Thursday, May 31, 2012

This Week's Challenge Project

I experimented this week with making my first book, a portfolio actually.  I'd seen some easy books with quilted bodies and pages simply sewn in and decided to give it a go.

I simply used batting between the inside and outside fabrics, although I will use Timtex or something similar between the fabric next time.  The bottom pocket, which runs across from front to back, is also batted.  The small pocket at top on the front isn't.

The first inside photo is with the original papers I'd sewn in.  I used a variety of old and/or handmade papers.

But then I decided to actually use this portfolio when I attend NorBAG meetings and want to take notes.  So I removed the original pages and stitched in grid and other paper that I can write on.

I'm slowly making progress on a few other mixed media projects.  I finally began art journaling, something I've been wanting to do for 5 or 6 years, and I am enjoying the process.  I'm working in a spiral bound journal. 

I'm also taking an online class on altering books for art journaling, given by Tammy Garcia at Daisy Yellow Art.  Exploring numerous ways to build journal pages.  This, in addition to working in several wonderful collage and journal books I have, the best of the bunch by Jane Davies.

Perhaps you can help me with something ~ I'm looking for foreign-language newspapers to use in my artwork.  Humboldt County, CA might be the only place on the planet where you cannot get a foreign-language newspaper anymore.  The Humboldt State University Library does not carry them, the small independent booksellers no longer carry them.  Borders did, I think, but they're long gone.  If you have access to newspapers in any of the following languages (or others not listed) and you'd be amenable to sending me ONE issue, I would be very grateful.

I'm looking for papers in...Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Spanish.  Thank You!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Saturday's Papers

I made paste paper for the first time on Saturday.  "Making paste paper" means creating a paste of flour or cornstarch and water, thickening it, adding paint, slathering it on paper, making impressions in the paste, then letting it dry.

I added 1/3 cup unbleached white flour to 2 cups water.  After letting it sit for a few minutes, I slowly brought it to a boil while constantly whisking.  When it was thick like syrup, I turned it off and let it cool.  After cooling, during which time the paste thickens more, I took a Tbsp or two into a small cup, added a small amount of paint (I used acrylics), stirred the paste completely then smeared it on a sheet of paper.  The paper can be prewetted or dry.  Some have better results with wet paper, some with dry.  Then I made impressions in the paste.

Most of these patterns were made with one of those notched spreaders you get at the hardware store.  Although the piece just above was done with a stencil that I laid on the pasted paper and brayered over it, then repositioned it.

The aqua piece is an old paper bag.

On this piece I just made impressions with the spatula as I spread paste on the paper.

This was great fun.  I'll definitely be doing it again.  Will use cornstarch next time, as well as a bit lighter weight paper.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Image Transfer Trials

A few years ago when I first got into surface design, I experimented with ink jet digital transfers on paper and cloth.  My experiments were limited because I didn't have all the ingredients then to really make an informed decision about what works best.

Fast forward to the present ~ now I do have everything recommended by countless others for doing digital image transfers.  I want to share with you what works and what doesn't.  Yeah, this is my experience, but it's hard for me to believe that a lot of what's purported to work for others really does, because of the nature of the materials.  More on that later.

The primary elements recommended -- and these are by many people in books, in online groups, and via googled links --
  • gel medium (not regular acrylic medium, but specifically acrylic gel medium)
  • JetPrint Photo brand Matte Imaging & Photo paper (used to be Great White brand)
  • Apollo brand ink jet transparencies

Here's what I found...
  • It doesn't matter what brand of photo paper you use, it won't work.  Because acrylic medium is a glue, therefore putting two pieces of paper together with medium between and brayering over is going to make the papers adhere together.  You try to pull off the backing paper with your printed image from the receiving paper, and the papers have been glued together!  Photo paper to fabric also didn't work for the same reason.
  • Transparencies are the only vehicle that work for transferring an ink jet image, because the ink stays on the surface of the film, even though the image dries.
  • You can transfer an image printed on transparency film with water.  In the photo above, the top images on the left were transferred with water onto paper.
  • You can also transfer images with acrylic medium, but it doesn't have to be GEL medium.  In fact, I prefer regular matte acrylic medium over gel matte acrylic medium.  The bottom photo on the left was done with Blick Matte Medium (transferred to muslin), the images on the right (top on paper, bottom on fabric) with Golden Soft Gel Medium.  The gel medium left a more plasticy finish on the paper and cloth.
I haven't tried any other brand of transparency than Apollo, so I can't tell you whether other brands work.  Apollo is not quick drying, which is good for image transfers.  Although I'm not sure what difference it makes since the image will have dried anyway by the time you transfer it.

