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Category: Collage

Watching it All Unravel

Watching it All Unravel

Side view of collage

Ten years ago, I carefully shortened the sleeves on a jacket I had made on a knitting machine some years before. I didn’t want the whole sleeve to unravel, so I sewed bias tape on each of them before I cut them. Of course, the discarded part did start to unravel, and I was fascinated to watch the loops relax and let go.

I used that fabric in a large, forty inch square collage. The base was three sheets of heavy corrugated cardboard glued together that had been some of the packing on something we bought while remodeling the apartment that is attached behind my free standing garage. I covered this with a knitted dress-weight material that has a free-form design in sky blue, coral, and yellow on white, which folds around to the back side. The collage is framed with a piece of rope sewn to the fabric around the edge.

At the time we were being told that light bulbs would no longer be made— only those squiggly fluorescent things, that we could no longer use our fireplaces, that GMO foods were going to replace what we were eating, and people were buying “carbon footprints” so they could travel on airplanes without feeling guilty.

Close up of knitted sleeve

Magazine photos were pasted randomly on the fabric. The unraveling sleeve was added along the left side. The chaos in the center is a tangle of red bias tape and strips of a basket-making material from some kind of grass woven together.

Detail of red tape

At a give-a-way of basketry materials, I had picked up a sheaf of gold construction paper that had been stored rolled up for a long time, and had gotten wet on one side and corroded nicely so you can see the layers. I positioned this on the right side of the board on top of a photo copy of our founding documents—“We the People . . .”

Detail of yellow paper

I was surprised and pleased that it made it into one of the Lodi Art Center’s annual shows when they were being held at Woodbridge Winery.

This collage has been hanging above the clothes dryer in the utility room in back of the apartment behind the garage for the last five years because there was enough wall space next to the attached shelving.

Watching it All Unravel

While I was rummaging around in that room last week, I took the time to stand there and remember making this collage. It had felt like life as I knew it was unraveling when I made it. I was ahead of my time—now it feels like that again, but for different reasons.

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The Artist as Junk Collector

The Artist as Junk Collector

Detail of new yard art

I learned about recycling at a very early age. I remember stepping on vegetable cans, probably before I went to kindergarten. The procedure was to empty the vegetables into a pan, rinse the can, remove the bottom with the hand crank can opener, step on the can to flatten it, and insert the top and bottom into the flattened can. I was the person who flattened the can.  “They need it for the war,” Mother said.

When I was weaving, I recall reading how Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz scavenged the docks near her home for sections of rope for her sculptures because she couldn’t buy materials.

I’ve always picked up stuff from the ground and brought it home – shells, sticks, pine cones, stones. When I started making baskets, I picked up more stuff. As near as I can remember, my junk collecting went into high gear when I bought my house in Stockton. The house had been cleaned and freshly painted in parts of the inside.

But the garage was full of things the previous owners, and before that her parents, didn’t take with them. Drawers of screws, nails, nuts, thing-a-ma-jigs, rusty old tools, and scraps of wood, as well as a shed full of clay pots.

At an estate sale, I got a set of old army flat files that just happened to have handfuls of rusty little parts of things which got added to my growing collection. A few years ago, I started noticing interesting junk in parking lots, like eye-glass frames now flattened by traffic. All those little plastic pieces that come with electronics as part of the packaging also get added to my stash.

Almost twenty years ago at a National Basketry Organization conference, I was in a workshop taught by John Garrett who worked with metals. From time to time I checked his website and saw that he had moved on to making large wall pieces using what looked like metal and plastic items hanging in strings.

Fascinated, I decided someday I would try to make something similar using some of this junk I’ve collected. I’ve reached the point where, if I plan to do it someday, I’d best get on with it soon!

Early last year the florescent ceiling light in my kitchen broke and my sons installed a new LED fixture. The rigid plastic cover was about to go into my recycling bin when I decided it might be useful to make that junk piece I wanted to do. I was on the lookout at estate sales for something that would work as a base. I found a former towel rack that was the perfect size. I had some kind of a dish rack I picked up years ago that became the top to hold the strings.

Little by little I thought my way through the project. I bought four 100 count packs of slip rings online.

Front view of yard art

I found hose clamps at Harbor Freight to hold the slip rings to the top. I drilled holes every 3/8ths of an inch across the top of the kitchen light cover, and wired the dish rack to the plastic with wire I had kept from my father’s workbench.

