Making a New Kind of Book Part 1

Dear Liza,

This week in our Tuesday Thursday art group we are starting a new kind of book. It is called a Concertina book because it is folded like a Concertina, or accordion.

Ruth Inman, as usual, is our teacher. The supply list for this project was long because it is a multimedia project that includes an old book, fabric, and an endless list of possible collage materials.

First, we separated the hardcover book from its covers with a sharp X-acto blade.

Then, after some careful measuring, we made the Concertina part by gluing pages together and giving them a sharp crease in exactly the right place.

Since this book is going be all black and white, Ruthie showed us ideas for making interesting patterns…

And we let them dry while we chatted about other things to use for patterns.

I used black acrylic paint and the spongy wrappers from our Christmas fruit, cut up meat trays, a carved wine cork, and an old kitchen sponge.


We needed to let the first two-page spread dry before adding any more. I was mostly happy with it, but when it was time for the second two-page spread, I decided to use more black and white, with less grey. You can see how many different ways a black and white page can look!

Spread number 1
Spread number 2 (for now)

I like it, but there will be lots more added before it is all done. I will show you the finished product…um…. when it is finished! So there.

Love,

Grandma Judy

… More Art with Ruthie!

Dear Liza,

It feels like forever since I have gotten to get online with my friend Ruth Inman and my fellow artsy students. I have really missed it!

And Thursday, we made some adorable snowmen. Ruth found the original at the blog Adventures in Fiber, by artist Paulette Insall, at carpaulette.blogspot.nl. I decided to photograph the process in case I wanted to do it again. I’m glad I did, because I would never remember all the bits.

First, we laid down letters. I used different sized stencils and waterproof Sharpie and Micron Pens. I wanted to play with pinks and blues in the snow, so I collaged some printed paper. Some text torn from a Mad Libs tablet gave it a nice full bottom layer.

The next step was to add some color. I added just a few watercolor brush strokes of pink and blue.

Of course, in collage, things change once you lay them down. Since part of the charm of this piece is seeing through the layers, I put some some white acrylic on with crumpled saran wrap, to soften the colors and create a nice blizzard effect. It took several layers before I liked the way it looked.

Then it was time for a tree. A nice, curvy tree… Ruth recommended finding a suitable curve in a magazine, and I did! It was a bit too light, but that’s what Sharpies are for. A little trimming and gluing and I had my tree. I sponged a bit more white on, to keep it in the blizzard.

I used watercolors for the decorations for the tree, though Ruth had a lot of fun hunting up the right colors in a magazine. The snowman was next, drawn with a Micron, with text in his tummy and a collaged magazine paper hat. I added some black Micron dots and white Posca dots for the edge of the hat.

I used a thin Micron for his face, and orange watercolor pencil for his nose. A little heart from the same paper as his hat put on the final touch!

As I have said before, collage is very freeing. You glue and sponge and add until it looks like you want. You can’t really mess it up…. if you don’t like it, you’re just not done yet. Add more, paint over bits you don’t like, let it dry and start again.

And above all, have fun!

Love,

Grandma Judy

New Art Comes Home

Dear Liza,

At the beginning of October, we visited SideStreet Art Gallery’s new show and bought a wonderful ceramic plate created by Rabon Thompson. We had to leave the plate at the gallery, though. It was part of a show, and moving it would make everything cock-eyed.

But Friday, we got to bring it home!

Of course, that led to the big question. Where should it go? Our walls are already pretty full of wonderful art, collected on our travels and from local artists. I plan on actually using the plate as a plate sometimes, so I wanted to have it close to the dining room. Bridgett found the perfect place!

Once we got the plate home, we realized that it has the same colors as our favorite painting, done by our friend David Gettman over forty years ago. Bridgett found the perfect place, where we can actually see the plate and the painting at the same time.

Of course, hanging it in that spot meant we had to move the Gary Carmody art, which meant moving other pictures. It was a domino effect of re-hanging.

But now, all is well. The pictures and new plate are handy and harmonious, and all is right with the world.
Love,

Grandma Judy

New Art On-Line

Dear Liza,

A dear friend, Lynn Huff, referred me to an artist who does youtube.com videos. The teacher is Karen Rice. She has many, many followers, a lovely British accent, and a fine hand at watercolors. I decided to give it a try, as Ruthie Inman says, ”for practice”.

Here is the picture Karen Rice was having us paint:

She used quinacridome gold, burnt sienna, and ultramarine. I have the sienna and ultramarine, but no gold. I used a yellow ochre instead.

