Browsed by
Month: August 2019

Finding the Focal Point

Finding the Focal Point

I returned from my June trip to Florida with a large envelope of papers from my week at the American Conchologists annual convention, so of course, I needed to make a collage with them.

First layer

I had the beautiful green and blue resort guide and the mandatory wrist band, along with the light blue convention brochure with shells and a pair of glasses like R. Tucker Abbott wore, whose 100th birthday we were celebrating. Parking tickets from the beach, as well as the one week fishing license I bought in case I happened to pick up a shell inhabited by a hermit crab. I had a dozen bidding tags from the silent auctions of beautiful shells, papers from the Parade of Snails where I had two entries, and raffle tickets.


I used Yes Paste to adhere some of these items onto a sheet of watercolor paper for my first layer. I added green and yellow acrylic paint to blend the edges with the base.

Paint added after first layer pasted

I still had all the papers from the flights to and from Ft. Myers, Florida. I had two boarding passes and a transfer tag going to Florida. Coming back I had a total of seven boarding passes. Having checked our of my room and turned in my rental car, the curb agent printed out the first boarding pass, but couldn’t print one for the second flight because it had been cancelled.

The indoor agent, after spending forty minutes on the phone to get advise on how to get me back to California, printed out three boarding passes and hand wrote on a blank pass – at my request – the arrival time and departure time for each flight. When I got to the gate, I inquired about the pre-boarding option because I’m always holding up the aisle getting my carry on stuff settled. She printed out a new set of boarding passes.

Going through security in Ft. Myers, my carry-on was selected for a random search, so I was handed a form on heavy paper telling me that my bag had been inspected, even though I was standing right there watching her plow through my precious new shells from the auctions.

I checked two bags on the trip home. The small one, containing my dirty laundry, didn’t make the third flight due to the tight schedule which generated a full page “Courtesy Lost/Delayed Incident Receipt” as well as another tag on the bag when it was delivered the next day.

Second layer of papers

I added a second layer of some parts of these papers and more paint. When I looked at my work the next day, I saw that I had light and medium areas, but almost no dark areas. To solve this problem I went out into the yard and cleaned up some areas that needed attention for several days.

When I got back to my collage, I experimented with turning the work around to see which way I like best. I still didn’t have a good focal point. Mostly a blue card stood out as the main focus!

Orange paint added. Turned top to bottom.

A few days later while thinking about the trip as a whole, I realized that the most memorable moment was early Wednesday evening as I was waiting with others in the lobby for the Welcome Party to begin. Suddenly, I was greeted by a man I had met in January of 2013 when the shelling trip I was on had lodging at his beach-side guest house in Panama. He and his wife had spotted me in the crowd. They proceeded to tell me all about the year long round-the-world trip they were about to begin. Half an hour later, I was listening to him give a piano concert for all of us.  Such a wonderful memory.

The next day, still not knowing how to fix the collage, I remembered that the Conchologists magazine had written about his performance at the convention and had a photo of him at the piano. Why not make him the focal point? I made a color copy of the photo to add to the collage. I even used the trimmings from the photo as dark elements along with a bit of dark paint.

Remembering Captiva

Yes, I know he is upside down. I like it best that way.


New Prayer Flags

New Prayer Flags

Detail of new Prayer flags seen from the yard.

On the first of August, my local mixed media group made prayer flags. Our hostess had cut out rectangles of fabric for us to work on so they would all be the same size. Our group has a custom of making these flags when one of our members needs our prayerful support, and give them to her to enjoy.

The first time I made prayer flags at home I used a fairly heavy fabric, probably about twelve inches by fifteen inches, and strung them on a thick cord so I could hang them in my yard between trees.

The next summer, when I was in the mountains with the basket makers, one of the members brought supplies and even a sewing machine so we all could make flags out of silk. We painted them with Dye-na-Flow fabric dye, working outdoors under the towering trees. We painted a ten inch strip about forty inches across. When they were dry, we sewed bias tape across the top so they could be hung up when we got home. We made three cuts in the painted silk fabric, upward from the free side to the bias tape, so they would flap in the breeze.

I hung mine across the beam on my carport, just outside my kitchen window, where I see them every day. After about two years they began to shred in the winter storms. I retrieved the pieces to use in collage.

Two years ago when I visited my son and my three granddaughters, I took acrylic paint and silk fabric with me and we painted prayer flags outdoors. The girls hung them in their bedroom windows. I brought mine home and replaced the old ones which were nearly gone.

The rains this past spring trashed what was left of those flags. I had already put “New Prayer Flags” on my summer to-do list, so last week I got out some odd fabric and made another set. I’m not sure where my silk fabric is, and didn’t want to search for it. This fabric is dressy, probably a polyester, in a pale pastel orange, with a woven pattern. These are also a longer length than the previous ones I made.

I never quite know what to paint on the flags, and the dye is somewhat tricky to control, since I don’t use it often. I decided to try some stencils. I was pleased that the dye worked well with the stencils. I attached an extra long length of bias tape across the top so I could hang a bell on each side of the flags. I only made two cuts this time because I didn’t plan where the cuts would go before I painted. When the Delta Breeze is blowing, I sometimes here the bells ring.

Prayer Flags seen from my kitchen window.

Once I got my new flags installed, I got started on the rest of my to-do list. I’m in the process of a reorganization of the closet and cupboard spaces. I’ve been trying on garments I no longer wear, many of which no longer fit well because my body has changed shape. My feet no longer like most of the shoes I have enjoyed wearing for years.

The rest of this week is supposed to be very hot, so I won’t be doing much outside. From what I hear on the radio, much of the nation is having a hot summer.

I’m still working with my shell collection, going through family by family, trying to correctly identify each shell and updating both the handwritten log and the digital record.

And I may even get to some collage making. Stay cool and make some art!