August 03, 2004

Altered Altoids Tins

I had made four altered Altoid tins in November 2006 and left them shelved even though I made them specifically for the purpose of selling on eBay. Maybe it was the thought of parting with my first altered tins that made it so difficult to give them up. In any event, I was finally able to let them go.

The mermaid tin was my first altered tin, and also my favorite, so far. I used a vintage reproduction photo and real seashells to create it.
Other theme's include Paris Travel, a smudge or ruins box, and a Music themed tin.

Moulin Rouge, pictured, sold on eBay and I had a few requests for more with the same theme. I had consider making another Moulin Rouge themed tin but it takes forever to seal the tin and prepare it for paint. It has to cure for at least two weeks before I can begin to work on it, and I don't really have that kind of patience.

The profit margin for these tins is relatively low since they are so time consuming to create. I did see half of a tin decorated with a vintage reproduction image of a child sell for $75 on eBay, but I think this is the exception, not the rule.

I'm currently working on an Asian/Oriental and Travel/Journey themed tins, and may create a few with a Valentine's Day theme.

July 22, 2004

NeW sTuDiO!

My new studio is up and running! The walls are painted, the shelving is up and the curtains are hung. I'm so excited!! It took three weeks to transfer all my craft stuff from one space to the other, but I also did a much a needed reorganization during the move. I have tons of shelves now, 36 feet to be exact, and yes, they're full already. I thought I'd have room left over for "future growth" but nope, every square inch is being utilized.

The photo shows a neat and tidy workspace - just a fa├žade. I straightened it up before snapping the photos. Normally, I only have about six square inches of work area that's free from clutter and that's where I create my new pieces. Yes, even with all the new storage and shelves my area is still a mess. I think for an artist, having a cluttered workspace is genetically coded into our systems. When my workspace is too neat and tidy my creative juices don't flow nearly as well. So, with that said, I'm off to create!

July 10, 2004

Adhesives - Make it Stick!

Ever wonder which adhesive is the best to use? It depends on what you're trying to glue, but I've listed some options below and you can decide.

Sticky Tabs or Dots Tape Runner: Great for most flat, lightweight embellishments. Generally used to mount photo's and paper.

Glue Sticks: This can be used to adhere any lightweight paper embellishment but I don't recommend it for altered art pieces. It's been my experience that after a short while things glued with the stick tend to fall off. It will help keep the ends of jute and hemp together and can be used for embellishments, foamies, and iron on patches.

Double Sided Tape: Works great for wide ribbons, seed beads, or for putting things in rows, such as buttons.

Foam Squares or Dots: Flat dots can be used to adhere paper to paper, attach photo's, etc. There are also dots (or squares) that are 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick, which can be used to give a 3D effect to your artwork by raising items from the surface.

PVA Glue - Fine Line: Use fine tip glue pens for adhering small items and for delicate pieces that require a fine line of glue, such as paper doilies, rick-rack, or trim.

Xyron Machine: Use this for skeleton leaves, tiny flat items, lace, and small paper items. Run your items through the Xyron Machine and create instant "stickers".

Spray Adhesive: Great for adhering large pieces of paper or fabric to wood or mat board.

Memory Mount: This is a very sticky, thick liquid glue that works well to adhere charms, buttons, and other items. This does require drying time.

Sewing: Another option is to sew on embellishments. This can be done when adhering paper, fabric, mesh, buttons or charms to paper or fabric. It doesn't necessarily require a sewing maching - you can hand stitch.

E6000, Gorilla Glue, 527 Glue: E6000 is an industrial strength gel type glue that works on any type of surface (except for adhering glass to glass - you'll need Super Glue or Krazy Glue for that), dries clear, is waterproof, and is a godsend for adhering heavier items. Gorilla Glue works basically the same as E6000. Drying time is slow but gives you ample time to adjust your item before it's permanently bound. 527 glue is like E6000 and Gorilla Glue but it has a thinner consistency and a pointer tip that allows for greater control of where your glue will be going.

Hot Glue: Works well but will yellow with age and the bond will not last forever. You'll want to consider another type of adhesive if you're adhering something like plastic, that might melt under heat.

Staples: Attach paper, fabric, or mesh embellishments with staples (colored staples are my favorite).

July 06, 2004

Summer Project – Create Art Class Syllabus

This summer I've been putting together an outline of an 6-12 week course in altered art & ATC's (artist trading cards) and will submit it to the Community Education Enrichment department of our school district this fall or winter. They're always looking for local talent to teach things like photography, cake decorating, and beginning sign language.

