Watercolor Pages

Shannon Green is a genius!  These are wonderful, DIY watercolor papers to use in your art journaling projects.  The colors are just lovely and the project is so easy to do.  Here’s how:

  1. Remove a book from it’s cover.  Take some time to remove the gummy, glued edge which holds the pages together.  This part of the spine will often have a fabric strip glued there.  If your binding is really difficult to remove, heat the glue and peal it off that way.  You don’t want the pages loose at this point, just barely held together in book form without the covers.
  2. Once you have your book pages separated from the binding, flip through the book, lightly misting the papers.  Then wet the edges of the book pages.  This is a more significant dampening than the spritzing of the pages.
  3. Put gloves on.
  4. Using liquid watercolors or inks, dribble the color over the edges of the book pages.  You can use a pipette, an old babies tylenol dropper, something that will hold some color and that your can release where you want it.  Slightly splay the pages open.  Once you add your color, spritz with water to encourage dripping and movement.  If your spine is able to take the ink or watercolor, go ahead and do that side too.  Not all spines will be able to take color, so don’t be disappointed if yours doesn’t.  You still have three beautiful sides of the page.
  5. Use colors that won’t make “mud”.  Some options:  Red, Blue, Yellow.  Yellow, Orange, Red.  Blue, Green and yellow…Or you can do complimentary colors:  purple and yellow, red and green, blue and orange. (These will make mud if you combine them, so I would keep them fairly separated while dripping them.)   You will get some muddy color with these, but they can still be stunning additions to your homemade paper collection.
  6. Once you add your colors-usually no more than three colors per side-and your happy with the drippage and movement of the colors, pull the book pages apart in small sections.
  7. Paper will mold and mildew if left wet in a pile.  If you have small sections, which you can pull apart even further, you can lay them on parchment paper on the upper rack in your oven on low.  Watch closely.  It will only take two or three minutes.  If you don’t watch this closely, your papers will brown.
  8. The paint or ink drips and runs anyway they choose, which is the beauty of this technique.  If getting messy or having random stuff in your art bothers you, don’t try this technique.

A couple things to remember:  if what you’re using for your color will reactivate with water even after it’s dry, you want to seal it.  I use the cheap sealer or the cheapest hairspray I can find.  I also use clear gesso or gel medium if I plan to do some heavier, wet techniques on the page.

You can have hundreds and hundreds of beautiful papers in a very sort time period.  If you have never had to inclination to make your own papers, this is a simple, easy beginner method way to start.  You simply cannot mess it up.

Now go forth.  Make messes. Let your creative spirit take flight.  You just never know what great ideas you may come up with.

 

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Choosing the Best

junk mail, advertising materials, catalogs or packaging for art journals can be challenging.  We all have so much paper junk, all of it usable in some way.  How do you pick the best suited for your project?

I divide my junk paper materials into three catagories:  Heavy weight/good for journals, Medium weight/can use in journals with addition of gesso or other medium to give it strength, Light weight/flimsy. Can use as a collage element, but not suitable to use alone as a page or tag. If you divide your junk mail when it comes in the house into separate folders, you’ll always have a selection of the various types for your projects.  (I confess, I rarely do this.  I just toss them all into a recycled cardboard box and paw through it every time I need something…It wastes a lot of time, but I haven’t found time to organize them yet.  Maybe that’s a project for today.)

IMG_1528
Books and pamphlets collected from the Woman’s Expo and our trip to the Upper Peninsula.

One of the best places to get really great, heavy weight materials to use is to request information from tourist websites.  They will often send you wonderful materials for nothing.  When we went into the U.P. earlier this fall, I grabbed all sorts of information about the area.  I did that because we were looking for things to do and sites to see while there, but now that we’re home it’s a delicious collection of usable stuff.  If you’re staying at a hotel, they often have informational brochures which have beautiful photos of local tourist sites.

I like tri-fold brochures. Holiday advertisements-some stores send coupons or alerts for sales on one heavy weight (almost cardboard) piece which is large enough to make into the journal cover. Car dealerships and realtors often send nice usable junk mail.  You can also pick up some interesting stuff at restaurants.  Particularly Asian restaurants where they have information on their celebrations and customs.  I love those!   They are often very lightweight, but work really well for collage.

