Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fabric Book - Bird Blessings

This is the little fabric book I'm working on.

Oh Nooooooo!!!!!

I've taken a few days off. Torn Rotator Cuff of left shoulder was the first issue that took over much of my time and energy this week. The injury occurred earlier but I finally decided I needed to have it looked at. It was progressively getting more painful and my range of motion had decreased. Then, yesterday out of the blue, a cold struck! So, today with sore throat, achey head and runny nose, I decided to do something quiet in the house. I'll post pictures later.

I've got lots of good names for relatives suggested by members of the Cloth PaperStudio group. I'll try to post them later. I have to go back and collect them from messages.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More weird relatives.

I'm copying a couple messages from friend Jackie (who needs to have a blog to share her art).

"It would be great fun to see if any other women have relatives like ours. Hanky panky has been a skeleton in our family closet for years...he just can't seem to keep his hanky in his panky!!! Too risque??? Well, you can clearly see why we don't talk about him very much at family gatherings...especially when the young children are around. "

" I was just recalling Lolla Italian chick who's steady beau is Flam Boyant. Together they do the most outrageous things just to get a little attention...I'm really enjoying some of the responses you're getting. Lots of humor out there."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Weird Relatives and acquaintances

A friend and I were chatting online (Hi Jackie!) and got to kidding around about our imaginary weird relatives. I'm starting to collect them for a little book, and thought maybe you'd like to hear about them, and you can share some of your own.

My first character is LOLLIE. She's my muse. She went unnamed for years, but one day she got hopping mad and insisted that she had chosen the name. She's named for Charlotte of Alice Overground - who I met online thru Evie (Hi Evie!). Anyway, sometimes Lollie gets in a mood and morphs into other personas, at which times she changes her name and insists that I call her by the new name. But, after she calms down she is again my own Lollie.

Lollie has twin cousins, WILLY and NILLY. They make art. Mostly collage. They are not very sophisticated, being from the country. Willy can be vey silly and often refers to Lollie affectiontely as "Gosh and by Golly" Lollie when they work together on their artwork.

Another set of twin cousins, RANT and RAVE, were raised by abusive parents, and bullied on the schoolyard. They are now in a court-ordered anger management program. They often show up around election time or when I'm watching the news.

Jackie knows someone named WHEW. She describes him as a rather dodgy character who's always wiping sweat from his brows because of the narrow escapes he invariably encounters... its seems he never learns.

It's becoming apparent as I explore my family tree that there are many sets of twins. TOPSY and TURVY are the ones that get into my studio late at night and mess it all up. I've never actually seen them, but I know they've been there.

Do you have any relatives or friends that would like to be in my book? If so, please either email them to me at, or send in to the group so we can all get acquainted.

Lollie's insisting that I get away from the pc and get down to the studio. She has something in mind for me but won't tell me what until I get there. She likes to surprise me. janene

This is a copy of a message I posted to CPS group.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tagged addendum2

My secret fantasy is to be a ballerina, and dance in a Redwood Forest, gliding gracefully through the trees, with a full orchestra. Just how weird is that? I just made a quick piece of art to illustrate my fantasy instead. Wanna dance with me?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Gel medium 7 stickiness solutions

Most of the collage I do is done with Acrylic Gel Mediums, either glossy or matte finish. I started with Golden's because everyone else was saying it was the best, but I have also used Dick Blick products which are less expensive and seem to be well able to do anything I ask of it.

Many of us who do altered books and collages, find that the acrylic gel mediums have a tendency to stick to the next page. You can never quite tell when it's going to do this. I thought it was the humidity - but I just read somewhere that it is actually heat that is "melting" it. Whatever the cause, it is a sticky situation to have to peel apart two pages of precious art, only to have part of it pull off on the other page.

