Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Altering Photo Copies

Photo Copy
Fixative spray for photo copies
craft paints, photo paints, colored pencils, etc.
powders and glitters
acrylic medium (comes in gloss, matt or satin finish; buy according to your preference)

For this piece (an ATC, or Artist's Trading Card) I used a photo
 from when my husband and I were newly-weds.
First, I collaged a piece from an old book on, and then
I collaged our photo over it, added the words from
Shakespeare, and a border of raised paper. Then I smeared
paint over the edges and wiped it down, covered the whole thing with
Acrylic Matt Medium, and while still wet, sprinkled some tiny gold blass beads.

Either outside or in a well ventelated area, spray photo copy with fixative according to directions. Allow to dry.
Paint or color as desired.
Attach any ephemera with glue or acrylic medium.
Glaze by applying thinned paint over photo and wiping off with a damp cloth, beginning t the center and working out toward the edges.
Rub with powders or sprinkle with glitters, as desired.

Painted Pins for Holiday Sales and Gifts

This is a great project for a sale at school and church bizaars. It is also good for children to make as gifts for Christmas, Mother's Day and other holidays.

Three small pins for gifts or to sell.

Painted Pins:

Materials and tools:
Heavy watercolor paper (300#)
Pin backs
Acrylic paints or water colors
Acrylic Gloss Medium (not necessary if you use acrylics, but it gives a shiny, glass-like finish)
Paint brushes
Metal pin backs (available at jewelery supply stores)

These are some basic things you can use to make the pins in this article.

Cut a strip of 300 pound watercolor paper into 2" x 3" pieces.

For your first few attempts, start by drawing a simple design outline, like a flower. Mine get pretty complex, but a simple design is best for learning techniques.

Acrylics are permanent, and watercolors are not, so if you use watercolors, you will need to apply Acrylic gloss medium quickly and carefully after the painting is finished, or it will smear.

Paint in your drawing with acrylics or water colors, using a small brush. I find that a #8 brush does well, because it holds a good bit of paint. I dab it on a piece of paper towel first, so that when you go to touch the paper design, it doesn't make a big blob.

(At this point, the project could be finished off with the pin back, but the acrylic gloss medium will give it a protective coating and lasting finish.)

Work quickly when applying the acrylic medium. I gently wipe
it across the surface of the whole picture, allow to dry completely
and then apply a second coat.
Finish off with at least two coats of acrylic gloss medium, allowing to completely dry between coats.

When dry, glue pin on back.

Collaged Pins:

These are some of my funky pins, but you can also get "serious".
You can use children's photos, add painted borders or lace,
sew a border, sew on bells or tie them through eyelets, as I did here.
I used paper from a museum for the two Christmas pins,
and glued them onto the paper, painted, glued and then
finished the whole thing off with acrylic medium.
When completely dry, add the pin.


a variety of papers, photos, cloth scraps, string
300# watercolor paper
Acrylic or Decopage medium
Brush for applying mediums (I actually use my finger)
Metal pin backs

Using the acrylic medium or decopage medium, apply or paint a paper background.

Layer paper, photos, cloth, lace and other things, until you get the desired finish.

Finish off with two or three coats of acrylic medium and allow to dry.

Attach pin back with strong glue.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Easiest Knitted Fingerless Gloves Ever!

I have been doing my annual pre-Christmas knitting. I'm making fingerless gloves. These are the same gloves I've made for several years, and are my own pattern, adapted from another girl's fancier pattern.

I've got two patterns here - Super Easy and Super-Duper Easy.

Isn't this great?
A temporary scanned image. I'm sorry, I'm all out of camera batteries.
I'll get some when I'm done here, and put on better pictures.
But since you need to get started right away
to get a few pairs knitted in time for Christmas,
I didn't think we should wait a moment longer for pics!

I should be embarrassed to tell you this, but I can't read knitting patterns, so I make nothing more than scarves, neck warmers and these fingerless gloves. I do know a couple of fancy stitches which I use from time to time, but in this case I find the plain old knit stitch (is it called the Garter Stitch?) is all I need. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!

However plain, these gloves are worth me writing my primative instructions to share with you. Young people love wearing them, and they're wonderful for artists and other crafters who need their fingers free for doing stuff. I made one pair for each of my five girls plus one of my daughters-in-law, and they'd all be happy to have a few more. (I suspect some of my own many pairs perhaps grew legs in the middle of the night and walked home with a visiting daughter once or twice.)

