Thursday, January 31, 2013

NY Journal Basics Part 2

Before Blending
Today, I wanted to share with you the second spread of the NY Journal page. It always amazes me how the beginning photo always looks like a bunch of scribbles until it gets blended.  Once blended with added color, it always makes me smile.

Now who wouldn't be inspired to fill the page with some awesomeness when starting with these blended pages rather than a blank page?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NY Journal Basics

Before blending
One of the problems that I have with Art Journal writing is getting started. For the Sketchbook project, I decided to replicate the pages of the book out of my own paper and then restitch the covers (as required) to the signatures that I made myself.

Once I get the pages started, I will then trim the pages and then round the corners to fit into the covers. I have always had trouble getting started so I simply choose a medium and then add color to the pages. I can always cover the background color if I decided to go into a new direction. By putting color on the page, I reduce the stress of getting started. The next time I revisit the page, I am not looking at a blank page and feel that I have minimally accomplished something. In other words, I am moving forward rather than being paralyzed by a blank page.

Because I wanted to use a paper that was fairly thin, I am using color pencils so that the pages won't cockle once they get wet. I will then use gamsol to wet the pigment and then blend the colors together.

After blending

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Iron Craft Challenge--Week 2

As mentioned last week, the theme of Week Two of the Iron Craft Challenge was the color orange. I decided to make a box that highlighted a piece of hand marbled paper by the artist Rhonda Miller. I mentioned the materials in an earlier post.

Like last week's purple box, this is made in a style that uses a single piece of uninterrupted paper to cover the top tray (lid). The difference with this box is that is uses a lined board for the interiors rather than the Japanese liner mentioned last Friday.

Here is the side of the box that shows the hand marbled paper for the lid and the orange Canford paper for the bottom tray. The bottom tray uses a cream mulberry paper lined board. The size of the interior of the bottom tray is 4 3/8ths inches wide by 7 3/8ths inches tall by 2 inches deep. In other words, it would conveniently hold 4 inch by 6 inch photographs or postcards quite easily.

Notice how the paper wraps covers the bottom of the tray and then carries up the side of the box and then turns in over the edge. A mark of a good box shows how all of the turn ins meet exactly in the same place across the entire box. The same process was done for the bottom tray (orange tray) and the top tray (marbled paper tray). 

The depth of the top tray (lid) is done for aesthetic purposes. The top tray is 1 1/2 inches deep so that part of the bottom tray is is exposed showing the coordinated orange color. Clearance/reveal usually will vary from 1/2 inch to 1 and 3/4 inches.

One way that I could have made a larger box was to decrease the depth of the top tray. Regardless, I love this orange box and will actually keep this one for myself.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 5

This week's card commemorates the Opening Night of Barry Manilow on Broadway. One of the themes of the Opening Night after-party was the arrangements of Calla lilies on the tables. Using this theme, I designed this card.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Japanese Lined Box

The end result. Notice that there are no breaks in the paper on the lid.

Today's box is a modified Japanese style lined box. The point of this box is to have a lined box (the other option is to use paper lined board). In this case, the box is made and then lined after the tray is completed. The other goal was the same goal that was mentioned yesterday--getting the largest box from a single sheet of hand marbled paper that reduces the waste of the paper and is applied in an uninterrupted fashion on the box.

This is the goal of step one--a liner for one of the trays.
STEP ONE: Creating the top and bottom tray. This was mentioned yesterday.
STEP TWO: Creating the liners for the top and bottom trays.

Crease the liner paper with the dimension of the interior of the tray.

 Cut the release cuts that allows the paper to fold onto itself.

 Remove the excess paper so that the liner doesn't prevent the box from closing.

STEP THREE: Cover the bottom tray (outside of the tray). Step three is the step where uninterrupted paper covers the bottom tray. I always start on the bottom tray to get practice before attempting the one sheet of handmade paper for the lid. It never fails that if I make a mistake, I would prefer to make the mistake using the paper that is replaceable rather than the paper that is irreplaceable.

Put glue on the bottom of the box and adhere to the paper.
Notice the uninterrupted paper. 
 Make the release cuts that will allow the paper to be glued to the side of the box.

Remove the excess paper from the corners so the paper will fold onto itself and not bunch up in the corners when you have to turn in the sides.

Notice the topmost paper glued to the side of the box.
Once all sides are glued in the vertical position, it is time to turn the edges so that they go over the top edge and onto the interior of the box.

Here is the finished bottom tray.
 STEP FOUR: Cover the top tray.  Repeat step three using the top tray and the hand marbled paper.
Here is the paper glued to the top tray. Notice the uninterrupted  paper.
Relief cuts

All four sides glued vertically
Turn ins completed
Now the box is completed. Check to see if the top and bottom trays still fit due to all of the added paper layers. Sometimes once the trays are covered with paper, the corners no longer fit. Be extra careful when working with thicker papers.