At first when I experienced this, I used (1.) wax paper as a divider between pages. Then I had the idea to rub the pages with the wax. Over and over again, to give it a wonderfully light wax coating. This works. For me. One of the groups started posting messages about using (2.) Dorland's Wax. I bought it. It works. For me. (3.) I bought shoe polish. Have not tried it yet. (4.) I bought deli wrap, thanks to the prompting of lots of people. I love it to put between pages while they dry, and even later when things are stored. It gives me a feeling of security, knowing the pages will be perfect when they are separated. (5.) I have used spray sealer on the pages. It works. Usually. (6.) I sometimes add something thicker to separate areas that are stubbornly sticky. Something like a button, jewelry, sand, fabric, ribbon, ets. (7.) Another way to help the pages stay separate is to dust them with a light coating of corn startch or talcum powder. I have not tried this, as the other methods are working for me, but I mention it in case you want to try a different method.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tagged addendum

Okay, I thought of another quirk. I can't answer a question if the answer has a number in it? Q.How hot does it get? A. Reallly hot.
Q. No, I mean the temperature? A. Really, really hot. Burning hot.
Q. What is so and so's phone number? A. Just a minute I'll look it up.
Q. How old are you? A. Let me think. My brother is older than I am, and his birthday was a big one last year. I'm not quite sure. How old do I look?
Q. What did you pay for that? A. I don't really remember and why do you want to know?

See? Just don't wait for me to figure out the check at lunch.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shaving creme background technique

Just fooliing around a bit today and thought I'd refresh my memory of using the shaving creme. Here are a couple pics. First is over a page from a 1982 magazine. Second is on the back of a board book that I had painted with gesso. Third is a library pocket. I had never used this technique over a painted surface before. Now, I'm thinking maybe it would work on dominos, beads, etc. Hmmmmm....... may have to give it a try soon.

The technique is simply to use foamy shaving creme in a container - an old cookie sheet, a pie tin, a butcher's styrofoam tray, anything that will hold it. ( use the unscented shaving creme if you can find it - otherwise the scent stays with the ink - forever) Use only about 1/2 inch depth of foam. Rough up the surface a bit, like icing a cake. Drop inks from reinking supply into foam. Drag a comb, skewer, or toothpicks through ink in the foam to create a pattern. No need to be precise. You will not know what will happen until it is done. It's one big happy surprise! Amazing! Put on some vinyl or rubber gloves if the inks are permanent. Wear an apron or old shirt, and have paper towels close at hand. Now, just take your paper, or whatever it is you want to marbelize and lay it onto the surface. You can press it down a little to get good coverage. Now, lift it up and turn it over. Now, you think what you see is what you are going to get? HA! Not yet.

Use a putty knife, (dedicated-to- art-spatula, or something like a credit card to scrape the foam and ink off the paper. Now, what do you see? There it is. The first ones you pull will have bright colors. The more times you use the same foam, the lighter they get. And eventually, with more stirring and pulling, they get very soft and subtle, and even muddy - depending on what colors you use. The stuff you scrape off can be scraped over another piece, or it can go back into the side of the pan and be remixed in later. When it gets beyond the point that you like it, wash it down the sink, and start over. It's loads of fun and utterly unpredictable. It is really fun to try to control it, and then see which is best, what you tried to do - or what it did serendipitously.

I can see using it on blocks of pages in an altered book. But it would have to be applied in a different way. I'm planning on experimenting with this idea, and will let you know how it works.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Altered books - adding text

I love text in my books. I'm never satisfied with my altered books if they don't have some quotes, or words. But how to apply them? There are many ways. Rubber stamp letters. Stickers, Rub ons, handwritten or printed, printing with your computer and printer (good for playing around with sizes and fonts), collage with cut out words or letters, stencils, purchased sheets of letters, or - the most fascinating - found words.

Find words on the page, then block out the other text and just let those words show through. This is such a fun way to alter a book. I use it at least once in each book. Some artists do entire books in this way and don't add images or other art work. You really should have the experience of trying it. The site for the absolute king of found words is: Do take some time and look at what he has done.

I'm sure you can think of other techniques I've missed. I have cut out poems from books, or jokes from magazines to use. I'll post some pics later of some different methods of adding text.