Most of the time, only one skeen of yarn is necessary, but if you want to make longer gloves, you'll need 2 balls of yarn.
This is how simple the gloves are.
I usually add buttons down the seam,
on the back of the hand, to jazz them up.
I wrote this down last night in my "idea sketch journal", on a page that had been accidentally skipped, right between a vacation sketch of the ocean and a wierd kid's story I wrote in the middle of the night during our special vacation hurricaine, Irene.

This is my journal entry.
Don't bother to analyze my handwriting.
It will tell you nothing...
If you can only knit when given proper directions, then move along to the next glove instructions you googled. Otherwise, here it is:

Super Easy Knitted Fingerless Gloves:

Size 10 (6mm) knitting needles
1 skeen of Bernat brand "Alpaca Natural Blends"
   Bulky 5 yarn 70% acrylic, 30% Alpaca - very soft!

Cast on 35 stitches (with bulky yarn, it will make a fairly long pair of gloves - if you want short gloves, reduce the # of stitches to 25 and adapt the pattern accordingly.)
knit 16 rows (including the cast-on row)
On row 17, cast off 10 stitches, then knit 25.
Rows 18 and 19, knit 25 stc
Row 20, knit 25 and cast on 10.
Rows 21-34, knit 35.
Cast off on row 35, and leave a long string of yarn for sewing.

These are medium sized gloves. For smaller or larger hands, delete or add 2 rows.

This is what it will look like before stitching.
On me, it will be pretty long -
up to my knuckles and down almost
to my elbow.

 With a yarn needle, stitch up the two long sides. Then stitch the middle opening together, leaving about an inch open to make the hole for the thumb.

If you'd like, you may want to put three to five buttons on the seam, which should be down the back of the hand, so it shows. The wider side should be the palm side of the glove. Make sure that you do a left one and a right, (by flipping one over) although I find it usually comes out the same, either way.

Voila! Isn't that easy?

For Really Really Super-Duper Easy Fingerless Gloves,
do the following:

Cast on 25 stitches, knit three rows (counting the cast on row)
Row 4, knit 25 stitches and then cast on 10 more.
Rows 5-34 knit 35 stitches
Cast off on row 35

Stitch the  two sides together, leaving the hole for the thumb where the stitches widen.
Since the Really Really Easy Fingerless Gloves are made with the seam on the side, you may want to skip the buttons, but it still might look cool to put them on the top of the hand.

There you go. Have fun! You should be able to get them done quickly - a pair for each of your best friends, and maybe one for your dear old mama.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Elves on Shelves

Meet Edna. Edna Elfling.
She was made with a wooden head glued atop a
wine cork body that says
"I'll dance with you 'till the cows come home",
so I left the front of her coffee filter gown open.
When I was a kid, you could always find a set of little elves at Grandmama's, tucked in here and there around the house. They were inexpensive little items sold at the local five and dime. Martha Stewart's Christmas issue had an article on them this year.

I never bought any of them for myself. I just wasn't impressed. But now I wish I had bought a few. They were actually quite charming. Made in Germany and later, Japan, they were inexpensive and easily collected.

Close-up of Edna's painted face

Now I'd like to introduce my own little creations, Edna, Ernest and of course, Santa Elf. A single red napkin was used in the creation of the elve's hats, clothes and other accessories.  Pipe cleaners covered in some of the coffee filter or napkin make great arms. Their feet were made from leftover heavy paper from the packages, cut in shape, and then covered with glue and more napkin. A string of pearls around her neck and a single pearl atop atop each shoe completes Edna's outfit.

Basic instructions:

1. Paint the head and body a base color. I used a soft off-white.
2. Paint on the face. Thin the cheek paint down to watercolor consistancy. Leave room above the eyebrows for hair to be glued on.
3. You can use tiny wiggle eyes for eyes, if you'd like (see the Santa).
4. Using a thick Tacky Glue, glue on the necklace, securing it in the back with a tiny strip of coffee filter or whatever matches the clothing you're going to make (Edna's was later covered with cotton hair).
5. Cover arms (wire, twigs, pipe cleaners, etc.) with whatever you are using for the jacket or top. Or you can just leave pipe cleaners or twigs uncovered. 
6. Attach arms. I wrapped pipe cleaners around the body and glued.
7. Cut cloth, coffee filters, napkins or paper and glue onto the body at this point.
8. Make a double foot shape and cover to match the clothes, or paint.
9. Sign it so your family and friends will know it is handmade, and glue to the base.