I did one picture yesterday, but was so busy trying to follow the directions that I forgot to take pictures as I went along! Here is that first painting, all finished:

Doing another one today, I gained from my practice, but watercolor is such a chancy medium that I never know how it’s going to come out. Today, I followed the directions carefully…

I sketched the main parts of the picture with a pencil, then wetted the paper and laid down the wet-in-wet background.

I sprinkled salt in some of the wet paint to give it texture, then let it all dry.

Next, I borrowed a sea sponge from Auntie Bridgett to dab in colors for the foliage. This part is hard because if the paint is too wet, it runs together and doesn’t look leafy. The tricks seems to be to add thousands of tiny, separate flecks without getting them too close together.

Once the foliage was dry, I put in the trunks of the trees. This made the whole forest make sense, tying all the leaves together. I kept adding more blue to make it more moody and contrast with the bright background. I know my picture is more BLUE than Karen Rice’s, but I’m okay with that.

This lesson has taught me how to make this sort of picture, but also a more important lesson: If you think you ‘can’t get’ something, keep trying! Keep looking and dabbing and …. who knows what might happen?

Love,

Grandma Judy

Arty Leaves, Leafy Art

Dear Liza,

I love learning new things! Last week, my friend and art teacher Ruth Inman showed me a way to put the beauty of Fall leaves on paper so I can keep them, send them to friends, or even scan them into my computer to use later.

First, of course, you have to collect the leaves. This gets you out of the house and noticing things, which is always good. If the leaves are wet, lay them between paper towels with something heavy on top for an hour or so.

Place dry leaves between the pages of a heavy book for a few days.

Once your leaves are flat and dry, they are ready. You will need acrylic paints, a brush, watercolor paper, and extra paper to paint and press on.


Paint your choice of colors on the back of the leaf, then carefully lay it, wet side UP, on a clean sheet of newspaper. Lay a piece of watercolor paper over it and rub to get lots of paint from the leaf to the paper. Then carefully peel the leaf off and set the paper aside to dry.

You will learn as you go how much is too little or too much. Be prepared to make a few that you don’t like until you get the hang of it.

TOO MUCH, DARLING…
NOT ENOUGH!

Putting Fall colors on randomly, you can get good effects. Sometimes, a single dot of pure yellow or blue makes the whole thing pop.

JUST RIGHT

Once your prints are dry, you can trim them and glue them onto cards. If you have a scanner, you can scan the prints into your computer and make dozens more.

I enjoyed leaf printing so much, I did a bunch more this morning!

Thanks, Ruthie!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Kawandi News

Dear Liza,

A few weeks ago I told you about discovering the art of Kawandi quilting, and how the Siddi people of southwest Africa brought it to India hundreds of years ago. I posted about my first try, then my second quilt made with Ruth Andresen’s tie silk.

And then something wonderful happened! I got a message from Irmgard Jacob, a lady who who lives in Ontario, Canada, and we wrote back and forth about Kawandi. “Isn’t it nice we can connect and work together like this across so many miles?” She said. She has even visited India and has family there.

This is the second time my blog has led to connections with friendly, interesting strangers, and it is like opening another door to the world.

Six colors, cut in more regular shapes….

I took time off from Kawandi to do another project (which I will tell you about when the time is right) and then wanted to do another one. Auntie Bridgett found this old piece of Christmas decoration that she wasn’t happy with, and offered it as a backing for my next piece. Thanks, Bridgett!

Since I would rather use what I have than go buy something at a shop, I dug into my fabric box and came up with six colors that go together.

This time, instead of random squares and rectangles, I cut most of the pieces the same size, about a 2×4” rectangle. That allowed for easier overlapping and fewer stray corners. It also made for some very thick overlaps, so next time I will use thinner fabrics.

Since this was my third Kawandi, it went a lot faster. I had the hang of the long stitches and the more regular lines of color.

Almost done!

I got it done and am mostly happy with it. I don’t think I will do any more for a while, because I need to sit at the work table to do it and my back gets tired of being hunched over. I do enjoy playing with the colors and how quickly a piece comes together.

I think my next piece, whatever kind of needlework it is, will be of brighter colors. The rich reds and blacks of the Kawandi, and the dark greys and greens of my other project, are lovely. But I want to use some hot yellows and oranges, I think, to celebrate the summer.

And I’ ll show you that one when it happens!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Garden Journal Update

Dear Liza,

Last year, my friend Ruth Inman taught me how to make art journals from scratch, out of boxes and glue and scraps. She was so enthusiastic and clear in her directions, and the the supplies so cheap, I couldn’t NOT do it.

So I made one. A saltine cracker box, some art papers from Auntie Bridgett, and voila, a journal. I decided to use it to write (and maybe even paint) about our new garden plot.