The beach

Here are some pics from earlier in the week. The colorful buildings are in Capitola, CA. The second photo is at Zelda's where we had breakfast. The third photos is of surfers who were using some sort of kite or sail. They had wonderful control and must be the most physically fit people on the planet. I'm sure they use every muscle in their bodies. They can change direction in a flash and move very fast. I wish I'd lived close to the ocean when I was raising my boys - they would have loved this sport.

Altered Book Progress

Here are a few more pages from the new altered book which is still in progress. Only touch ups and little fiddly things left to do.

I'll point out the mistakes I made and maybe both of us will learn something from them. Some of the pages are wrinkly. I did these on a day when it was hot in the studio. The glue stick was next to useless that day. I applied heavy coats of gel medium on backs of images and between the pages. Light coats would be dry before I could lay the image down. Since I don't prime my paper and it was so absorbant - by adding heavier coats, it also put more moisture into the paper so it warped. I was in a big rush and just kept going, so more than one page was affected this way. I'm not sure how to correct this problem - or even if I can flatten it out better, but now that they are thoroughly dry, I will stack heavy books on top and hope that will help flatten them. Immediately when I saw the problem, I used a brayer on them with lots of pressure. It took some out, but the damage had already been done. It is not so bad that it ruins the book. The images are stunning and it is a very tactile book.

My advice - don't be in a rush, take your time. What's the old saying? If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mixed Media Artists of Northern California

I mentioned this group to the gals at La Selva. Here is a link to see more of what we are about.

Here is the link to my favorite online group.

If you have never belonged to an online group, I can tell you that you will meet amazingly talented people, and will soon feel that the world has shrunk as we share our arts.

Altered Books - the no rules rule

Altered books is one of the most joyful ways to express yourself in your art. Because there are no rules, you have total freedom of expression. Play with it. Let it be fun. Don't take it too seriously. If it goes wrong, tear it out. Or throw it away. It's just paper. There is no right or wrong. Of course you can be as anal as you like with this and develop a strict formula and technique. But, for me, it's the freedom of this art form that keeps me interested and inspired.

Altered books - tool kit

It's amazing how few tools you really need to make an altered book. You can get by with only a glue stick, a cutting tool such as a box cutter and a pair of scissors. Actually, you can do an entire altered book with only folding. Or, only cutting. Or only a pen or crayon for writing or drawing.

But, most of us use many art techniques in our books. Here is my list of basic AB tools.

Box Cutter and small pliers to snap off tips to bring up a new tip.
Cutting pad, the self-sealing type.
Glue Stick.
Golden's Acrylic Gel Medium.
Bone folder.
Ruler with metal straight edge.
Credit card (no, not for buying supplies, silly! It's for smearing and spreading gel medium and paints, and also for use with clamps so you don't mar your pages.)
Pencil and pen.
Sponge brush.
Paint brush.
Small spray bottle with water. Use to help keep sponge brush damp, and to do quick clean ups.
Paper Towels.
Deli wrap paper or wax paper.
Dorland's wax to wax over pages, particularly if there is a stickyness problem.
Stencils of letters and numbers.
Rubber stamps (I use them for text).
Ink pad with permanent ink.
Post it notes. Tuck them in to help plan where you will use an image or quote.
Clamps for holding sections together while glueing or cutting.
ICE (Imagination,Creativity, and Enthusiasm)

Altered Books - adding color

There are many paints you can use in an altered book. I like the Golden's fluid acrylics. They are absolutely lucious. Lots of pigment, transparent, and flow beautifully. They can even be thinned down with extenders to be even more transparent. They mix beautifully as well.

Craft paints work well. This is the cheapest way to add color. It's thicker, so pages will have a different feel. Many are opaque. Metallics are available.

Rub on metallic are useful.

Watercolor can be used, but it warps the paper pretty badly. You will have to really glue down the paper to the next page to flatten it when it is dry. And maybe have to press it down. But there are times that is gives just the effect you want. Inks are the same. Used sparingly, they don't affect the paper much, but if used as a wash or on a larger area, it will warp the paper.

Fabric paints can be used.

Spray paints can be used, as well as mouth atomizers with your paints and inks.

