Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ATC Mania

Here is a digital mock up of one of the ATC's I'm working on for the Artella 60's Flashback ATC swap. I found some really groovy images to use on the web and some of hubby's music paraphernalia! :) The second photo is some cool fabric I came across. It's actually a bandanna that I found at Michael's. Perfect! I'll cut out bits and use on my card backgrounds.

I found a site that had a bunch of 60's buttons like the one on this card. I'm going to print out a few and add this glaze to the paper which makes it look like a plastic coating. Each card will have a semi-real button attached to it. There were some pretty hardcore buttons back then. Being easily distracted, I spent way too much time looking at different 60's culture websites! It was a fascinating era.

Speaking of ATC's, I was browsing through Yahoo groups yesterday and came across their ATC swaps. This group creates swaps for every theme imaginable! I couldn't believe all of the great ideas for ATC's! And then I stumbled up the ... Art Doll ATC swap! Yay!! This is a year-long swap (starting in October). Woohoo! Your four ATC's are due in the hostess' hands on the last day of each month. You get five in return! The hostess creates one for everyone. What a bonus! Every month has a theme and of course October's is Halloween. So, that little swap will keep my creative juices flowing. It's funny because I was going to suggest an art doll swap in the Artella ATC swaps. I may still do so, but this will make sure I get a regular "fix" for my art doll obsession.

This will also add to my stash of ATC's from different artists. I'm still thinking of a way to make a collage with all of them, either printed out on fabric or as they are. I want to get a good stash built up though. I'm especially looking forward to receiving my first batch of art doll ATC's. That will be a special group. From the looks of the gallery, those people are very talented. I hope mine measure up. I'll keep you posted...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Taking Risks -- Part Two

First things first. My digital altered book has been converted and is finished! As usual, Artella did a fantastic job with the files. Click on the link to right on Everything and Anything under My Digital Altered Books. That had to be record time for the book conversion. What a happy surprise when I opened my e-mail this morning.

I decided to post my finished front and back covers of the altered book. I tweaked the front cover just a little from what I previously posted. I just felt that it needed something going down the left side. After adding the ribbon I was finally satisfied with it. The reason my name doesn't show up on the front cover is the contest rules said not to have your name anywhere on the book. When people vote on the book it's supposed to be without knowing who created it. After the contest is over, they will put my name back on the cover. Fair enough! The back cover is my second favorite page! Hubby really liked it too. Those two little girls are so sweet! I tried to keep the theme of childhood and playfulness throughout the book, beginning and ending with these two little ones.

Now, on to the taking risks. I posted a couple of days ago about my new theme for my approach to my art: taking risks. I am totally on board for trying all new media, techniques, etc. in my projects. I am not that knowledgeable about those techniques, though. I admire the beautiful work I see coming out of my favorite magazines such as Somerset Studio, Art Doll Quarterly, Cloth, Paper & Scissors, and Quilting Arts. They often include a section on "how to" achieve the look of the art, but sometimes the directions are pretty vague.

I came across this book at Barnes & Noble while looking for another art book I want to get but which hasn't been released yet. (Hurry up Oct. 1!) Anyway, this is a gem of a book! It's the style of art I really like. Her name is Kelly Rae Roberts and her art is very similar to Sharon Tomlinson's, whose blog I have marked at the link to the right called "All Norah's Art".

This is a very good book! It's conversational style is friendly and you just feel like you are sitting down with your best art pal discussing your favorite techniques! She has a very good, detailed, illustrated step-by-step section at the end of each chapter that guides you on how to achieve the technique shown at the beginning of the section. She covers such things as working with plaster, creating polymer clay forms and painting and inking faces to use in your collages. I highly recommend it just for the techniques!

So I've found new risks I want to take in creating my collages. The plaster forms are calling my name, as are the polymer clay shapes. I've always shied away from baking the clay and having to condition it, cut it, etc. but she has persuaded me to give it a try. Years ago I bought a little toaster oven at the thrift store for a couple of dollars to use solely for baking clay but I never got up the nerve to try. That oven has been packed away in a box all of this time. Today I unpacked it, dusted it off and am going to give this a try. Stay tuned for more developments...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vintage Treasures

I try to make it to our local flea market at least once a month, just to see what vintage items I can find. I was doing the happy dance when I spotted these! The top photo is a very old printer's case. Heaven!! I've been wanting something with little niches that I wan to alter in a unique way. I have some divine cigar boxes, courtesy of my brother-in-law Richard, (thanks, again!!) that I'm going to use for my art dolls, but I was wanting to find something larger with more openings. Voila! I was a sight to see carting THIS thing through the aisles! ;)

The next photo is a very old sewing cart. All of the contents were included! There are some very old rusty scissors (great for collage!), tons of ribbon, pins, buttons, fabric scraps, mending tape, etc. You can click on the photo to get a better view. This is a goldmine for collage. The vintage buttons are still on the button cards! I have to admit I was absolutely giddy when I saw this. The price on both of these items was a steal.

