Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Shows to See in SD

I am honored to be included in the Mesa College Gallery juried show "Art That Cuts" opening April 12. There was a write-up in the San Diego Union Tribune that you can read here. I created a new piece for the show that went through some revision before making the cut. Below you can see some of the missteps I took along the way to the finished piece.

And now for a bit of art philosophy... When I make a piece of art, especially something new, I have to make lots of decisions about size, color, structure, etc. Yesterday I finally started working on a book structure that I have been putting off. It occurred to me that the decisions I made were probably not the same decisions I would have made had I worked on it sooner or later. In other words, the art I make is time and place dependent. I make certain decisions today that I may not make tomorrow or yesterday. Making a specific piece of art is temporal as well as physical. Okay enough philosophy. Onto pictures...


My first idea was the branches at the top of this image. Then I tried the curving shapes in the foreground. I didn't like either one.

Next I tried the curve running across the folds instead of being defined by the folds. I didn't like this either.

Next I sketched ideas for cutting the triangular sections above. I finally decided on the shape on the left that looks kind of like a dragonfly wing. This is a cut out that I have used before on a different spiral and I was trying to avoid repeating myself, but I couldn't come up with a better way to fill the space.

My final cut paper has the wing shapes cut out along the central spine of the piece.

Here is the finished folded and sewn piece titled "What Remains."

It looks best in motion.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Embossing Adventures

I don't often do mixed media, but when I am in the mood I like to use Seth Apter's techniques for painted backgrounds. I recently bought some of his new embossing powders. They will emboss stamped images, but that isn't what he made them for. I have been playing around with the Vintage Beeswax which gives you the look of an encaustic finish without using real wax. Seth says the only difference is that real encaustic pieces are matte finish and embossing powder is shiny. To create that matte finish, he recommends covering your finished piece with matte medium. This works well, but what if you don't own matte medium or you want some of the shine back in your piece?

I was playing with the Vintage Beeswax over the weekend and wanted to edge my piece with Staz-On ink. I got carried away with the color and wanted to knock it back a bit. I thought of using rubbing alcohol since Staz-On is solvent based and something unexpected happened! The alcohol removed the ink but it also made the embossed layer go matte! It turns out that the alcohol removes some of the embossing and turns it matte as well. To get the shine back just reheat the layer, but it you want a quick, inexpensive way to get the matte look, just use rubbing alcohol.

Here are some pictures of the results.


Matte finish from applying rubbing alcohol.

Shiny finish using Seth Apter's Vintage Beeswax embossing powder.

My ATC made with Seth's background painting technique and one of my dress forms. The bottom of the dress is shiny and the top is still matte from the alcohol. I just reheated the bottom half to bring back the shine.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Talent Runs in the Family

My daughter Lila just launched an Etsy store. She just started using watercolors a few weeks ago and has no formal art training, just a mom with a fully equipped craft room and lots of innate talent. It doesn't hurt that her grandparents are animators, her maternal grandmother is also talented and I will take a little credit as well. Of course, I have little talent for painting. Mine, as you know, is all about folding paper. Here are some pictures of her work. I hope you will take a moment to check out her store.




This one is mine, so back off!

Monday, January 15, 2018

In Which I Revisit Spirals

I put spiral play on the back burner for much of the second half of 2017, but as the year was coming to an end, I was folding a piece of origami paper diagonally and it reminded me of how I start folding a spiral. The only difference is that spirals use trapezoid shaped paper and this was a square. I decided to try folding it anyway and it worked well. I was journaling about the experiment and wrote "I wonder what would happen if I folded a rectangle corner to corner and spiraled it?" So I did that too and recorded my results in diagrams and samples. Here are the results.


The first trial using origami paper. This photo shows the model closed.

Here is the model open.

There are two ways to crease the diagonals with the rectangle. Here is version A where I scored each side of the center line from the top of the horizontal line to the bottom corner of the next one. This creates different angles on each side of the model, but it still collapses.

In version B I just scored with the center line folded and creased from the top to the bottom of the longer edge of each horizontal section. That means the diagonal angles are the same on each side, but where they end differs. It looks very much like version A, but is easier to score and collapse.