Top view of the box.
Bottom of the box.
I am very happy with the way that this boxed turned out. It took me longer to take step by step
pictures than it did to make the box. The interior liners are a lot of trouble but I like the look of them as opposed to using paper lined boards.

Top, bottom and interior liners revealed

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Yesterday, I mentioned my love of math and my affinity for making boxes.  The above picture shows my calculations for making a particular box. The goal for this particular assignment was getting the largest box possible using a single sheet of hand marbled paper.

When making a box, you normally start with the bottom part of the box that will hold the materials you are trying to hold. Once you have the bottom part (tray), you make a top part (tray) that allows enough clearance so the box will open and close easily.

Also, when covering the trays, you normally cut a strip of paper than covers the side of the box and then cut a separate piece of paper to cover the bottom. When you want to use a single sheet of paper to cover the tray, you have to work differently so that it covers the top and sides and then turns over the edge on the interior of the box. Therefore, you have to work backwards if you are designing a box to use a single piece of paper uninterrupted. Once you have the top tray covered, you then work backwards for the dimensions of the bottom tray.

For me, it is all done mathematically.

I am making a box for a friend of mine who loves the color purple. I am using a hand marbled paper from the artist Rhonda Miller. So, I wanted to make the largest box possible using the paper she provided. The box bottom will be covered in Black Canford paper. The interior liners will be done in white Canford. paper.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Box Making

I love math. I always have. I love fractions and sixteenths and all of the subdivisions of the ruler. I even had a slide rule when I was in high school. So box making really is right up my alley. I love the preciseness of measuring and cutting.

Here is the first step that I had mentioned in an earlier post that never was made. Instead, I decided to use this lined board for a different project. The above picture shows the measurements to make a lined box.  Next to the dimensions of the box are the pieces cut out.

Here are the two pieces built, drying and waiting for paper. Notice that the lined side is on the interior of the box.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The next Iron Craft Challenge is dedicated to the color ORANGE. For those of you who have been following this blog, you know my love of orange. So, to say the least, I am (1) overjoyed and (2) overwhelmed because I can do so much with the color orange.

I decided to pick one project and to run with it and not look back and obsess over my choice. So, for this project I will be using some hand marbled paper in yellow, orange and black and a Tangerine Canford paper. Next week, I will share the final project.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 4

This week's card is an Opening Night card for a friend's daughter who made her Broadway debut this week in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  I have always wondered by people give flowers for opening night. Instead of giving flowers, I try to make a unique and keepsake card to commemorate the occasion.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Another Aspiration for 2013

Another ongoing project that I hope to continue this year is the Iron Craft 2013 Challenge. The Iron Craft Challenges are the brainchild of Kat and Susi over at Just Crafty Enough. This is a series of bi-weekly (twice a month) challenges that does actually that--challenges you to think creatively.

There are themes for every challenge which are based on color, craft, concept, or any other type of motivation. The group is a collective of people from all over the world who are a supportive group of fellow crafters and artisans.

The beauty of the program is that it lets you participate when you can, allows you to share projects and ideas, and generally support each other through sharing and positive reinforcement. I have delved into projects that I would never have done on my own and have taken risks (creatively) that I wouldn't have thought imaginable.  What I appreciate the most about the group is that it is so supportive of the individual effort. We share our projects--warts and all--and there isn't a shred of negativity from anyone.

On my own, I am the most self-damaging perfectionist. Because I am a retailer, I have to think about imperfections and how they might affect the costs of items being sold. At times, I have paralyzed myself and have kept items from sale that didn't fit my criteria. Friends would come over to my studio and buys things that I deemed "imperfect." They would be shocked by what I considered "imperfect" for sale.

In the Iron Craft Challenges, I have learned to share my projects and acknowledge openly what did and did not work and why. With the support system provided by fellow members, I didn't feel self-conscious if something wasn't perfect, didn't work, or was just plain ugly. In the process, I have grown creatively because I no longer feel as paralyzed by a failed project, or an unfinished project. There are two lessons that I have learned that I would love to share.

LESSON ONE: More importantly, one lesson that I learned that I really appreciated was this--you can stop at any point if you don't like the way the project is turning out. A half-finished project that was attempted in good faith that just doesn't work can be stopped or put aside. If it doesn't work--it doesn't work. Move on. Sometimes, there just isn't saving a project.

LESSON TWO: Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes you just have to take a break from the stuff you want to do and deal with the stuff that you HAVE to do. It doesn't mean that you aren't going to get back to the stuff you want to do. Most importantly, don't beat yourself up over the fact that Life.Got.In.The.Way. Take care of business and the other stuff will fall back into place. And when it does, you will enjoy it more.