Save all your envelopes for your junk journals as well.  These are very handy for adding to your pages as pockets, as tip-ins, as waterfalls, as mini-books which you tuck into a larger journal, to hold ephemera or photos, there are endless possibilities with envelopes.  You can find copyright free templates for envelopes, tags, frames, flowers, library cards, tickets and ballots online.  Just do a search for whatever it is your looking for and it will pop up.  I found a huge selection of vintage library cards and travel tickets just last night.  Gorgeous!  Print out on heavyweight card stock or manila file folders.

‘Tis the Season!  You will be getting all sorts of packaging in the next several weeks.  Clothing tags, toy packaging, cardboard boxes, packing materials, tissue paper, gift cards, wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, a virtual treasure trove of recyclable materials to use in your art practice.  Let’s review the possibilities:

  1.  Flat, clear plastic kid toy packaging.  Huge variety of uses for this heavy weight plastic.
  2. Tissue paper.  Stamp all over it to make your own Tim Holtz inspired tissue wrap.  Use as collage material, cover a “to bold” page to tone it down, use as texture for a background, there are lots of uses for tissue paper.
  3. Packaging paper.  I use mine for drop paper on my work table.
  4. Cardboard.  Corrugated cardboard works as an embellishment in an art journal, as pages in the journal, as a cover.  I use cardboard all the time.  Add fun foam shapes to a cardboard piece and make your own stamps.  Heavy duty boxes make great storage units.
  5. Wrapping paper.  Use as collage papers, add to your other thin papers to make other paper.
  6. Ribbon and bows.
  7. Tags. From clothes, from gifts.  These are generally heavy weight and work great in art journals.
  8. Gift cards-use them up and save the card.  Old gift cards are one of my essential work room tools.
  9. Napkins, placemats, paper plates, menus from restaurants, all of these things are wonderful additions to your art materials.  Also programs from various events make great tip-ins in journals.
  10. Sales flyers and catalogs.
  11. Holiday cards.  Save, save, save!  Many uses, great images and fonts. Don’t forget to save the envelopes too.
  12. Gift bags.  Make journals with these.  The cellophane ones can be made into beads and jewelry.  Plastic bags from stores can be made into all sorts of things like rugs or tote bags.
  13. Plastic food storage containers.  These are often given with a food gift inside.  Save and use for storage in your work room.
  14. The mesh bags oranges and onions come in are perfect to use for texture on art journal pages.

If you’re conscientious about gathering these materials, you may have enough to last the entire year.

 

 

 

Black Friday

Laurie and I went to Joann’s and Goodwill today.  We were pretty lucky in our findings too.  I picked up a heat gun for 50% off, a clear topped box which I need for a project I can’t remember at the moment, two rolls of tape, a set of baking items for my daughter for Christmas.

Good will was an even better haul for me.  I bought three bags full of flower petals from some store that went out of business, a wood briefcase, a red metal container with six compartments (which are now holding my paint brushes on my work table), several vintage books, sheet music, children’s books and poetry.  And I bought a plastic tub to take them all home in.

When I came home I began the DIY 7 Gypsy’s Wanderlust Junk Book.  Shannon Green made one and I thought it was brilliant.  Now, of course, I have no 7 Gypsy’s paper, embellishments, or the book itself.  I am making mine from junk mail and brochures.

This has been quite a bit of fun.  I will post a how to for this journal with all the details on the construction.

Then I separated several sets of the flower petals I got from Goodwill.  I laid them out on drop paper and sprayed them with my DIY spray inks.  Once they were dry, I tried to use my new heat gun to melt them slightly.

But no-it was not hot enough to melt the polyester flowers.

I did try it for embossing and it worked perfectly.

Now I’ll have to wait until my husband brings home his great big heat gun to melt my petals and to make the Gypsy Flowers.

After that it was back to cleaning up and organizing everything I brought home today.  A full and busy day.