The third photo is a stack of vintage books. These are OLD. The pages are yellowed but not brittle; they are going to be altered anyway. I've been reading about a technique I want to try for altering vintage book covers with your own art. It involves removing the hardback covers altogether. But, I may leave the covers on these books intact and just make them into altered books. There are some great images in the French text book that I will definitely use.

So, these items are calling my name from the studio. I finished my digital altered book and sent the files away for conversion. When I get the link to the finished product, I'll post it here. Now, the only outstanding item that I need to finish is my zine. I've been playing with a few of the pages and am redoing them. I know, I know... let it alone already! But, I'm not happy with it and I still have time to tweak. I'll post my favorite pages when I finish with it.

I found the perfect background for the new ATC's on the '60's theme. I'll post it tomorrow! Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Taking Risks

I have a little bit of everything in here today. The top photo the pendant I talked about yesterday. I LOVE this! I placed it on a digital background so it would show up better. The scan alone was a little bare. You can click on each photo to get a better view. I'm definitely going to use this with an art doll. I think I found it at Michael's craft store. They have a great jewelry section.

I find this risk theme alot in my magazines and art publications that I follow. I'm wanting to take more risks with my art; try things out of my comfort zone. It's a good exercise to push your creativity to new limits. Some of the things I'm aiming for that are completely new to me: trying an assemblage or shrine, art dolls with more found objects, altering vintage book covers, sketching and painting, small journal quilts and incorporating beading into my work. Whew! That's an ambitious list to start with. I keep a small notebook of ideas that I jot down as I come across them and these are among the ones that really have my interest now.

Oh, I keep forgetting to mention... have you noticed my new blog banner? That was another small risk I took. I was not in love with the plain one we are given with the blog templates here. So, I figured I would try and create one for myself. I've noticed alot of my favorite blogs have their own banners. I figured why not try my hand at it. Working in Photoshop with the digital altered book gave me the push I needed to try and create my own banner. I'm pretty happy with it. Now that I figured out the size, I'll change it up now and then just to keep things fresh! I hope you like it. Hubby liked the new colors in the background and sidebars, too! :)

The second photo is my favorite page of my digital altered book. The original page that we were given before altering was the whole poem on a blank page. I took just the first verse of the poem and created everything else around that. I still have the final page and the back cover to finish; something I'm aiming to complete today.

The last photo is another of my ATC's I created for the magic key ATC swap at Artella. If you look at yesterday's post, the cover (or door) is posted there. When you open the door (which is attached to the front of this card) you see this little guy.

So, back to work. I'm really motivated to wrap up the works in progress and begin with new projects. Plus, I made a trip to the flea market yesterday and came back with some absolute treasures! I'll post those tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Queen For A Day ATC

Here is the fourth ATC I created for the Artella Magic Key ATC swap. The first photo is the "door" and the second photo is what the magic key opens the door TO. The door is attached to the bottom card by tiny brass brads down the left side. Usually we don't get to see any of the participants' ATC's before they are sent to us. However, I think everyone was a little excited by this theme. Some of them have posted their cards to their galleries already. The usual practice is for the host of the swap to scan all of the cards and then post each participant's card to the Artella site a day at a time. I just post mine here, and then when they are posted at the Artella site, I get to see them again! ;)

The new theme for the next ATC swap was announced yesterday: the '60's. You can interpret this any way you want. I was born in 1960, so I'll just look through images of that time. The music is always a good place to look for inspiration. Hubby is a classic rock fan and most of his music is 60's and 70's. UNLIKE mine...but that's another story.

I know... I know... I said no more signing up for anymore swaps until my digital altered book and zine are out the door (or the computer in the digital book's case). But, these little cards are addicting! As I said yesterday, I'm still making a few more magic key ATC's just for my own use!! They were more labor intensive than the others that I've made, but I knew the effect I was going for and I was pretty proud of them.

Speaking of being a perfectionist...I found this cool pendant in the bead section of the craft store. It just screamed my name when I saw it. It's my motto when it comes to my art. I'll post it tomorrow. *devilish grin* I want to learn how to bead! There are a million different kinds of beads, wire, findings, etc. It's overwhelming for someone who has NIL experience with beads. I've never strung a bead. Anyway, there are also little charms, pendants, etc. in these aisles. This pendant was so on target! I'm going to design an art doll around the theme of the pendant. *sigh* I need more hours in the day.

