Archive for June, 2007

More Slide Mount Altered Art (Also can be used on ATC’s)

Another six projects.

7. Stars
Sponge color on the edges of several slide mounts, using sea sponge, make-up sponge, crumpled plastic wrap, crumpled wax paper or simply a wad of paper towel. Use 1 – 3 colors. Decorate with metallic stars, either lick-on or self adhesive paper stars, or metal stars. Place them on each corner. Cut a picture from a magazine, etc. and photocopy onto cardstock. Use the copy on your slide mount; it will hold up better. Photos of planets, moon, etc. work well, but use anything you wish. Use the slide mount as a view finder and choose part of picture you want visible through the center. Affix to interior of mount and seal. If you have made several, arrange them together. Wire works well to hold them in place — two wires on each side.

8. Handwriting
For a different look, write 3 or 4 lines in long hand, about 6 inches long. Perhaps you’ll write something original, a poem or a quotation. Choose from a variety of papers and writing tools. I have used Conte pencils with good results, either burnt sienna or raw umber. Or try Sharpies or gel pens, or silver or gold metallic on black paper. This amount of handwriting should cover at least 2 slide mounts. Glue the handwritten paper on the slide mount. For the center, consider using a faux or regular postage stamp or maybe a tiny hand from a bead shop.

9. Option for #8
Use the handwriting technique described in #8 to do 4 slide mount fronts. The handwriting can be all the same or use different papers and mark makers. Fill each center with a canceled postage stamp. Cut a square background of heavyweight paper with room enough to affix the 4 slides. Before adhering stamps, use a watercolor wash on the background. Wrap twine, string, hemp, excelsior or whatever, around the square background paper. You can stamp the wrapped twine surface with permanent ink for additional color. Mount the completed slides and hang with whatever cord you used. Sometimes I forgo hanging, and add to a collage, mixed media piece, or simply stand on an easel.

10. Playing Card
Use the back of a playing card to cover the front of a slide mount. Use any card available. I find it fun to use a standard, patterned print in blue and/or red. (Bicycle Brand) If no ards are available, you an purchase a two-pack at a dollar store for a buck. Cut out a heart, diamond, etc. for the center. Glue a penny or a bingo marker or bingo number to the corner of the mount.

11. Gingham
Cover a slide mount with either gingham fabric or gingham paper (found in a scrapbooking shop.) Mount a piece of fruit in the center — some suggestions are a magnet, a miniature photo, or a sticker. Wrap a matching rick-rack or ribbon around all sides, as if you were tying a package and adhere to back.

12. Movies
Copy a miniaturized photo of a favorite star (Johnny Depp? Bing Crosby? Paul Newman?) 8 to 10 times. Overlapping, glue the tiny photos on the entire cover of a slide mount. You can use sepia for the copy paper or color the faces with chalk or water soluble oil pastels. (Just color the same feature on each copy — blue eyes or red cheeks or blonde hair.) Fasten movie ticket to center. Cut letters from newspaper of magazine or use adhesive letters in contrasting colors to write FAME on the bottom.


Ideas for a Half Dozen Altered Slide Mounts

Read my last post, A Primer on Cardboard Slide Mounts, if you are not familiar with slide mounts. Here I will give directions for projects I have either made, or plan to make, or just have dancing in the back of my head or in my idea notebook. These little mounts are extremely versatile and can be finished quickly on the cheap side. Remember when I refer to decorating the outside of a slide mount, you must visualize the mount folded in half and decorate only one half. The back will usually be adhered to your project. You can fill in the window with all manners of things.

The directions below can be followed exactly, adapted to the materials you have on hand or can inexpensively obtain, or you can totally do your own thing using some of the ideas presented. If nothing else, simply enjoy thinking about miniature art in a new way.

#1 Mail.
Cover the entire front of the slide mount with canceled postage stamps. These can be adhered nicely with acrylic matte medium or a product like Mod Podge. Once dry, turn over and cut away the center with an exacto knife. Write an address on a piece of paper and looking at the writing through the window, adjust until you are happy with the placement. Only a part of the address should show. Attach and self-seal slide mount. Easy with free and found materials.

#2 Sewing Patterns
If you have old sewing patterns, this is an idea for you. Cut a piece of colorful, small print material to fit the outside of the slide mount. Finish the edges with pinking shears for a zig-zag look or make a fringe around all the edges by pulling threads. Glue fabric down. Turn slide mount front down, slit an X in the exposed fabric in the window. Trim or wrap around edge of mount and glue. Embellish with 4 tiny pearl buttons, 2 above opening and 2 below. Using the pictures of models on the pattern’s envelope, moe the mount like a view finder until you see what part that you want visible. Glue and self-seal slide mount.

