This Art Journaling Thing

So for a while now I thought I might have a go at this art journaling thing, inspired by artists like Teesha Moore and Roz Stendahl. Teesha’s multi-layered style reminds me of Dave McKean‘s art, but more colourful and contemplative (and obviously less ghoulish). Roz’s journals are more sketchbooky – full of drawings and text. When I found I had one more concertina of watercolour paper than covers for the sketchbooks (due to those measuring errors) I decided to use it to try out some art journaling myself. Instead of hard cardboard covers, I glued on some heavy watercolour paper.

I pondered what approach to take for some days. While I like Roz’s spare approach, it’s not different enough from how I use my sketchbooks already. It would be more challenging to me to do something outside my experience – like Teesha’s multi-layered build up of elements. Though I didn’t do it in quite the same order as she suggests in her video tutorials.

First I stuck down a whole lot of ‘background’ material: maps, pages of books, labels, offcuts of marbled paper, stamps, scraps of security envelopes, handwritten lists, pages from notebooks printed to look like money, etc. with watered down PVA glue.

Then I painted over the top with gouache. Watercolour may have been better, but I have heaps of gouache that I bought at a garage sale, and I wanted to be sure the background matter would be covered enough to not show up too strongly.

Next I went around the edges of the pages with black gouache to create a vignette effect, and dripped and spattered a little black on here and there. Here are the back and front covers:

And some internal pages:

The back of the watercolour paper is smoother and probably not meant to be painted. I filled it in with more black gouache.

Now I’m waiting for inspiration to lead me in the next direction. I’m thinking of going around the edges in gold paint to cover where the white underneath the paint is showing. After that I’ll be ready to start working on individual pages. This is the part I was least certain about. I love the idea of making the book, but I’m not sure what to fill it with. Should I stick more material down to make up pictures, like Teesha does? I rather like the idea of drawing over each page instead. Should I add text? I like the look of text in art journals, but I’m not sure what to write about. I’ve not been much of a diary keeper since my teens (though I do like blogging), which is ironic, since ‘art journaling’ does contain the word ‘journal’.

The weird thing is, most of the stuff that I stuck into the book wound up relating, so it kind of has a theme going. That theme is money and work. I’m wondering if I should go with that, but it seems like a rather dry and serious subject for an art journal.

Concertina Sketchbooks

One of the projects I started when I should have been finishing old ones was making concertina style sketchbooks. Having seen sketchbook artists using them over at Urban Sketchers, I wanted to give the format a try. It just happens that I have a roll of watercolour paper, inherited from Paul’s dad, which meant I could make a concertina book with no joins.

The paper was old and though still in good condition, it had been rolled up for a long time and was very disinclined to uncurl. I rolled it out as far as I could in my workroom, cut it and then rolled it up the other way and left it for a few weeks. This was enough to make it flexible again.

Then I worked out how many books I’d make and what size. I decided to use the mount board cut outs I got from Reverse Garbage.

I cut the paper into strips. The last one I left with the ragged edge at the top.

The next part was to score and fold them. I tried a couple of different methods. One involved marking every second fold, then just folding the middle section in half. I thought this might help to line the pages up accurately, but it didn’t.

So I marked every section on the next one… and made mistakes so I and had to cut two sections off. Finally, I settled on making myself a measuring device by marking the correct spacing on a strip of paper and using that as my ‘ruler’.

Keeping to the theme of using stuff I bought at Reverse Garbage, I decided to give the wallpaper samples a try:

The up side to using wallpaper is that you’re meant to be able to wipe spills off it, so I could wipe off any excess glue. But the down side is that PVA struggled to stick it down. I made sure that I squished the covers overnight under some heavy books, and then the finished books for several days.

The pinkish one is the one I had to cut sections off. The green ones are the cut off sections. The yellow ones are the two full length vertical ones…

… the grey book is a horizontal one.

And the one with the rough edges along the top side…

… has heavy watercolour paper glued on for covers. I decided I was going to have a go at making an art journal-ish thing with it. Playing with it has been keeping me sane while our kitchen is being renovated. Details in the next post.

Map Cards & Envelopes

Somehow I’ve ended up with a lot of projects on the go lately, so at the moment I’m trying to stick with finishing them off, rather than staring new ones. I’ve not been entirely successful at that, but here’s one I did manage to complete:

I started with making little envelopes out of some map pages I saved from an old directory.

They’re fun to make, but a bit small to be useful as they were. So I made some gift cards to go with them.

I made two with lots of circles, but this was very fiddly and the large circle cutter was playing up. So for the rest I just glued one circle to the front and a square of white paper on the inside to write on.

Making the Most of a Bad Yarn

In the last week or two I’ve spent a lot of time getting a warp onto my loom. An hour here, and hour there, it all adds up. I don’t want to calculate how much time in total, because today, just after I finished threading the yarn through the reed, I cut it all off.

Why? Well, it’s a long story, but I’ll try to sum up:

A few years back my friends began having babies, so I began making blankets. I also began tying myself up in knots on what sort of yarn to use. The yarn ought to be machine washable. It ought to not be wool, in case of allergies. It also shouldn’t be acrylic, because that tends to catch on fire easily, shrinking and melting as it burns, which sounds rather horrific. Cotton is good, and I made a few blankets from it, but then I was seduced by some yarn that was both machine washable, wouldn’t burn, was hypo-allergenic and eco-friendly. It also came in black, and I had a particular person in mind for which a black and red baby blanket would be perfect.