I had planned to hang some small white plastic scoops that come in a supplement on the rings, but realized that they wouldn’t show up against the plastic back. Reds and oranges worked best so I went through my stash again. The main problems were how to attach things that didn’t have any holes in them. Old keys worked well, colored cable ties were easy. I had a box of blue plastic rings that came with bottles of milk, which my cats used to love to play with. They went onto the slip rings easily.

The whole construction measures roughly 45 inches tall by 14 inches across. It is sitting against a wall of my storage shed under an overhanging roof where it gets a gentle breeze but not a lot of wind. Maybe I should add some jingle bells to it.

The front view photo above may look like there is something else behind it, but that is the shadow because I took some photos in full sun, hoping to get the shine on the rings.

Side view of yard art

 

I was surprised how quickly it went together on one of those 100+ days when I worked indoors on it.

 

My boyfriend teases me, that when I’m gone my sons will toss all my junk into a dumpster. That’s okay with me, but before that happens I should think up some other junk projects.

Detail of end of strings on yard art
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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.

 

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Seven Weeks without Writing

Seven Weeks without Writing

Beginning of collage using map from a day trip along the Columbia River near Portland

I can hardly believe it has been two months since I wrote anything here. No excuses – I just haven’t felt I had anything much to say. When I wrote on June 5th, I talked about managing my energy, and I’m still working on that.

The week after my last blog I was getting ready for a cross country trip to the Conchologists of America convention on Captiva Island, Florida. I was gathering together things I wanted to take, a few each day, which turned out to be a really good thing. The day before I left, I heard yard-work noise in my next door neighbor’s yard. When I checked, I saw that a man was pulling vegetation off the low hanging wires that run behind both of our houses.

I had been fretting about this vine growing in the neighbor’s yard that had somehow gotten up into these wires years ago. Each year the mass of vines got larger and was advancing westward to where they now were about six feet into my back lot line, climbing into the tree in the yard behind mine which was hanging over the fence and beginning to touch the roof of my storage shed. Fortunately, I was able to get the man to remove the mess from my yard for a small amount of money.

Shortly after he left, another man came by to discuss the problems I am having with some of the sprinklers in the yard. I was very glad I had almost finished packing the day before.

In the June 5 blog I also talked about how driving seemed more difficult than I was used to. I may have discovered the reason. In December last year I got new glasses and contacts. I was frustrated with the new contacts but couldn’t figure out why and decided that maybe it was just a getting older thing. If I was in a familiar place, like the grocery I go to most of the time, things seemed okay except that I noticed I was more comfortable wearing my prescription sunglasses while in the store. But if I went into a store I didn’t know, I was having trouble finding things. Everything looked fuzzy and I was just more comfortable staying at home. And at home I couldn’t read what I was writing on my desktop computer unless I leaned way over the desk.

I arrived in Florida after dark, got in an unfamiliar rental car, and started the forty mile drive to the resort on Captiva Island. I had a simple map with the main roads on it, but needed to make the correct turns to reach the causeway to the islands. On the roads that had large well lighted overhead signs I was doing okay, but the local signs on the side of the road were not readable until I was right next to them.

I did make the correct turn and located the road to the causeway. As I was driving, I remembered that my old contacts from last year were now my spare ones and were in my suitcase. In the morning I put those on and I could see a lot better. Since I’ve been home I’ve been seeing my eye doctor as he tries to figure out what is off with the new lenses. This is still a work in progress.

I have a number of other situations going on that seem to require numerous steps to resolve and need the help of other people, so nothing is happening quickly, and the issues hang out in the back of my mind.

My yard, being a mini fruit farm, takes a lot of time in early summer. First were the apricots in May. It is always a game of how long can I leave the fruit on the tree to ripen and still get some of it before the squirrels take them all. They managed to eat all the early crop of figs before any of them ripened. With the pleasant weather we had in June, I was picking strawberries and blackberries every day, and so were the birds.

When I saw how fast the white nectarines were disappearing from the tree, I picked the largest ones, and the next day the tree was completely empty. I guess squirrels don’t like plums as much as other fruits because there were more than enough for both of us. Of course it helped that the tree hadn’t been trimmed the last two years.

So a week ago my son, Chris, and grandson, Vinnie, came to Stockton and we trimmed all the fruit trees, and other growth hanging over the fence, which had grown too big and too high for me to reach. We moved an amazing amount of foliage out of my yard.

I started a collage on July 13 using items from my April trip to Camas, Washington. (See photo at top of blog.) I worked on it three days in a row, and then couldn’t get back to it until last weekend, when it was too hot to be outside. I’m not one of those artists who can do ten minutes a day and come up with wonderful work. But I think I’m about finished with it now.

