Friday, August 26, 2011

Creating with Friends

Two artist friends and I are challenging each other to make new art. We're inspired by the many art books we've purchased . . . but never actually used. Well, we read them, and we look at them, but like many other people, we don't actually try the techniques we read about. We've changed that and are now attempting some projects.

The first was a hanging sign I made from Shona Cole's book The Artistic Mother. The sign acts as a reminder to do something, maybe one of your goals. I made spots for two statements, so I could make my reminder more of an action statement. Currently it says, "Fly Toward/Creating Art." The word tags are slid behind mica sheets. I have other word tags in a little envelope in the back for other goals I have. I'll keep those to myself.

Years ago "star" books were all the rage. I remember seeing them in magazines and craft books. I'd never made one, because they looked so complicated. Surprise -- they're not at all! We also have the benefit that one of our artists works at a printing shop, and she has access to great paper cutters, and cut all the papers to size for us. All we had to do was score and tape the pages together.

It's called a star book because of what it looks like when you open it up.

Accordion books were also very popular. I made mine with painted tissue covers, and watercolor paper.

Unfortunately, the water colored paper looks a little wavy. Maybe watercolor isn't the way to go for a folded page.

Our next projects are banners and a decorated box. I've made the banners, but still need to "bling" them a bit. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Second Zine

The second issue of my mixed media art zine Paint/Paste is hot off the presses. The theme for this one is Scraps. My zines describe and show some of my favorite mixed media techniques, and are completely handmade. When I thought of the Scraps theme, I knew that I would use some kind of a scrap, or re-used paper, for the cover. My first issue, which had the theme Words, had a hand-painted cover, and each cover was different. This time, I used the pages from an old mixed media calendar. I gave credit to the artist who made the calendar page on the inside back cover. I also cut and paste papers onto it and jazzed it up with paint pens.

I've called my zine Paint/Paste because I want to focus on painting and collage techniques. With the theme of scraps, I used a two-sided scrapbook paper for some pages, and old green ledger paper for another, and old maps for another.

I showed examples of different paint techniques over scraps, and different adhesives you can use for scraps.

I included a how-to for making a mini-book out of a single sheet of paper, and included an example of a book made from a magazine page. I also included a bonus handmade book in a little pocket. By the way, I always use old envelopes for pockets. I try not to buy too many brand new art supplies, and re-use things as much as possible. I grabbed a stack of large flat mailing envelopes, cut them in two lengthwise, and used half an envelope per zine. The envelope is folded in half and stitched into the binding. If there was an address on the envelope, I obscured it with a rubber stamp or sticker.

I cut cardboard boxes to use as bases for ATCs, handmade books, or other art. I included some examples, cut from a mac and cheese box, moon pie box, Christmas cards, and photos. (Sorry, but I very much enjoy the Christmas photos I get from friends, but I don't save them. They're nice sturdy pieces for art.)

I also included some obscure scraps that I've collected over the years. Stationery from hotels, recipe cards, old over-sized photo negatives, really old photos, bingo cards, dictionary pages.

The planning and construction of a zine is a challenge you should attempt. Pick a theme that goes with the type of art that you do. Don't be stingy with your inserts -- what are you saving all that stuff for, anyway? I'll be announcing another zine swap in this blog soon, so stay tuned.

If you'd like to buy one of my zines, you can find them in my online shop here. I have a few left and will sell them until they're gone.

Future blog posts will tell you about all the other zines that I received in my recent swap. You'll be amazed by the creativity of the other ten artists!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Zine Swap

Three months of planning, gathering materials, creating inserts, and then one crazy week of assembly = my second zine. I love every part of the process. A zine is essentially a self-published magazine. You choose the topic and the contents. It's more than just writing articles, though, because you make the pages, the cover, and inserts. You make a lot of decisions in the planning stage:
-- Will I write all original articles or have guest writers?
-- Do I want to include a page of links or sources?
-- Should I do a how-to article, including examples?
-- Will I type the text, hand-write it, cut and paste it?
-- What size will the magazine pages be and how many will there be?
-- What material will I use for the cover? Will it be all handmade?

