Archive for the ‘Mixed Media’ Category

Foil Backgrounds for Artist Trading Cards Plus

Adapt these techniques for large collages or for diminutive artist trading cards, or anything in between.

Begin with a surface that has some give. You can use a piece of packing styrofoam or foam core board, even a computer mouse pad if you’re very careful. Using aluminum foil (the heavy duty weight works much better), crinkle it into a very loose ball. Carefully unfold the ball and smooth it flat, but do not attempt to remove the wrinkles. Let them remain in medium to deep crevices. Place the foil with the shiny side facing up onto your surface, but do not attach it. Using a dull pointed tool – a dulled pencil will work – emboss patterns in the foil. Spirals, letters and/or numbers, geometric figures, lines – all work well when applied over the crinkles in the foil.

When you are satisfied with your results, affix it to a piece of light- or medium-weight cardboard. I have used spray adhesive or acrylic matte medium or a thick glue such as Yes! However, you cannot rub on the foil to adhere it to the backing so I generally tap it gently with my fingers, and then use a pound bag of dry rice for a weight, usually leaving it overnight. Do not disturb it until completely dry. I usually cut the foil larger than the backing so I can wrap the foil around the edges. If I am making ATCs, I attach a second piece of paper to the back to hide the uneven foil and also provides a writing space for the particulars of the card (name of artist, title, number if part of a set,etc.)

Use two or three acrylic paints thinned half and half with water. Deep, jewel-toned colors work best against the silvery metal. Using a 1/2″ to 1″ wide brush (hardware store type) gently paint parts of the foil, using an almost dry brush technique. Let some of the foil show through. Work within the patterns you have embossed, or ignore the patterns and free style if you prefer. If you want the paint shinier, mix with acrylic gloss medium instead of water, though you may still need to thin it further.

There is really no need to do anything further if you are making ATCs. If you are using this for a larger background, add your collage, mixed-media material or complete as desired, being mindful of the fragility of the background.


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.

Fishy Set of ATCs – Another 6 Art Techniques

6. If you’re talented with rubber stamps and can make your own, try this. Make an angel fish, complete with stripes on body. Using cardstock and a Versamark stamp pad, ink the image and emboss using UTEE. Heat set. Tear blue or green paper into wavy strips and adhere to part of card for a ‘watery’ background. Do a light watercolor wash if desired.

7. Use your own idea for the background. Make an angel fish, cutting or tearing silvery and related colors of paper into mosaic pieces. Add bits for black stripes and seal with matte medium.

8. A silly idea. Good to be silly – who knows where your imagination will take you. Put the angel fish on stage. Draw a simple stage and add color. Add microphone. Arrange a dancing, singing fish balancing on its’ tail. (at an angle) Add a ballet or tap shoe or whatever. Maybe a cane and top hat. Use your imagination.

9. Crazy ideas are fun, too. Use crayon resist for angel fish and do it crazy! Is the fish on a picnic or sitting on a park bench? Smelling the garden or flying an airplane? Sillier the better. Have fun with this one.

10. Chalk background and set with spray if necessary. (Use spray outside or very well ventilated.) Apply two angel fish about 2/3rds down the card. Use coral (or another color) fibers to make ‘coral’ to hide the fish. Or make a bed of reeds for them to take cover in. (Reeds are their natural habitat – read the article listed under the angel fish picture.)

11. Use markers, black pen liner and glitter glue stick to make aquarium with angel fish and a school of neon tetras.

12. Using three colors of cardstock, cut 1 inch squares. Approximately 4 will cover card when leaving space between them. Cut to make them fit leaving 1/16th” in between. You can leave enough space on the bottom and one side for small script if you wish to add words. Use any kind of mark maker to draw tiny angel fish in 3 of the blocks. Make them all the same or different. Whatever. In one of the boxes draw tiny blue/red neon tetras. Apply squares in a grid using matte medium. Using a metallic pen, inscribe words if wanted. You can write ‘angel fish and tetras’ enough times to fill the space or write a true fact about the fish, find a quote or write your own colorful description.

