Tag Archives: collage

Dark Shrine

Artfest: Michael DeMeng Class

I can’t believe that I haven’t blogged about my ArtFest Projects! This is my project from Michael DeMeng’s Transparency Collage Class. The supply list included a 5’x7″ frame. I hoped that he meant the picture hole part should be 5″x7″ and thankfully I was right. This frame was actually something I found in the art asylum over two years ago. I painted it silver and planned to turn it into a shrine. Unfortunately, it sat around and gathered dust as I did not find inspiration. I was glad to be able to turn it into something unique.

Michael DeMeng’s transparency class was held in the art asylum which ROCKED! We were able to look for lots of extra cool things to add to our assemblages (said with a Michael accent) I really did learn quite a bit in this class. I learned some new words (although they are coined Michael words) like the “usuag” actually not sure how to spell it but it stands for the usual colors he likes to mix. He shared a lot about mixing paints, creating washes and layering. He shared how to put a wash over metal (heat it with a heat gun first) He also talked about how assemblage is all about problem solving and that you need a ‘visual bridge’ to bring pieces together. . I didn’t take any notes or do any journaling this year, just wasn’t into it, but I wish I had written a few things down in this class.

SMartfest2008 015

I do admit that after taking his class I understand what all the buz was about. Michael is so funny, attentive, personable (uses your first name in a way that isn’t creepy) and really wants you to learn. He encouraged us to use new power tools, never tried to push his ideas or do something for us. He gave great feedback and though the hour long critique was long, it was also valuable. I haven’t really been in an adult art critique since college. How many times do we as artists working in our own homes get that opportunity? I almost wish there had been a platform for more peer to peer critique and feedback. I also learned how to make paper look burned without burning by using some simple paint techniques.

demeng shrine in progress

My favorite new supply was regular household caulk. It was great for texture and added depth. I used it over most of the front of my shrine. I didn’t have the exact types of acrylic washes that Michael recommends, but watered down my regular acrylics to get a similar effects. With the transparency we used a little white paint on the back of small areas to help them stand out more, this is how he makes the eyes really stand out.


The inside is even more layered and complex than the outside. I covered most of the silver painted frame with strips of old book pages(inside and out) before doing different washes and texture layers. I included puzzle pieces, an old compass, some mini apothecary bottles and several different transparencies. I had plans for many things to dangle off other areas and drilled the necessary holes (using electric tools was a new thing for me.) Since I ran out of time in the class these items did not get added at the time, I am still debating whether to add them, or leave it as is. (see some more detail pictures in my flickr Artfest 2008 Set)

When I am working on a series… titles are a cinch! But when I have something like this that is out of the norm it is more difficult. “Eyes Wide Forward” is what comes to me right now, we will see how it sits.

Experiment #1 Bobbin Sewing

Experiment #1 Bobbin Sewing

This is the first of many experiments from “Exploring Textile Arts” that I am working on for the month of June 2008 for Jen’s Challenge. It uses Decorative Bobbin Sewing. (pg 88) The point behind this style of sewing is to use thicker fancy and metallic threads that ordinarily wouldn’t go through the eye of a needle. You put the fancy thread on the bobbin and sew from the bottom. I don’t actually have any of these fancy threads and I am really in a USE WHAT YOU HAVE frame of mind, since I HAVE so much. But I do want to have quilted text in my new series of work so I need to practice and experiment with the best ways of sewing in words.

The text that is sewn several times is “Digging in the dark earth” and will be part of my just starting Journey Series, this one about gardening. I printed several cursive style fonts in different sizes on paper in REVERSE, then layered that paper on the top, a felt center, with the printed fabric on bottom. I then free-motion stitched this fabric sandwich using the bobbin method.

The GREEN thread words are the ones in this fashion. WOW! it is very, very hard to sew backwards cursive! I still need a LOT of practice in free motion anyway, but trying to write script is pretty hard.

The BLUE thread is when I gave up on the bobbin backwards style and flipped my fabric to the top. For one of these trials I wrote free-hand with a pen and then sewed over it. You can see the shadow of the ink, so if I end up with this method I will need to BUY some washout fabric pens or pencils… which I really need anyways to do some of the other quilting things I have planned. 