And I have been working in it ever since. Some days I just write what’s happening, but I usually will go back and add some water color, to make it prettier. It also lets me show the weather and plants better.

And I have really enjoyed it. Since the Journal is not for anyone but me, I am not intimidated about not being perfect. I work in pencil from my photos of the things in the garden, Watercolor, then ink with a waterproof Micron pen.

As it turns out, this is going to be an accurate record of my garden! It will be useful next year, when I am deciding what to plant and where to put it. It will remind me of the little details that are easily forgotten. And I will get to enjoy my pictures, as well!

I am happy to be Art-ing, gardening, and eating.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Another Art Challenge

Dear Liza,

My friend Ruth Inman gave us another challenge this week. It was to use text as a background for a piece of art. She offered some pieces of text to use, but I wanted to do my own. I used some stencils that I just got last week and went over the letters in waterproof ink.

I got my acrylic paints and an old credit card and scraped some color over the words.


The greens and yellows are a good start….


One thing I really like about art, and the artistic process, is that you learn as you go along. If something isn’t right, you work on it until it is. In this case, the pink made it even more Spring-y, but was way too intense. The letters were fighting with the colors! Help!

Auntie Bridgett suggested I put some white outlines around the letters, which helped a bit, but not enough. So I darkened the letters with some watercolor pencil and lightened the red bits up with tiny dots of Posca marker. It was better!

I still need to work on getting my stencils letters straight, but that will come with practice.

Have fun with your art!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Trying Something New with Something Old

Dear Liza,

I always like trying something new.


I have been making Art Journals with Ruth Inman for a while, using cracker boxes and other leftovers for covers. But the other day when I found this really old, falling-apart literature book, I thought …. Why not use ITS cover as a cover?


First, I helped the book finish falling apart, trimming the cover and selected pages with an Exacto knife. I saved the very old 2nd place ribbon I found inside. The handwritten inventory numbers and check-out pocket touched my librarian’s heart, so I made sure they were safe. I found one of my favorite poems, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The Rhodora”, among the anthologized works, and saved it, as well as old illustrations.


Lovely, historic insides

I grabbed a yellow printed fabric from my box, thinking the texture looked like old alligator skin. Once I had it glued onto the cover, however, it became clear that I had mis-judged. It was too light. I resisted the urge to tear it off and decided to highlight the texture and darken the effect with some acrylic paint. It was better.

Improving the spine fabric

Sewing the signatures in

I stiffened the spine with some card stock, then laid in the inside fabric. I made four ‘signatures’ (sets of pages) and pierced the spine carefully to sew the signatures in.

A new book from an old book!

Since the book was printed in 1932, I plan to use it as a journal for my research and ponderings on history. I have been researching English and French history, and am now looking into the many places where they intersect. I am also curious about how they interacted with the Holy Roman Empire and, further away, the many dynasties of the Chinese Empire.

This historic, hand-made journal will give me a place, and an inspiration, to collect these thoughts, as well and other brain bits that pop up.

The Inspiration….

“Tell them dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,

Then beauty is its own excuse for being.”

Love,

Grandma Judy

Hopeful Collage

Dear Liza,

I have been having so much fun experimenting with mixed media! Putting watercolors, other paints, and collage together to tell about a feeling, or a day, just makes so much sense to me.

This piece is from Easter weekend. When I was out walking, I thought about how all springs are new beginnings. But THIS spring, with vaccines making us safer, we are being released from Covid captivity in addition to our cold winter isolation. This spring feels especially free-ing.

I collected some bits from my collage box, including candy wrappers and the little paper sleeve that was wrapped around my ice cream cone from the new Dairy Hill Creamery, down on Hawthorne.


I knew I wanted the ‘sad’ side on the left and the ‘happy’ side on the right, so I put some watercolors down for a first layer.

To show more clearly what made the sad side so sad, I stenciled and collaged some Covid-looking circles, and even spelled ‘Covid’ out in letters. Moving on from the sad, I laid down an ice cream cone wrapper bridge over a river made from a chocolate-wrapper bit of tinfoil.

I needed a happy side to be bright, so I stenciled a sun in a variety of yellows. The city is cut from an on-sale art paper from Collage art supplies. The bird was on a birthday card. The ‘JOY’ balloons are also from the ice cream wrapper.

To finish it off, I outlined the balloons and letters, and gave some detail to the sun. And to remember that this happened on Easter, I put some pretty eggs by the bridge.

Giving it a critical look, I realize that I made the water under the bridge wrong. But overall, I am pleased with the piece. It captures how I was feeling and incorporates bits of the day. I hope you have fun doing art this week!

Love,

Grandma Judy