OK, back to work. Two more pages to go on my digital altered book and I'll be able to send it in to Artella for conversion BEFORE the deadline. Ha! That' a first. If you are not familiar with digital altered books, click on my two books in my sidebar under "My digital altered books." They are also addicting and a great way to play with Photoshop. They are just like the traditional altered books, but they are done digitally. I know, I was skeptical too, before I signed up. I still LOVE altering old books the traditional way, but this is a good alternative. My studio space is a wreck right now with all of the other projects I have going, so digitally altering something is a lot less messy! Go to the Artella website and check out their gallery of all of the digital altered books. There are some pretty amazing ones besides the two by yours truly.

Stay tuned for more to come...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Inner Child ATC

This is the third ATC I made for the Artella Magic Key ATC swap. I loved this image. It's a reminder to allow yourself to play! Don't forget your inner child. She is there to give you permission to have fun! Art is a wonderful opportunity to let go and play, just like you used to do in art class.

I used to love art day in grade school. Our art teacher would wheel in this cart filled to the brim with goodies like paints, papers, glue, scissors, etc. She was magical to me. She always wore the most vibrant colors and her jewelry, I realize now, was hand-painted. She was definitely an inspiration to me.

I've continued making more magic key ATC's even though I've already mailed in my five for the swap. I loved this theme! I'm curious to see what I get in return. I've never been disappointed. I'm thinking about what I can do with all of these little canvasses I get in these swaps. There are lots of options out there. I've seen binders with little pre-made pockets to store them in, a wooden carousel with pockets to display them in, people have even strung them on beads and hung them in their studio! I'm thinking about printing them on cloth and sewing them into little art quilts. I've been toying with a layout for these. More to come...

I've got to get to work finishing my next digital altered book and my zine. The altered book contest deadline is Oct. 4 and the zine deadline (fast approaching) is Oct. 11. So, that's it for now. Thanks for stopping in!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Magic Key ATC

Here is another of the magic key ATC's that I created for the Artella September ATC swap. The top photo is the cover, which opens like a door to reveal the second photo. The idea is to see what the magic key opens the door TO!

I thought this was such a fun image! It reminds me of my very, best, best, BEST friend, Sharon. We have certainly had our share of fun times through the years. This image just has that feeling of two friends being silly together. That's something Sharon and I have NO problem doing! :) Now that I've moved to another state, I don't see her nearly enough, but I hope that she knows she is always on my mind and in my heart!!!

I've been busy trying to get various projects ready for their deadlines. I have made some more progress on my digital altered book. I'm really loving how it is turning out. I hope to get it wrapped up this week and then put the finishing touches on the zine and get those mailed out next week.

In the meantime, I've been experimenting with doll making. I have completed another one, but am not ready to post a photo of her. She's an experiment with using materials that you have on hand. Art dolls can be made of anything and I stretched the imagination to make her. She's an odd little creature; almost to the point of being cute! I'm working on her sister right now and when I finish her, I'll post them both. :)

That's all for now. I'll post another of my ATC's tomorrow and when I receive my four in the mail, I will post those.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Magic Key ATC's Are Finished!

I had a lot of fun making this latest round of ATC's! I thought I would post one of them here tonight, since I just finished them. The top photo is the cover. All of the ATC's will have this cover. It's a transparency of a door and keyhole over top of some artist paper, a scanned moon face from an old earring, and some text printed onto scrapbook paper. The key is a small metal key that I had from a previous scrapbooking club mailing.

The second photo is the inside of the first ATC. The inside of each card will be different. The effect is supposed to be of a door opening to reveal what the key unlocks! I used all sorts of images, scrap paper, sequins, just about anything I had laying around that inspired me for these cards. I loved this one. Actually, I love them all! :) So, here is the first and the rest will follow tomorrow.

It's getting late and I need to shut down for now. Hope you enjoyed this little peek!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Things In The Works

I didn't mean to go so long between blog posts! Time has gotten away from me these last couple of weeks. That is partly due to my diving into my current obsession (doll making) and partly due to my terrible procrastination! So I thought I should update what I've got in the works.

One day last week I sat down in my little art studio to work and just could not get started. Why? The place was a wreck! When I work, I tend to gather all of my materials around me on my work table, on the floor beside me, and in general, anywhere I can fit it in. Unfortunately, I don't always put the materials back when I'm finished for the day. I figure, why do that when I'll just need them tomorrow? Well, one reason is pretty soon you can't even SEE your work table OR get to it, for that matter, with all of the stuff strewn around the floor. Finally, I'd had enough and spent a good two days clearing out the whole space, including the closet.

I found some things I'd been looking for (another advantage to an organized space!) and some things I had completely forgotten about. So now I'm at least more organized than I've been. All of my fabrics are grouped together where I can see them now and not hidden in bins in the closet. All of my paints, markers, inks, stamps, etc. are together in one place and all of my doll making supplies are grouped together.