Elves on Shelves:
Ernest and Santa carry little trees decorated with tiny seed beads.
Santa is made of a wooden ball on top of a gold painted pinecone.
Ernest's pants and buttons were painted right on his combination wooden head/body.
Hair is cotton. Hat trim is cotton batting.

You can put just about anything on your tiny little friends.
Recycled wine corks, small pine cones or large bells make good bodies for round wooden heads.
You can also find one-piece heads and bodies like the ones in the photo on the right.
This is a great time to recycle coffee filters, cloth,
old Christmas cards (cut out faces or small figures),
bottle caps (for hats), old charms and broken toys, jewelry or ornaments.
You can make your own accordions by folding gum or
candy wrapers together and gluing heavy paper on each end.

Look who's editing this post as we speak!

The elves want you to know that they are very simple to make. They want to be a part of your Christmas tradition, too. Have fun!

I hope to make some paper mache mushrooms and a little cardboard cottage for them to play around. If I get them done, I'll be sure to photograph as I go, and post it on Tarpaper Submarine in a few days!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Value of Tiny Paintings

I thought you might like to see some of the tiny paintings I have done recently. It's been a long time since I've painted, my friend. It's hard to get back into painting when you've been away for so long.

Antique Chair With Tulips, Afternoon Light
5" x 7", Oil on canvas, by deber klein

When I was in high school, I painted tiny oil paintings on cardboard. Little baby Monets. Then I had my own real babies, and had no time for painting until I was 38 years old.

In those early years, I thought that I could never grow weary of painting. After having tried on many various crafts, I had at last found my true self. I figured that I would be challenged enough to be satisfied with painting forever, as every new painting presents new challenges to the artist.
California Hillsides in Spring
5 1/2" x 3", oil on canvas
by deber klein

It has not proven to be so. In the last few years, I have investigated other mediums, finding new and more exciting (partly because they were new) challenges to tackle. I got into writing, making dolls, collage, stamps and paper dolls, and metal jewelry. This has lasted for quite a while. Still, I miss painting.
"Bill's Order" oil on canvas 3 1/2" x 5"
by deber klein

So I am settling down again. But how do I get back into painting when I've been away so long?

There is a new but simple method to my madness. I'm going back to my old ways. It boils down to two little words: "Start small."

All of the oil paintings you see above are tiny studies, no larger than 4" x 4". I find that if I work small, I am able to accomplish much in a short attention span...I mean, amount of time. That's what I used to do when I had eight kids at home. I painted very detailed and very small.

"Life Ain't So Bad!", watercolor mixed media,
1 1/2" x 2 1/2", 1993 by deber klein
I have managed to do six small paintings in two sittings recently. They're not masterpieces, I'll admit. But they're a start. Making these small paintings gets me in touch with the process again. I gain a speedy sense of accomplishment and the desire to do more. It's working for me. I can't wait to do more.

So, my friend, if you find that you've been getting too far from your old, once comfortable world of painting, and you want to get back, try it. Start small.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Paper and Cloth Marbling

Paper marbling is a printing process in which a design is created on top of a thickened water surface, and then printed onto prepared paper or cloth. In a way it's magic, but the reality is that once you understand the process, it is simply another way (albeit a very messy way) to create beautiful, interesting art. There are no limits to what you, the artist, can create once you master the basic chemestry and techniques of marbling paper or cloth.

I made the above Youtube video with my grandson earlier this year. After making a tremendous mess and marbling paper for several weeks, I was "over paper marbling" for a while. Actually, so much so that I'd almost forgotten that I'd even put the video on Youtube. At last I have decided tht its about time to write detailed directions here for you, and give you links so you can have some fun (or get serious) with the exciting (yes, exciting) craft of paper marbling.

Keep in mind that entire books have been written on paper marbling. This is my little primmer just for you.

