Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Playing with Layers" collage

I don't do "layered" collages very often, and so far, I've only done a few. Why? I think because I have far less confidence in attempting them, I don't feel I know the technics used very well. Also, it's difficult for me to want to cover up things I've already done, as in the layering aspect. Consequently, I've mostly steered clear of them, except for occasionally. When I do attempt one, I do much better if I'm just playing around and experimenting.

When this first started out, I wasn't thrilled with it, and I almost wanted to toss it. Because I hadn't planned for it to be a layered collage, but it looked so bad, I felt it was the only way to salvage it. So I thought....hmmm, this is a good chance for me to play with layering.

This started out with frosting lightweight spackling onto frozen pizza cardboard. Now I'm well familiar with using caulk and wallboard joint compound, both of which I've used fairly often in my art. But I had never tried the spackling, so I decided to get some and try it, and see if and how it differed from the other two. I wasn't sure if I wanted regular spackling or the lightweight kind, but that's what I ended up buying. At first, when I first started frosting with it, I wasn't too happy with it. It seemed harder to work with, harder to frost, and harder to adhere to the cardboard, because it has a lot less moisture content than the other two. But I persisted and got some to adhere.

I wanted to embed some text into it, which was the first time I tried that. I had never tried that with the caulk or jc before. So I tore two short poems out of a book, one about Mom and one about Time. And tore another small piece out of a dictionary, and two small pieces out of a song book. I also used a few pieces of torn tissue paper and dress pattern tissue paper. That's the point at which it wasn't looking too good, and I was tempted to toss it. I set it aside to dry overnight and went to bed.

The next day is when I decided to try salvage it with a lot more layering and collage. I glued some netted fabric, lace fabric, and cheese cloth on, which I liked. Then I added the bird image and strips of rusted fabric, and few small pieces of decorative papers. Then the idea of stenciling the "B" occurred to me. I frosted more spackling over the stencil for that, and I really liked how that worked out. Then I did some stamping, glued on the punched out shapes and the feather. I also added some micro beads in gel medium on a few spots. I used my finger to rub on some different colors of glaze in different areas, then rubbed brown shoe polish over the whole piece. (I love that brown shoe polish.) I wrote the word "play" on there, and added some touches of gold rub on. Then I sealed it with Acrylic Floor Finish (AFF), bought at the Family Dollar store. The last thing I added was the rusted piece in the top right corner.

Making this piece was fun and challenging, and I should maybe try doing this more often. Maybe it would help increase my confidence at layering.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Feathered Carpet Ride (and you might get a chuckle out of this story)

I actually did some needle felting on a real art piece here, instead of just playing around with the felting. And I love my Clover needle felting tool, and the brush mat, and doing flat needle felting. These are some tools I'm very happy I bought, with no regrets. I highly recommend them, especially for artists who love using fabric and fibers.

I made this piece for an online challenge in one of my yahoo groups. The group is The Latest Trends in Mixed Media Arts and now has 617 members. It's a great group, and this was my first time signing up for this challenge. The challenge is the monthly Art Partner challenge, where Inka (of Inka Stamps) sends out an envelope to the ten people signed up for the challenge. The envelope includes one of her unmounted stamps, a piece of cardstock, and an embellishment. Those in the challenge must use these items in their art piece and then upload it to the photo folder on the group site. Then at the end of the month a winner is picked, and the artist sends the art to Inka in return for a $10 gift certificate for her stamps, and she posts the art to her gallery.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, I got confused when she sent a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate in the envelope. And made the incorrect assumption that it was meant to be an embellishment on the art piece. Yes, I thought it seemed a bit strange as an embellishment, and wasn't thrilled about having to use it on my art piece, but just figured those were the rules. So I worked on this piece a few hours last Sunday, and completed it, all except for using the candy. And I was very happy with it, and balked at gluing the candy on. I didn't WANT to include the candy on this piece, I didn't think it belonged there.

And my muse, Bonita, threw a fit, and was screaming at me, "You CAN'T be serious about adding this candy to this piece!!!" So we argued back and forth, but I won. And so, grumbling under my breath, I reluctantly glued the candy on. And then uploaded it to the folder. And shortly thereafter, found out from a post on the group by Inka that the candy was to eat, not to use as an embellishment for the art. So then I laughed about it, realizing how clueless I'd been, and felt very silly indeed that my piece of candy was now part of my art. Furthermore, it was posted in the folder for all to see my silly mistake. And would be the only piece in that folder with the candy on it. A testament to my cluelessness!

So, that's the story behind this. If I thought I could remove the candy without ruining the piece, I might try. But I'm afraid to risk it now. I used a piece of cool fabric gelled to pizza cardboard as the background. Then cut out a smaller piece of the fabric, and needle felted around the edges to make a frame for the stamped image. I stamped it onto a paint sample, cut it out, used a rounded corner punch, and glued it down. Oh right, I painted the vintage lace with Lumiere Sunset Gold and glued that down first. The swirl clip is glued over another paint sample. And the very last thing I did was glue on the darn candy!

I had fun with the needle felting, and of course had to finish that part before I could glue down the fabric. I really had to plan out the steps on this piece due to the felting, since I couldn't felt through cardboard. The felting itself was very easy and quick, and I used mohair yarn unraveled from a sweater.

Now I have four different sweaters bought at yard sales for the yarn, and perhaps my next project will be to dye some of the yarn with Kool-Aid, so I can have various colors. Some friends on another yahoo group are doing this very thing, and it's working well for them. I think it would also work for silk or wool roving. If I do this dying project, I'll post about it.

