September 26, 2006

Hanging Small Format Art Cards

As you know, if you've ready my past posts, my favorite artwork pieces to create are art cards. Normally my art cards are small, about 4x6 inches or less. I have some larger pieces of heavy chipboard and decided to use those instead. The two cards below are approximately 7 x 8 inches (Nude Beach) and 6 x 6.5 inches (Paris). I enjoyed making these more than the smaller versions because the pieces I used in the collage were larger, and easier to handle.

For these cards, I placed the graphics so that they would extend beyond the border of the chipboard. I thought this gave the cards a unique look, being "outside the lines". After arranging the pieces in a pattern I was happy with, I glued them down - with the exception of a few pieces. I like to give my artwork a dimensional look. The vintage dancer and the Eiffel Tower were applied using 1/4 inch thick photo mounts, so they stand away from the background, and the same on Nude Beach with the vintage nude and the grandstand. After a light garnishing with embellishments they were finished!

September 14, 2006

Make an Altered Paper Mache Jewelry Box

My favorite place to shop for supplies is Craft's 2000. There are only three nationwide, and fortunately one is nearby. I bought several paper mache jewelry boxes for $1.99 each (at Michael's Craft Store they are either $2.99 or $3.99) and plan to list some on eBay and give some as Christmas gifts.

I found a piece of ocean/map themed scrapbook paper laying around that I've been dying to use, so my first jewelry box was one in a nautical theme. Excluding drying time, this project takes about 45 minutes to complete.

The first step is to paint the raw paper mache box with a thin coat of Gesso. I do this first to prevent the paint from soaking into the box, which will cause it to bubble (I learned this the hard way quite a while ago). Gesso dries quickly, sometimes while you're applying it, so use just a little at a time and keep the coat thin, or it too can cause your project to have bubbles. I let my box dry for half an hour before going further. Next, apply an acrylic paint. I used Sky Blue for this box, and it coordinated beautifully with my paper.

After the paint had plenty of time to dry, I added a thin coat of clear, matte varnish. I do this by using a stiff, flat paint/craft brush and apply the varnish to the brush, not the paper mache item. It's important with paper mache to keep coats of glue, paint and varnish very thin. If you apply too much (and "too much" can be very little) paper mache will bubble. Some prefer spray varnish. I've found that if I'm not careful in applying that, it too will bubble if I spray too long in one area. Liquid varnish works best for me.

I cut pieces of ivory colored felt to line my box and to line the ring holders but I suppose you could use scrapbook paper. That might not be the ideal thing to use for the ring holders but it would work for the bottom of the box. After you have cut the felt or paper and are sure it fits properly, use craft glue to adhere the felt or paper to the box. Spread the glue with a small, old paint brush (or newer brush, just remember to wash it out as soon as you're finished with it) - putting the glue on the brush first, then applying it to the item. Putting glue on the brush first keeps the glue lines from showing through your paper and felt, and makes it easier to get all the way into the corners.

While the inside was drying I cut pieces of my scrapbook paper to fit the sides and top of my box. Again, I used an old paint brush to thinly spread the glue to the areas where I would apply paper. After you've given the glued paper sufficient time to dry (I would wait at least an hour) apply another very thin layer of varnish over the areas where you've used paper.

Now for the fun part, the embellishments! I used thin twine to around the top and bottom of the box to create the look of rope. Next, I applied tiny seashells and starfish to the top using E6000 glue. Inside, the same, but added a pygmy seahorse. Let the box dry overnight before handling.

September 06, 2006

Altered Photo Frames

While at the craft store I ran across some unfinished wooden photo frames for $1 each at Michael's Craft Store. I thought they might be nice to alter since there is two inches of space around the frame. They measure 6 inches by 8 inches, hold a 4x6 inch photo, can stand on either the long or short side, or be
wall mounted.

These were very simple to make. I gave them a coat of acrylic paint (and crackled one), varnished them, then attached embellishments with E6000 glue. I love using silk or Prima Flowers, real seashells, Scrabble tiles, charms, and rhinestones in my creations.

I've been thinking of making a few as Christmas gifts. It would be very easy to personalize them for that special person or event. Some ideas I've thought of:

Football theme for my husband - I have a great picture of my hubby that I took while we were at a Detroit Lion's football game. You can see the field in the background. I may do a football themed frame for his picture.

Ballet theme for my granddaughter - My granddaughter takes ballet lessons and I have a studio picture that was taken of her in costume. A ballet themed frame would set the picture off nicely.

Animal theme for my dog's photo - I have a beautiful picture of my miniature schnauzer that I would love to put in a doggy themed frame.

Retro theme for my mom - I found an old photo of my mom taken in 1956. It would be fun to embellish a frame with things that brought back memories of her past.

Other great themes could be holidays (Easter, Christmas, etc.), a birthday, a birth, a wedding, or a a favorite hobby. You can really let your imagination run wild with themes for these frames. Happy crafting!

September 01, 2006

Michelangleo painted while lying on his back

...and I may be forced to do the same very soon.

It's been quite a while since I've been able to blog - or type, or do much of anything that requires using my hands or upper limbs. After my last blog entry I began having having some health issues with pain, numbness and weakness in my neck, hands and arms.
Relief comes from lying down, unfortunately, it is difficult to create artwork while on your back, unless, of course, you're Michelangelo and are painting the Sistine Chapel. I don't think this method would work while trying to create a collage, mixed media, or altered art piece, but, if forced in the future, I'll give it a try. The good news is that I've learned some ways to relieve the pain and numbness and am back to creating artwork, and blogging/typing!

I've always wanted to try my hand at creating pendants using domino game pieces. A friend found a couple of boxes of new, black wooden dominoes at a thrift store for .50 a box! I had a few ivory dominoes and some bamboo tiles with pre-drilled holes. Instead of drilling the wooden dominoes I decided to use a small bead as a bail, so I could string the pendant. The beads were attached to the dominoes with E6000 industrial strength glue. Since the bamboo tiles were pre-drilled, I simple threaded a length of cord through, and secured them with a bead before tying a small knot.

For the photos on the pendants, I measured the dominoes and bamboo tiles then printed a sheet of various scaled down graphics from my collection. These were attached on the plain side of the domino with craft glue, and once dry, were given a coat of varnish for protection. Glitter, charms and seashells were added last, attached with E6000. Finally, I cut lengths of cord found in the "jewelry findings" department of Michael's Craft Store.