Twelve ideas for an angel fish set of ATCs. You could do nine of the cards to make a nine card set to fill a plastic trading card holder (binder insert). Or store them in a metal band-aid box decorated aquarium style or with a modern design of silver and black lines. (Sand first so paint will adhere to surface.) Then you can take them out and enjoy handling or sharing them whenever you are so inspired.

Fishy Set of ATCs – 6 Art Techniques

I’ve had much time to think of ideas for ATCs since I’ve spent a fair amount of time sitting in hotel rooms. I haven’t done any of these yet, but I’ll throw some of these idea seeds out in the next few posts to percolate. Later to browse and consider. Maybe a fresh idea will turn into a favorite ATC and you’ll be inspired, too.

I recently visited the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. What a marvelous experience! I came away with many ideas for art-making and scribbled them down while stuck in Dan Ryan traffic. Although I saw many species of lizards, mammals and fish at the aquarium, I was inspired by the regal angel fish and also the tiny neon tetras. Reminded me of the aquarium we had when my children were little. Such nice memories, perhaps I’ll immortalize them in artwork.

I plan to work on a new series focusing on angel fish adding a few neon tetras on the side for a bit of brighter color. So here’s a scatterings of ideas to consider.

1. First, an aquarium. Using dark cardstock, spritz with Clorox bleach. (Use gloves, protective eyewear, protect surface with newspaper and properly dispose.) Alternatively, use a gel dish washer product (dish washer, not dish detergent) and use a toothpick wrapped with a tiny bit of cotton to dip in gel and spot the background. This will turn the black paper one of a variety of shades depending on who manufactures the cardstock. I’ve seen brown, lavender and blue so far. Add bits of green and blue (try paper, string, fancy fibers) for plants and fashion a piece of sandpaper or a flat sheet of cork to make the bottom layer. Place a rendition of an angel fish as focal point — Photoshop-enhanced photo, sketch, cut-out, etc. With a toothbrush used only for art (obviously) spatter bits of red/blue paint for tiny neons.

2. Another aquarium. Collage a blue/green background using long, narrow strips of torn thin paper (magazines, gift wrap, specialty paper, whatever is available) laid horizontally and layered for the ‘water’. Cut angel fish shape from a geometric- patterned magazine picture or from black/silver paper and apply with acrylic matte medium. To add a little color if desired, use a standard hole punch on orange or yellow paper and distribute as ‘fish bubbles’. Coat with matte medium on both sides.

3. Do background by lightly sponging with blue, green, lavender acrylic that has been diluted by half with water. Using colored pencils, sketch and color an angel fish. Complete by adding several layers of matte acrylic medium.

4. Transform an angel fish into an angel. Transfer a copy of an image of fish onto paper using clear packing tape method. Cover image with tape, wet thoroughly, rub off paper backing until image is clear. Add wings and halo using found objects. Cutting wings from a metallic gold leaf skeleton (found in craft stores) makes a unusual set of wings with an ethereal effect.

5. Paint background in bright acrylic paint – any color. Add pix of angel fish. Adhere a piece of stretched and pulled cheesecloth (do not be neat about this; large random holes should be apparent) over fish to imitate netting. Dye the cheesecloth before gluing if wanted, though I stayed with a natural color. Use a spray adhesive for adhesion. VENTILATE. Use outdoors source when spraying if possible.

6. If you’re talented with rubber stamps and can make your own, try this. Make an angel fish, complete with stripes on body. Using cardstock and a Versamark stamp pad, ink the image and emboss using UTEE. Heat set. Tear blue or green paper into wavy strips and adhere to part of card for a ‘watery’ background. Do a light watercolor wash if desired.

More ideas to follow.  Give me a couple of days.

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.

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.

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.