Wednesday, July 31, 2013

From my Stash

Today's post is another in the "Stash" series where I share with you some of the materials that I have stockpiled over the years. Today is sponsored by Geometrics and India.

All four of the examples for today inspired me because of their geometric designs. I have always been attracted to the order of geometry--even the mathematics version. There is something aesthetically pleasing in know what to expect visually. Three of the four papers have been printed with a metallic ink.

All four of these examples come from the paper making tradition that has been burgeoning in India. Using papers from India come with their own set of difficulties when dealing with the paper. The paper has a higher rag content so it is thicker. This means that it really REALLY stretches when wet. Also the thickness of the paper makes turning/mitering the corners of bookbinding a lot more challenging. This does not make the best wrapping paper because tape does not stick to the surface very well. I have actually used hot glue to hold down the sides of the package when gluing the fold overs onto themselves.

Another challenge to these papers is that they are usually printed with petroleum based inks. You can definitely smell the difference when working with these papers but the inks are so vibrant they are usually worth of the olfactory assault. Of the four selections, I am hoarding the bottom right sample until I absolutely have to use it. I don't use a lot of green colors in my work so the other three samples will get used first but that burgundy, black and gold pattern just stops me in my tracks.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Iron Craft Challenge #15--Twinkle Twinkle Cutout

Twinkle Twinkle Art Piece
The topic for the latest Iron Craft Challenge was "Night time." I have to admit that I was a little stumped for inspiration. I was going to work on a "Star" Book but didn't have a whole lot of time with commissions that I had for a greeting card, Opening Night cards for the theater and adjusting to my new schedule.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had to make a "You are a Star" card for a mother and her daughter's dance troupe. I decided--stars equal night, right? I was falling asleep after a tiring day when the lullaby "Twinkle Twinkle" filled my head as an earworm. I could not get to sleep and kept hearing this tune over and over again and I thought "Stars equal night equals lullaby" and the project developed from there.

I knew that I wanted something other than a flat cutout and decided to make a night light/illuminated art piece. The image is cut from a 8 by 10 piece of black paper. I chose this size because I thought that I had an acrylic box frame in this size. When I went to my stash, I found that I only had an 11 by 14 box frame.

I was planning on lining the back with vellum (using the smaller size) but I could not find my larger sheets of vellum so I used a white mulberry paper as the mat. The mulberry paper was cut to 11 by 14 to fit the frame and the cutout was mounted to the paper with double sided tape.

The next issue had to deal with the process of illumination. I though about using rope lights but unfortunately they get extremely hot and I didn't want to burn the apartment down. I decided to use some of the battery operated tea lights that I have (and they give a nice yellow glow that flickers).

I then had to decide how to mount the lights. I though about cutting holes the size of the tea lights and mounting them accordingly. Instead, I decided to cut a "X" for each light and inserted the tips of the tea lights only. The added benefit of mounting the lights this way was that they are easily accessible in order to turn them off and on and it makes them easier to replace when they die out. Additionally, they provide a nice flat surface to rest against the wall. The only downside is that you need a longer nail to be able to hang the frame.

Mounted Tea Lights
I am extremely happy with the way that this project worked out. I plan on making an additional piece and giving it away as a christening present to a friend whose family just had a new baby girl. I think that it would be a great addition to any nursery.

Illuminated art piece

Monday, July 29, 2013

Week 29

This week's card is a little bit of a cheat. I needed something quick for a variety of purposes. First, the mother of a child dancer wanted some cards that she could use to give to the dance troupe of her daughter. The dance squad finished first in their competition and the mother wanted to give out the cards. The interior of the card says "You are a star." Needless to say, the cards were a big hit.

Another reason why this card was so helpful is that it is the prototype of my Iron Craft Challenge this week so I got double duty out of this one design. If you are going to do the work, why not make it count? That's not cheating (too much) is it?