LESSON THREE: (I know that I only promised two but I am on a roll). Enjoy creativity in all its forms. The love and support that I have received through the Iron Craft Challenges has lifted my spirits and renewed the love for all things crafty, artsy, and just fun, in general. The liberating nature of failing at projects have really loosened up the shackles that I have placed on myself to create. It has rejuvenated a childhood in the arts that I was never allowed or had access to.

And now, I am off to make a dinosaur, hooded towel--only because, Susi showed us how and because I CAN.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Some aspirations for 2013

Image from Yahoo Images
Today, I wanted to share with you some of the continual projects that I am working on. I have always crafted and created for myself, rather than for resale or for exhibition. Part of the problem is that I never really considered myself an artist--I always felt, at best, that I was a skilled crafter. After I started becoming proficient in some specific versions of craft types, I considered myself a craftsman within the realm that I had become proficient--and I was OK with that.

When other people started to desire my work, I had to reassess what I was doing. While I enjoyed the developing of the products--even creating multiple prototypes until I got it "just right," I never really enjoyed the assembly line process of making more of "them" to sell. For me, the reproduction part of the job is the tedious part of it. I have no problem in having a single one of "them" and putting it on the self to look at or give away. I keep meticulous notes on how to recreate the product should I want to do it again (and many times I do) but making a series of 10 of "them" for the sake of selling 8 of "them" just doesn't interest me as much, although I will do it.

Having said that, I came to creating later in life. I never really got to play--artistically. I don't remember being allowed to create as a child. I was a performer and got to create that way but I remember liking to color in coloring books and remember (quite vividly) being corrected for coloring grass blue rather than green. My OCD was in its nascent stages as I remember being paralyzed by the fear of coloring outside of the big, thick bold black lines. I remember being 90% completed with a coloring page and having to stop because I ruined it when a buddy bumped my hand and made me go outside the lines. I remember crying for hours over it. To this day, I still love coloring.

So one of my goals this year is to PLAY more creatively, with arts and crafts, with paper, with materials that I might never use again. One avenue that I have chosen to help me along the way is The Sketchbook Project. Click on the link to find out more about it but the project provides you with a moleskin type book (32 pages--8 leaves) that you fill up to your heart's content. You can follow a theme, or not. You can send your book on tour, or not. I have decided to send my book on tour following a general, all-purpose theme. Celebrating my 10th year anniversary in New York City, I have decided to call my book "My Love Affair with NYC."

I will share pages and explanations of the techniques as I go along and will share the actual pages with you as well. I am hoping that sharing this project with you that I can keep to task and complete it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Making Book Cloth

After viewing my Iron Craft Challenge, a couple of people asked me how I made my book cloth. There are two major ways to make your own book cloth--one more traditional and one more modern.  While I have made book cloth the traditional way (with wheat paste and/or Methyl Cellulose), I find that I have more control when I make it the more modern way. The traditional way has the benefits of a more subtle final product and tends to work better on higher end fabrics (velvet, silk, and moires). I prefer the more modern method because you have more control over the products, is less messy, and requires less space.

The modern method of making book cloth uses an ironing board, an iron (non-steam), fabric, Japanese mending paper (or other fibrous paper), and ThermoWeb heat adhesive sheets. Unfortunately, this method produces a little bit of waste in materials because you are limited by the size of the ThermoWeb sheet.  In the traditional method, you are only limited by the size of your fabric or the size of your paper backing (whichever is smaller).

Step One: Preparing your fabric. You should wash and dry your fabric to allow for any shrinking of the cotton. Although this step isn't extremely necessary, it usually helps in the final product. Iron the fabric flat after it has been prepared.

Here is the pressed fabric. Right side up.

Step Two: Adhering the ThermoWeb. Turn the fabric over--right side down.  Following the instructions on the ThermoWeb, cut a sheet that is slightly smaller than the fabric you have prepared. With the adhesive side down, iron the adhesive onto the fabric. Follow the instructions on your product but be sure to take your time and cover the entire sheet to ensure that all edges are thoroughly glued down.

Here is the adhesive sheet ironed onto the fabric. Notice that the fabric is larger than the adhesive sheet.

 Step Three: Adhering the Paper backing. Keeping the fabric right side down, peel off the wax paper backing of the ThermoWeb. This will expose the remaining glue that will adhere to the paper. Cut the backing paper larger than the adhesive sheet and larger than the fabric.  The purpose of this is so that there is no chance for excess glue ruining your iron. If you get adhesive on the bottom of the iron, your project AND iron will be ruined.
Here is the oversized paper ready to be pressed against the adhesive. Notice the size of the backing paper.

Step Four: Trimming the book cloth. The final step is to trim the book cloth to a usable sheet. Trim off the excess of fabric and backing paper. Take your time in this step because you want to make sure that your final product is perfectly glued to each other. If you have one seam that isn't adhered correctly then make sure to cut the cloth shorter than that section. Your final product must be totally glued to each other. Also, this is the perfect time to square off your book cloth for future use.