I like to jump in and get a project done when I start. This is good and bad. It's good because I completely immerse myself in the project and devote all of my energy to it. It's bad because everything else falls to the wayside. So I've begun to set priorities and am slowly learning to work on a project a little bit at a time. This way, I can work on more than one project PLUS a little down time between work sessions gives me more time to think about what to add or change about the previous days' work.

I'm sure alot of people already have this figured out. But for me it's a learning process. I have to pace myself. I've signed up for some more projects at Artella and I want to do a good job on ALL of them. So, here's what's in the works:

1. You can see from the pictures of the books that I've got something going on with fabric. I'm experimenting with small "art quilts". I'm incorporating photos, small fabric remnants, and embellishments. Some of these little quilts will be incorporated into a book. That's all I'll tell you for right now! ;)

2. I'm halfway through my digital altered book. I attended a webinar last week hosted by Artella that gave me more tips on using my Photoshop program. That was a great help!

3. I'm still putting finishing touches on the zine. I've gone through a panic phase thinking, "it's not good enough. It's not even done right" blah blah blah. I've got to go with my gut and leave it alone!

4. I signed up for another ATC swap! Yay! This one has the theme, "magic key".

5. I'm attempting to sculpt two new dolls from clay. I have the faces done and am working on the rest of the bodies and their outfits.

So that's what I've been doing and will be working on this month and next. By the end of October the zine deadline will have come and gone, the ATC swap deadline is two weeks and the digital altered book deadline is two weeks. So, back to work!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More of Everything!

I have been playing in Photoshop and am making great progress on my next digital book! (see previous post) Previously I posted the altered cover and these are the next pages in order. I've included the original page that we are given to alter and right below it I've posted the altered page. These are addicting once you sit down and work on them! Yes, I am the world's worst procrastinator, so all of the household things and various other projects have gotten thrown aside while I play with these. ;)

I've worked on these particular pages for the last two days. Now I have a total of four pages complete (somewhat), including the cover. There will always be a little tweaking as I go along, but for the most part this is what they will look like.

One of the more enjoyable parts of these books is searching for images to include. I've pored over ephemera books, children's books, etc. looking for the right images to go with the text. I'm including most of the images and text that we are given but I'm either changing the style, font, or color of it.

While I was at it, I picked up a couple of books at the library on altered books (the REAL kind). At first I was hesitant to even look into it. I adore books and my house is filled with them. I couldn't get past the thought of cutting one up. eek! But, the books they advise you to use for altering are OLD battered, tattered books that are heading for the dump anyway. This way you are saving the book, just making art out of it! :) So, I picked up a few books at the Goodwill and am going to give it a try. It's been so fun doing it digitally, I want to get my hands dirty and create something I can show off! I also want to include personal photos, family photos, fabrics, all of the goodies I have sitting right here in the studio.

Yes, I've got yet another project to start on. My zines are just about wrapped up (have I said that before?) and I plan on mailing those out at the end of next week. I have to host our next sorority meeting Monday night so I need to set aside some time and get cleaning and shopping done for that. Other than all of this, nothing much is happening. I've had a series of migraines for the last couple of days which has slowed me down. Thank God for Imitrex. They still take their toll, though. So far, no sign of one today. Cross your fingers that my luck lasts.

I know I said I'd post pictures of the finished basement. They are coming. We are still moving a few things around, discussing and bargaining on what to include and what gets put up. Stay tuned for further developments on everything and anything...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Everything and Anything

I've been busy! Hubby and I are almost done with the basement decorating. That took many days. We are both perfectionists and that slowed us down a little. Plus, I kept finding things I wanted to include and so did he. In the middle of all of that, we were organizing the other two rooms of the basement area, making room for storage of items that were in the garage. AND, college football started this weekend and we didn't want to miss any games. Whew!

I managed to start my next digital altered book (DAB). In a previous post I showed you the cover that I was given to start with. Here is my version of the new cover. Of course I had to put my name on it! ;) It didn't help that when I turned on my computer this morning, there was no internet. Then, I checked the TV and there was no cable. The message was: No Signal. After reporting that, I decided to get into Photoshop and start working on my book. Thank goodness I don't need the internet for that. I have a ton of images that I want to include in this cute little book!

Also, in the evenings I've been working on some afghans. One is made from yarn of all pastel colors called "Monet". The other is the one I've put up here today. It is going to be in Ohio State's colors of scarlet and gray. I've never knitted with the circular needles before, so this is a first. Also, it has 111 stitches. The most I've ever worked with at one time was 66. So, lots of new things with this project. I've been working on it while we watch TV in the evenings. It will be for hubby. In the winter, we keep the heat turned DOWN and have to bundle up. Especially in the basement family room; the coldest part of the house! So, this afghan will help him to keep warm while we watch football.

I'll post pictures of what we've accomplished in the family room tomorrow. It's almost finished, but there are a few more things I need to make. That's it for today.