Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tea for Two

Lately, it has been difficult for me to find any inspiration for my art projects.  I loved Tamara's "Tea for Two" theme.  Here is how she explained it: 

A song from the musical "No, No, Nanette" (1925) where two characters imagine their futures.  This song is one I was familiar with growing up and reminds me of all the great conversations and moments that occur while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee with a loved one.  My grandmother who I love dearly has also let me pick out tea cups from her collection over the years and I am often blown away by the colors and detailed art on these dainty dishes. Whether it is the act of having a cup of tea (or other beverage of choice) or teacups themselves, I hope you will find some inspiration in my theme.

 I do enjoy the pleasures of sitting with a friend over a cup of tea or coffee and catching up.  Those few hours together really strengthen the bonds of friendship and more importantly, make us feel connected.  But how to illustrate this in a chunky page?

To get over my mental block, I began by simply tea-dying my watercolor paper substrate hoping that would spark an idea.  I had some old 3-D stationery featuring a teapot, teacup and puppy which I decided to use as my focal point.  From there, I selected a few lace swatches to incorporate.  I selected a few quotes saved from used teabags to hang off of the teacup.  I assembled these pieces into the composition you see here.  On the back I hand-stamped a quote about friends and tea:

Past, present and future
Are in a cup of tea
Shared with a friend

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tribute to the Aloha Shirt

I had the hardest time trying to come up with my spread for Diane's "Mid-Century Modern" book.  Months ago, I had gotten this idea to make origami aloha shirts from Alfred Shaheen prints.  Alfred Shaheen was a pioneer in the field of fashion here in Honolulu in the 1960's and 70's.  His prints were bold and iconic.  Today, the aloha shirt remains the standard attire for Honolulu businessmen.

Also about the time I was making all of these origami aloha shirts, I bought a Tim Holtz  filmstrip die.  I started playing with the idea of fashion contact sheets and took several images of Shaheen and his design team, their factory, the models and fashion sketches and created a "filmstrip" by  reducing their size and printing them out onto transparencies.

I liked all of the elements that I had created, but I just couldn't figure out how to pull it all together into a cohesive Mid-Century Modern piece.  Since Diane's book is nearly full and only a few blank pages remain, I turned my focus to creating a larger space in which to work.  After all, I had already made 16 aloha shirts and 9 filmstrips!

I grabbed a stack of pages that I had removed from another altered book and to my surprise, there were two chapter pages that had been removed which were titled "The Craft" and "The Men."  Well now THAT got me thinking...Shaheen, the Man and the Aloha Shirt, the Craft.  I used those two title pages to create a foldout which gave me a large enough area to work with.

As you can see, I used the filmstrips to illustrate the "craft" and the "man."  Those title pages open up to reveal a four-page spread.  I used an old map of downtown Honolulu for the background and sprinkled my origami aloha shirts all over town.  Thanks to Alfred Shaheen, the aloha shirt was and still is Honolulu's official business attire.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

It's Written in the Cards

Mari's "Double, Double, Toil & Trouble" book gave me the perfect opportunity to do a spread with Tarot cards.  I have long been intrigued by the Tarot.  I don't know much about them but I love all the beautiful decks of Tarot cards.  

For this spread, I used Inka Gold to color my background pages.  Then I took images of Tarot cards from a book I found on Tarot.  I reduced the images and ran them off on cardstock.  I cut out four sets of the Major Arcana to use in this spread.  I thought this simple pop-up format would be a fun way to show off all of the different designs.  There are 22 in the Major Arcana alone!  I attached the cards with foam core mounting squares to give it even more of a 3-D effect.  My technique and materials are included on the back side of the pop-up.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Weathered Beauty

Talk about serendipity!  My next hybrid chunky page was for Su and her theme was Weathered Beauty.  Can you guess what I did?  Since I was already boiling books, I stuck a few more remnants into the pot thinking I would be able to use something for Su's chunky page.

I selected one 4 x 4 panel and wanted to create a Haiku poem for my page.  I am not a huge poetry person, but I started out by writing short phrases relating to weathered beauty.  Elegant decay, discarded, rotting, abandoned...In the end, I came up with two poems that I liked, but this one suited Su's theme the best:

Rotting and exposed
Revealing nature's beauty
The magic unfolds

I printed my Haiku poem onto vellum and embellished it with a twig I found on my morning walk.  I used wire to attach the poem to a smaller 3 x 3 panel.  I then used foam mounts to place the 3 x 3 onto the 4 x 4 to complete my chunky page for Su.   I chose not to cover the leaf impression you see on the back of the page.  Boiling books is a lot like Christmas.  You never know what you are going to get until after the boiling is done and you open up the pages!