Oh, and one last thing. Right now I'm trying to rust a bunch of safety pins in a container outside. I'm not sure if they'll rust though, because some safety pins are treated so they won't rust. I bought these at the Dollar Tree, so I'm hoping the cheapo safety pins will rust. Will let you know on that, once I know. But hey, wouldn't rusted safety pins be cool to use in art? Yes indeed, I think so!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More experiments with needle felting

Soooo, what have I been doing??? I've been playing with my new needle felting tools. And these pieces are what I've produced. Again, keep in mind here, I'm a total newbie to this medium, so I'm just playing around and having fun. In the first photo, I used yarn for rug punching on a piece of fabric. It looks better up close than in the photo. In the second photo, I used yarn unraveled from a cotton sweater, felted on a piece of muslin. I like the way this turned out.

The third photo is a scan of the back of the first photo. And the fourth photo is of wool yarn unraveled from a sweater. It rather looks like a rug, and I'm thinking someone could actually make a rug with this technic, although it would take hours and hours to complete a decent sized rug. Right now, I seem to be into using unraveled yarn from sweaters. Well, I'm new to this technic, and just playing around for now, and using what I have on hand.

In fact, I bought the sweater for this fourth piece at a yard sale yesterday. And then today, went back to the same yard sale to buy two more sweaters at half price, for 25 cents each. I haven't unraveled the yarn from those yet. And when you unravel yarn from a knitted sweater, it ends up being all kinked up. And I'm wondering, if I wash the yarn in the washing machine, if it will come out straight, like regular yarn? Does anyone know if that works? I do have some specialty yarns for my art, but don't want to use those yet, until I get more proficient at this technic.

It does seem to be rather addictive though, and I can see me getting a lot of good use out of these new felting tools!!! And that is a good thing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My first attempt at needle felting

Well, this isn't much to brag about, but then again, it is my first try at this. I bid on a Clover felting needle tool on ebay and won it, and it arrived today. So I've been playing with it, and this is what I ended up with. I debated about felting the threads on top of the yarn, (that resulted from fraying the edges of the fabric), and thought oh well, might as well try. Once I started on that, I was committed, since I couldn't pull them out. Now I'm not so sure I like the threads on top, I think I liked it better with just the yarn. Darn!

No problem, this was basically a "practice piece". I may or may not use it in a fabric book I'll be working on in the near future. The yarn was unraveled from a sweater a few years ago, and was very kinked up, due to that. So I just layed it down randomly on the fabric. I also bought the large brush mat that is supposed to be used with this tool, and I'm glad I did, because it works great to keep the fabric in place while felting. Someone on a yahoo group posted that a piece of dense foam works with this tool, and it probably does, but I'm happy with the brush mat. And very, very happy with this needle tool.

It is so user friendly and easy to use, I was felting with it right away. I like the fact that mere yarn can be felted, as well as wool roving. And with this piece I was even able to felt the threads from the fabric, but that was more difficult and took longer than felting the yarn. Yes indeed, I'm very happy I purchased this nifty little tool. No regrets there. I highly recommend it.

If you post a comment, please weigh in on what you think of the threads on top. Do you like it that way, or think it would look better with just the yarn? If I had it to do over again, I would've stopped with the yarn and not felted the threads on top.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit cabinet card

I'm calling this a cabinet card, but am not sure if that's the term for it. If it's not, what is the correct term? Anyway, I picked up six of these at a thrift store for 33 cents each, thinking I'd find a way to use them in my art. And so I did. I worked on this Friday and yesterday, and it came together fairly easily. I'm happy about that. This was made for an online art friend, and will be in the mail to her soon.

The bottom two photos are scans, so you can get a better look at it. The first photo, from my digital camera, didn't come out too badly, considering I still haven't figured out how to turn off the flash. I used the same Lumiere gold paint on both pieces, but the leaf one looks much lighter, due to that darn flash. On the leaves, I frosted caulk over a stencil, let it dry, then painted it with Lumiere Sunset Gold acrylic paint. When that was dry, I rubbed black acrylic paint over the leaves with my finger. The base is frozen pizza cardboard, also painted with the Lumiere gold. Then I just taped the piece into the frame part of the cab card with double stick tape. That was much faster, easier, and safer than gluing it, and risking getting glue on the black card.

On the left, I experimented with Tyvek from a mailing envelope. I cut it out with deckle edged scissors, which I learned don't work too well on Tyvek. Then I painted it with the Lumiere gold and painted lines with regular black acrylic paint. I painted two twigs gold, then slipped them into slits at the top and bottom of the Tyvek. Then I put the piece inbetween two Teflon pressing sheets, and ironed it on the wool setting, the hottest on my little travel iron. After it cooled, I sealed it with Future Floor Finish (FFF) for a glossy finish. While that was still wet, I flicked some Pearl Ex pigment powder in Aztec Gold into it with a dry paint brush. I liked that effect. I let it dry, then sealed it with another coat of the FFF.

When dry, I glued it on with Craft Goop (comes in a purple tube). Initially, I wasn't planning on the Fruit of the Spirit part, but after all this was done, the idea occurred to me, so I went with it. I used a metallic gold paint marker to print all the text. I'm not totally happy with the placement of the words on the left, but I had already glued down the Tyvek, and had to write nine words around it, some of them quite long. If I'd known I was going to write the words on that side, I would've placed the Tyvek differently, to allow room for them.

So, there you have it. Regarding using the Tyvek like this, for a cool embellishment, I got that idea out of Sherill Kahn's wonderful Book, Creative Embellishments. Using the twigs was my idea, to make it look like a scroll.