Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adding Art

Okay, so maybe I've regressed to childhood.  I play with dolls.  I've re-discovered the joys of cutting paper apart and pasting it back together.  And why do we ever stop making mud-pies??  Oh, the beauty of trading cards!  In other words, I've found a way to sneak up on the visual arts and am having the most fun. Mostly.

It all really started last spring with the graduation scrapbook for my youngest. Said scrapbook still isn't made, of course, but that's where it started. For reasons I can't even remember, I decided to wander into the local rubber stamp store. They had just moved to their new location and weren't totally set up for business, but off in a corner was a sample book made of 4" by 4" coasters and mixed media.  Beside the sample were kits for the book. I fell in love, snatched up one of the kits and headed for the cash register. I was somewhat discouraged from buying the kit as it had been a class kit and the class was long past. Nobody in the store knew how to make it up.  So I bought it anyway.  For several weeks I'd pull it out, spread the contents over my desk, look at it, get overwhelmed and put it away.  Then I finally started work. Oh, I did it my way... which means I mis-read the instructions and did a page or two in a way that made sense to me. These are some of my favorite pages, needless to say. I had to learn to emboss metal, dye it with alcohol inks. paint on paper with alcohol inks and distress / age photos and papers. And I began my battle with adhesives.

It was easier in kindergarten. You used Elmer's school paste and that was that.  Now there's a bewildering array of glues, pastes, tape runners, etc. just waiting to... ahem... entrap the unwary. For scrapbooking, I prefer a repositionable tape runner. So heading off to mixed media, I simply bought the permanent version of the same thing. Sigh. There's sticky and then there's hopelessly stuck.  Zero open time, zip repositionablity and the dispenser gunks up hopelessly slightly before the end of the tape roll. It's one of the few things I'll allow my husband to clean - he whose first level cleaner of choice is rubbing alcohol. And then when you think it's stuck, you're stuck with corners that come unstuck.  Liquid glues cause paper to buckle and curl. Pastes remind me of kindergarten. Glue sticks don't stick. What's a girl to do? I did eventually find an answer - YES! paste, slightly doctored.

Then there are cutters.  Did you know it's impossible to find a cutter that actually cuts at perfect right angles? Which reminds me of my brother's lack of concern with level. How can something be level when you're standing on a ball? Probably the same thing with right-angle cutters. I did find the perfect pair of scissors - the "remove 'em from my art table and die" scissors. Add an Xacto knife, clay blade, dull table knife and you're probably there.

Anyway, after trial, tribulation, and lots of fun, I completed the book - Divas from Gecko Galz. And fell in love. While working on that book, I came up with ideas for five or six more, one of which I made and others still waiting in the wings. Up next was a book celebrating two decades of friendship - a gift to my best friend.


I collected friendship quotes from the internet and raided my stash for images of friends. The book took a while to come together, but not terribly long.  As usual, if I had it to do over, I would have done some things differently.  If that ever changes, I'll stop making things. It was a wildly successful gift, for which I'm grateful and should hopefully be featured in a technique book somewhere down the line.

The Birthday Book

Next up was a book celebrating my son's 23rd birthday. This was an exercise in Steampunk, something I'm really getting to enjoy. I collected images of him through his life doing Steampunk-y things - his early infatuation with trains, his "magic show" at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, his animated "float" for the shoebox Fiesta parade. It was such fun giving him both this book and my husband's Steampunk Birthday Card - weighing in at five pounds made of metal, gears, pipes, gauges and valves.  Did I mention SuperGlue and epoxy are his adhesives of choice? That and welding...

During one of my many visits to Stamp Antonio, I noticed two things that grabbed me. One was a display advertising an upcoming class, the other was the flyer announcing the themes for the ATC group. First I had to learn what an ATC was. Enter, stage left, the return of trading cards!  Artist Trading Cards (ATC's) are trading card-size pieces of artwork intended to be traded, never sold, and to convey something of an artist's style. They can be traded for the joy of it, or can be used as business cards. I casually mentioned that I might like to participate some time and, wham!  I found myself signed up for September's swap, both themes.

So to get started, I made my son an ATC to tuck into a pocket I hadn't realized needed to be in his book. That went okay, so I decided to stay signed up for both ATC themes.  The first was Black and White, a theme I almost dropped out of.  The second was Ancient Civilizations and Cultures.  I thought number 2 would be a shoe-in.  Silly me.  The Black-and-White idea came easily, although the execution took a bit of trial and error. Maybe what helped was a rant to my daughter by her father. His typical theme when running me down is "black is black and white is white and right is right and wrong is wrong."  Black is black and white is white, eh?  Don't we all wish life were that simple. So what are they... and here came a thought from a long-forgotten and not-loved philosophy class... but points on a continuum?  Hmm...  So I incorporated that idea, chess, and the yin/yang symbol and here we are:

Points on a Continuum

The Ancient Civ theme took forever, but it finally came, too. Ancient Greece?  Rome??  Egypt?  In the total history of the human race, they're yesterday. I thought of the stories I've told and how the same stories appear across cultures.  Where did they come from? Tales around a campfire? I think reading Gene Kranz's Failure Is Not An Option may have gotten me thinking about the stars and the stories people tell. Did you know Orion is the oldest recorded constellation in its current configuration? It was called the Shepherd by the Sumarians in the earliest records we have of star-stories.  So I took a star chart of Orion and built a card around him.
We Were First

The colors actually are much richer than show in this photo. The card is in its protective sleeve which dulls it somewhat.

And the next adventure? That class that I, sadly, didn't get to take. Building small shrines from polymer clay tiles. I couldn't take the class since we were busy moving my daughter to college that weekend, but I snatched up the book and started on my own.

And that's a story for another day.

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