I noticed that Michael's Craft Store has a huge bulletin board asking for people to teach various arts and crafts classes. Nothing for ATC's or altered art was listed but I'm thinking about talking to the store manager to see if this might be something of interest. Since altered art/assemblage, collage, mixed media and ATC's are "hot" right now, I thought this would be a good time to put my creative skills to work.

If anyone has done this before, any suggestions would be appreciated!

June 28, 2004

Assemblage/Altered Artist = "Green Artist"

Today, I discovered by accident that I am a "green" artist. Actually, about 75% green. I recycle - give things away instead of adding to landfills, use energy efficient items, etc., but I never really thought of my art in terms of being "green." I really like the idea of not wasting natural resources, recycling, and finding more energy efficient ways of doing things. I even enjoyed watching "Living With Ed."

Have you gone "green" without realizing it? You might be "green" if you:

* Visit rummage/garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, second-hand stores, etc. and scour for items you can use in your artwork. I have found my best pieces to alter at a thrift store. I find games (I use the pieces for projects and the board as a canvas or focal point for artwork), paints, text books, magazines, ribbon, tins, old jewelry, etc. all for bargain prices.

* Use empty food boxes to cut ATC backs or for chipboard canvas. Cereal boxes make excellent canvases for artwork and smaller boxes, like macaroni & cheese boxes, are great for making sturdy ATC backs that hold up well to heavier embellishments. I use sturdy gift boxes as shadow boxes - 1 box = 2 shadow boxes, the top and bottom.

* Join "ephemera" or "craft goodies" swaps where you trade bags or envelopes full of supplies. This is a great way to gather many different types of items without having to purchase them. Swap-bot ( usually has several craft goodies swaps every month.

* Use what you find in nature. I have gathered rocks, seashells, beach glass, leaves, flowers and twigs to use in my artwork. Dry the flowers or press between sheets of waxed paper, and spray leaves and twigs with clear varnish and you're good to go.

Go green!

June 21, 2004

Art Supplies - Getting Started

If you have scrapbook supplies, you're ahead of the game. Below is my list of basic "must have" items you'll need for about any altered art or ATC project, supplies that are nice additions beyond the basics, and what I consider, luxury supplies - advanced craft skill items, things you can do without or things that are pricey.

Must Have Supplies

Scissors - a small pair for detailed work and a large pair
Exacto Knife and Blades
Tweezers - for picking up small rhinestones
Tacky Glue - large bottle
Glue Dots - when Tacky glue won't do
E6000 Glue - for heavyweight items, metal, etc.
Glitter Glue - I found 3 bottles, 3 different colors for $1 at a dollar store
Glitter (usually coarsly ground)
Prism Glitter - finely ground glitter
Cardboard - save food boxes; cereal, mac & cheese, crackers, etc.
Cardstock - acid & lingnin free, in a variety of colors
Patterned Scrapbook Paper - acid & lingnin free, purchase in bulk on eBay
Paper Trimmer - a must for cutting and cropping photo's and paper

Beyond the Basic's

Ribbon - Michael's Craft Store usually has a $1 bin of ribbons
Fibers (or yarn) - I bought a large lot of various kinds of fibers on eBay
Embroidery floss
Gel Pens, Colored Pencils, Markers and/or Crayons
Watercolor Paint or Pencils - either of these are a must have
Collage Sheets or printed sheets of graphics
Foam Adhesive Squares - gives a 3D effect when used to adhere photos/graphics
Brads - you probably won't use them often but good to have
Eyelets - save $$ by buying gold, silver, black and/or antiqued instead of colors
Eyelet Setter - avoid buying the set, just about everyone owns a hammer
Silk flowers or Prima Flowers
Rhinestones - various shapes and sizes
Wire - silver, copper, gold, and/or rusted
Hot glue gun (I rarely use mine)
Decorative Edge Scissors
Rubber Stamps
Ink Pads for rubber stamps
Clear protective sleeves (for ATC's)
Photo Corners
Premade Die Cuts
Chalk - the kind artists use

Luxury or Advanced Skills Supplies

Embossing Powder
Heat Gun for embossing
Die Cut Machine - Sizzix or Cuttlebug (personally, not worth purchasing)
Dies for die cutting machine