However, the yarn arrived and it stank. It reeked of moth balls. I put it in the unused guest shower to air for a few months, but it still ponged. I wound a ball into a skein and washed it. That seemed to get rid of the stink. Then I realised that it was the cardboard tubes inside that stank, not the yarn.

When I finally got to the point of winding a warp from it, it broke a few times, but it seemed to happen mainly be near the ends of the yarn. Middle sections seemed okay, if I gave them a tug. I knew there was a risk breakage would be a problem once the yarn was subjected to tension on the loom, but I warped on anyway.

However, once I started tying the yarn to the front beam, strands were breaking too easily. I knew it would never hold up to tension. So I figured I’d given the yarn as many chances as I could and this was the end of our relationship. I cut it off. And into pieces. I wound the remaining yarn into loops and cut them into pieces, too.

No, I wan’t having my revenge on the yarn. I honestly don’t think it would have held up to being knit, either. Part of the eco-ness of the yarn was that it would rot down one day – presumably when the garment it was made into was discarded. I suspect it was deteriorating well before it was supposed to. So there was no point giving it to an op shop or another crafter, or trying to make something else out of the yarn. Instead I sprinkled it in an unseen part of the garden.

It can happily rot away there, and perhaps birds will grab some for their nests, now that spring is here. I must admit, I can’t help keeping the cardboard tubes it was wound onto, to find another crafty use for. They don’t have much smell in them any more, now they’ve been exposed to the air.

And getting this project off the list has also finally emptied my yarn overflow basket. This means that my stash now fits into the tubs I bought for it. In fact, some of those are quite roomy now. I reckon I’ve reduced my stash by a third in the last year. Not buying yarn (aside from one or two balls), culling and getting some big weaving projects done has helped reduce it.

The basket now holds weaving tools, which had been spilling out of a smaller basket.

And the smaller basket will be the perfect size for holding something else. I’m sure I’ll think of a use for it, in time…

Sketch Sunday 45

Ahh, the Book Seat. I’ve had a back problem for over ten years, and one of the frustrating things about this is that reading while sitting up can quickly become very painful – and the pain can go on for hours afterwards. I’ve seen many physiotherapists and osteopaths over the years. Their recommendation is that I read while lying on my side. However, several years ago I had a two-three year bout of chronic fatigue, which meant that if I lay on my side to read I’d be asleep within a few minutes. Even if I tried to read sitting up for a few minutes at a time, I just couldn’t concentrate. So I went from being a book-a-week reader to someone who didn’t read much at all. (Instead I started knitting, but that’s a whole other story.)

Well, I mostly recovered from the fatigue so I’m trying to get back into the habit of reading. What surprised me was that reading is a habit – and one you can lose. I really have to make myself reach for a book these days. The Book Seat has helped me do that in two ways. Firstly, if I prop it up on a pillow a book is about the right height that reading it doesn’t put strain on my neck. Secondly, knitting has programmed me to feel restless if my hands aren’t occupied, so if I get too twitchy to concentrate on reading I can pop a book on the book seat and knit something simple – like a plain sock. Multitasking!

There is a down side to all this, however. I haven’t yet worked out how I can have the cat and the Book Seat on my lap at the same time.

But I’m working on it.

Doodle Shoes

I noticed the other day while failing to buy an iPhone (because Telstra and Optus both won’t let you pre-order, or let you know when new stock arrives) that those simple, cheap canvas shoes that I used to wear in the 80s are in a lot of shops – in lots of colours.

So I picked up a few pairs on sale. And did to them what we used to do back in the 80s, except that now we have fabric pens that don’t need to be ironed to set, and I’ve had a lot of practise doodling lately.

It was a fun way to fill an hour or so while waiting for kitchen cabinets to be delivered. I have another pair, white and without laces, to play with.

Doodling on stuff to wear is an idea I’ve seen around a bit lately. There’s the Doodle Addict T-shirt on Doodler’s Anonymous and… wouldn’t you know it? I can’t find the blog I saw the shoes covered in drawings on. I’ll link to it if I stumble on it again.

There’s a Weird Gurgling Noise Downstairs…

The demolition guys just arrived to remove our old kitchen. The next two weeks are going to be ‘interesting’. Mind you, the last two weeks have been pretty hectic, too. But I’m hoping that hanging about while bits of kitchen are ripped out and replaced will leave me stuck at home with not much to do but crafting, reading, gardening and blogging.

We’ll see.

Sketch Sunday 43

It’s been a busy week. I finished weaving the second denim rag rug, but haven’t had a chance to photograph it yet. I’ve also been out a lot. I did the sketch above at the house of our friends. We’d settled at the outdoor table to chat before dinner, but soon the mosquitos descended and drove everyone inside. So the sketch wound up being finished in a hurry. I’m not 100% happy with the pot. It’s too flat. If I’d had more time I’d have fixed that. But I guess interruptions and changes of situation are all part of the sketching gig. You have to adapt or accept it.