Remembering the fun I had with my son Dave

For the rest of the summer – August and September – I have ivy to cut back the full length of my yard on the west side, and drawers and closets to clean out of things I don’t use. My shell collector self wants to continue organizing the collection every day, while my inner teenager wants to sit around reading, with ice tea and ice cream. I hope you are enjoying your summer.

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Palm Bark and Handmade Paper Series

Palm Bark and Handmade Paper Series

Close up of palm bark hanging with an inchie

In a watercolor class about four years ago the instructor was demonstrating working in a series. If I had heard this idea before, the concept and reasoning had not lodged in my brain. She explained that if you worked on three paintings at a time they would likely have some similar colors and perhaps some similar content, which would look good, grouped together in an exhibit.

Woven chenille fabric with driftwood
Woven chenille fabric with driftwood.

Since then, I keep hearing the word “series” from all sorts of artists, in reviews, in workshops, and technique books.  Thinking back, I did some limited series when I was weaving chenille fabric and draping it around driftwood, and when I was weaving baskets out of kelp.

If you are working with specific materials using requisite tools, it makes sense to make several items at a time using those materials and tools.

One of my goals for rainy weather this last winter was to work with the palm bark that comes off my neighbor’s two towering palm trees. This is the stuff that is flexible like a fabric, but also sheds little scraps all over when you handle it.

One day I picked up so much of this in my yard that I spread it across my drawing board to dry out. I never put it away, and one week I finally sat down with some colored cord called gimp, a needle, some beads, and a stack of handmade paper.

Work table with spools of gimp, handmade paper and palm bark

I started shaping the bark and adding a sheet of the paper, stitching them together, making a loop on the backside for hanging. Once the two surfaces were attached, I left hanging threads for adding beads.

Palm bark with handmade yellow paper

I made seven of these over two or three days. To some I added a feather or two. I find a lot of feathers in my yard from the jays, doves, and other birds. And then they sat on my drawing board waiting for . . .?  I didn’t know what else to do with them. They needed something to be a focal point.

The leader of my local art group was all enthused about making “inchies” at that time. An inchie is a one inch square painting on paper, usually abstract and colorful, which can be used in a mosaic of some sort, or to cover an ugly box.

Ah- ha! I had some inchies left from the last time we did this. I rummaged through them and selected a few to complement the colors of my bark and paper constructions. Those tiny bits of color made all difference.

Palm bark, feathers, beads, and inchies.
Bark, paper, feather, and inchie
Palm bark, paper, inchies, with beads

 

Now we are headed for summer, I hope, and my bark and paper series is hanging next to my drawing board, or still laying on it, waiting for me to decide what to do with these somewhat fragile creations.

 

I’ve learned the hard way that this type of hanging does not survive well for a show if it has to be packed up, moved from place to place, and handled by others. I need to find a place in my house where I can hang them for awhile, until I gift them to my friends.

 

Working in a series is fun, generates new ideas, and may produce a volume of work more quickly than doing one piece at a time.

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Does Making Collage Help Organize Your Mind?

Does Making Collage Help Organize Your Mind?

Shortly before the beginning of March, the leader for my local art group sent us an email asking for ideas for projects for the next meeting or two. I reminded her about the time our group had fun making collage by starting a piece, and then passing it to the person on our right, who would add some elements until time was called, and the piece moved again to the right.

I provided 11” x 11” watercolor paper for the substrate, and brought an assortment of printed papers, old book pages, maps, corrugated cardboard pieces, and fabric scraps. Members were told to bring scissors and glue of some kind.

Several of our new members had never done collage before, but quickly got the hang of adding a scrap of color here and there before passing it on. We did this until we got our own piece back, with a chance to add some finishing touches.  I should have taken a photo of the collage I came home with, but I didn’t think of it until after I added a few more pieces.

Orange 3-D fan shape

I had started out with some large pieces of aqua colored paper sprinkled with white star shapes, and a page from a foreign language book. When it came back to me, someone had added a 3-D orange fan shape out of some stiff vellum, a small dark red shape topped with a yellow button, and a good size purple bird shape made of crumpled tissue paper. Someone added a fairly large piece of purple netting. Another member had found my name on one of the papers I brought, cut it into pieces and scattered them about.