Originally for learning purposes (and because it was complete and on sale somewhere), I used a kit by Jane Dickinson, called "The Paper Marbling Kit", which teaches basic to fancy paper marbling techniques. It came with all the basic supplies you'll need to marble paper, and a great little book with excellent pictures and designs. I just checked Amazon, and it is still available today for $16.47 http://www.amazon.com/Paper-Marbling-Kit-Materials-Techniques/dp/0811848639.

By this point, my grandson had abandoned his apron and gloves...
like Mama always said, "Do as I say, not as I do..." Nate is properly attired for the very messy job of paper marbling in the photo below.

First, you need to gather some things (I tell important stuff about them as we go along, so be sure to read what I wrote beside each item):

You might want to use an apron to protect clothes, mask (while you mix powdered chemicals) and vinyl gloves to keep paints off of your hands. Any time you use chemicals, you should take precautions to protect yourself. Read my fun, but helpful article about art safety - http://fineartviews.com/blog/7320/Operating-a-Hedge-Clipper-Without-a-License-and-Other-Foolish-Things, which I wrote for Clint Watson's blog, Fine Art Views.
An inexpensive plastic throw, like a shower curtain or plastic drop cloth to protect your work surfaces (Look at the Dollar Tree, if you have one).
One aluminum (disposable) pan a little bigger than your paper, and a plastic tub several inches deep and big enough to fit your paper in with a couple of inches all around so you'll be able to get your fingers in there as you work. (This is your main working container.)
Clothes hangers and clips to hang your work on to dry and old newspapers for drying - or you may want to dry your designs by setting them flat on newspaper.
Alum is used as a mordant to prepare the paper or cloth for marbling. 1/2 cup of alum stirred into a gallon of water. It can be found in the spice section of the grocery store, or online.
Marbling inks or Liquitex Soft Body Concentrated Artist Colors (other brands also have liquid acrylic paints, but Liquitex had detailed instructions on their website, so I went with them.)
Jars for the paints. They will need to be thinned. We used small jelly jars with lids.
Alum or for paper preparation, so the inks/paints will adhere to the paper
Carrageenan, liquid starch (unscented) or powdered starch made using the "thicker" directions (a thickener for the water) Gum Tragacanth (available from art stores and mail order - see Liquitex techniques for how-to's) or Cellulose wallpaper paste (mix 2 or 3 T to a gallon of water); any of these are used as a base liquid for dropping paints and making your design.
Combs (if you don't have a comb made specifically for marbling, you can adapt an old comb by breaking off every other tooth, or any pattern of your choice), toothpics, whisk, old toothbrush, paintbrush (one with stiff or frayed bristles so the paint will spatter or splatter from it) and other things for swirling paints.

Paper: You may want to experiment with different papers, but I have found that a good quality paper with a slight sheen, like brochure paper, works best. If you don't have that, any paper will work. The quality of the marbling will be better with slightly shiny, smooth (satin finished) paper, not too absorbant.
Cloth: I haven't done marbling on cloth, but I have friends who have marbled silks and made scarves and ties from them. The following site has some information on fabrics, what works well. For instance, smooth surface and tight weave works best: http://www.fibrecrafts.com/resource/fact_file/marbling/marbling.asp
Dropper bottle and dish soap: *Use dish liquid, not detergent, to make a solution which will show the white paper (for whites, of course!). Fill a dropper bottle with water and put a couple of drops of dish soap into it.

For colors that work well for paper marbling, go to Liquitex Techniques: http://www.liquitex.com/techniques/marbling.cfm (I'm sure you can use other brands if they're what you have already on hand. But I used Liquitex because it had these wonderful instructions.)

Preparation is the secret to paper marbling going smoothly. You can figure that you will need at least two days for paper marbling. Get all the necessary preparation done first and then you can really enjoy the actual process of paper making.


Day One - Get Ready

1. Prepare the Alum solution. Wearing a mask and gloves, add 1/2 cup alum to a gallon of water. Mix well.
2. Prepare the paper or cloth by dipping each piece in the alum solution and allowing it to dry thoroughly. For cloth (and sometimes for the paper if it curls), you will want to iron it with a cool iron. Don't use a hot iron.
3. Prepare paints, if you choose to use acrylic paints. Even if you use marbling paints, you will want to check them to see if they are thin enough. (Some people use oils. I haven't dont that, but if you're interested, Thin paints to the consistency of light cream. You want it to float and disperse on the surface of the water. If its too thick it will sink and if its too thin it will dispurse too quickly and be transparent.
4. Prepare the soap solution: *Use dish liquid, not detergent, to make a solution which will show the white paper (for whites, of course!). Fill a dropper bottle with water and put a couple of drops of dish soap into it.