#3 Optional Project for #2
Instead of fabric, wrap the frame with long strips of the pattern’s uncut pieces (like tissue paper) and glue. Use center as in #2 or use a small piece of the written sewing directions on the back cover for the window and attach a sewing accessory in the center, ie. large button, (sewn with thread or not,) snaps, or a tiny piece of fabric.

#4 Campbell’s Soup
Fix yourself a nice bowl of Campbell’s Soup and save the label. Or you might want to wait for cooler weather to enjoy the soup. It’s 90 degrees here, and I’m not quite in the mood. You can always remove the label from the unopened can, too. Use the familiar red and white label to cover the slide mount. While you have the label, you may as well make several. If you can find a very small spoon at a toy store like ToysRUs or if you can mold one out of Sculpey or Fimo, adhere it to the side of the slide. Or be creative here. Make a spoon out of aluminum foil. Finish by drawing a simple line drawing of a cracker and shade it with PrismaColors or other colored pencils. Fasten so the drawing peeks out the window.

#5 Checkerboard
Use a tiny pre-made checkerboard stencil or make your own by cutting the tiny square pattern out of acetate with an X-acto knife. Remember you are working on a small background so chose size of checkerboard pattern accordingly. Stencil pattern on slide mount using black acrylic paint or fill in squares with colored pencils, metallic pens or water-soluble oil sticks. You need not do this neatly: if some squares are not totally filled in or the edges of the slide are not covered, that adds an artsy quality. I prefer to keep the pattern black and white, but do your’s however the spirit moves you. To fill in the window, I used a Mrs. Grossman’s sticker (a red rose off center) stuck to a bit of pattered paper or gift wrap. Mrs. Grossman’s stickers can be found at scrapbook sores, kids stores or on the internet, or use any brand of sticker available. There are hundreds of sticker designs so you will find lots of choices.

#6 Birthday Stamp
Make a tiny family remembrance, using an office date stamp. Choose dates important to your family (birthdays, anniversaries) and stamp them on the slide mount. Use any color of ink. Stamp randomly or in rows. For the opening, use a sticker or picture of a birthday cake or draw one with fine-line permanent black pen and watercolor. You can replace the cake idea with renditions of noisemakers and streamers, balloons or whatever else you think of.

Primer on Altered Cardboard Slide Mounts

A slide mount is customarily used to make 35mm photos into slides. It is a piece of cardboard, usually white, which folds in half. There are windows in the center once the mounts are folded. The size and cost of cardboard slide mounts make them a quick and easy addition to collages, mixed media, altered art and altered books. I use self-seal 35mm white cardboard slide mounts, usually found at a camera specialty store, on the internet or very occasionally you can get old, used ones at an antique store or flea market. Plastic mounts were available in small numbers at scrapbook stores not so long ago, but they were expensive and in bright colors and they were plastic. I work mostly with cardboard as it accepts the many media I use. Plastic doesn’t.

I’ve used General Brand, 500 mounts for $21.95 from, order # GBSMSS35500. 500 slide mounts seem like a huge amount, but if you split the slides and cost between artist friends, a lot of 100 costs $4.50 or 4 1/2 cents a piece. It’s amazing how fast these little guys will turn into art , so don’t worry too much about a somewhat large quantity. There are many suppliers on the internet, so you may wish to check out other photo supply sites for a smaller number at a better price. I haven’t found one, yet.

As I said, these are super easy to use. Decorate only one half of the outer cardboard. Then position a small square of art you have made into the window and self seal.

In my next post, tomorrow, I will give a half dozen suggestions of completed projects to get you started.

Bookmark Doll for Altered Book

This doll bookmark is made so the head will peek out of the top of the book, and its legs can hang about 4 inches down from the bottom. It is a fairly flat doll so it will not be very bulky in your book.

Begin from the legs and work upwards to the head. Make legs from a flat trim, at least a half inch wide, found in a fabric store, a tape measure, cotton cording wrapped in 1 inch strips of colorful torn cotton or muslin, or 3 different types of fiber or ribbon braided. You can cut the fabric for wrapping the cording, but the torn edge provides a distinctive textural look. Cut lengths for legs that extend from the top of book to 4 inches below. You can leave the ribbon at the bottom plain or knot it for feet, even tie a bead on each one.

Make arms with similar items recommended for use as legs, although I suggesst using a different medium than the one you used for the legs. Make arms the length of the book. Since these will be inside the book, use a flat material. Look for unusual beads –two smallish, rather flat ones to tie on the ends for the hands.