To apply any paint you can use your choice of tool. Sponge brushes, paint brushes, paper towels, credit cards, spatulas, tooth brushes for spattering, etc.

Other ways to add color are crayons of all kinds, pastels, inks, collage with colorful papers or fabrics.

Altered Books - preparing pages

To prep, or not to prep? That is indeed "the question". I don't prep my pages. Many artists do. I don't see the point. If I need more coverage with paint, I'll just give it another coat. In many cases, I like some of the text to show through.

Altered Books - adhesives

My personal choice is Golden's Acrylic Gel Medium - glossy. I also use the GAGM with a matte finish. It's a matter of personal preference. You want a lot of adhesive quality without a adding a lot of moisture. Any kind of glue stick will work well. Generally, however I find that the Gel Medium hold better. I apply it with a sponge brush, old paint brushes, fingers, spatulas - whatever works for you is fine. For tiny spots that might be along edges that don't stick well, you can peel it up a little, and work more in with a little brush or a toothpick. Then if you really want a stubborn little piece to stay put - you can gel medium right over the top.

Altered Books - when to remove pages

I forgot to talk about this at La Selva, so here is my personal take on removing pages. I remove pages when I see that the book is getting thicker than I want it. If you glue several pages together, or glue on heavy embellishments, you will need to remove enough pages to allow the book to close - if you want a book that closes. You don't need to do this if you don't care how flat the book will be. But, think of how you want to store it and display it. That will help you decide what is right for you.

When you remove pages, dont' take them out in hunks. I take out one page here, another there, tearing or cutting at least 1/4 inch from the stitching in the binding. You don't want to destroy the integrity of the binding or the whole thing can fall apart. I do this on an "as needed" basis.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

La Selva Altered Books talk

I'm just back from the coast where I met some really fun and interesting people who came to hear about altered books. It was a lot of fun. They are a lively and creative group; they had good questions and lots of good conversation going on. I hope some of them will be inspired to start altered books of their own.

If you are interested in my comments on altered books, I suggest you go to the subjects index called LABELS on my blog home page, and click on Altered books. It will bring up only the altered book pages, and you won't be bothered with scrolling through the other posts, which probably won't interest you. But, of course, this is a public site and you are welcoome to read anything that's interesting to you.

I'll be posting some information about sources, a short bibliography, and other "stuff" that might help you get started on an altered book. But, first I'm going to take a day off and do laundry and all that pesty stuff.

By the way, your weather was spectacular, I've never seen it so nice before, for several days at a time. It is nearly 100 degrees outside, it feels like an oven. You are so lucky to be where you are. I had breakfast this morning at Zeldas, outside on the patio. Heavenly! I hope to see you all again. Don't forget the La Selva Art Show on the 21st of July. It is one day only. I always see Marcia there. Janene

Friday, June 8, 2007

Added a new feature

I'm just starting to add links to my blog page. Please be patient while I collect my favorites. I just added Evie and Lolly. They happen to be friends, and I am amazed how small the world seems when we meet kindred spirits in other lands. Lolly is the most amazing writer. Don't miss a word of anything she writes. Some day she'll be a published author and you'll be ahead of the game if you are already acquainted. I already mentioned Evie in an earlier post. But let me add, her art is imaginative, original, and charming. And she's funny too. Janene


Evie tagged me so I'm supposed to tell you seven secret things about myself. Hmmmm..... do I want to share seven secrets? I'll think about it and let you know.

How's this? 1. I'm a chocoholic. You already knew that? Does everyone know my guilty little secret vice? Maybe that doesn't count then. Let's start over.

1. I've been married three times but prefer the company of dogs. You knew that too? Damn!
Okay, I'll try again.

1. I hate jazz! and coffee! Thought I'd double up - maybe you didn't know both of those. You did? Okay, I give up. I dont' seem to have any interesting secrets, unless you want to know about my penchant for wearing comfortable shoes. And I almost always have either gel medium or paint on my fingernails. Oh, and I have three grown sons and 6 grandchildren. Now, you are so bored, you'll be happy I'm giving up. Sorry, Evie. Maybe I'll try again another day.

