Monday, May 16, 2016

Exploring Dendritic Painting

My online blogging and mail art friend, Jewels, over at Just Tickety-Boo, introduced me to the idea of dendritic painting.  She sent me a link to a You Tube video by Mike at Atomic Shrimp.  In under four minutes, Mike introduces a painting technique that kept me playing around for hours!

When I decided to give dendritic painting a try, I set up my workshop/play space in the kitchen, rather than my cream-color-carpeted art studio, for perhaps obvious reasons.

I gathered some favorite supplies:

         1.  paintbrushes (in a stylish storage pot)--
          2. a selection of papers (including watercolor, acrylic, Bristol, text,
          tag, and scrapbooking cardstock)--
          3. and a worktop protected by paper grocery bags, a huge supply
          of acrylic tube paints (thanks to my sister, two Christmases ago),
          and--most importantly--two pieces of 8x10 inch glass pilfered from
          some old picture frames in the basement--
Here is the basic process for how dendritic painting works:

Step 1: Squeeze a small amount of acrylic paint in one or several colors onto one piece of glass, and move it around with your paintbrush for roughly even coverage:
Step 2: Place the second piece of glass onto the first piece of glass, and hold down firmly so all parts of the surfaces touch one another. Often, but not always, I could see the interesting patterns start to emerge at this stage.
Step 3: Carefully pull the two pieces of glass apart, not letting them slide across one another; the trick is to be sure that one piece lifts directly off the top of the other.  At first I tried using the Xacto knife and the steel triangle above to help me, but I found it easier just to set the two pieces of glass off center from one another and pull them apart at the corners with my fingers.
Step 4: Take a moment to enjoy the interesting "dendritic" designs that remain on the glass.  Dendrites, as I understand it, are the branches that come out of a nerve cell. Rocks and minerals can also form these tree-like, branching patterns.  They have a wonderful organic, though amazingly precise, appearance that becomes even more evident in the next step.
Step 5: Place your chosen type of paper over the top of the paint-covered glass, and use your fingertips to gently press the paper to the paint.  I watched Mike's video, as well as videos by two different women using his technique, and everyone emphasized applying very little pressure to the paper. I found that my results were better when I was moved my fingers around slowly but firmly in all areas of the paper.  Carefully peel the paper up to see your print.
And because you have a second piece of glass, you can take a second print, which will offer something of a mirror image, with some color variables, for another piece of paper.
I think the results of this painting technique are quite amazing, especially looking close up at the branch-like effects:
In the sample above, I used three different colors, but mixed them pretty thoroughly on the glass.  For this next example, I kept three different colors in separate strips:
 Here were the resulting prints this time:
 Again, look at the amazingly detailed branch patterns:
 Some of my very favorite prints came from combinations of greens on the glass:
Greens are a natural choice for these kinds of patterns:
Don't these look like mountain ranges?
I thought for sure the paints on this glass wouldn't make a good print because they were so thick:
But the print came out very thickly textural, and still quite detailed:
After about two hours of playing around, I had a whole breakfast table full of papers using the dendritic painting technique:
Here are some other papers from the new collection:
 Gold paint on purple scrapbooking cardstock--royal!
 Black ink on French text page--interesting!
 White paint on blue cardstock--frosty!
A set of three different papers--cheerful!:
My kitchen work space survived its first experience with dendritic painting pretty well; it is surprisingly easy to clean up after (though I used a lot more paper towel than my environmentally-concerned self was totally comfortable with).  I think it will be seeing more of the technique in the future, since I had so much fun with it.
I will be using some of my prints to create mail art--at least one piece to send to Jewels!--so stay tuned for the finished results.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Adventures in Jewelry-Making

If you read my Living Stones blog during my Drawing Near hiatus, you are familiar with the Word of the Year group that I belong to.  Each of our members has chosen a Word for the Year, and we are meeting face-to-face four times during 2016 to share our progress and our projects, and offer each other encouragement.  Every month in between meetings, we are emailing a partner, and responding to prompts that keep us thinking about our words; some of us are also keeping journals to record our experiences with our words.

During the month of March, we had a kind of "choose-your-own-adventure" prompt, with several project options.  One of the possibilities was to make our own piece of jewelry that featured our word in some way.  Though I've dabbled in a few jewelry-making projects (enough to have purchased many of the tools and supplies associated with jewelry-making...ha!), I don't consider jewelry my strong suit.  I figured that with a little help from Pinterest, though, I would be able to identify a project within my skill boundaries.

I scanned my Jewelry Projects Pinterest board, and came across a link to Adrianne's book page necklace project at Happy Hour Projects.  It sent me dashing to my supply stash, as I remembered certain creative supplies that I've been hoarding, unused, for probably eight years.
These are Inkssentials Memory Glass and Frames from Ranger.  The packaging itself gave me an idea for my project:  I would choose one of my vintage photos, cut out the definition of CONTENTMENT (my Word for the Year) from one of my dictionaries, and create a necklace that melded the ideas from Adrianne's post with the Ranger packaging.
My first step was to search my photo collection for faces that spoke "contentment" to me.  There were several strong contenders in my collection:
Even though I didn't end up using these, I just had to share these lovely, contented faces from the past.
In the end, I went in an entirely different direction.  I have two pages of "Transparent Winged Cuties" produced by ArtChix Studio (also purchased many, many years ago!), and I thought one of the figures would be perfect to use since the dictionary definition could then show through.
I did a simple bit of measuring, cutting, and layering between the glass slides before popping the whole thing into the frame, creating the main part of my contentment-themed necklace.  My next step was to follow Adrianne's directions for adding a "hope" charm and a bead at the top.
Sweet, don't you think?

To read more about our April Word for the Year meet-up, you can visit my Living Stones blog post here!

I enjoyed this project so much, and had all the tools and materials out and ready, so I made one additional necklace with a vintage photo.
Meet Gertrude and Curt.  I didn't make those names up!  The names were written on the back of the photo, and I was able to use them on the backside of this pendant:
To embellish this necklace I used a bead and a "bliss" charm that reflected the happy faces of young love so many decades ago!

If I manage to find more of these frames and glass, I could imagine making many, many more pendants from my collection of vintage photos.

What do you think?  What materials from your stash would make their way onto your pendants?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Playing Around in Nature: Container Gardening!

I know that many people think of things they want to do, but then don't do them.

I, on the other hand, have a tendency to want to want to do things, but just don't really want to.

Weird, right?

For example, I would always see people jogging on the sidewalk while I was driving down the road, and I wanted to want to jog, but I just really didn't actually want to.

And I would see people's beautiful yards, and I would want to want to garden, but I just never had much interest in it.

One by one, my wanting to want is turning into "want", and then "do."

(You're following this, right?)

Not only did I take up jogging about five years ago, but this spring I'm actually pretty excited about getting a container garden started in my back yard, tucked up next to my garage.
My container garden, one day old
I chose the spot because I can see it from the kitchen window, the family room window, the patio, and every time I head to the car.  I get absolutely the maximum pleasure from my herbs, plants, and flowers in this location.
Wandering Jew and LAVENDER!
In all of these photos, my little garden is just one day old.  Many of the plants I chose will grow, mound, trail, and vine, so I'm expecting a little more full and wild look in a couple of months.
Thyme, rosemary, basil and parsley
Calibrachoa on the right next to the lavender, with ivy in the planter behind
I don't really know what to expect, because it's all new to me, but I have some healthy herbs growing out there, and some happy looking flowers; now I just need to keep them that way!
A little Creeping Jenny tucked under the table, with a Calibrachoa hybrid on top of the table, at right
Et voila!  My container garden attempt has begun....