The JetPrint Photo paper was difficult to find.  I purchased some at eBay a week or so ago.  Although I'd never use it again to attempt image transfers, I can say that images printed on it are quite lovely, and I'll use them in their own right for mixed media projects.

I hope this is useful information.  If you're adept at image transfers I'd be willing to bet your experience is different than mine.

Oh, and one more tip I learned this week ~ you can print images on tissue paper ironed onto freezer paper (like you would do to print directly on fabric).  The images are about as transparent once they've been adhered to a substrate as they'd be if the image had been transferred using the above methods.

Always Different

This week's 9x12 quilt is similar to last week' that it began as a foundation of scraps, was quilted, then overpainted.  This one, though, was not glazed with acrylic medium prior to painting.  The finishing treatment was done with Golden metallic fluid acrylic and Shiva metallic paintstiks.

I've done this kind of surface treatment before on quilts, and I like it a lot.  There is some residual stiffness to the cloth, but not that plasticy feeling that acrylic medium gives on fabric.  The texture of the fabric remains, through it all.

For a good example of a larger quilt on which I used these treatments, go here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Important" Art

I've been thinking about this for a few days, so I'll blather on for a bit.

I'm reading a great book called The Zen of Creativity - Cultivating Your Artistic Life by John Daido Loori who's an American Zen priest.  It's more about getting out of the way and letting art make itself through you, than anything else.

Even though we're all artists in our own right, and even though so few amongst us develop recognizable names and styles, I used to hope that someday something I created might amount to more than a handful of compliments and the occasional sale.  I hoped I'd do something "important."

I think more than anything else this hope was driven by my need to let the world know that I could do "it" too, that I was skilled, that my work was as valuable as others' work that gets oohed and aahed over and purchased at often shamelessly high prices.

As I not long ago pulled away from actively marketing my artwork, and spent much of the last several months wondering why I bothered making art at all, I finally arrived at the place where I'm feeling comfortable and inspired to make art just for myself.  In other words, because it's "important" to me.

Slowly, I'm morphing into mixed media.  Twenty years ago I made greeting cards and Fimo jewelry, and painted silk scarves.  Fifteen years ago I was a seed-bead jewelry designer and a spinner.  Ten years ago I was a spinner and weaver.  Five years ago I began to explore surface design.  Three years ago I stopped weaving and spinning and became a surface-designing art quilter.  Now I'm the latter and moving into mixed media.

It's hard for me to relate to being an artist who found her medium eons ago and has stuck with it since.  Perhaps that's because I've always been interested in too many things to settle on just one.  I like the idea of branching out and moving on.  I want to experience a lot of artmaking in this lifetime, and I can't imagine choosing a medium and sticking with it for the duration.  At the same time though, part of me wishes I were the other kind of artist, the one who's developed a lifetime body of work in one medium and really has something to show for her devotion to creative expression.

But that's not me.  I want to try a lot of things.  I want to keep spreading my wings.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

This Week's 9x12

This week's journal quilt was more experimental than the last few.  I started with a background of mostly fabric, with newspaper in the upper left quadrant...then quilted it...then sealed it with acrylic medium.  Then added a small piece of CitraSolv'd paper over the newspaper...then dry brushed several layers of acrylic paints over the whole piece.  Then stamped with acrylic.

Glad I tried this, but not sure I'd do it again.  It was the sealing with medium part that I liked the least.  I'll try nearly anything at least once!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Home Is Where The Art Is

Today is reveal day for Fiberactions' 3rd color challenge, split complementary colors.  Instead of doing two pieces as I've done for the last two challenges, I did four!  The grouping is called Rose Cottage Quartet, each piece measuring 19x14 inches.  And meant to hang in no particular order.