Arting with Mom

My Mom and I spent a day last week making art!  Our day together gave me the opportunity to finally tackle one of projects I had been meaning to do for the longest time.  She is an avid water color painter and once upon a time, she had made these cute little purse-shaped covers from a few of her discarded water color paintings.  I thought that they would make a nice housing for a "pocket" book (no pun intended).  Still in my napkin transfer mode, I gathered some beautiful autumn colored napkins to match the purse template you see here.  

I covered 8 business sized envelopes with the napkins to create the 16 pocket book and glued it into the purse.  We made one for her and one for me.

Mom also likes to make tags out of her water color scraps, so we picked out a few tags and slipped them into our little tag books!

Mom had wanted me to teach her how to make boiled books, so that was our next project.  I had gathered some plant material from my neighborhood before heading over to her house.  We spent time sorting through the leaves and flowers trying to decide what to use for our boiled books.  I had pre-cut several "meandering" books from water color paper.  I also made a few more with some of Mom's scraps.  Note: making boiled books is quite a production so when you decide to make them, make several at a time!

Here are some of the books we made that afternoon.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Original Bad Girl

The Altered Ladies' Second AB RR is about to begin.  We have a group of 13 players, including some new faces!  Everyone has selected their books, chosen their themes and the rotation will officially get underway this weekend!

It was downright painful deciding on a theme for my book!  I initially thought I was going to do "Rock Paper Scissors," but that turned out to be a dud of a theme for me.  Then I had this other fabulous idea, but decided to save it for when I had more time to prepare my book for that theme.  In the end, I picked up a copy of Stieg Larsson's "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" and immediately, the theme "Bad Girls" came to mind.  The more I thought about bad girls, the more I liked this theme.

I created a prompt page on the inside front cover.  I painted the background with gray acrylic paint and then used a brick pattern rubber stamp to build my brick wall.  I was envisioning a wall full of graffiti and a collection of posters.  I listed my prompts on posters I made and placed them on my wall.

My sign-in page is located on the back inside cover.  It mimics the graffiti wall on the front inside cover.

How could I resist featuring Eve and the Garden of Eden for my initial spread?  After all, she is the original Bad Girl!  I used a napkin transfer for my background.

I cut out (free hand) a serpent using this snake print duct tape.  His eyes are black swarovski crystals.  The apple is from a book jacket I had.

Eve is an image that I printed out onto tissue paper.  I had to glue a few additional sheets of plain white tissue behind the image so that she would not disappear completely into the background.  For the longest time, I felt that this page was missing something, but I didn't know what it was--until I was shopping in my favorite thrift store and saw a woman who had grabbed a handful of artificial ivy vines!  At that moment, I knew I had to get my hands on some of that ivy, but the woman was going to buy it all!  My girlfriend and I scoured the store and found several other types of artificial plants before we finally spotted a small bunch of ivy that the woman had apparently overlooked!  The size of these ivy leaves was perfect for my spread.  I used a vine to frame Eve in the Garden of Eden.  I had to peel apart the pages I had already glued together, but now my spread was complete.

I created a pocket behind the left side of the page to hold a card that explains my technique and the materials I used.

Monday, September 30, 2013


I absolutely LOVE how this spread turned out!  (I think Pam's gonna like it too!)  Pam's theme is "Definitions" and her book is a dictionary.  There are several parts to it, so the artists in this AB RR were given the "d," "f" and "i" sections to alter.

I had stumbled across a beautiful definition of the word "Inspiration" awhile back: "Inspiration: Revelation a divine influence arouses feelings awakening creative vision."  I tucked it away from safekeeping thinking I would have the opportunity to use it in a project one day.  Pam's book provided me with the perfect opportunity to bust it out--especially since "inspiration" was included in the sections we had been given to work in and, nobody had taken it yet!