Day Two, morning - Get Set:

4. Prepare the carrageenan, wallpaper, gum tragacanth or starch solution and set aside. It will need a little while to set and thicken. According to the Liquitex site, carrageenan sours more quickly than starch. I think it may also be called "Irish Moss Tea".
5. Prepare workspace with a waterproof cover. 
6. Ideally, you would want to set up our workspace to work left to right. On the left, have prepared paper, then prepared paints, then tools (toothpics, comb, spatter brush, etc.), then the aluminum or plastic tub with the thickened water, then the second  tub with clear, clean water for rinsing. Have a place to lay or hang your paper closeby, on the far right.

Marbling - Go! A basic design:
7. Spatter or drop a base color onto your thickened water surface. Though this will be your first color and will disperse over the whole surface, as you drop more color into it, it will eventually be the background color for your design (for instance, if you make flowers or hearts, it will be the negative color around them). You will probably need to build up this base with 2 or 3 applications. As this base paint begins to build up tension on the surface, it will create an atmosphere on which the other paints will sit.
8. Drop a color here and there onto the surface color. Give it a moment to spread out. Now you can begin to drop other colors into the center of that color.
9. Experiment with creating your design. Use the comb to gently go in one direction back and forth across the surface. Now comb up and down. You've made a feather design. Drop more colors onto it and give it a minute or two to spread into a circle. Drop more color into the middle. Then take a toothpic and push the circle in in several places all the way around, and make a flower. Run your toothpic from the top through the bottom and you've made a heart.
10. When you're satisfied with your design, you're ready to print. Take a prepared piece of paper or cloth, and hold it over the surface. Bending it slightly (the middle towards the paint surface) gently and quickly lower it in one smooth motion. (This takes practice!) The paint will automatically adhere to the paper or cloth. The printing part of this process is that fast and simple.
11. Lift the paper/cloth and put it into the water bath. Swish it slightly and lift it out.
12. Hang it up to dry or lay it on newspaper.

Voila! You have just made marbled paper.

You can clean the surface of your base water using newspaper or scrap paper. The liquids can be saved in a sealed jar in the refridgerator for a few weeks. When the base liquid becomes too dark to see your design on top, its time to throw it out and make new stuff.

You can create something marvelous the first try, but you will want to continue to experiment. As with all things in life, experience is what makes the difference between a dabbler and an expert. I don't consider myself to be an expert in paper marbling, but as I learn I do get better at it. Every time I do it, I learn something that I didn't know before. It's a very satisfying experience.

Remember this. When making art, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. It will show in your work. And in your joyful attitude about life.

What are you sitting her for? Get busy!
More good links for you:
Marbling supplies
http://www.danielsmith.com/content--id-110 for more how-tos and supplies
Volcano Arts seems to have some very intersting things which I will have to look into further... http://www.volcanoarts.biz/cart/marbling/index.htm

Until next time my friend, have a marbelous time! 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Every Princess Needs An Apron

Deep in the mountains of North Carolina, a beautiful little Princess lives with her daddy in a house by a river. Her name is Snow, but she fancies herself more of a Rockstar than a weather pattern. "You can call me Princess Rockstar, if you'd like," she says to everyone who comes to visit.
I will be going to the river soon,
and will give this apron to Princess Rockstar.
She will put it on and dance about on her tiptoes.
Princess Rockstar Ballerina Apron Girl.
She finds it curious that I would have wanted to be named "Princess Cowgirl" when I was a little girl; after all, what self-respecting little girl would want to be named after girl cows? However, just to be polite, she respectfully calls me "Princess Cowgirl".
She came to visit me one cool Spring afternoon recently; I was sewing baby bibs for my daughter-in-law's friend. She thought  they were beautiful.
As a matter of fact, I had so much beautiful fabric, she almost wished she was a baby so I could sew her a beautiful bib.