Around The House

Paper towel tubes and toilet tissue tubes
Empty tins
Empty containers Egg cartons
Baby food jars
Bottle caps
Strawberry or cherry tomato baskets
Old Christmas cards
Styrofoam trays
Mesh bags from fruit
Labels from canned goods
Broken/old jewelry
Old keys

June 16, 2004

Art Studio Make-Over

In a few weeks I'll begin my studio room make-over. I found this inspiration photo. My studio walls will be turquiose, the ceiling soft pink, and the door, trim, and curtains lime green. And of course, my art studio won't be nearly as neat and clean *lol*. I can't seem to work in an area that's too tidy. I guess that's why the name cHaoTiC aRtwOrKs seemed to fit so well.

June 05, 2004

Junkie looking for a Fix!

This is a picture of my old studio - disorganized, small, cluttered (and surprisingly I work best in "clutter"). I'm giving my studio a major cleaning and clearing out. All of my art supplies have been pulled from their old nesting spots and are scattered about in boxes, waiting for their new and better home. And suddenly I have an overwhelming urge to create something - after months of
"artists block."

Yes. Now that I can't get to most of my supplies my mind is overflowing with cool, creative ideas for future projects - and I'm ready to tear my hair out! I found some empty snow globes that hold photo's and want to use them to create altered art pieces. I want to try my hand at making felt food, and want to work on the chunky/fat book I started at the end of last year. And then there's the board book I just purchased from Skybluepink... I have a ton of ideas for that.

I can only hope my muse hold's out until after the renovation is completed.

May 28, 2004

What Is Altered Art? Assemblage?

Altered Art

Altered art embraces many art forms, but most closely resembles a combination of mixed media and collage genres. Altered art can also be a form of recycling, or a way to use everyday objects in an unusual or unique way. It can give a new life to old items through the use of techniques and combinations of techniques - the result being a creative and artistic piece. Usually flat, and two-dimensional, altered artwork can also include found objects. In short, altered art is taking an item or items, adding to them, combining them, rearranging them, and creating a piece of artwork.

In the example on the right, I used a vintage bingo card from a 1936 Milton Bradley game I purchased on eBay. I added a vintage image, fabric wings, a metal wand, beads, a glass vial, star brads, a plastic bingo chip, a crown charm, and then added a wire hanger.


Assemblage is a cousin to collage, and is an artistic process of which a three-dimensional composition is made from putting together several found objects. Common, or even uncommon, objects are assembled together, and used to make jewelry (such as bottlecaps), shadow-box assemblages, or can be found in the form of an altar and shrine. This type of artwork is generally comprised of natural or manufactured materials, or a combination of both.

I made this piece for a friend who was in need of something to put on the wall of a seaside bedroom. I started with a wooden 8x10 shadowbox, painted it, papered it, glittered it, and glued the wooden "Dream" cut out to the top. I then filled it with things related to the sea; fish charms, a message bottle (that I first decorated), real seashells and starfish, a wooden treasure chest, beads, pearls, fishing net, vintage images, rhinestones and seashell trim.


Just about any objects can be used to create altered art or assemblage pieces. If you're going for a certain theme, group like objects together. An eclectic piece doesn't require similitude.

Found objects are an intregal part of altered art. You can buy faux vintage images and metal whatnots, but the beauty of altered art is in re-using otherwise discarded materials: old magazines, broken jewelry and dolls, fabric scraps.

Creating an altered art or assemblage piece can be a way to creatively preserve family history, special people or events, or to display a collection.

May 19, 2004

Choosing Your Art and/or Craft

I love arts and crafts. My biggest hurdle has been in deciding what type of arts and crafts to pursue because I like so many. I suppose I could try all of the arts and crafts I'm interested in, but I'm not sure that would be wise. Some artforms are easier than others, some require a lot of work space, and some are more expensive than others - and that is certainly something to consider. I made a list of of arts and crafts I've tried or already do, and a list of those I'd like to try or do. This list should help you determine what arts and crafts would best suit you, your budget, and your storage and workspace constraints.

Once you've listed the arts and crafts you've tried, mark off those that you didn't enjoy doing, didn't do well at, or found couldn't do at all. For example: I learned to knit when I was eight years old. It was an easy art/craft to learn, but I didn't really enjoy it. A few years later, I learned to crochet. I enjoyed that much more than knitting, and found it was easier for me to do. Another example was when I learned to do embroidery. I enjoyed that and found it easy to do. Later I tried counted cross stitch with equal results. A similar craft I also tried was latch hook rug making. It was an easy craft but I found I didn't get much enjoyment from it and rugs just really didn't seem to be my thing. Neither was silkscreen - too messy, need too much equipment that you have to buy and store, and you need lots of space for need space for items to dry.