The final product.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Iron Craft 2013--Challenge 1

This is the back of the book showing both covers and pages for two photos

I decided to participate in the Iron Craft 2013 Challenge. The challenge for the first week was Cotton. As soon as I read the challenge, I knew immediately what I wanted to do. As many of you know, I collect Japanese paper and have hundreds of sheets of different papers that I have had the pleasure to collect on my trips to Japan.  What people might not realize is that I also have an affinity for Japanese textiles. I do have collections of Japanese cloth that my friends have sent to me primarily for the purpose of making book cloth.

When making books, you need some material to cover the front and back boards of the book. Depending on the type of book, you can use paper. Usually, though, artists use a paper backed fabric for the durability the fabric provides during the constant handling of the book.

One option for those who desire a particular look, color, or theme is to make your own book cloth by taking your own fabric and backing it with a fibrous paper (I tend to use Japanese mending paper for its strength). The purpose of the paper backing is that you do not want the glue to soak the front of the fabric during the pasting process. If the glue saturates the front of the cloth, your book is ruined.

For this project, I wanted to make a mini photo album. This album holds six 4" by 6" mounted photos. It is the perfect size to throw into a suitcase or briefcase when you have to be away from home. These types of photo albums were very popular during Victorian times when people traveled with traveling photos of their family.

The fabric chosen for this album was a Japanese children's cotton fabric. It comes in three different color palettes--brown, white with pink bears, and sky blue with blue bears.

Here is the first step of the assembly: pasting the boards to the book cloth

Here is the second step: Turning the corners of the cloth around the boards.
Here is the third step: Pasting the text block onto the front cover

Here is the final step: Pasting the text block onto the back cover.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week 3

This week's card is a birthday card for my daytime boss. He turned 50 last year so he doesn't necessarily like a big to-do over his birthday. He doesn't want cake. He doesn't want cupcakes. All that he expects from me is a handmade card.

This card was about three weeks in the making. Previously, I had made him a similar card that had Happy on the back of the card and Birthday on the front of the card. He commented that you had to have the card fully open so that you could read it.

This year, I wanted another Happy Birthday script card but I wanted the words mirrored on the front and back so that the crease would bisect the mirror image. This year's card is a four layered card.  The salutation is in black, the first background is in the circle paper, and the base card is in red.

Rather than write on the red card stock of the base card, I inserted a white paper that was cut to the same dimensions of the circle paper.

All in all, I am very pleased with the outcome. Because of the crease and the need to slightly alter one set of the words so they could touch each other, the card is almost exactly symmetrical. The slight variation is eased by the color of the base card in that the ends don't exactly meet.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tin Wrapping 3

This is even a simpler version to Tin Wrapping. Once again, I used a belly band. The only difficulty in this wrapping is cutting the belly band. The height of the band should be just shorter than the height of the tin. Here I used the same embossed paper from yesterday's project. The width of the belly band should wrap around the tin with a one inch overlap.

Here is the belly band. The height is 1/8th inch shorter than the height of the tin.

Here is the side view of the belly band.
Add a ribbon and you are done. This ribbon is tied in a shoe lace tie that was explained in an earlier post.

To add interest to the wrapping, I inserted silk flowers underneath the ribbon. The flowers only wrap half way around the tin.

This project took me a total of eight minutes to complete and most of that time was spent separating the silk flowers from their stems.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tin Wrapping 2

I wanted to provide another example of tin wrapping for those people who did not want to practice their pleating. Or, for those you don't have the time or patience for pleating. Or, for those people who wanted something easier and/or simpler.

Today's example of tin wrapping continues the idea of belly bands. Here you will simply need two belly bands. The width of the band can be of your choosing. You wrap one band vertically around the tin (and tape to the underside). You wrap the second band horizontally around the tin (and tape to the underside).

Add a ribbon and you are done.

There are several benefits of this type of wrapping. First, you only need a small amount of paper. Here, I used a white embossed piece of paper. Please keep in mind that the paper will not lie flat as it goes over the edge of the tin. Second, this is a great project for you to recycle/repurpose paper that you might have in your supplies. Third, this is a really fast wrap.

Also, in this example, I used a red grosgrain ribbon that I recycled from a package that my boss received from Saks. The gift box was wrapped using this ribbon. I ironed it to get the creases out and the whole project is a recycled wrapping job.

Once again, I want to emphasize the concept of Japanese gift wrapping. A wrapped gift shows that you care about the recipient enough to take time out of your busy schedule to wrap something special. This wrap took four minutes to complete. Although it isn't as intricate as other wrappings presented on this blog, there is enough time invested to show the recipient that you care.