I realized that I could take my bib pattern and enlarge it just a bit, and add a skirt to make a wonderful Princess Rockstar Apron. She chose this skirt fabric with the Purple Girl, the Pink Girl and the Green Girl.

Here is simple little half-apron to sew for yourself and your little princess:

These measurements are for an adult apron.

Apron - If you sew and have a sewing machine, you can make an easy "half apron" from one yard of 36" (or wider) fabric without a pattern. (You can adapt the pattern simply by changing the length of the skirt and waistband to fit. See below.)

Cut a 22" x 36" strip of fabric for the skirt.

Trim side selvedges, fold edges over and stitch.

Fold a 3" hem, iron and stitch.

Cut two 3" x 36" strips for a waist band.
Sew one end together, fold down the length, top of fabric together and iron.

Stitch ends, and stitch from each end toward the middle, leaving a 22 1/2" opening to insert the skirt.

Turn and iron so that the unsewn part is folded down the same as the sewn seams.

Gather the top of the hemmed piece, and pin to what will be the inside of the back of the waist band.

Machine sew.

Hand stitch the top of the waist band to the skirt, and topstitch if you prefer a more finished look.

You can sew this same apron for a child. Just reduce the skirt measurements by measuring your princess from her waist to her knees and adding 3", then measure her waist and add 36" for the sash (18" on each side for the tie)

Later I will show write about the bibs, and offer the pattern to you.

Have a great weekend! And for you Moms out there, Happy Mother's Day!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Listen, Little Brownie Girl. Listen!

(I just posted the following on my "Little Pink Spaceship Gazette" on http//www.deberklein.com. I enjoyed writing it so much that I thought you might like to read it here, as well.)
The little girl sat in the second desk on the third row from the window of room 7B.

Papers were stuffed in a random fashion into the cubby of her beige metal desk with the fake wood Formica top. She was wearing her Brownie Scout Uniform. The sash, which was already adorned with four colorful achievement patches, dangled precariously off her right shoulder.

Just below the two adjoined Band-Aids on her shin was a long gray smear of crusty, dried mud. It matched the mud on the sock just beneath it, which was sliding down into the heel of the little girl's brown and white Saddle Oxford shoe. Her ponytail was lumpy. Wispy straight strands of sweaty blonde locks escaped it around the ears. This was from being pulled tight after chasing the boys during Recess.

The teacher's mouth was moving, but nothing was coming out.

At least the little Brownie heard none of it. That was because she was looking at how the teacher's gold rimmed glasses were sitting rather cock-eyed on her nose, making one eye appear larger than the other, and accentuating the fact that the teacher's left eye went in a slightly different direction than did her right one.

Two nibbled pencils, one red and one green, were balanced in the slot at the top of the desk, waiting for the girl's small, nimble fingers. Blank paper rested between her wrists. Her ankle was shaking back and forth to the rhythm of the ticking clock above the blackboard.

The little Brownie was thinking about drawing.

She was thinking that if she was still sitting at the back of the room like she used to, she would be drawing right now. She was thinking that in one hour and thirty five minutes school would be out and then she would go to Kim's house for Brownie Scouts, and then at last go home, where she would draw a picture and color it in with her brand new box of sixty four Crayola Crayons.

The little Brownie was already developing the composition in her mind. It would be a beautiful young lady, as viewed from the side. She was imagining a Periwinkle Blue dress and a Peachy Pink polka dotted sash.

"What was the year and where did it land?" the teacher asked. Now it looked like she had two and a half eyes.

"Deborah." The teacher had said her name. "Do you know the answer? Are you listening?"

"Um..." said Brownie Deborah. "I didn't know that you were talking to me. I couldn't...uh...tell if you were looking at me." This was not the answer to any of the questions. And this apparently was a more sensitive subject for the teacher than "Mayflower History"...

The year was 1960. Fastforward to year 2010.

Brownie Deborah is all grown up. She's a real artist, now. She still has problems with concentrating on anything other than creative things, but she knows that a creative mind often wanders.

She also knows that the failure to listen, whether intentional neglect or absent-mindedness, is usually understood as being rude and uncaring. So she has been working for years to develop another skill.

It’s called “listening”.

I wouldn’t say she’s mastered that skill yet, but hopefully it improves with each passing year.

