Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Alternatives to Rubber Stamp Carving

On Black Friday, I treated myself to some discounted online workshops from North Light Shop, which carries products and classes for Cloth Paper Scissors.  Among the {ahem} eight downloads I purchased, was Playful Printmaking with Dina Wakley.

I've been putting her class instruction to use in my art room, finding some interesting alternatives to carving my own rubber stamps for making original prints on papers for my art journaling and collage creations.

Without giving away all of her workshop secrets, I wanted to share some of the new things that have found their way onto my work table.

First, I created some monoprinting tools by cutting shapes out of thick watercolor paper (Dina used tag board, otherwise known as manila file folder, but it didn't prove thick enough to make a good print for me so I opted for something thicker) and gluing them down onto pieces of tag board.
My experiment with tag board-on-tag board
My experiment with watercolor paper-on-tag board
By applying paint with a brayer, the tag board creates a kind of stamp for monoprinting onto art paper.
My first run was more about trying the technique than producing something I plan to use for a specific project.  Some of the papers were kind of pretty, though some were a bit of a hot mess.  I think I need to spend some more time looking at Dina Wakley's work to see how this style of printing works with her art journaling style.
Next, I tried using a pen to press designs into regular old foam, like I find in the kids' section at the craft store.  I found this technique a little more promising. I could use some of the same designs I've used when carving stamps into rubber, only this process is MUCH less labor intensive!
Both of these are designs I've carved into rubber before.
It sounds like these stamps should last for quite a little while, making impressions for months and even years to come (whereas the tag board stamps don't stand the test of time quite so well).
The main thing for me has just been getting back into my art room!  I'm not sure what causes the procrastination; what crazy person puts laundry and house cleaning ahead of art time?!?

At the risk of dooming my intentions to failure by making them into New Year's Resolutions, I'd like to see 2017 be a year of increased art-making, even if it's only an excuse to get my hands into their preferred state of paint-y and glue-y-ness!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Making Books From Collected ATCs

Where does the time go?!

It is almost December, and I have so many different posts swirling around in my head. It's clearly time to sit down and share a project I've had in mind to tell you about for a couple of months now!
Remember this gem of a book? It gave me ideas for my booklace projects, and other bookbinding inspiration.

When author and bookbinder Erin Zamrzla suggested a Little League Score Book, I thought, "Well, I sure don't have any baseball trading cards to make that." But then it occurred to me that Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) I have received from my creative friends would make perfect book covers for this project.
There is artwork from Karen Ann Young, Steph Dodson (where did you go, Steph? I can't find you online!), Ronica Jones, and Rhonda H represented in these books.
The ATCs provide the front and back covers, while card stock is used to create the spine. A fairly simple ledger binder (i.e., pamphlet stitch) is used to sew the text weight paper together inside. 
I really like the fact that I've found a way to use the art that has been shared with me, rather than just tucking it away to look at when I think to pull out the ATCs I have stored away.  These notebooks are an ideal way to enjoy the art during everyday moments of life.
There is also one ATC that was created as a demonstration piece at the Invoke Arts table at a rubber stamp show I attended many years ago, as well.
I absolutely love how these little books turned out, and the 3-1/2 inch by 2-1/2 inch size makes a reasonable size for ideas, notes, and jottings.
For more bookbinding inspiration, please visit my Book and Journal Making board on Pinterest; there are enough ideas there to keep me busy for the rest of my days!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Makery @ Middletown: Paper-Making

Handmade papers from a local library workshop
I have discovered yet another reason to love my local library!

The Middletown Free Library offers a full roster of Makery events, bringing the arts and crafting to our local community through free adult programming.  Recently I attended a workshop with my mother where we made our own paper.  I had tried this years ago, with all the "right" supplies, and wasn't particularly pleased with my results.  Here we used some interesting "around the house" sorts of supplies, and I really like the papers I created!
The workshop was held in the cinder-block basement of the library, with a well-tarped floor to capture our wet mess-making.  Each table held two or three large tubs (like you might use to store decorations or out-of-season clothing) filled with water.  Alongside each tub, we were provided with a framed screen, loose screen, a towel, and a sponge.
Here I am, ready for some paper-making!
For our first step, we chose paper scraps to throw into the blender with water to create our paper pulp. (We burned out one blender motor right away, and were left with a single machine to share!)

Then we dumped the blender carafe of pulp into our plastic tub of water.  The next step is to dunk our framed screen under the water, drawing pulp up onto it as we bring it back above the surface.
Pulp on the screen with petal and tea leaf embellishments
At this point, we could add "goodies" from the table up front: petals, grass, tea leaves, glitter.  By pressing these add-ons gently into the pulp, they became part of the handmade paper.
Table of inspiration and embellishments
We then put a screen over our paper creation and gently pressed the sponge onto the screen, causing excess water to fall out the bottom and back into the tub. Sometimes, when there was very little water left, I continued to press the sponge onto the screen on top of a towel to soak up the last drops.
Using a sponge to push out as much water from the pulp as possible
When we had as much water as possible pressed out of the paper, we turned the framed screen over onto an unframed piece of screen and "encouraged" the paper off of it.
Some paper required more "encouraging" than others to get it to come off the screen!
This unframed screen was then set aside onto newspaper to allow our handmade paper to dry.
My handmade papers drying on the floor of our workroom
It took a very long time for my papers to dry; they sat out on my kitchen island continuing the drying process once I got home, and I wouldn't say they were fully dry until I woke up the next morning.

And what a stack of interesting handmade papers I had to show for my efforts!
A new stash of handmade art-making materials!
I haven't done anything with them yet, but I foresee using them in my art journal, as gift tags, and as parts of upcoming collage projects.

I love that the materials we used in the Middletown workshop were all easily accessible for someone at home--no big investment in supplies other than some screening from the hardware store.
More paper-makers at play 
My mom. Those water tubs didn't stay clean for long once we started playing with the pulp!
When the weather turns warm again and we can spend lots of time outdoors, I might even tackle this project with my kids!