I don't know how you plan projects, but my initial planning is all in my head. In fact, I can plan an entire jewelry piece or ATC in my head. For the zine, after I've done the initial planning, I start to mock up the pages. I use 8 1/2" x 11" pages so I can type most of the text using Word. I'll take 5 blank pages, and fold them over, and write the heading for each page and the table of contents. I'll include other notes, like if there will be a pocket, what kind of inserts, and if I'll add handwriting to the typed words.

I think inserts are key to an engaging zine. It's fun to pull out examples of handmade papers, or ATCs, or mini-books. The theme of my zine is always mixed media art, so those are the kinds of inserts I include. I think the reader likes to see and feel the examples.

I'll tell you more about my zine in my next post, but here's a sneak preview of what it looks like.

I hosted a swap, and ten other artists made zines as well. We made one for everyone, they sent their boxes of zines to me, then I split them up and sent them back so they have a full set. Now we're all spending our free time reading these wonderful works of art. Check out my blog again, and I'll show you each of the 11 zines individually.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Orleans Jewelry Classes

I recently traveled to New Orleans with two friends to take jewelry classes with Thomas Mann. Thomas is an amazing metal jewelry designer who has been perfecting his craft for 40 years. Check out his website here and be sure and look at the gallery of his designs.

Here we are with Thomas and his excellent right-hand woman, Angele, who arranged the classes for us.

He is now teaching classes at his studio. He's created a space with 11 workstations, plus one for himself, and moveable tables he can set up for soldering or other kinds of specialty work.

I've worked with metal a lot, but needed some help with the jeweler's saw and soldering. I only broke about 5 saw blades, and melted my soldered piece once. It's never good when the instructor looks at your soldering and says "Start over". That's because I held the heat on too long and melted mine to little blobs. But I was having fun, and by the end I got it right.

He taught a week-long series of classes in metal working. We learned the proper way to use a jeweler's saw, soldering with a torch, and filing, etching, and cold connections to make a "Found Object Sandwich". Here's the soldering class holding our pieces.

Here are our finshed sandwich pieces. The sandwich consists of a metal front that has had the middle cut out, a plexiglas piece, a photo, and a metal back.

We stayed in a beautiful Bed & Breakfast right down the road from Thomas' studio. We could walk to his studio on Magazine St. in five minutes. We had a suite of two bedrooms and a sitting area on the top floor of The Terrell House.

Each morning, we were treated to a full, hot breakfast. The owner was even generous enough to share some recipes with us. We had egg dishes, pastries, all homemade, and an amazing bowl of fresh mixed fruit every day.

I highly recommend destination workshop vacations. It's great to get away from your usual life, great to visit a new city, learn something new, and meet new friends. If you've never done it, dare yourself to. Be bold, even if you have to travel alone. You'll find many surprises along the way -- like just how brave you can be and how much fun it is to try something new.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Harry Potter Takes Over

I'm a little delayed on making this post, but I just had to show you some photos from the premiere of the last Harry Potter movie. My son is a Harry Potter expert, and I'm as enthusiastic as he is. A few months ago, in anticipation of the last movie, he announced he would be dressing as Lord Voldemort, the total bad guy, and going to the midnight movie. I told him I'd drive him and his friends. And I decided I would be dressing too. I went as Tonks, the woman who can change her hair color at will. His friend went as Lucius Malfoy, as a Death Eater. We learned there would be a flash mob wand war an hour before the movie started, so we made sure we got there around 10:30. (Yes, we both own HP wands. His is the Elder Wand, and mine is Sirius Black's. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you may exit my blog now.)

Here is Michael before he dressed as Lord Voldemort.

Michael's friend who is in theater school applied his makeup. Yes, Michael shaved his head for this.

We're dressed and ready to go out.

We ran into a girl who made a perfect Belatrix LeStrange. She was so into it and enthusiastic. I don't know why Michael's head is glowing here.

We also ran into Albus Dumbledore and a Whomping Willow.

The wand war was caught on tape. If you fast-forward to around 3:50, you'll see Lord Voldemort, the last one standing.

Click here for the video.