Friday, July 26, 2013

On My Bookshelf

This week's book is another in the series of Art Journaling books dealing with techniques and prompts. The book is Start Journaling: An Art Journaling Workbook which is edited by Kristy Conlin.  There is plenty to like about this book. It is divided into four main sections: Getting Started, Altering your Journal, Adding to your Journal, and Words & Prompts. There is also an introduction and a gallery.

What I love about this book is that it offers plenty of practice space (although, I would never work in the actual book). I have started to copy the practice pages and start working on the copies rather than work in the actual workbook. Another wonderful aspect of this book is that the projects are a collection of offerings from different established Art Journaling artists like David R. Modler and Eric M. Scott (Journal Fodder Junkies), Melanie Testa (Dreaming from the Journal Page), and Diana Trout (Journal Spilling) among others. I mention these artists in particular because I am very familiar with their work and books.

There are plenty of practical suggestions, some of which I already use, and I love the way that the material is presented. Also, I really appreciate the gallery and sample pages/projects that are presented. There is nothing earth shattering new about the material presented but this is an excellent book for anyone interested in journaling, art journaling, and creativity. This is another great example of a reference book that will help you get motivated when you are in one of those dark corners where you just get stuck and need a little direction to move on/forward. Highly, highly recommended.

Full Disclosure: Neither nor the authors have provided any compensation for this review. This book was purchased online without a personal perusal before purchase.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Subway Art #3

Today's blog entry is a test of the iPad Blogger App. I am at the theater right now and didn't have time to post this from the office. The photos were taken with the iPad camera. I am interested in seeing how the post is formatted when viewed on a regular computer screen.
Today's envelope is for a letter that I am sending to my aunt. I am following along with the book Creative Doodling and Beyond that I reviewed in an earlier post. The goal of the exercise was to use a repetitive element for a border. I tried to do this for the front of the envelope but as you can see, it didn't quite turn out that way.

The funny aspect of the exercise for me was how stiff I was with the hearts. As the hearts got smaller the looser my wrists got and the better the hearts. Also, I started off going clockwise with the heart shape (i.e., right side heart, then left side heart). When I started to reverse the process, the freer my wrists became.

The back of the envelope was based on a set of repetitive actions. Star bursts in two colors and then spirals in one color but in three different directions. I then added dots in black but in two sizes.

Front side of the envelope took 8 minutes and the back took 4 minutes. BTW, the blue paper is temporary to hide addresses. 

Add caption

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Subway Art #2

Here is the reverse side of the envelope that I shared with you yesterday. Total time on the subway creating was 16 minutes. Next up, decorated vellum for a handmade envelope.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Subway Art #1

Previously, I shared this envelope with you here, This is the final version of the front of the envelope. I have started a new series called Subway Art that I wanted to share with you and this is the first piece of that series. First, a little background.

I have started my evening job again at the theater. We have a new show in and playing which means that most of my art time has diminished tremendously. I am trying to keep my New Year's resolutions absolute by (1) doing something creative every day, and (2) posting every day from Monday through Friday. So far, I have been able to keep both resolutions.

Not that I am working two full time jobs, sleep is of the most importance so I decided to do mini-art pieces on the way into Manhattan and going home to the Bronx. The transit time is usually about 20 minutes if I don't have to wait for a subway. If I have to wait or if the trains are on slow-down, the travel time could be upwards to one hour.

So, I am dedicating this time to being creative--with minimal supplies. I will only take one pen/marker and some type of surface. Most of these pieces will be mail art (as exhibited above).

Most of the patterns above were created using a one-line technique. In this technique you continuously use a single uninterrupted line. I was amazed at how anal retentive I was when trying to do this technique. I had trouble freeing myself up to simply let the line wander across the page. My mind is so used to thinking in geometric and ordered patterns that I had trouble. Maybe that is the learning experience that I needed.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 28

This week celebrates another Broadway show opening at my theater. The musical review called Let It Be which highlights the music of The Beatles opens this week. This is one version of the card that I might be giving to the cast and crew.

I still haven't decided if I want to use the positive or negative space for the Union Jack. Maybe, I will share the alternative version with you tomorrow.