The way this works is, if you read this then you have been tagged and need to share secrets about yourself. Ha! Let's see what you have to share. Janene

Altered Book Progress 3

Moving right along in the new altered book, here are the next pages.

The little burdie page is a piece I bought from art pal, Evie. Here is her site, in case you want to see her work. I recommend it highly.

Using only her little canvas, and some beautiful paper, I kept this spread simple. Sometimes one just needs a little break - even in an altered book. this is a place to rest your eyes and just enjoy the image. Click on it to enlarge it and then see if it makes you smile. Everyone loves the burdie.

The following spread gets busier. Using sheet music, collaged birds, a bit of fabric and a quote, it is a happy spread.

The next spread used collaged penguins and a shadow done in smudged pencil over white paint with the text overlaid on it.
That is all the art work to share for today.

I had my class with Jeanne today. We practiced brush strokes on paper, with varying amount of moisture. Just an excercise to get the feel for how to judge the dampness of the paper and how to get certain effects depending on the moisture. This was a low humidity day, so my paper dried faster than I would have liked, but I learned that if I put glass or plastic down first and wet the front and the back of the paper, it will hold the moisture longer and will dry more evenly. Every week I learn a little something more.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Altered Book Progress 2

So far this book is moving along well. I am not one to use a lot of the gimmicks and fun techniques that a lot of people use in their altered books. That just isn't my style. I love images. I love quotes. I love putting them together. Too many gimmicks are distracting and take the interest away from the images. If they are used to enhance a work, I'd use them, but just to use them for the sake of doing it - well, like I said, just not my style. Most of my bird images are from calendars and magazines, like National Geographic, or Birds and Blooms. Most of my quotes are from The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, third edition.

I cut the first page to make an opening where the title will show through.

The second page is a spread using a Post card, postage stamp, a quote, rubber stamps, acrylic paints and Krylon gold leafing pen. The opposite page used found images from internet.

The next spread is "A Bird in the Hand is worth 2 in the bush". This I drew and painted with acrylic paints. There is one line of found text, over which I placed one of those clear acrylic things. I also used transfer letters, a postage stamp and a stencil.

The book was looking too blue, so I changed the pallette to make it pop. The hummingbird spread was done with a background of acrylic stain, handmade specialty paper, collage, postage stamp and rubber stamps.

Now that the rhythm of the piece is broken up, I thought I'd make a dark page. These little owls were just waiting for a page that would show them off. I used paints to extend the picture to the edges of the pages and added in the extra branches and pine needles to finish it off. I had sanded the dark part of the photo, but decided it was distracting, so I just painted over that. Then I wanted a little text - but nothing that would take the interest away from the pair of owls. I found the little caption in my box of movie quotes (got them at a garage sale). Then the letters for the word WHO were cut out and glued on. Again, I wanted them to be there, but not to ruin the balance of the spread. Then as a last touch I placed clear discs over the eyes.

The next spread was done in in browns. A little image of baby birds in the nest and another with a bird family peering out of tree looked good together. Using handmade papers and extending the images with acrlic paints, this spread practically made itself. I used an appropriate quote and carried it across the two pages to tie it all together.

I thought I'd put up a tutorial for altering a book, but I realize that I can only really teach my own style - and everyone needs to find their own style. None of the people I know that are making altered books use the same methods or techniques. The common thread is using the book and altering it. Other than that, there are so many interesting things one can do - artists need to explore those things and see how their own styles develop.

I'll continue to upload this book as it develops, as an example of how I work.

One of the things I do, is to take out pages as I go. I do not prepare the book ahead of time. But because of the glue between pages and the collage materials used, the book needs to be thinned as work progresses. Otherwise the book would get fatter and fatter and would not close. I like my books to be flat when I'm done - so they fit on a bookshelf just like any other normal book. I don't know how thick the pages will be when I'm making them. It depends what I add. The more layers I add, the more blank pages I need to remove. But, I'm careful to make sure the integrety of the spine is protected. You don't want it falling apart on you.