Crushed tissue paper bird

At home, I sat it up on the end of my work table for several days, so I could glance at it through the day. What could I do with all these bits of color and shape so it didn’t look like the world was flying apart?  Eventually, I added a few dark pieces along parts of three edges, as well as a layer of green tissue paper over two sections to try and “pull things together”, which allowed the purple bird to be the main focal point.

Everybody added something collage

I must admit there are some days when my mind feels like this collage!

Two weeks later, our group met again and we each worked on our own collage. Some members had thought about what they wanted to make, and had brought papers to create their vision.

I didn’t plan ahead. I rummaged through papers when I got to the group and selected them mainly on colors that appealed at that moment. I paired them with some of my yellow handmade paper, torn into shapes to go with the large pieces. The paper substrate I was working on had a few black lines someone had painted long ago. I decided to let them show between the pieces I added.

Once I had the main elements pasted down, I couldn’t decide what to add next. Someone in the group encouraged us to use some tissue paper she had painted with watercolors. Adding a random piece to connect my larger shapes produced a really exciting element. After I got home, I added a small rust colored image about one third down the left side. Up close it is a set of keys tossed on a small tray.

March 2019  – Where Is Spring?

By April, our leader was full of new ideas for the group. Perhaps working with collage has an organizing effect on the mind.

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Decisional Conflict

Decisional Conflict

One of the companies making premium art mediums is Golden. They have Reps who give demos of their products to groups of artists at stores that sell their stuff. I’ve actually been to two of these, but it was some years back. The Rep talks about each medium, showing on a canvass board, what it is designed to do. This sample is then passed around the room while she demos another product.

By the end of the presentation the audience has oh-d and awed at the beautiful colors, the creamy gels, and special effects that can be produced. What we don’t see is how to integrate these products into a complete work of art.

I have a drawer of different gels in matte and gloss, with beads, will crackle, make a raised image with a stencil, or shine a different color in a certain light. I have papers, canvas, brushes, stencils, stamps, and almost anything else you can think of, but I rarely know with any certainty what to use to get the effect I have in mind.

During our rainy winter, I began reading a book about using these mediums and paints which is written like a workshop, so you can follow along step by step with the author. She started by covering her work surface with a variety of papers to provide texture, such as a page from an old book, a photo copy, corrugated cardboard, and crumpled rice paper. She also added some stencil images.

Section of collage showing title

I rummaged through my scrap box for similar items. I found some pages from a psych-nurse’s pocket guide, one of which was titled “Decisional Conflict” which in normal language means the person can’t decide between two or more options. I experience this quite often in my studio. I also found some corrugated paper from a cookie box, a strip of rice paper I could crumple, and a single Tarot card. They didn’t look like what was in the book, but close enough.

Arranging them on the paper was easy now that I have been doing a lot of collage.

The next step was to add paint. The book’s finished collage was crimson and orange with white and black accents. I had paint, just not the colors she was using. So I used what I had that I thought might be close to hers. Didn’t quite work the same way. The red color was close, but the yellow was too intense. She used a transparent yellow color which I didn’t have. The white paint she added to lighten up some areas was zinc white, which I also didn’t have, so I used an Iridescent Pearl.

Section of collage showing crumpled rice paper

One of my goals is to use up the acrylic paint I have so I can get some new paint. Of course, the colors I really like are pretty much gone. I rarely use reds and yellows, preferring greens and blues.

The yellow paint over the dark photo copy and the black on the Tarot card turned a green shade. I liked how that went with the red and yellow, so I added some paint in a lime shade here and there.

Completed collage “Decisional Conflict

Over all, I was pleased with the finished product. Looking ahead to the next project in the book, I saw that the author continues to use the zinc white and transparent yellow. In order to alleviate some of my “Decisional Conflict”, I have ordered them online because they are not available in Stockton.

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The Dark and the Light of Growing Older

The Dark and the Light of Growing Older

For the second project in the online class I was working on in January, the instructor told a story about her grandfather, using photos of him as a boy and later as a man. She said she heard he had some troubles as a young man, and to illustrate this she pasted copies of the two photos she had on separate light backgrounds and mounted them on a dark board, leaving a space between them to represent the time in his life when he had troubles.

As I tried to think of a similar story in my family, nothing came to mind, but I have been aware recently how my own life is changing in ways I don’t like. At the same time, I have many things that I am thankful I can enjoy. I decided to tell my story of how things are right now.

Front side of box to hold the cards.

I didn’t want to make a book with these cards, so I borrowed an idea from Seth Apter, where he uses kid’s flash cards, works on both sides, and makes a case for them.