I loved this challenge because I don't usually work with such contrasting colors, so it was a release of freedom to do so.  And I love the vibrancy of these colors together ~ turquoise (green-blue on the color wheel), red and orange.

I've also really been hankering to create quilted houses, which many other quilters have done.  And especially I was inspired by the paintings of my dear artist friend, Joan Gold.  The fact that these pieces are far more whimsical than my usual quilted fare honors the fact that I am letting myself loosen up as an artist.

Embedded in each piece, quilted in contrasting thread color, are the words "Home is where the art is."  The text is most evident in the bottom quilt on the right.  So apropos, since I live in my art studio!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday's Child

This week's 9x12" journal quilt.  The foundation fabric is a piece of cotton duck that I painted on Wednesday.

The image is printed on homespun cotton -- I first tried various methods of image transfer and no combo of anything worked to my satisfaction (printer paper, inkjet print, water transfer, acrylic medium transfer, print on transparency then transfer, et al) so I resorted to the method that always works well for me.

The lace I've had for 40 years...used some of it back then on custom dresses I made at the time.

My obsession with ATCs continues ~ I've done about 15 this week.  I'm just loving them.  I especially like that I'm happy with what I'm creating, not trying to emulate others' work even though I'm using common techniques.  This is the way art should be ~ we learn from others and do our own thing. 

Tomorrow I'm going with a friend to the monthly meeting/workshop of NorBAG, the North Redwoods Book Arts Guild.  Looking forward to dipping my toes in the book arts arena.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tiny Art

The first time I created textile collage postcards was three years ago and I've been wanting to make more.  So that's one of the things I've been up to in dribs and drabs over the past week.  I posted 11 pieces for sale last night on my Sales Blog, so do check them out.  The rest are going with two quilts to a show in Chico, CA called A Sense of Place, one of California Fiber Artists' venues for 2012.  The show runs from mid-May to mid-June at the Avenue 9 Gallery.

I've also begun making ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), which I'm totally loving.  What fun they are to create.  A handful of last year's 4x4" collages are being turned into 3.5x2.5" ATCs, but mostly I'm starting fresh with ideas that pop into my mind as I go.  What a great way to try out different techniques that I'll use on larger mixed media collage pieces in the near future.  New loves ~ ironing paper, fusing paper, and stitching paper!

A few words about what goes into making a textile collage postcard ~
  1. It begins with a fabric collage, the small pieces fused then zigzagged onto the background fabric
  2. The top gets overpainted with metallic textile paint
  3. The postcard back is 2 layers of muslin fused together (so the subsequent quilting on the Peltex between the layers doesn't show through)
  4. The words "Postcard" and "Postcard Art by Constance Rose @ 2012" are printed on pre-Bubble Jet Set treated fabric, then cut out, fused and stitched to the backing
  5. The top is fused to the Peltex and quilted
  6. The back is fused to the Peltex
  7. The postcard is satin stitched around the edges
I have a lot of irons in the fire now and I'm really happy to be working at full steam again.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Something Simple

This week's 9x12 journal quilt...something simple. 

We're supposed to have a sunny weekend, and I've got gardening to do.  Plus a lot of other fun things.  Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Altar to Art

My new mixed media studio!  And what it looked like before, below.  The table is six feet long although it looks shorter in the photo.  I still have little-used supplies stored behind the drawers, which roll out of the way for convenience.  And I'll be adding a shallow shelving unit between the table legs on the left. 

My work spaces always fashion themselves into altars ~ about every flat surface in my place is an alter of some sort, which is just fine with me.

The pennant shaped piece at the top of the first photo is a prayer flag, an early piece of surface designed cloth not useable for much else.  Embroidered on it is my recent catchphrase ~ Home Is Where The Art Is.

My new mixed media and book making books are in the post.  This week I'm putting finishing touches on the Fiberactions quilts, making two dozen new fabric collage textile postcards some of which will be going off to a show in Chico, CA middle of this month (along with two recent quilts), and I do plan to have a weekly journal quilt (my 9x12 series) to show as well.

So, on with the day!