Thursday, December 7, 2017

Mademoiselle Becoming

Mademoiselle Becoming, mixed media art journal page

Playing catch up here as I completed this art journal page a couple of months ago. I have been enamored with these little black and white photos and illustrations found in a Swedish dictionary. (One of my go-to sources for vintage printed pages.) It's been a challenge to use them in my art as they are quite small so details are easily lost, especially with all the grey tones. Not much really jumps out.  My technique of placing sheer fabrics over them to integrate into the background and protect the delicate paper makes it even trickier.

But stubborn donkey here keeps trying (you may recall my plaintive comments on dry gel transfers - I can't leave well enough alone although the paper hazing drives me nuts).  So that's why this is an art journal page rather than a full-on wall piece. As an experiment it works.

Here I watery-glued a large scrap of old silk scarf on top the vintage book picture. It's light color with delicate patterning works well but there's a visual difference between where the glue was applied and where not. That's okay in the context of a very scrappy, grunge collage, however it's unattractive when the fabric is dark and/or opaque.

The rest of the process is pretty self-evident. I added a few more glitzy scraps then embroidered all over in grey to help pull together. The tiny pink beads add texture with soft unobtrusive color. And the buttons guide the gaze (yours) to the face. Mademoiselle's lips have been rouged up for two reasons: attention (yours) and commentary (coming of age).

This is the third or fourth piece using these dictionary pictures. I think my success is limited - a grey focal point is hard to liven up without calling too much attention to the supporting players. Might gather them together, add a few more, and call it a subtle artist's book.

In meanwhile, splashier fare available at my Etsy shop:

And if it's microdoses of eye candy, visit me on Instagram:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Awesome Sauce!

Sew Somerset, Winter 2018, Middle of Somewhere mixed media collage

Celebrating that I just got published by my favorite arts & crafts magazine, Sew Somerset!!  Winter 2018 issue.  I. AM. SO. JAZZED.

For those who may be unfamiliar, Sew Somerset promotes The Art of Creative Sewing with Mixed Media, published semi-annually. I fell in love with the magazine a few years back when Heike Gerbig's poetry-inspired textile art was the cover feature. Their showcasing stitchery in a mixed media context affirmed my own leanings and inspired me to go further down that path.

Back to play....

Friday, October 20, 2017


Anachronism, fabric art journal page

Found image inspires needle fiend!
A tiny dictionary picture of an ornate carriage got my creative (and dare I say, spoked) wheels rolling. Visions of irregular edges, a hand drawn horse, and pearly beads immediately came to mind. [So did a chartreuse ribbon with white polka dots but that led to an entirely different pony project. Wait for it.]

Anachronism, fabric art journal page, detail-a

Beyond those elements the rest of the piece didn't come together that intuitively. I played around with sizes and shapes of the vintage paper layer (old French almanac) as I have a frustrating propensity to frame within a frame ever so tidily. Finding the right shades of embroidery perles to stand out from the background without calling attention to themselves - well, there was some unpicking to do.

Auditioning fabric scraps to layer and piece the background is one of favorite parts of the process. Thank goodness I have a stockpile of lace tablecloths too -- instant texture (and a case can be made for coy symbolism too). This was also a perfect excuse to trot out the silver metallic embroidery thread (appearing as glinty French knots).

Anachronism, fabric art journal page, detail-b

The silvery flower button - it has been waiting for this project. I am very proud of myself for actually using it instead of saving for something "special" later. Because frankly I don't know if I'll know when that is. And it turns out there are button factories right now in real time making more, not to mention vintage shops all over the country and online with bountiful inventory.

I didn't plan on this as a sellable piece by itself. I have several of these quiet explorations that could be collected together into an artist book. The old Swedish dictionary providing these little black & white gems will surely yield at least a few more.

In case you were wondering...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Three To Get Ready

Abudanza art journal page go, Journal, go! Every once in a while I get to feeling a little guilty for neglecting my "Art Journal". It's basically a chronological catch-all for experiments that scratch an itch for slapping some paint around, maybe even a little modeling paste, and of course gluing stuff down.

There's no rhyme or reason for these pages appearing together other than they happened close in time. One idea doesn't necessarily lead to another but they may be acquainted.

First page shown hides at least one if not two layers of *ugh*. Going for that distressed texture was a no-brainer even though the color combination was a process of trial and error. The raised lettering is a result of paste and stencils. Note: seal them after the first coat of paint otherwise any wiping tends to strip the pigment off. In this case it was a happy accident. The lovely wench image comes by way of  dried pasta packaging. You just never know...

Copper Fetish art journal page

The second page actually was the first to be prepared -- stamping washers and screens into modeling paste - and then nothing for weeks. The color combinations here too took some trial and error: I have something in mind, it doesn't go as planned, so then I try this and then that until finally I can live with it. The dusting with Pearl-Ex powder mixed with gum arabic over the raised surface felt like redemption. It's the rug that ties the room together.

Ok, I snuck in a little stitching, just to fix the copper scrap to the double fabric layer. (That too was a gift from the Art Gods & Goddesses.)