 

Thanksgiving Was

delightful.  Lots of family, food and fun.  And, thanks to Jen, our turkey was perfect!  Moist and juicy.  Our menu for the meal:

23 lb. turkey

10 lbs mashed potatoes

large ham

gravy

stuffing

rolls and butter

greenbean casserole

sweet potatoes

homemade applesauce

salad

glazed carrots

deviled eggs

cranberry sauce

pumpkin pies and

apple crisp with ice cream for dessert

I didn’t bother mentioning all the appetizers.

My mom brought the salad, applesauce and rolls, along with some appetizers.  I made everything else.  I really enjoyed it.  Since Erin does most of our cooking nowadays, it was a refreshing change to get back in the kitchen.  And it’s nice to know I can still cook with the best of ’em.  Everything really was delicious.

Tomorrow my husband and son are helping my Dad move a refridgerator and microwave to his house.  Friends of theirs are remodeling their home and getting rid of all their appliances.  They even have a dishwasher.  Which we desperately need, as our broke several months ago.  I’m so excited!  I really hope it works out that we can get it and Scott can hook it up immediately.  I love to cook, hate to do dishes.

So after everyone left, I came downstairs to work on some things.  I ended up going through an old magazine and cutting out pictures and words I can use in my art journaling.  Then I sliced each remaining page into thirds to roll into paper tubes.  I cleaned my work desk off, gathered some recycled materials to make a new art journal, and began looking for ideas for Christmas.

Gifts for me.

I think I would really like a Brother Scan N Cut 2.  It will scan images and cut them out for you.  This would be such a blessing because of my hand problems.  Cutting is not at all fun for me.  If you’re considering a manual die cutting machine like the Big Shot or Big Kick, you need to purchase the dies along with it.  I added up the cost for the Big Shot and it breaks down like this:

Starter Kit for Big Shot – 144.50

Silicone Mat – 7.99

Impressions Pad – 7.99

Precision Base Plate – 19.99

Brush and Pad to remove paper from dies – 9.99

Magnetic Pad – 39.99

Do Not Cut Plates – 10.99

Crease Pad – 8.97

Ink Transfer Pad – unknown, can’t find the thing or the price

Various dies and embossing folders – 100.00

Total:  350.43

Brother Scan n Cut 2

Deep Blade

Deep Blade holder – 288.05

Activation Card – 38.98

Total:  327.03

It seems to me the brother scan and cut 2 would be the better deal.  You can scan any image you want into the machine and it cuts it out.  It has 1000 built in designs and 15 fonts-in the machine when you buy it.  You don’t have to purchase anything to get started with it.  I just thought the deep blade, blade holder and the activation card would be handy to have.

Can you imagine the cost of purchasing 1000 dies for a manual machine?  It would be astronomically high.  Not to mention you’d have to store all of them somewhere…

I don’t even know why I’m considering this, we can’t afford either of them anyway…And when you really think about it, I can cut an awful lot of stuff out before it would reach the 350.00 range.  Heck I could hire a student to cut stuff out for me for eight hours and still only pay a hundred bucks…They could cut an awful lot of stuff out in eight hours.  It’s a thought.

Maybe I need some replacement cookie and baking sheets.  Or a couple sets of towels.  Or a set of king sized sheets.  Or Posca paint pens.  Or some spray inks.  Or some empty felt ink pads.  A really good pair of scissors.  Another rolling cart from Ikea.  Or that elusive Diamond Glaze I’ve heard so much about but have never actually seen.  Manila tags-which are on line but not in any store around here…

Or whatever is needed to finish our bathrooms.

Well, if we’re going to dream…how about new wood flooring throughout the house.  Or new appliances.  Heck, I’d be happy with a 40 yard dumpster parked outside so I can empty the house and fill the dumpster with the junk I don’t want to drag to Goodwill.

You know, maybe this year we won’t exchange gifts at all.  Let’s just make stuff, bake stuff, sing carols and go to midnight services.  It’s the perfect way to avoid crowds, avoid consumerism, and avoid financial stress.  Wouldn’t a simple holiday be a delightful change of pace?

Anyone?

 

Gypsy Roses!

Shannon Green is a genius, I tell ya!  I just found a tutorial on her site to make really cool flowers-which I loveHere it is.