Friday, July 19, 2013

On My Bookshelf

This week's book is a series in my collection based on Quarry Publisher's 1000 series. This is a series of books that highlight 1000 pieces in a collection of similar artistic endeavors--in this case, 1000 Handmade Greetings.

If you have been following along, I got started in the paper arts domain through handmade greeting cards so this was the first in the series from Quarry that I purchased. I have to say that I am pretty hooked on this series.

These books are simply a collection of 1000 items from artists and creators from around the world. These are mere catalogs of work--no instructions or directions. Each entry highlights the work itself rather than the process.

These books are highly recommended as resource materials or a wonderful way to waste a couple of hours of your day. I love these books and continue to look through them at least once a week--and more, when I need some inspiration. 

Full Disclosure: Neither nor the authors have provided any compensation for this review. This book was purchased online without a personal perusal before purchase.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cutting Process

A couple of people have asked me about my creative process as I work through a cutout so I thought that I would design a project and share it with you. I have always wanted to work on a script cutout so I found this quote that was posted on a friend's Facebook page and thought it would be suitable for our purposes.

The first step for me is layout. I knew that I wanted to use a heart as the outer outline. I create a lot of my documents in PowerPoint. I simply used the Shapes tool and inserted a heart shape into a blank slide. I then started working on the quote. The most time consuming aspect for me is font selection. I have thousands of fonts available. Most of my computer storage is based on fonts. Mainly, I purchase fonts and then just upload them all. Consider it--electronic hoarding.

Once the font is chosen, I insert a text box into the slide and start adding all of the text keeping in mind the amount of space that I have available. The width of the space will determine how many words that I will be able to use at one time.

Once all of the words and phrases are done, I then start inserting the guidelines to use as connectors. The guidelines must touch the outside shape at some point--preferable at two points. Using the heart shape makes this very easy to do.

I then move the text around so that the tops or bottoms of the letters touch the guidelines in as many places as possible. When possible, to add stability to the text, I will have some text touch both the top and bottom guidelines (as illustrated in the phrase--by the good (above).

Once all of this is done, I try and find out any islands that need to be connected. For example, the "e" in hope is not connected at anything. Similarly, the word "our" is not connected any anything. I will go back with a pen and fix these problems before moving on.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Paper Cut Wonderful

I often don't share videos on this site but this one is an exception. For those of you who know me, you will realize why this video is chosen to share, and not just for it's content.

As you watch, try and guess which part is me.

Thanks for watching and I hope that you enjoyed it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Iron Craft Challenge #14--Paris Cutout

For this challenge, we were asked to create something attributed to France-either, by color, by design or a product of France. There were several ideas that I had but life got in the way again so I scoured the interwebs and found this clip art of the Eiffel Tower which is the basis of some ad campaign in France.

This is a basic cutout with a script "Paris" in the center of the Eiffel Tower. While the interior lines were a little tricky and since I was tired I cut off many of the trusses of the Eiffel Tower. If I had left them alone then the Tower would have fallen down many times.

I tried again on Sunday and this is the final result.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 27

Sometimes you need a simple and fast card at the last moment and this was what I came up with. This is a card for a buddy of mine that has a birthday this week. I didn't want to spend a whole lot of time on the card because he is the type of guy that will appreciate the time spent but will not necessarily understand the process that went into it.

Similar to some of the other stencil cards that I have been doing, the sentiment is all there is--in this case, Happy Birthday. This is done in a military stencil font and since the letters are about 1.5 inches tall, this font works well since there aren't any small connectors to worry about.

To spice up the card a little bit, I used a bronze rock pattern embossed paper to add a little interest to the card. The embossing rises through the stencil openings to offer a little texture to the card. The inside will be lined with white linen paper where I will add a handwritten note.

Sometimes, simple can be best.