Hydrangea art journal page

I love purple and have a lot of it in paint form because I didn't realize how ginormous 4 ounces of it is. Note: stamping with pigment ink on acrylic doesn't work well so try a coat of clear gesso first. The flower stamps still aren't saturated and crisp but they're sufficient for delivering enough yellow to pick up on the magazine image and its fabric "frame".

My pride and joy here is the stencil I made from a sheet of acetate and a heat pen. I found the design in a Dover clip art book of - wait for it - stencil designs which I scanned and enlarged in Photoshop. I know there are scads of ready made out there but my imperfect rendition(s) suit my primitive style better.

These turned out to be fruitful exercises - light modeling paste and stencils are fun to play with and I'm eager to incorporate them into more pieces. And I'm confident they can play well with stitching.

In case you were wondering...

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Frankenflower, mixed media textile collage

I found this Frankenstein face on a scrap of wood laying in the street. Awesome sauce! I love when the Art Gods & Goddesses leave me little treasures like that.

My first thought wasn't flowers of course.  I just wanted to play around with stamping and acrylic paint. I made a few prints on muslin scraps, was quite pleased, and increased my pile of do-something-interesting-with-this-someday.

Frankenflower, mixed media textile collage, detail-a

Someday arrived much later (two years? more?) and I was ready to experiment with sewing on my hand stampings.  Not in the mood for scary scary but fun - like electricity bolts. In shades of purple embroidery floss so it pops. Then hey, those orange beads I have a million of, use those. (As you can see they also pop up as fringe.) Since this was going the very handsewn route I emphasized the rustic-ness by layering scraps of purple fabrics and a base of orange fabric.

Wasn't sure how the image would read and was feeling pretty pleased at my clever title so I spelled it out in more embroidery floss.

Frankenflower, mixed media textile collage, detail-b

Now what? It didn't seem like an item precious enough for a frame but too fun to stick on a card front. Thus a little hanger of more fabric scraps so it can be displayed - because half the fun of Halloween is decorating! Go see for yourself at my Etsy shop: / Or if you'e in Amazon Handmade mode: /

Friday, September 22, 2017

Autumn Frippery

Sample, Embroidered leaf stamp

Sample, Embroidered pumpkin stamp
Printing isn't over until the paint runs out. That's what scraps are for - soaking up the dregs of acrylic goodness just. never. know. when something will be that perfect little something for an experiment. Because I like a quickie every now and then - a tide over between commitments. Projects that is. (What were you thinking?)

In these two samples (each a little over 2" x 2"), the detail of what I was printing was lost but it was helpful for giving me an identifiable shape to to embroider. The leaf shape is a real oak leaf - so perfectly miniature, printed in yellow. And the pumpkin is actually a stamp I made from strips of foam. Just so you know how long I'll hold onto something artsy, these were produced at least four years ago.

Each of the mini prints were covered with a choppy square or strips of sheer fabrics because I think it's interesting to introduce color that way. Then it's a matter of playing them off different colored threads and beads plus layered background fabrics.

The stitching is pretty straightforward. There's back stitch and cross stitch. The "open cretan stitch" behaved a little differently in the middle section of the pumpkin - and I really, really like it. Hope I can accidentally do that again.

By the way, a little shout out to The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden. Her book is the perfect size for my plastic shoebox of a sewing basket. More importantly her diagrams and directions translate well  to 3-D for me. That's a big issue because I'm spatially challenged. (Please don't ask me to back up cars and for godssake's, no origami!!)

As these are samples they won't appear in my Etsy shop, but other handiwork of mine already does. So scoot yourself on over: //

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Desert Blooms

Cacti Flowers Trio mixed media collages

Commission accomplished. Not one, not two, but three blooming cacti inspired textile collages. I based these on what I had actually seen with my own little eyes at Joshua Tree National Park this past Spring. The trip was taken specifically to catch the magnificent display of cacti in bloom after a rare wet winter.

Cholla Cactus textile collage, detail

My recipe was to start with a map printed background of where I found these flowers. (Thank you US Geological Survey for making that possible!) Next I sketched out very simple cacti shapes and cut them from various green patterned fabrics. The blooms were pretty similar in structure, but yes really, they had different colors -- and that made it more fun to riff along on the threads and beads I chose to match. The buttons are an echo of the desert floor, shades of tan and brown (and which button hoarder doesn't have an overabundance of these colors??)

Prickly Pear Cactus textile collage, detail

Look, Ma, no frames! I have used this technique before whereby I stain some junk wood boards (after letting mountain winters have their way first) and nail the collages directly on top. To give the edges more definition and interest I sew on thread-wrapped twigs. Variegated thread is quite effective here for that. Finally I use baling wire to make my curled hangers to continue the rustic vibe.

Barrel Cactus textile collage, detail

Each collage is 8" x 10" mounted.

I do offer smaller, similarly styled textile collages in my Etsy shop. They each feature a hand-carved arrowhead stamp on a Lake Arrowhead map background and include colorful plaid fabric as well as beads.