Now make a list of all the arts and crafts you'd like to try. Think about each craft and how it may be similar to something you've done before. Did you enjoy the craft you did that was similar? Was it something you did well?

You'll need to consider a few factors in deciding what arts and crafts to pursue are:

A. How much will this art/craft cost?
B. Do I have room in my house, garage, basement, etc., to pursue this craft?

I like doing ceramics. Ceramics, however, is not the best choice for me. Making things from ceramics is quite expensive. You have to buy the greenware and paint, and then pay to have the pieces fired, once or twice, unless you purchase your molds and kiln. Very, very expensive. You also need room to store your greenware and paints and a large enough workspace to hold your wares. I have pottery listed in things I want to try. Pottery is very similar to ceramics. You need clay, a potters wheel, and then have to get the pieces fired. So for me, pottery is not really a realistic option. To satisfy my urge, I could enroll in a pottery class and make a few pieces without having to invest much. I may do that someday, but it's not high on my priority list considering I probably would not make it a lifelong pursuit.

One of my favorite forms of artwork is paper crafts. I enjoy card making, scrapbooking, collage, and making ATC's (artist trading cards). Paper is not expensive, it's easy to store, and you can do a ton of different things with it. And then there's paper mache - a nice way to put your old newspaper to good use. So pursuing paper crafts, such as card making, scrapbooking, making ATC's and ACEO's are definite - origami is an option. I've never tried it but am not interested in folding paper.

Altered art is basically taking an object and giving it new life, making it into something else.... ART! Since most altered pieces begin with what most people term "junk", it's readily available, or can be had from a thrift store or garage sale at rock bottom prices. You can store as little or as much as you want and it doesn't require a large workspace. Some commercial grade glue, found objects, paint, paper, and a great imagination are all you really need to get started. I tried my hand at altered art because I didn't really need to buy anything. Ialready had so many things handy that I could use.

Woodworking and metal work would require space, materials and expensive tools. Oil paints, brushes and canvas can get expensive and require a fair amount of space. Cake decorating supplies can get expensive and you have to have a good amount of space to store the decorations and cakes - and I'm short on space. I'll have to put these arts/crafts at the bottom of my list.

I have dabbled with mosaic tiles but that was years ago. Its a craft I've thought about taking up but with the expense of tiles, I decided to try paper mosaic. I already have a ton of paper I can cut into tiny pieces and use the same way I would tiles. Tole painting is high on my list because I have acrylic paints and would only have to take a class, buy an instruction book or find a good website to learn the basics. Glass cutting and floral arrangements wouldn't require a huge investment and are also something I could teach myself to do.

Since I already own a digital camera and can print my own pictures photography is something I have considered. I have thought about taking a community enrichment class through my local school system. The class cost about $50 and lasts from 6-12 weeks, which puts photography high on the possibilities list. Candle and soap making are of interest, but again I would have to weigh out the costs of materials and space needed for this craft. Polymer clay art and jewelry making don't require a large work space, and can be done for a reasonable price, althought you can spend a lot if choose to.

Having thought this out, I now have a better idea of what arts and/or crafts would probably suit my budget, workspace and storage constraints, and skill level best.

May 01, 2004

cHaoTic aRtwOrKs - Art They Never Told You About

Spark your creative imagination!

I've been a self-representing artist for over 30 years. Creating art has always been a way of life. I come from a long line of painters, musicians and metal sculptors. As a small child I learned that my artwork would draw much attention, and not always positive, when I was creating masterpieces on my bedroom wall. Now that I'm grown, I use a different canvas for creating artwork.

I moved from pencil and charcoal drawings to writing during my teen years. After several attempts to write the perfect novel, and stalling after the second chapter, I finally put down my pen. I turned my attention back to the visual arts and began creating collage and mixed media artwork. A few years ago I discovered scrapbooking. It was during my search for scrapbook items and embellishments that I discovered ATC's, better known as artist trading cards. ATC's led me to art squared, assemblage, and altered art.

As any artist knows, supplies can be expensive. Being thrifty and resourseful, I've created, and stumbled upon, many ways to save money. The purpose of my blog is to share that information with you.