Archive for the ‘Assemblage’ Category

Hardware Store Fun-damentals Part 1

Stroll down the local hardware store aisles and discover a variety of finds for art that cost double in the craft stores. There are hundreds of products that are easily adaptable to altered art and altered books, plus other products. I find the more interesting objects in independent stores, especially hardware stores that have been established for many years.

A few suggestions to get you started:

Look in the mirror department to find settings to fasten mirrors to walls. You can find rosettes, squares, stars – ornate and plain.

Pick up a selection of metal objects in all shapes and forms: keys, washers, rivets – to attach heavy materials together, wire – look for different metals or coated in plastic colors, keyholes, brads, latches, frame hangers.

Use clear, plastic finger pulls as backgrounds for a label or as a focal spot for a few words.

Laminate samples are easy to use. Emboss or stamp using a Staz-On or other solvent dye ink pad.

Sandpaper for use as background material.

Metal or duct tape, easily altered using alcohol inks.

Mesh drywall tape, used plain or painted with acrylic paints.

Paint chips for instant color.

Lots of circles – felt or cork pads, self-adhesive paper dots to add texture and variety or the background paper with holes in it for a stencil.

Hitch pins or a variety of unusual safety pins.

Small screen patches, just a few inches square or rectangular, that can be used plain or painted, or can be used as a painting tool by dabbing paint through the screen.

Twine, hemp, string, jute, fishing line.

Mosaic tiling.Cheesecloth (stretch for interesting effect). Don’t pick up tack cloth by mistake.

Not to be overlooked are the huge assortments of adhesives. Also tool boxes and containers for product organization.


Wooden House Assemblage

Use either a new or found wooden house shape with partitions. The one I have was purchased at a dollar store for $5.00. It is made of pine, has a dormer and 15 partitions each about 2″x3″. It was pre-sanded and well-constructed.

Coat the wood, inside and out, with acrylic paint. I used four colors staggered in the openings. Then painted outside of house with a complementary color. Let dry completely. Then paint a layer of gesso over the acrylic using a foam brush. Streaking or mottling is fine. Use black or white gesso, depending on the mood and intention of the project. I mostly prefer white. Or you can use white acrylic matte tinted with acrylic paint. If you use black gesso, adapt the instructions as needed. While still damp, wipe off gesso to allow paint to be visible – as little or as much as you like. Brush on light contrasting or coordinating acrylic paint on the outside, using a foam brush, letting some of the strokes show. Let partially dry and wipe off some of the light colored paint, allowing some of the darker base to show through.

Once dry, begin layering with a variety of paper in the partitions and on the exterior. I like to use yellow and white pages of telephone books, old sewing pattern pieces, mulberry paper, colored tissue paper or bits of patterned scrap paper. Use a matte medium to adhere the layers of paper, overlapping as wanted. Cut strips of heavy paper with decorative scissors and apply to eaves for a gingerbread or lacy look.

Place found objects, antique game pieces, any little object of interest in the partitions. It is preferable to leave some openings empty. Use a checkerboard stamp (or other rubber stamp) with Staz-On ink to finish exterior.

Optional: you can attach ribbon, fiber, etc. to the front wood edges that form the openings.

Kindergarten String a la Bo

Loosely based on an Arts and Crafts Project from Discount School Supply which reminded me of my own kindergarten and first grade art projects.

Put 3 different colors of inexpensive (read cheap!) acrylic paint in 3 cups: try red, yellow, blue, or green, orange, purple, or if adventuresome, try any 3 colors you want. This project can be done on a heavyweight piece of mat board or on paper made for paint. Cut 6-9 pieces of yarn or string about 12 to 15 inches long. Dip two or three pieces of yarn in each color, coating nicely. Then using one piece of yarn at a time, arrange it on the paper, letting one end of the yarn hang off the paper about 2 inches. Don’t think too hard about this step. It really won’t matter how the yarn is arranged, but it’s a good idea to overlap some of them. Keep dipping and arranging until all the yarn is on the paper.

Cover the paper with the attached messy yarn with a second paper. Cover with waxed paper and place a book or other heavy object on top of this conglomeration. Hold the heavy object in place over the papers, and slowly pull yarn pieces out, one at a time. Zig-zag or wiggle the yarn for different, fun effects. When the yarn is gone, the project is done. Well, almost. Look at your artwork — don’t forget there are two pieces of art, top and bottom. Let dry completely before using for background paper, collage or assemblage work. Or cut the paper in 2 1/2″x 3 1/2″ shapes and make artist trading cards. You’ll be surprised with the results.

Emily, My Newest Muse

I bought a wonderful book yesterday, a solid tome of “The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.” These poems are in chronological order, which I consider a real plus. My plan is to read a poem a day (or maybe two, depending on length and depth). Then I’ll use an idea birthed from Emily’s wordsmithing to create an a-ha! inspiration for a new piece of art, preferably either collage or mixed media. I’ll try to do a piece once a week and post it here and on a Soul Food Cafe site. Also I’ll post my thoughts while brainstorming a new Emily Project on this site. Here is my first attempt.

The first poem was written Valentine week, 1850. The first three lines are the ones that speak to me.

The bee doth court the flower, the flower his suit receives,
And they make merry wedding, whose guests are hundred leaves.
The wind doth woo the branches, the branches they are won,
(And the father fond demandeth the maiden for his son.)
Emily Dickinson

Emily Project #1

The scene: bee on a flower, surrounded by 100 leaves. Use wooden shadowbox, preferably antique in nature (try antique stores, flea markets or auctions), but may be new (try Michael’s or a dollar store). If new, carefully antique with heavy acrylic paint, (coat one brown, coat two blue, blue dried partially then wiped off with rag, also ink and luminescent paint. Background ideas are: try gluing torn strips of a phone book (I still get blue pages in my phone book so I’ll use those) and covering with a light layer of gesso, fabric pillow ticking, watercolor paper wet well with water and spritzed with half light blue acrylic paint and half water. Or spritz watercolor with water until nice and wet, use light blue liquid watercolors to lightly paint much of the watercolor paper, then sprinkle with Kosher Salt and let dry. Could also consider taking dried, treated watercolor sheet and cutting it into 1 inch squares, then make a mosaic background. Before attaching the background to the box, map out placement of the tree placed according to rule of thirds. Perhaps the tree trunk and major branches can be made of found bark from the ground. Rule #1: Never pick anything off a live plant, unless you are picking flowers from your own garden. Plan on using paper leaves from the MM Company to dress the tree with exactly 100 leaves, making them appear wind-blown. Use a silk bee found in the silk flower section of Michael’s if nothing older can be found. Dress the ‘bee bride’ with scraps of white — silk, satin, ribbon, lace, fibers. Fashion a tiny veil if the right materials can be found, and fasten it to the bee’s head with a gold crown. Assemble. Apply background, then tree branches (paint more if needed.) Spread Yes! glue onto bottom and cover with coffee grounds mixed with greenery. Add some small twigs and rocks to the bottom. Place paper flowers cut and made 3D from my printed scrapbook paper stash (decorated on edges with complementary colors of dye ink and sprinkled with gold.) Attach bee to a focal flower. Add the first two lines of the poem to the background or around the inner edge. Find public domain (or other uncopyrighted picture to print) of a bumblebee. Copy five bees, glue one to each manila tag and tint in pastel colors. Attach tags to the bottom of the box on 6 to 10 inch pieces of fiber or ribbon.