For the cards I used stiff cardboard from the back of watercolor tablets, cutting blocks that are roughly 4.5” x 5.5”.  I used pages torn from old books with printing and diagrams, to cover them on both sides using matt medium, and folding the sheets over the edges as the instructor had demonstrated.

After they were dry, I laid the eight cards on newspaper and covered them with black gesso on one side, let it dry, and used white gesso on the other side. On the sides with the white gesso, some of the printing on the paper shows through.

I made a list of what I wanted to put on each card. For each less than happy development on the dark side, I chose a positive thing about my life at this time.

The hardest part of this project was finding images to illustrate my situation. Magazines are loaded with young women. Even ads for products that older people might need rarely have a person who appears old unless they are face down on the floor and can’t get up!

I glued the carefully trimmed images to the cards with matt medium. I didn’t coat them with matt medium, but I probably should have.

I feel like my arms have gotten shorter.

One of the cards was about not being able to reach things in cupboards and closets, and not feeling comfortable on a ladder in the yard sometimes. On the back side, I acknowledge that I’m feeling ready to let go of things I don’t use, but I keep because they belonged to someone in my family.

 

After the images were glued, I printed out words to go with them. These were trimmed close and glued with Yes paste. The gessoed background had a bit of a gritty texture, so I decided to finish the cards with a layer of encaustic wax. I like the feel of the waxy surface.

Cards get a layer of encaustic wax

However, some of my images became transparent when I waxed them. The print from the other side came through, as on this image of a robe. It seemed to happen with images taken from a monthly publication from a nearby shopping center that uses a newsprint type paper.

Image about getting to sleep late

On this card you can also see the printing on the paper that was the first layer on the left side behind the clock, and on the right side behind the robe is a piece of a map.

While I was waiting for things to dry, I created a case for my cards. I have a big old garage with lots of storage, where I have a closet of small and odd size boxes and containers. I painted the box with black gesso, added some images and words, and covered it with a coat of a gloss gel medium.

Back of the box holding cards
Making art with friends

 

 

This was not a project I intended to put on display somewhere. It was a way for me to get my irritable thoughts out of my head, and remind myself of all the aspects of my life that I can celebrate. I get to stay home in bad weather, wear what I want, sleep late if I need to, read all kinds of things, and make art with my friends.

 

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Telling a Story with Collage

Telling a Story with Collage

Grape vines and Strawberry patch

For the last three weeks, I’ve been working my way through an online course from the Jeanne Oliver network (Jeanneoliver.com), called “Art as Allegory” which offers instruction in several collage techniques which may help you tell a story. The instructor shares a story from her childhood which she is still telling people to explain why she feels she needs to work extra hard sometimes. She encourages course members to recall a similar story that they often relate to people, and perhaps find a way to let it go.

Since I told most of my childhood stories in my eBook “Looking for Connection,” I had to find a current story that I keep repeating. The most obvious is how the time required to care of my yard prevents me from making art in my studio.

Thankfully, we have had a good number of rain days this month, and I have completed one of the two projects suggested in this course. Of course, my work doesn’t look anything like what the instructor showed, but that’s the point of these courses; showing techniques and helping you generate ideas in your own individual way.

We started by making a set of 4” x 4” substrates out of foam-core or cardboard, to be made into a book, or mounted on a backing. The boards were covered in plaster gauze, (which I had never used), and when dry, given a coat of Plaster of Paris, allowed to dry, followed by a light coat of acrylic paint, most of which was wiped off. I used cardboard, didn’t smooth the plaster as well as the instructor did, and didn’t wipe off as much paint as she did.

In between rain showers, I walked through the yard taking photos of plants and sections that require significant amounts of work throughout the year. I picked up a few sticks, leaves, and seeds to add interest. I printed out color prints of my photos on regular paper. The printer I have now has ink that does not run when it gets wet, so I could adhere the prints to the squares with matt medium and cover the whole block with a coat of it.

The green paint on each square adds to the feeling that this is a garden. One block shows my grapefruit tree and berry bushes, another, the strawberry bed and grapevines in the photo at the top of this blog. These two are in the center of the finished piece because they are the reward for the labor.

Bird feeder upper left, fountain lower right

 

Around these are photos of the bird feeder and fountain, and invasive plants that need to be removed annually, lest they take over the garden. I show the sycamore leaves that accumulate everywhere, vines of ivy and honeysuckle that need to be trimmed back, and the palm fronds in my driveway from the neighbor’s trees.

 

The crack where the water gushes out from a leak.