My final trial on this piece, I just sewed the words completely free-hand.(they go crooked at the end.) This has some possibilities, but I am most leaning towards the write with a washable pen and sew over that.

I ALSO have letters that my sewing machine can do for me, so that was my next trial. (But it doesn’t really fit with the experiments in the book, just something I need to try for this series.) Finally, I wrapped up with a few practice free-motion flowers.

So that is today’s experiment. I believe I will keep with about an 8×10 size for these experiments and put them together in a fabric journal with a printed copy of my blog notes on the process.

One more practice with more words. This time using the pen method I think I like best. Now to get some washable pens. But I still feel like it is WAY Messier than I want for the piece. Ultimately it will be blue thread on blue fabric and the sky behind a figure. The idea is for it to be background that you would need to work at to read, but that does NOT detract from the other parts of the piece. (Can you read it?)

June Challenge

Like Lab 555 from last year, Jen is again challenging her brave friends to pick one of those dusty art books and do EVERY PROJECT! in it this month. June is the month I start my vacation (June 20th to be exact) but all the kids… and teachers.. already have summer fever. So I usually start reamping up my summer art projects about this time anyways.

I want to work towards a cohesive body of work within my medium of choice, fabric. I have really only been dabbling in it for the past 4 years. a little of this and a project here. But if I am going to show again (and yes, I believe I have figured out that I do want to do so) then I need a body of work. I still have old windows and had plans/dreams of doing more in that medium, but I have just moved on. I need to face that fact and dig in.

So this book I picked is perfect for that goal. Now I don’t even plan to do the whole book, it is a TEXTBOOK full of techniques and methods. It has 2 main sections textures and color. I am most drawn to the texture catagory (texture is my favorite part about working in fabric) and there are a ton of techniques that are totally new to me. So my goal will be to work with these different techniques of texture INTO a new series of pieces.

I have a few prelim sketches that run along the self-portrait “journey” feeling. but then I am also drawn to doing my same style of nudes that I did in my window series paper collages. So I am not sure how this series will take shape. But it WILL have new texture techniques from this book!

Because if I don’t say it, I won’t do it… so here is my ~PLAN~
Texture Activities (from part one of the afore mentioned book) that I will TRY and SHARE (not necessarily in this order)
1~ Random-cut fabric weaving
2~ Pleated Effects
3~ Machine Open Work
4~ Trapunto
5~ Double needle stitching

Then in JULY I will move into the COLOR chapter

Stretch Your Triptych

triptych in progress

May’s Monthly Challenge from Jen is to make a Triptych. Although I am not quite done, the month almost is, so I wanted to show my progress thus far and hope to complete it this weekend. The challenge has 3 additional criteria…

  • it must have some tape > see my measuring tape?
  • a word > mine will be “measure up”
  • some random found object from a junk drawer > since I am using fabric I went into one of my “junk bags” to randomly select my iron-on transfer images of the 3-graces and the crows.

The background is from a very old piece I had started that was going to be a “Last Supper” with circus people for an EBSQ show. But I never liked how the people were coming together so I only had the room part. I sliced it into the 3 required parts for this project and added my tape and images. I still plan to add words, some hanging ribbon of sorts, some trim and beads to frame each piece and the required word. It will also get some additional quilting and needs to have a backing to finish it up. Sounds like a lot, but it is a fairly small piece. Each of the 3 pieces are about 8×9 inches. Since this is the first art I have done since ArtFest and I really only spent the last 2 days on it, I am fine with the progress.

I am struggling a bit right now with some creative self-doubts as the things I make pile up in my house with no one wanting to show or buy them. Part of that is the necessary footwork I haven’t done to get it out there, but part is some questioning of my artistic role and/or what kind of outcomes my creations ultimately need. Anyways, I will figure it out. Summer is around the corner for a few months to play and decide the next steps.

I will post again with the finished piece, but click on the picture to see the lareger views of this one!


