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.