I'd be happy to answer any questions, and invite your comments. Janene

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Altered book starter

I've been rethinking how I am using my art time, and decided I need to concentrate on my two favorite things, painting and altering books. So, I decided to pull out a book and start another one. This is the way I started.

1. Find a book with a title that suggests or matches a theme. I wanted to do a book on birds, so I chose "A Streak of Light". The way hummingbirds dart in the sunshine and hawks can dive like a streak of light, I thought this would be appropriate. This book has just less than 200 pages. It is a blank canvas! Ready to alter. I have not read it, and never had the intention of reading it. I just liked the title when I forked over the 50 cents for it at the used book sale. One of the things I like about altering books is that you have so many surfaces to work on. Unlike buying a stretched canvas that you use once and hopefully sell - you now have 200 surfaces! For a fraction of the cost.

2. Collect images. I have files of images taken from magazines, greeting cards, stamps, photos, fabrics, and found images from the web. I file them by subject, so I reached for the BIRDS file. I found the front of a little wooden birdhouse that had come apart in the winter. It may just work on the cover, or I may want to cut a little niche in the cover to accomodate it. I like the weathered wood. I tucked it into the file so I would find it if I ever got around to doing a Bird book or assemblage.

3. Collect text. I have files in My Docs on the computer where I save quotes, lyrics, and jokes - filed by subject. Again, I clicked on the BIRD sub-file in my quote file and started selecting possible text for use. I printed them.

By now I'm starting to get ideas for combining text with some images.

4. Next, I start tucking images and quotes into the book. I do not have an established order yet - and may not develop one. I don't know yet. I'll see how it works out, and what direction my muse takes me. These things usually just evolve, unless I'm using a text that I'm illustrating. Using random quotes gives me lots of freedom.

There are way too many images and more text than I need. I need to start the editing down process now. I have not done any construction yet - no pages glued together, no pages removed, no paints or surface techniques applied.

5. Start to develop the style and content of the book. Images often suggest surface techniques. The colors of the images will also suggest colors for the pages. Decide on the order of the images and quotes. (Trust me, you'll find more as you go along, and it's best to give yourself some leeway to add or subtract as you work.)

This photo shows where I'm at right now with the book. Piles of stuff and ideas flying around in my head. I'll show other steps as the work progresses. You are welcome to take this journey with me.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Back to art

It's been a busy day so far. I signed out of a few Yahoo groups that I used to be active in, but have only been lurking of late. I also signed on for two others. One is for Raw Art, called rawvisions. The other one is Artists Round Table. That one is starting a workshop based on Bernie Berlin's ATC book. I started it today. So, for lesson one, I have created two little ATCs. I have one more to do with a different technique. The first one here is just random watercolor, then doodle something from the splotches. The second on is WC on a baby wipe, cut to ATC size and decorated. I used acrylic paint for the little bird.

I also joined the International Association of Altered Book Artists today. I want to get back to making altered books ASAP.

Jill called and wants Dan and me to publish my AB on Sanborn to accompany his song for a single release. Hmmmmm....... I'm trying to think how this would work. It can be done. hmmmm....

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Foggy days and yard sales

Ever been fogged in and shivering cold? Well, you're not alone. This coastal weather in June and July can be miserable. I left the inner valley with temperatures in 80s to go to coast where the warmest it got was low 60's. What a time to put on a family yard sale. Actually the whole town had a yard sale, that was the reason we did one too. If I ever say the words "let's have a yard sale" - well, please have me committed to an asylum immediately before I do myself any more harm. It was not fun. But it accomplished a lot, and my cousin and his wife needed the help - so waving my arm and saying I'll be right there - off I went. We had a good time together and enjoyed each other's company. For years we have only said hello in passing, with changing shifts caring for my aunt. Now, we are having time for conversations and meals. My aunt would be so pleased, and that makes all of us even happier. The garage is empty. A big load is lifted from their shoulders, and I'm glad I could help. I even got to see my brother and sister in law, just back from China.

I haven't had any time for art. I intend to make up for it this week.