These are called Gypsy Roses.  I cannot tell you how excited I am to make these!  They are stunning and I just bought that package of flower petals which are incredibly ugly and will work perfectly for this project.  If I could just find them…I put everything away and re-organized my workroom.

Now I can’t find anything.  And I labeled all the totes and everything.  I must have slipped the ziplock bags of petals into a less-filled tote, rather than the correctly labeled tote.  But, never fear, they shall be found!  And when they are, I’ll be making these gorgeous flowers.  Here’s how you make them:

  1.  Lay your petals out on a sheet of drop paper (the paper you use to cover your work surface when you’re painting or making messes).
  2. Use your spray inks to spritz the petals in several colors.
  3. Spatter with glitter inks, sprays or paints.
  4. Do the above steps to both sides of your petals.  You can let them air dry or dry them with your heat gun or blow dryer.
  5. Once dry, lay on a silicone baking mat because we’re going to be melting them a bit.
  6. If you’re concerned about fumes or odor-do this next step outside or in a very well ventilated area.
  7. Hold petals down with your pokey tool or something similar so you don’t burn your fingers.  Using your heat gun, heat the petals until they begin to melt and crinkle up nicely.  (Be careful doing this step because if they get to hot they may catch on fire.  Keep your heat source far enough away from the polyester petals so as not to burn them. You just want them to be warm enough to crinkle up.  You could also use a candle for this step, but I have not tried it. I would be concerned about burning the petals.)
  8. Once you have several petals of different shapes and sizes melted to crinklely, stack them together to create a pleasing flower.  You can use as many or as few petals as you want, but I like to have an uneven number.  Usually 3 or 5 petals per flower works well for me.
  9. Stick them together with hot glue, fabric glue, whatever adhesive works the best for you.
  10. Add center piece to flower.  Buttons, gems, DIY enamel dots, broken jewelry pieces, die cut images, whatever your heart desires can go in the center of the flowers.
  11. Make several, in all different colors and shapes, and store in your ready-made embellishment storage for future use.

Because you used drop paper when you spray inked the petals, you also have a gorgeous paper to use for whatever projects you want.  You make two projects in one.

Theatre Performers. Talented Beyond Belief!

Idina Menzel is one of the most talented people on earth.  Seriously.  Her voice is astonishing.

Neil Patrick Harris is also breathtakingly talented.  As he, again, displays in this Tony Award Opening.

One of our students, Casey Prins, has toured with the Broadway production of Annie.  She was Grace in that production and is now working in New York.  She’s another amazingly talented young woman and we are all so proud of her!

Perhaps I’m getting nostalgic because I’m retiring from theatre, but I think live theatre people are the most hardworking, dedicated, committed-to-excellence people in the entertainment industry.  If you have an opportunity to see a Broadway show which may be touring in your area, I highly recommend you do so.  I have been fortunate enough to see several and I can tell you, each was amazing in it’s own way.

Lion King was a visual feast!  The costumes/puppets were spectacular and really took my breath away. Beauty and The Beast was stunning with spectacular costumes, sets and props.  Annie was delightful both the first time, about 15 years ago, and second time, with our Cassie in it, last year. There have been others I’ve seen too, each with their own unique and special moments.

Theatre is something anyone can get involved with.  If you’re interested in working on a production, contact your local community theatre groups.  Or if you enjoy the hectic pace of a school production-contact your local schools theatre department for more information.  You do not need to be on stage to be involved with theatre.  There are many, many opportunities for you to help out.  There is sound, lighting, stage management, house management, set construction, set painting,  props, costumes, make-up and hair, ticket sales, concessions, printing programs and posters, advertising, making food for the cast and crew during all day rehearsals, picking up necessary things like snaps, zippers, paint brushes, tape, whatever the crew is needing but doesn’t have the time to run out to get, cleaning, striking the set, washing and putting away of all the costumes used following the close of the show, cleaning and organizing the prop room, costume room and closet, scene shop, stage and storage areas, etc…It takes a lot of hands to put on a show and it takes a lot of hands to strike it.