For the body use a patch pocket cut out from old clothing or sew a simple pocket. Denim jean patch pockets are fun. I like to embroider on the front and add a few embellishments, but it’s not necessary. I’ve used ribbon, fibers, appliques, buttons, lace and beads to spruce up the body. Then fill pocket slightly with fiberfill or other stuffing. Pin the legs into the open side of pocket and sew, securely fastening the legs into the body.

Attach arms to top corners of the pocket and you can cover with lace, shawl, epilauts, etc. if desired.

Be creative making the head. Consider using flattened bottle cap, one inch diameter button, flat wooden circle, a large washer from the hardware store wrapped with light gauge wire or embroidery floss. Since the head is above the book, it can also be 3-D like a large wooden bead or a wad of cotton balls wrapped with wire or floss. Attach head to top of pocket, either by sewing if possible or by gluing with a strong glue appropriate for the material you are adhering.

Adding a face is optional. I often do not bother with features on 3-D heads, but I sometimes cut out a picture or photograph of a face to put on the flat surfaces. For hair I top the head with a material such as curly excelsior, unraveled 3 ply yarn, or multiple strings of crochet chains.

To personalize your bookmark, add other embellishments. Sometimes my doll sports a tiny straw hat or plastic ‘jewel’ beads at her ears for earrings. I have made a long scarf to wrap. around her ‘neck’. This is a project that I find hard to finish. I can always think of just one more thing to add.

Quotes for Creativity

Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education, dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen.
Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher

Who am I? the artist asks. And he devotes his whole life to finding out. Agnes de Mille, dancer

I never find words right away. Poems for me begin with images and rhythms, shapes, feelings, forms, dances in the back of my mind.
Gary Snyder, poet

A poet needs to keep his wildness inside him. Stanley Kunitz, poet

Mail Art Primer

The concept is very simple. Mail art is any type of creative work that can be mailed through th epost office. Of course, this includes decorated envelopes and pouches as basics and quickly becomes more elaborate. The last mail art I received ( a plastic bottle filled with tiny collage items including several decorative pens and clip art) came unscathed through the US postal service without a word of discouragement from the postman. This piece of mail art had been slit and the items arranged inside carefully. Then the slit was securely closed by a mailing label. Don’t think you have to push the contents in through that tiny hole. Now that would be a pain.

A typical addition to mail art is a faux postage stamp, one you have collaged, drawn, painted, etc. (more on that in a future post). A word of warning though. Do not attempt to defraud the PO by using your stamp instead of legitimate stamps. Use both stamps. The faux stamp can be placed anywhere on the mail art, except in the corner where real stamps belong.

I recommend taking your mail art to the post office to get it weighed for the correct amount of postage. It’s also a trip to see the reaction of the postal worker when you hand over your mail art for inspection.

You can send mail art in a swap, to friends or to a complete stranger. Do not accept money for your work. That’s against the ethics of the art. Mail art is usually quick and can sometimes be done in an assembly line. Most importantly, mail art is fun.

Patch of Fabric Fantasy

Collect a variety of fabrics and piece together a variety of shapes — squares, rectangles, strips, triangles — into a small crazy quilt, approximately 12×15 inches in size. Using a piece of muslin, back quilt square. With a wide variety of embroidery stitches, outline the seams in different colors of floss. If you have access to a sewing machine, you can do the embroidery work on your machine.

Applique a piece of material as a focal piece, using fusible webbing. Try a straight forward design such as a house, heart, bird or star. Or be adventurous and use any shape you want. Finish edge with a machine zig-zag stitch or hand embroidery stitch. Optionally, glue a lightweight mirror to the center or use a fabric transfer of a photograph, preferably using a copy of a vintage photo.

Use embellishments such as buttons, fabric flowers, beads, jewels or metal squares, to either fill in several shapes or the center piece.

Attach three ribbons, all different sizes and colors, in rows at the bottom of the quilt by tacking on each side, leaving top and bottoms of ribbons loose for now. Using a variety of ribbon, fiber or narrow strips of material, weave these into the horizontal ribbons, letting about 3 inches hang from bottom and filling entire bottom edge. Sew around edges of original ribbons to secure or sew overlapping ribbons to quilt using buttons. Other options are to adhere jewels or beads to the ends of the ribbons, add charms or make a fringe.

You can edge with Lumiere metallic paint on all sides except for the bottom if desired. Apply ribbon or fiber for the hanger, attaching it to the top corners or attach a loop to back.