Friday, July 12, 2013

On My Bookshelf

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you have read about my infatuation with how other artists create. I love to find out how other people think, imagine, create, and make art. I also love to read other people's journals. I have shared with you my many journals, including my travel journals and idea journals of all shapes and sizes. So you can imagine, no pun intended, how happy I was when recommended Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal by Karen Falk with a forward by Lisa Henson. 

Karen Falk is the Archives Director of the Jim Henson Company (could you imagine having access to all things Jim Henson?). Lisa Henson is Jim Henson's eldest daughter.

Did you ever have a book that could always make you happy? No matter what kind of funk you might be in or whatever creativee impasse you might have reached--a book that immediately made things right with the world. Well this is the book that does that for me.

I have always been a Jim Henson fan. Not only for his puppetry but for his ability to create imaginative alternatives to reality--rather they be people, things or universes.

As I was reading through the book, I came across the discussion of John Denver and the collaboration he did with Jim Henson and the Muppets for their joint Christmas album--which to this day is still one of my favorites. It is the only album that I have purchased every iteration: 8 track, cassette, album, CD, and iTunes. 

In closing, this is a must have for anyone wanting to delve into the mind of one of the most creative, imaginative, and all-around nicest men of the world.

Full Disclosure: Neither nor the authors have provided any compensation for this review. This book was purchased online without a personal perusal before purchase.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Road Trip Journals #4

As mentioned in a previous link, I am a big fan of using pre-existing materials for new purposes. Someone asked me to share some of the new materials for a three-holed post bound journal.

The first requirement is paper. There are usually two types of paper: College Ruled and Grid Paper (Quad). I haven't seen wide ruled paper in this size in a long time but I prefer College Ruled paper anyway.

The next category of materials are accessories. In this case, I always can use a business card holder since I normally use my journal for business purposes.

Another feature that I enjoy having is a system of dividers. These dividers have write-on tabs. There are also regular dividers that paper inserts.

Finally, pockets are usually needed to hold receipts and other loose papers.

In my previous  post, I mentioned some other accessories that can be used like alphabet tabs and zipper tabs. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

From My Stash

Today, I will revitalize a previous series of posts where I share with you some of the materials that I have stashed/hoarded in my studio. The new series will be called From My Stash. It is a generic title so I can share with you the paper and fabric that I have collected and designed. In the past, I have shared from my fabric stash and I used to run a Paper Fridays posting. Under this new series, I can combine the materials in one post.

For the first entry, I wanted to share with you my handmade wax paper. This is industrial grade wax paper that has been crumbled into a ball. It is then colored with old crayons that have far exceeded their use. I collect these old crayons from schools in the area that hold them for me when they get too small for the children to use. In return, I provide them with new boxes of crayons and art supplies that I am no longer using. With my wholesale sources, the schools really do well with the exchange and I feel that I am keeping supplies from being thrown out before their usefulness has been exhausted.

Once the crumbled wax paper has been unfolded and colored, I then take a piece of newsprint and place it on top of the wax paper and iron it so the paper can become useful. I spray fixative on the both sides of the paper to set the crayon although with the heat from the iron this usually isn't an issue.

It is always interesting to uncover the results because they are always different. Each of the pairs of paper above were made using identical colors. Notice how each sample in the pair is different from its mate.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

LA Journal--Paula

Today's page from my LA Journal deals with the Paula Dean controversy which was a big breakthrough when I was on vacation in LA. News included YouTube statements, cancelled interviews, dropped sponsorships, rescheduled interviews, and crying on TV.

As a sociologist, we use the terms Racist and Bigot in very specific ways. Therefore this page was dedicated to the difference between the two terms.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week 26

This week's card is another in my continuing series of New York City Landmarks. This is the Empire State Building. I am still playing around with the concept of adding either "New York" or "New York City" in the background.

This is usually a two step process. If I plan to do this with my Gocco printer, I will make mock ups with the printer to work on the layout before I go and start making screens for printing. This has saved me a lot of money and since the materials for the Gocco Printer are no longer being made--the fewer mistakes the better.