I had also found these two head images in a magazine last year and kept them knowing that I would be able to use them in a future spread.  This was it!  I liked the idea of putting them face-to-face (more like nose-to-nose).  Then I cut a window in the head on the left to reveal the definition of inspiration in the dictionary.  The definition on the dictionary page (in the box behind her mouth) could not have been more perfectly centered!  I used a packing tape transfer for the two heads.  

To highlight the definition that I found, I die cut letters (did you know there are 12 i's and 12 e's?) and colored them with Distress Stain (red brick) so they would be better visualized.  I glued them down along the outline of the heads.

Once in awhile, a spread comes together rather effortlessly.  Here is an example of how previously "saved" elements magically came together and allowed me to create this beautifully "inspiring" spread.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A (Very) Loosely Interpreted Self-Portrait

So I was tasked with doing a self-portrait chunky page for Hope this month...I gotta tell you, I am NOT my favorite subject!  Unlike the other players, I was determined NOT to be so literal and use an image of myself to create my self-portrait.  But, what to do, what to do?

I had been playing around with napkin transfers for an AB I was preparing for another RR and found myself drawn to an unusual Halloween themed napkin I had in my stash:  a burning Jack-O-Lantern.  I liked the flames.  I started to tear the napkin into long strips and began gluing them down onto a 4" x 4" piece of watercolor paper.  Fire, burning...They say the eyes are the windows to one's soul, so I decided to use a transparency of an eye as an overlay and came up with this very loose interpretation of "self-portrait."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Boiled Books...Round Two

I have found boiling books to be a relaxing way to spend a lazy afternoon.  Here is how I spent a recent Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fashion Tips...for Witches!

Sue's Hybrid Chunky theme was a little unusual.  It's a Witches' Handbook.  Tips for how to be a better witch, I suppose--at least that was my interpretation of her theme.

Knowing that she didn't want anything too "Halloweeny" or too "scrapbooky," I started thinking about what a witch should know.  I kept coming back to this idea of "proper witch's attire."  How to dress the part.  Eventually, this idea blossomed into fashion colors that were in season and how to wear them.

I found this gorgeous selection of ribbon trim in purples and lime greens.  I imagined a witch's basic black skirt accented with these bold colors.  At first, I wanted to be able to showcase several different styles, but the format of this chunky page is rather limiting (4" x 4").  Despite my idea to have a meandering book, I just felt it would get way too bulky and cumbersome to fold up all the pages and expect them to stay closed.

I ended up abandoning my idea of displaying more than one fashion style.  I decided to go simple and I am happy with how it turned out.  I used an old scarf as the base for my witch's black skirt.  I then added 6 rows of different trim alternating purple and lime.  I wanted to demonstrate how this season's hottest colors can be mixed and matched and even worn with a witch's signature black and white striped stockings.  I placed black boots on her feet and embellished them with black brads.

My description on the back reads:

Emerald Green is SO last season.
Show off your Wicked Witch’s Wardrobe this fall with the boldest brews of the year!
Passionate purples and luscious limes are casting spells all over the Salem runways.
Mix and match them.
Pair them with your favorite stockings.
The possibilities are endless!
Bring out your Inner Sorceress as you seduce them with your signature style!

Now, THAT's a well-dressed witch!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

At the Aquarium

I am going to be having a series of challenging altered book themes to work in the upcoming months.  The first of which was the Octopus book.  I mean how many different interpretations can there be for an octopus book?  How to make it fresh?

Well, I started by searching for pictures of octopuses that I liked.  I settled on this guy.  A beautiful blue color and lots of detail.  He was a bit larger than the book, so I could only work with his front half.  I toyed with the idea of playing with texture--the suction cups on the tentacles--but how to do this?  Suction cups are usually stuck to something, but what?  Glass surfaces hold suction cups really well...hmmm, what about the glass at an aquarium?  Of course!  I had two scenes pop into my mind:  what a child sees from the outside of the glass looking in and what the octopus sees from inside the glass looking out.

I searched for children's faces squished up against the glass but in the end, settled for a silhouette.  In my experience, aquarium exhibits can be really dark.  Eventually, I chose the figures of these two children who looked mesmerized by the large, gentle creature.

My experiment with suction cups was an interesting journey.  I began by cutting up an old shower mat for the suction cups but they just weren't the right size.  It was Su who suggested I use a glue gun and that worked like a charm!  I blinged out the eye of the octopus and collaged some colored tissue strips onto my background to look like seaweed.  I printed the children's silhouettes onto a transparency for the aquarium glass (love the reflection off of it!).  To secure the transparency, I used metal tape which gives the impression of an aquarium tank.

