cosmetic sponges and ink pads. I like the random effect that is caused using this technique. The right side feature two double mounted pics but also the common theme of this journal--a sample of paper that I purchased on my trip.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Japan Journal

While I was away, someone asked me about the travel journal that I made before going on my last trip to Japan. I had intended on filling it up while I was there but, of course, that didn't happen. I have all of the pages designed--all I have to do is execute them.

Most of the pages will feature Japanese arts and crafts. Similarly, many of the pages will feature backgrounds that show paper samples from my trip. This is the first in the series of my Japan Journal. It features materials that I purchased at Tokyu Hands.

If any knows the title of the characters that are featured in the stickers (or the artist) I would definitely appreciate it if you could let me know. I know it is a popular character, possibly from children's books. For some reason, they just make me smile. I would definitely like to get more of these stickers. Any help locating the name of the characters or the artist would be great.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Back on the Grid

For those of you reading both of my blogs, this is a duplicated entry. . .

Sorry that I have been away for so long but it was necessary for a variety of reasons--primarily, a contractual agreement. First some back story.

I was in a comedy competition called "Funniest Man in NYC." It was run at a famous NY Comedy Club and was being taped as a quasi-reality series. The premise of the competition was head-to-head stand up comedy routines where the evening's competitors would be narrowed down by a group of judges and the audience--a battle of the stand up comics, so to speak. There were over 800 contestants to start and these were narrowed down to a final group of five--of which I was a finalist.

For the final competition, we were not told when the finals were going to be. We would be notified within one hour's notice of when to report. When this happened, the finalists showed up and performed and the winner and runners-up were announced. I finished in third place. The top two finishers were guaranteed a half-hour show on one of the cable comedy shows.

After it was all over, the organizers of the competition found out that the top finishers had the information regarding the time of the finals leaked to them. In so doing, they were able to load up the audience with their friends and family. So the whole project was nixed.

As a compensation, the organizers approached me and asked me if I wanted to do a documentary/reality series about the struggle of a budding stand up comic. We would do 30 small area venues (with some larger houses thrown in) and my trials and tribulations would be taped and edited into some type of program.

Part of the contract was that I would not know where I was playing but would be provided transportation and lodging. I would have to convince the owner of the comedy club or club to allow me to perform. Another part of the contract is that I was supposed to be off grid so that the project would be leaked and so I couldn't fill up the audience with favorable audience members.

So that is the reality of the situation. When I know more about the project, I will let you know. As a result, in six weeks I will be taping a 30 minute comedy special for a major cable network. I will let you know when to expect that as well.