Maybe your thing is organization.  Believe me, there is a place for you in theatre.  When we are in the middle of a production-we are busy.  We pull things, grab patterns, possible props, costume bits and pieces, shoes, hats, all sorts of things-to see if they will work for this production.  Not all of it does, but we don’t have time to schlep it all back to where it goes.  Sometimes we will have laundry baskets filled with possible costume patterns and only use three or four of them.  The rest need to be put back where they go, and we don’t have the time to do it.  We pull every possible costume that could work from our third floor costume closet-and maybe only use a handful in the show.  All those costumes have to go back upstairs and put away in their appropriate rack.

My personal goal was to photograph all our costumes, props, hats, shoes, purses, jewelry, etc. and label it all, then put it into a program on the computer so we would have an accurate list of what we have, where it is, what size it is and the cost for renting it.  (We have a tremendous amount of costumes, props, etc.  We used to just loan them out but we have had trouble with people not returning them, returning them broken, altered, or destroyed.  So now we rent the stuff out.  It makes those using our stuff more careful and respectful.)

So if you have any interest in theatre and the wonderful opportunities it offers both students and the community, please get involved.  Truly, some of the best experiences of my life have been in theatre.  I have loved it with all my heart and will grieve it’s loss.  But my time has passed-my health won’t let me do what I love anymore.  The good news is it’s not to late for you!  Get out there, get involved and enjoy comradery with lovely, talented like-minded people.  You won’t be sorry you did.

Happy Thanksgiving and Where’s The Bag?

As I mentioned, I’m working on a show right now.  This means every moment I’m awake I’m at school painting or whatever…My oldest daughter, the one who lives here with her kids, has pneumonia.  (Our agreement was in exchange for them living here, she would take care of the house and the cooking.  My arms are bad and cleaning really bothers them.  A lot.)  Erin is not contagious,  but is exhausted and needs lots of rest.  Which means I have to do the cooking and the cleaning right now.

We’re having the family over here today for Thanksgiving.

So yesterday I ran home from school and cleaned the bathroom and picked up everything around the house.  It took two hours. I pulled out the box of turkey bags that was in the kitchen drawer and found, to my shock and amazement, the box empty.  Why would anyone put an empty box back into the drawer?

Why?

So I went to the only two stores in our little village that might have turkey bags.

Both were out.

I sent my DH a text asking him to pick up bags for the turkey.  He said he would.

Back to school I went.  I continued painting and am nearly finished with the four musical instruments the kids need for a less-than-a-minute-scene.  I have painted the eggs and they look really cool!  Lots of color, doodling and sparkle all over them, which makes me smile.  Even though I know most of it won’t be seen from the audience, I like it anyway.  (Laurie and I do this all the time.  We add little details in somewhere no one will ever see, but that amuse us.  I added some oddness to the murals I painted for the Beauty and the Beast set too.  Delightfully twisted weirdness.)

I had mentioned I was without a turkey bag and a lovely lady Jen, who is helping us with finding volunteers for our productions and things like that, said she had an extra one at home and would bring it over for me.  Yay Jen!  My hero.  (She also brought me a piece of chocolate cream pie…Did I mention how much I love Jen?!?)

So after I worked on the instruments and have them nearly finished, I left at intermission to come home and make food.  And forgot the turkey bag at school.

My husband said, “I bought turkey bags-don’t worry about it.”  So I didn’t.  I made two pies, apple crisp, started the stuffing which goes in the bird, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and something else I can’t remember right now.  I opened the box of turkey bags and what did I see?

5 bags which will hold up to 8 lbs. of meat.

Our turkey is 23 pounds.

By this time it was 9:45 and I was exhausted.  The house still needs to be cleaned, not just picked up, and I have no bag for the turkey.

DH sent our son a text-since he was in town-asking him to pick up a turkey bag.  Every store he went to was completely out of them. 

Seriously.

Every store.

I threw my hands up in frustration and went to bed. I even slept a bit, which is a nice change of pace for me.  Now it is Thanksgiving Day and I have to run to school to find the turkey bag Jen brought in yesterday.  I hope it’s there-otherwise I’m screwed.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and I hope your turkey turns out lovely and juicy.  Not like ours which will be Christmas Vacation worthy.