 

 

Also, I have the sage that feeds my hummingbirds during the winter, the iris bed where these beauties are gearing up for spring, and the sprinkler system that has sprung a huge leak somewhere under the patio cement.

 

 

And, not to be forgotten, a photo of the pile of branches that were left after I picked up sticks from storms this month and couldn’t fit these into the green waste bin .

Photo of branches too large to go in green wast bin from last two storms.

I located a 16” x 20” board with an old painting that I acquired somewhere, and loosely covered it with a coat of dark brown paint. I mounted the twelve squares to this board with heavy gel medium, leaving half an inch space between them. I weighted it with bags of rice, while it dried for a day or two.

I picked up a frame at Michael’s using my 50% off coupon, and actually hung the finished piece up on Sunday. Finding a good place for this in my house took some doing, as all my walls are well filled.

The finished collage

I’m really delighted with the outcome. If I should have to leave this property when I get older, this collage will hold many fond memories and stories for me.

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If You Don’t Give Grandma Gift Ideas, She’ll Send You Something Silly!

If You Don’t Give Grandma Gift Ideas, She’ll Send You Something Silly!

Pipe cleaner butterfly

At the beginning of November 2018, I was cleaning up my studio area after completing on online class, and noticed five small substrates I made during the summer, lined up on a rack, waiting to be used. I quickly decided I didn’t want to see them there in 2019, so I laid them out on my work table, hoping for an idea to come my way.

I thought back to the art retreat I went to in 2017 in Santa Rosa, where I spent two days learning how Finnabair makes her fascinating creations. I hadn’t made anything like that since I came home. I looked at the experiments I had been doing with handmade paper, wire, and palm bark. What would happen if I added these materials to what I learned at the retreat?

I had to find my notes from the retreat to recall how we began the piece I made. I didn’t have the finished item from the retreat because I had given it to my granddaughter for her High School Graduation.

I cut up patterned paper into small squares, pasted them to each substrate with gel medium, and coated them with soft gel, through which I dragged a comb to create texture. When that layer was dry, I added torn strips of handmade paper and a small piece of palm bark to each substrate. I was making a series so they all had a small amount of each material.

At this point, I realized I needed a focal point in each piece. While looking for something else, I had recently come across a box of curious animals made of coiled pipe cleaners. They had been in that drawer for years, since I added my mother’s craft stash to mine. They looked like the things she made in Florida at the mobile home center. There was a caterpillar, a mouse, two bears, and one I couldn’t identify, which I decided would be a butterfly.

Pipe cleaner caterpillar

I added garage junk: nuts, screws, paper clips, washers, and odd metal and plastic pieces using  gel medium for the glue. I highlighted the metal with metallic paint. I was having such a fun time, but what was I going to do with them when they were finished?

I hadn’t done any Christmas shopping because I had no idea what to get my three granddaughters. Why not give each of them one of these creations?  The little animals were made by their great-grandmother. This was just the incentive I needed to get them finished soon even though I was cleaning up the yard every day, too. The next logical thought was that the mouse should go to my son.

Full view of butterfly collage

To the caterpillar and butterfly pieces I added some dark green paper leaves and flowers. I tried to highlight the leaves with some shiny paint, but it didn’t work out well, and I couldn’t remove the paint.

These were both on wood substrates.

 

 

Brown Bear on cork base with silver highlights

 

The brown bear is on a cork substrate which was glued to a piece of craft wood to give it stability. I liked working with the cork. It made a nice texture for adding paint, and the gel medium stuck to it well. The dark brown mass in each collage is the palm bark. The tan area is the handmade paper which was torn into odd shapes. This piece has silver highlights.

 

Pack Rat in his nest

The mouse is actually a pack rat as can be seen by all the junk in his nest. The next is made with the palm bark. On the bottom below the bark is a strip of black woven mesh, probably nylon, which I picked up in a garage at an estate sale. The metal pieces were highlighted with brass metallic paint. His corrugated cardboard substrate was glued to a craft board.

 

Panda

One of the substrates was made on a piece of cardboard with the lower right corner cut out. I resolved this by mounting it on a piece of light weight craft board that was slightly smaller than the cardboard, painted that corner with a pink metallic paint that I used for highlights on the piece, and glued a small shell to the craft board. The green diamond pattern on the bottom and right side were made by using thickened gesso with a stencil. After it was dry, I applied green paint and rubbed most of it off. This has a little panda bear sitting in the palm bark, surrounded by tiny fabric roses. He has now joined the menagerie in my bedroom

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