Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adieu to The Mad Hatter

Saying goodbye to one of my creations today. The Mad Hatter has gone to live with Malissa, who has been admiring him for some time. I've always intended to sell my dolls, but when it comes right down to it, it's a little like giving a child up for adoption. I've grown attached to this guy! The Christmas cash is going to come in handy, though, I must admit.

The Hatter was made in the summer of 2010 for the Art Dolls Only "Wonderland Blog Event". There were eighty or so dollmakers from all over the world who participated in making character dolls from Alice in Wonderland. We all finished our dolls, then posted photos on our blogs and spent a weekend blog hopping to share and see each others' work, making friends along the way. The variety of interpretations was just amazing. It was the first challenge I'd ever done and was an absolutely great experience in pushing myself to meet a specific outcome... and a deadline!

Here are the links back to my original blog posts about him, where you can see more photos.
Down the Rabbit Hole
 Wonderland Sneak Peek

So long, goofy guy... you will be missed!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tea Box Swap

Had a marvelous time recently, participating in an altered art swap via the Mixed Media Art group. We were to alter and decorate an ordinary cardboard tea box, transform it into a little work of art, fill it with fun surprises and things our partner might use for future altered projects.

There were around 28 of us, mostly in North America, but a few were elsewhere... each paired with a partner. We got in touch and told each other a bit about our lives, our artwork, favorite themes/colors, etc.

First step, two coats of gesso inside and out.

Golden Fluid Acrylics- several layers of thin wash for a very watery effect.
My assigned partner, Tammy, lives in Michigan... loves pastel colors and vintage themes, has young children at home and teaches scrapbooking and paper arts. I decided to start with a pastel sea green as my base and see where that led me. Rummaging through my stacks, drawers and envelopes full of images and vintage paper bits, I pulled together a collection to draw from.
Right away, that blue butterfly grabbed me.

Anything blue seemed to pop out at first and be drawn to this box, but I really had to let go and let this project lead me. I struggled with a vision of where it was going until I stopped trying too hard and just allowed it to evolve.
Once I saw the butterfly was the perfect size for the top of the box lid, I knew it was going to be the focal point. I started pulling some scraps of vintage newspaper, dictionary pages and old magazine advertisements to tear and place randomly here and there so they'd be peeking out from under the butterfly's wings. So far, so good.... UNTIL I got to the point of gluing down the butterfly itself. It seems I had forgotten a former painful lesson about how slick magazine pages respond to acrylic gel medium! All was well in adhering the image to the box, but when adding a layer of medium OVER the image to seal it... I had a near disaster of wrinkled paper! I wanted to kick myself. 
No, you won't see close-ups of my wrinkled nightmare!
Now, what was that trick I once learned? Ah, yes... my secret technique for avoiding this dilemma comes back to me now... but too late to wind back time and re-do this butterfly. I salvaged it as best I could, using an old plastic gift card as a squeegee (brilliant idea from the amazing Juliana Coles), an acrylic clay roller, lots of swearing.... then a bit of touch-up with blue ink in the places where the image surface was worse for wear. Some wrinkles just had to become part of the design. That the result was acceptably presentable was in fact, De Miracle! (That scrap of paper is from an ad for face cream in a 1922 issue of Women's World magazine, ironically promising to "prevent wrinkles"!)

Some elements like this seed packet image were added, then removed later and replaced with others when they weren't really jiving with the design. 

Dreams and secrets began to move in, as secondary themes...

One end of the box has a poem about the seashore, torn from a vintage children's book. I used one of my favorite scroll-y rubber stamps, and basic typewriter ABC's, plus the essential Staz-On black ink to stamp details here and there.

I love using graphite pencils to add handwritten words to a piece, but watch out... they smear when painted over with wet media. I had to spray these panels first with an acrylic matte sealer before adding more color washes, aging stains or final coats of gel medium.
I used colored pencil and chalks here and there to add color accents and highlights.
Mar Goman showed me how to do image transfers using Chartpak markers and lazer photocopies. I did this one over a piece of an old book page, layered over a map...

This background was from an art card made by another artist. I can't credit her, because I don't know her name, but since I am not selling this piece, I'm just owning up and apologizing to the Universal Artistic Commons!  I clipped the text from a vintage newspaper, circa 1902.
 I often use bits of text from some of my grandmother's papers. She was a writer, and I inherited a huge box containing her handwritten and typed rough drafts of stories and articles, unpublished manuscripts, even her college notes from when she was studying journalism in 1927. I hope she would approve of me tearing her writing up and using it in pieces of art, rather than leaving it all in the dusty attic! For me personally, seeing her handwriting in my artwork keeps my memories of her alive. This is a bit from a short story idea...
"Why for fun, of course", she laughed.
The bottom of the box is covered with part of an envelope I saved from a 1980's Christmas card sent to me by a friend from England. I couldn't resist... since the whole theme of tea was woven in and out of this project. You know...  England, the Queen, and tea.... makes sense, right?
The final project, all done and ready to go!
Trust me, that jewel embellishment needed to go right there.
The only thing I forgot to do was to photograph the little things I tucked inside for Tammy. I made her some crocheted button jewelry, a tiny Wee Folk fairy, an ATC, and a felt flower pin... enclosed some cute vintage squirrel buttons, some lace and ribbon and little trinkets for her to use on other projects.  We coordinated our send dates pretty closely and I received mine from her last week, unwrapping it with great delight! Thank you, Tammy... this was such a fun swap!
The box I received from Tammy also had blue butterflies on it. Total coincidence! We must be psychic!

Back view, with fruit label image and paper flower.
Beautiful hand-painted labels.

Very cool tissue paper flower embellishment.
Sweet gift tags made from tea bag packages.