Happily, I think I succeeded in creating an octopus spread with a fresh point of view!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Murder of Darlene Flynn

I can't tell you how long it took me to figure out what I was going to do in Mari's Murder Most Foul book for this month!  It might have been because I had just worked in it a month ago (for Lori).  As always, the inspiration eventually hit me.  This time it came in the form of a story I heard on the news.  It was about the recent murder of a Southern California woman named Darlene Flynn.  Darlene was an avid shoe collector.  In fact, she held the Guinness Book of World records for owning an astonishing 16,400 pairs of shoes!  This is her story...

Darlene Flynn, 58, was known among the collecting community as "The Shoe Lady" or "The Queen of Sole."

Ms. Flynn started her collection following  a divorce in 2001.

The pages fold upwards to read:
A near-obsessive shoe collector, Ms. Flynn sold decorative shoes and nearly every part of her home, including a purpose built garage, was covered in shoes or shoe-related paraphernalia.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, she first set the record for the largest shoe-related collection in 2006 with 7,765 items in her possession.

The pages below read:
By 2013, she had broken her own record with a collection of 16,400 pairs of shoes estimated to be worth about $500,000.

Among the more famous items are a replica of Cinderella's glass slipper, Dorothy's red shoes from the Wizard of Oz, an array of Betty Boop shoes and a vast collection of miniatures.

Next, the pages fold outwards to read from left to right:
Ms. Flynn and her boyfriend appeared on a cable television program entitled "My Collection Obsession."

On the show, her boyfriend discussed sharing his life with an "ultra-collector."  He was even filmed preparing her a shoe-shaped breakfast in bed.

She even named her dogs "Shoesy" and "Bootsy" in keeping with the theme.

Her goal was to "dance with Ellen DeGeneres in my light-up shoes!"

The middle pages then fold downward to read:

On July 22, 2013, Ms. Flynn was found dead in her backyard pool in Menifee, California under suspicious circumstances.  Initial police reports indicate she was killed as the result of blunt force trauma.

Her ex-boyfriend, Justin Charles Smith, 29, was arrested on charges of murder after he was seen fleeing the property.

The center section is finally revealed.  When the pages are fully opened, the spread looks like this:  

In the center, I placed the chalk outline of a dead body--wearing heels.  The body is surrounded by crime scene tape.  It reads:  "The Queen of Sole is Dead" and "I'll be surrounded by shoes when I die."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Playing With CitraSolv

 I can't believe I waited so long to experiment with CitraSolv!  One of my Altered Ladies friends sent me a coupon for $1 off a bottle, so with a little help from my co-worker, I finally found the product at Whole Foods.  My next mission was to head down to the annual Friends of the Library book sale and pick up a bunch of National Geographic magazines.  Apparently, the ink used in these magazines works best with CitraSolv.  The only thing missing was some art buddies to play with!

Last weekend, some art friends came over for a playdate.  Late in the day, I asked two of them if they wanted to play with my new bottle of CitraSolv.  No hesitation there!  First we tried to follow the tutorial in a recent Somerset Studios magazine issue.  That was not particularly helpful, so I turned to trusty YouTube for CitraSolv videos.  Seemed easy enough.

I gathered up the supplies we would need (besides the CitrSolv and magazines) like newspapers, spray bottles, and bubble wrap and plastic bags (for texture). We spent latter part of the afternoon happily spraying CitraSolv on pages of the magazines.  We tried to apply the CitraSolv with foam brushes but quickly learned that it was better to use the spray bottles to saturate the pages enough to yield results like you see in the images above.  You can also apply CitraSolv to individual pages that have been torn out of the magazine, but to be honest, leaving the entire magazine intact worked really well.  After liberally coating the colorful pages with CitraSolv, simply close the magazine and squeeze out as much excess liquid as you can.  Then wait 5 minutes or more before separating your pages.  

It was so exciting to see what surprises the CitraSolv created.  We used bubble wrap and plastic bags to add texture to the still-damp pages.  CitraSolv pages make for interesting, almost haunting backgrounds.  Some look like the cosmos, some resembled the skin of a reptile.  You can keep them as is or embellish over them.  Best of all, they are so much fun to make!