Friday, January 10, 2014


I am taking Lisa Vollrath's "Year of Altered Books" on-line class.  Each month, she shares a technique that you can use to alter books.  

January's lesson--or should I say lessons--focuses on backgrounds (something I am eager to learn more about!) and she covers paints, gesso, glazes, stamping, stenciling, brayering, layering, drybrushing--whew!

At the end of the lessons, Lisa challenges you to create a simple page using the techniques that we have learned.  Just paint, one figure and maybe a word.  How I was tempted to add embellishments, but she promised we would get to that later.  For now, just concentrate on the paint and layering.

Since I have an altered book to work in (as opposed to a practice book), I decided to use that book for this challenge.  The book is one I've worked in previously.  It's Lorraine's "Colors" book and this month, Lori was supposed to work in it.  I decided to do a spread for Lori.

My palette for this page was inspired by the title of Lorraine's book "Crimson."  I was leaning toward a monochromatic color scheme--shades of red.  Calling on Lori's muse, I was immediately drawn to Victorian and vintage things.  Glancing through my stacks of magazines, this image stopped me.  She was perfect!

The pages I chose were in between chapters of the book and there was a lot of blank space on the pages which I didn't like.  Using a trick of Lisa's, I tore text from another page out of the book and adhered the text to the blank space.  Now I had two pages full of text.

As Lisa had taught us, I started by prepping my page with a red glaze made from red acrylic craft paint mixed with liquid acrylic medium.  I definitely need practice getting my tone to be consistent, but that's what I get for trying to mix my glaze on the fly as opposed to mixing up a batch in a small squeeze bottle.

Next, I added a thin layer of tissue which was really a cocktail napkin with poppies on it.  I tore the red poppies out and adhered them to my pages using the glaze.  When that was dry, I added my figure and more glaze.  At this point, I think because I was not able to get a consistent tone to my red glaze, I decided to use just the clear acrylic medium.  As you can see, there is just a hint of red covering her.

Lisa does this amazing stamping work with gesso and various lids, eraser heads and bamboo skewers.  She makes it seem so easy and effortless.  I was not quite ready to emulate her style and instead went with a stencil that I liked and thought would complement what I had already done on my pages.

I struggled with whether to use a darker shade of red paint with a stencil or a rubber stamp and ink pad.  Ultimately, in keeping with my own personal style, I opted to use a gold metallic marker with a paisley dot stencil.  

When the page was done, the first word that came into my head was "romance" so that is what I stenciled.  I am thrilled that I took Lisa's challenge to heart and tried something new and a bit out of my comfort zone.  Most of all, I am happy that the spread really has the feel of something I think Lori could have created for Lorraine's "Colors" book. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Wow, it has been awhile since I created anything and I was really feeling rusty as I started to tackle Pat's "K is for..." book.  It's a pretty open-ended theme which is what made it a bit of a challenge for me.  I began to list words that I like that begin with the letter K.  Kitsch, Kinky, Kinetics...then I went to the internet and found a bunch of lesser known "K" words.  When I read the definition of "koinoniphobia," I knew I had found my word.

Koinoniphobia is the irrational dread of being in a room full of people or an abnormal fear of being in the company of a group of people.  Who knew?

I actually worked my spread for this book backwards.  I started with the "room full of people" part.  Found a few "Where's Waldo?" images on the internet, printed them out to do a packing tape transfer.  The pages of the book were slightly larger than my Waldo tape transfers, so I had to do the backgrounds in two parts.  I cut an irregular line which helped mask the place where the two pieces join.  If I had left a straight edge, it would have looked too obvious.

In keeping with Pat's theme, I knew I wanted to do a large cut-out letter "K."  I initially thought I would put the "K" on the right hand side of the page.  This was mainly because the downstroke of the letter K would provide a good anchor (along the full length of the spine) for the cut-out.  Yet, placing the "K" on the right side interrupted the flow of my spread.  In the end, I decided to move the "K" to the left side of the page and cut it out in such a way that it still had enough support and strength.  

Since the pages were not that thick, I glued 3-4 pieces of cardstock between four book pages.  Then I cut out my free-hand letter "K."  Red seemed to be the color that would compliment the room full of people who were now taped to the following pages.   I was toying with the idea of defining the word on the right side of the letter "K."  At a recent playdate, my friend Debbie, suggested I make a door on the right side of the page.  Then the door page would turn (open) to reveal the room full of people.  Brilliant!

I painted my door red and used crackle medium to give the door that distressed/weathered look.  Of course, because I had worked my spread backwards, I didn't want to use a brad for my doorknob because it would damage my tape transfer on the opposite side of the page.  I ended up using a piece of foam adhesive and some Tacky Glue to secure the brad on--instead of through--the page.  Lastly, for additional detail, I used a decorative die-cut to add dimension to the center of my door--not unlike a real door would have.