Once the layout has been finalized, I will separate the design into their component parts and make separate screens for each layer of printing. In the case, the building will be one layer and the writing the second. Now, I need to decide which layer will be the background and which layer will be the foreground. After that decision has been made, I need to decide on colors for each layer.

The above card will  have the building in the background (color still to be determined) and the writing in the foreground in either transparent white or silver.

Friday, July 5, 2013

On My Bookshelf

This week's book is a new arrival to my stash titled Book Play: Creative Adventures in Handmade Books by Margaret Couch Cogswell.  This is new release and I was excited to receive it in the mail this week. The book seems to be an indulgent attempt by the author to show off herself and friends. Most of the books presented seem impractical and are simply exercises to show skills rather than make usable books.

While traditional techniques are used, the instructions are limited. The steps are illustrated rather than photographed which make them a little less useful. The best feature of the book is the section on Artist Features which highlight essays are several well established book artists.

While some of the books are quite interesting, this book is best saved for people collecting bookbinding books.

Unbound Book
(made with a candy tin)

Full Disclosure: Neither nor the author have provided any compensation for this review. This was purchased online without a personal perusal before purchase.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

LA Journal--Snowden

Today. I decided to share with you my first completed page in my LA Journal. As discussed previously, I am making one page dedicated to the newspaper headlines during my stay in Los Angeles. The first page is attributed to the Snowden controversy.

The background was repainted with alcohol inks. The ink drops were supposed to resemble blood stains. The American flag was reconfigured to look like the American flag under glass. The edges were torn and the pieces were separated from each other to resemble how the issue is dividing the nation. The Snowden photo was the photo posted in the newspapers and was ghost printed on paper. I then used the contact paper image transfer technique. The image was glue to card stock before be glued to the page.

The white out roller tape was used for the caption which was written on with a red Sharpie.

Happy Independence Day for my American readers.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Big Ass Butterlfy

Because, sometimes you simply need a big ass butterfly. This is a prototype for a butterfly that I will be using in another project. I am very happy with the way that it turned out. I am developing several other styles.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Iron Craft Challenge #13--Board Shorts

I couldn't stop myself.
For Iron Craft Challenge #13, we were tasked to make something with a needle. I was going to do another string art composition but as I was cleaning my apartment, I came across my hoarding stash.  I have been collecting slacks from the 50s, 60s and 70s in order to save them from the landfill. I have an ongoing relationship with several consignment stores and thrift shops throughout the Northeast and many of these shops save clothes for me.

These are slacks that are destined to be thrown away after they are no longer considered sellable. Rather than toss them into the landfill, the owners will call me and ask me if I would take them off their hands or could use them in some other artistic way.

Also, it was kismet when I read a recent post by Kat here.

I then decided to dust off my sewing machine and attempt to make some long shorts (manpris, if you will) or what I prefer to call--long board shorts.

Following the tutorial from Kat, not only did I tailor the bulk from the legs to make them more fitted, I decided to crop them and hem them at the calf (or thereabouts). And once I started and had a pattern, I could stop myself and made myself three new-old pairs of shorts. 

Shorts from behind
Shorts from the font
I often have trouble with pants, jeans and trousers because I have fairly muscular legs and always have to get a larger waist size so that the legs will fit. The interesting aspect of these pants is that the legs are very full--it seems that the tradition was to provide a lot of extra room in the legs during these years. So, I was happy to finally get some pants that fit in the waist and all I had to do was tailor the legs.

I decided to make shorts out of the pants because there is a lot of pattern in these old styles and I was afraid that it eventually would be too much pattern. Also, I knew that these would be one-of-a-kind shorts and they would be customed. I was very happy with the way they turned out and I have several more pairs to make in the near future as the weather heats up in NYC.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Week 25

This week's card was made to commemorate NYC's Gay Pride Weekend and parade.  This is simply a business sized card that has been cut with the word "pride" in a stencil font. The top of the card is lined with a hand tinted paper in pinks and whites. This is then lined with a piece of plain white linen paper so you can write a salutation.