Listening is invaluable for everyone, even the most artsy-fartsy of us all. It's important that we listen to our family, our friends, the cashier at the store, and our clients as well. Listening is the one skill that connects one human to another. It is an act of kindness, respect, and honor.

Listening is unselfish.

Though it may not be intentional, it is imperative we artists be aware of our tendency to get caught up in the creative moment and forget to listen. So as we develop our artistry, we also must develop our ability to listen; to drop everything and concentrate on listening to something other than our own brain on its never-ending creative binge.

So just stop, put the pencil down, make eye contact, and concentrate on what is being said.

In the end, my dear artist friend, life is communication and communication is life.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Paper Marbling and Framing Using Glass Clip Frames

A while back, my grandkids and I made marbled paper, first using a marbling kit called "The Paper Marbling Kit" (pictured below) by Jane Dickinson, and later adding a variety of colors from Liquitex acrylic paints. We also looked up "paper marbling" on yahoo.com/videos, where we could see actual demonstrations from professional marblers. 

We completed the project over two days. The first day was used preparing the alum and starch mixtures. The paper to be marbled was then dipped in the alum water and allowed to dry overnight. The starch was used on the second day for floating the paints on when doing the actual marbling, but takes some time to prepare.

We tested several kinds of paper, and found that 24# brochure paper with a slightly shiny finish worked best.

We had a wonderful time making a mess, and got some very fancy papers. Of course, the grandkids took their own favorites home. But since then, I let the paper rest on a shelf in the studio while I contemplated its fate. I could save some for future projects, sell some on Etsy, and matt or frame some of the really special pieces for sell at local shops and Etsy.

This weekend I found plain glass "invisible frames" in AC Moore and decided they would be perfect for displaying our paper. The paper is pretty enough that it doesn't require a fancy frame; these frames work beautifully.

Plus, they're fast. Like a rabbit.

Just take the clips off, cut the paper exactly to fit, sandwich it between the glass and backing and pop the clips back into place.

Voila! Art ready to go in under five minutes.

 I bought 4x6's and 5x7's, but these little frames also come in larger standard sizes which are good for children's art and photographs. It makes for a nice, clean finish. Another plus is that they are inexpensive. I got these half price, so they were only two dollars each.

Some good resources for paper marbling how-to's:


Look up paper marbling videos on Yahoo.com. It will bring up lots of demonstration videos from a variety of video web sites.

"Marbling Techniques: How to Create Traditional and Contemporary Designs on Paper and Fabric" by Wendy Addison Medeiros

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Very Easy Folding Gift Packets

Tidy little packages from a 4 3/4" x 2 3/8" tag!

This week I sold some notecards on Etsy.com and needed a small, decorative envelope in which to enclose a little gift for my buyers, but I was all out of my usual manilla mini envelopes. However, I did have a box of old fashioned labels.

It occurred to me that if I just made two folds in one of those labels and tied it around the back, I wouldn't even need to use tape to secure the little gift inside. I folded the bottom up about 1 3/4" from toward the middle of the label. Then I folded the top (with the tie) down so that it overlapped (about 7/8").

Grabbing my box of stamps and stamp pads, I stamped a couple of pretty designs on the outside, tucked my little gift inside, and Voila! A nice little thankyou gift from me to my buyers.

When I thought about it, there could be some wonderful variations on this idea, which could be useful for Valentine's day or other gift giving opportunities involving small, special gifts.

If you want to give a valuable gift and want to suprise your someone special with something you can just tuck into your pocket or purse, you need your little gift holder to be able to be secured so the fancy gift can't fall out the side. But tape would muss up the "look" as well as stick into the little card inside. So I created one package which can be inserted into the Valentine's Day or Birthday Card.

For it, cut a piece of cardstock (I used pink, since this is a Valentine's Day package) 6" x 1 1/4" and fold it in thirds. (I just "eyed" mine.) Glue a cute picture on the front (maybe of yourself...). Next cut a heart out of tissue paper, and use that to wrap the gift. Tuck it into the tag package, and that into the card. That's all it takes to have a very personal, portable, suprise package for the one you love.

You can get fancier if you wish. You can make any kind of insert you'd like. You can change out the string with ribbon, and tie beads onto it, or paint your little gift package with craft paints. Write something special inside, and you'll have something they'll never be able to throw away.

Have fun.