Here is the model open. I like the way the leaf shapes cross each other in this model. It is very dynamic.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sculpting Dyed and Painted Papers

I have been eco-dyeing paper for a few weeks. I also played around with another Leslie Marsh technique which uses paint to print leaves onto black paper. With lots of paper piling up on my work table I decided to turn some of them into a paper sculpture. Here are the results.


Some of the painted leaf papers. Mom and I used Ranger Dylusions paints and a gel press plate to make these. Roll paint on the leaves, brayer a contrasting color on the gel plate, apply the leaves, place black paper on top and press. This technique is so fun and fast that I made about 20 pages in one sitting. 

I used the painted leaf papers to make the book spine. In my other blog post about this structure I used a single sheet of paper cut and folded to make the spine. Here I used a different sheet for each section then used leftover painted paper as hinges to hold them together.

I used the pale Texoprint paper from week 2 ago for the folded inserts. 
I like the contrast of the dark and light papers.

This is the finished sculpture. I love the shapes and colors and subtle leaf patterns everywhere.

Still Eco-Dyeing: Week 3

I am still playing around with eco-dyeing a month after taking Leslie Marsh's workshop. I usually get distracted by a shiny new technique, but I think this one appeals to my science brain. I am experimenting with different papers, plant materials and water baths. I just want to keep trying out new combinations. Here are the results from this week's batch.


I used Arches Textwove and Somerset Book paper for this week's project. I cut the large sheets (20 x 26) into 3 long strips, sprinkled leaves on top and rolled them onto my copper tubes. They were tied with twine and boiled for 1.5 hours in water, vinegar and Ranger Distress dye (Vintage Photo). 

1. Spanish moss, onion skin and eucalyptus leaves sprinkled on Arches Textwove.

2. Liquid amber, spanish moss and eucalyptus leaves on Somerset Book paper.

3. Onion skin and liquid amber on Arches Textwove.

The papers still wet from dyeing are number 3, 2, and 1 from left to right. The Arches came out the best again with the Somerset looking pretty, but pale in comparison. The onion skin surprised me with its orange-brown color. I was hoping for purple. The edges of the papers did come out purple so that may be where the color went. The liquid amber seems to be very yellow in the recent batches I have made. I continue to enjoy the process and the results.

Here are the finished papers, cut down and folded to fit in my journal.

 Please check out my next blog to see what I made with some of last week's papers.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Adventures in Eco-Dyeing: Week 2

I am still fascinated with eco-dyeing and spent time making two different batches of paper. I am playing with paper types and ways of dyeing. Here are the results so far.

Method 1
This dyeing process involved placing leaves and flowers between folded sheets of watercolor paper. They were sandwiched between two ceramic tiles and boiled in water and vinegar for 1.5 hours. RIT dye (Jeans color) was added 10 minutes into the steep time. 

Issues with this method: 1. The color faded quite a bit after the sheets dried so I used Distress Micro Glaze to bring up the color and seal the pages. 2. The center folds on the pages were weakened by the boiling process. Several pages tore either while wet or after drying. 

Conclusions: I like this method of dyeing, both with the addition of the blue dye and sandwiching the paper flat instead of rolling it. There are no string marks and both sides of each page have good coverage with leaf shapes. Also the open pages are mirror images which makes interesting patterns.

The journal I made from the blue and eco-dyed papers.

Method 2

This trial was more like the way we dyed our papers in Leslie Marsh's class. I made cooper tubes from some cooper sheeting I had lying around and stacked paper with leaves then rolled them up around the cooper. I placed a large leaf on the outside of each bundle before rolling so that there would be vegetation on the outside instead of just string. I used 3 kinds of paper in this experiment to see how each would take the tannin and color from the vat. I used Liquitex Muted Pink dye to color this pot as well as eucalyptus bark.

Issues with this method: 1. Rolling the thicker, cover weight paper caused it to wrinkle and tear. 
2. Some of the paper took the dye and tannin well and some didn't. 

Conclusions: I like this method for the thinner paper and I can use a smaller pot and still dye large sheets of paper without creasing them before boiling. 

Dyed paper while still wet. 
These strong colors are on Arches Textwove and cover weight Neenah paper.

These very pale papers were dyed at the same time as those above, but this is Texoprint paper and it didn't take the colors as well. I kind of like the ghost-like prints though.

Cover weight paper dry.

Arches Textwove paper dry.

Texoprint paper dry.