ArtFest Flowers

Flowers for Swap

For my special Artfest friends I am creating some flowers for a swap. They are supposed to be some “before” flowers and some “after” flowers. So I thought dog/cat and paper/fabric combos. As I have gone from a cat lover to an avid dog fanatic (I do still love my cats, but I am not as obssessed about them as I am Charger) and I have gone from a mostly paper artist to a mostly fabric artist.

For the fabric flowers I am using a tutorial from Molly Chicken that I found from a podcast called Crafty Pod.

I picked Jen up yesterday and she helped me finish my flowers (thanks Jen!) and we will be leaving shortly for Port Townsend. EXCITING!!

Jen’s Challenge Week 7: Simplicity

simple hands

Simplicity is the property, condition, or quality of being simple or un-combined. It often denotes beauty, purity or clarity.”

I think of simplicity as very spiritual and for me the color that came instantly to mind was white. To simplify your life is very ZEN and reminiscent of monks or nuns that give up all the trappings of the world to seek a higher power. So I knew I wanted to create something that was very simple in color with a subject that has a peace about it. I also wanted to include circles, round edges have more simplicity than hard straight lines.

When I went to pick an image, I realized that I have a sketch on the work table that would be perfect. Originally, the plans for it were very colorful, layered and complex. So I decided to deconstruct the drawing to some main lines and do a simple single colored stitch. Although, I am not a big ‘pink person’, I am actually very thrilled with how this came out and might do a few more like this.

When you look at this piece, what do you see? I would like to know if the image is obvious to the new viewer, or if it is too abstracted or too subtle. Click here if you want to see the photo inspiration.

About 81/2″ by 12″ totaly including ribbon. Created by simple zigzag stitch on fabric with satin trim. For Jen’s Challenge Week 7 Simplicity As usual, a great challenge that I am glad to have accepted!

Jen’s Challenge Week 4: Citrus Collage

Citrus Fabric Mandala collage

So I too was feeling the COLD weather this week with every morning starting at 25 degrees F. For mild little Seattle that is pretty cold. The air is so dry that it crackles. I jumped at the IDEA Of Jen’s Challenge #4 this week… because I too wished I was somewhere warmer.

Right away I knew I wanted to make a mandala. I haven’t made any in awhile and they often look like flowers (another spring and summer icon) So I collected some citrus type images and started digitally slicing them. But then I looked at the challenge again and realized I wasn’t really PUSHING myself with this. SO I thought, “I haven’t even doing a fabric mandala.” although I have thought of it many times and dismissed it for the sake of difficulty. So I went half-way and decided to transfer my digital collage to fabric and then embellish it. But even after ironing it onto some fabric, I realized I still had not really PUSHED.

So I went ahead and dug out some citrus colored fabrics. (If I wasn’t on a supply diet I would have run to the store and bought some delicious citrus fabric prints.) Cut out many triangles, positioned them into a radial pattern then sewed away with many of the different cool stitches on my new(ish) machine. I had some tension issues so I am not totally happy with the results. But I am SO glad I finally did a fabric mandala! (the image is sliced off on the sides due to scanner limitations, when it is light again I will try some photos)

Check out what other artists have made for this challenge:

This is Stacy’s Citrus Entry for Jen’s Challenge #4

and here is Eliza’s Painting of fruit-goodness.

Purple Paper Quilt

purplepaperquilt01, originally uploaded by Charger’s Mommy.

Possibly for the True Colors in a Mixed-media Paper Quilt Challenge

This is still a work in progress. It is actually 12×12, but I scanned it and my scanner only does 10×12 so a few inches are missing. It is several layers of torn paper, many left over from my ArtErratica color tag swap including some dyed paper towels ala Collage Unleashed by Traci Bautista.

I am noticing several of my common themes in personal imagery (which I will post more on later)

What do you notice?

Free scrabble words for your collage

words, originally uploaded by Charger’s Mommy.

Playing with some scrabble tiles and my scanner. Please feel free to download and use this word sheet in your collage! and be sure to share your art with me when you do!