Monday, August 19, 2013

“Rubber” Stamps You Can Make Without Carving

Recently I needed a specific size and subject of stamp and didn’t have one and didn’t have time to hunt one down. I did have some bags of foam stickers and I decided to cut out what I needed and mount it to a block of wood.

I used a pen to enhance a few details

It turned out so well that I had my husband cut some more blocks, and I stuck some geometric shapes onto them to see what kinds of repeat designs I could make.


This was done super-fast and I haven’t had time to go back and work on the idea, but you can see from the images that there are endless possibilities. Craft stores, dollar stores, Target bargain sections, many variety stores (Rite Aide, etc.) and even places like Office Max and Staples usually offer bags of pre-cut foam stickers in animal, letter, number, geometric, dinosaur, and other shapes. You could cut off parts of animals and recombine to create new creatures, combine geometric shapes, and cut out images from larger stickers.

You can “enhance” your handcut images with pen or paint to add fine details and smooth edges if you wish.

The paper I used makes
these appear a bit waffley
in the scan

You can also purchase sheet foam with or without sticker backs to make your own larger creations.


You can print an image from the stamp and then glue it to the other side of the block and cover it with varnish or clear tape so you can easily see what the image is when the stamps are stored.

This was actually printed sideways
and vertically to test varieties

You can cut blocks yourself if you buy a little hand saw and some lengths of trim material. (Mine are cut from a piece of leftover particle board shelving.)

 These won’t last forever but they are so inexpensive who cares? Be sure to clean your stamp well after each use and they will be useable for a long time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tea Time in the Art Studio


Well yes – we can always enjoy a nice cup of tea. Or in hot weather, I am more likely to imbibe iced tea. But do you realize what a little treasure you have in your hand when you are finished dipping your tea bag?

It’s the paper. Tea bag paper is special. It’s a lightweight but very strong filter paper, usually made from abaca hemp, with sometimes wood pulp added. I’m talking about the good old-fashioned folded and stapled sort of bag. (Heat sealed bags use thermoplastic as adhesive. ptui. Let’s stick with the stapled ones.) 

I’m sure you know that brewed tea is a marvelous stain for “aging” paper, giving it lovely tones of buff, golden brown, dark brown, etc. depending on the type of tea and the length of time you soak your paper with it. But I want to address the paper itself.  

staple removed,
tube revealed.
Empty out at ends.
First you want to disassemble and empty the tea bags. After you have made your tea, set the bags aside to dry. I like to use the “family size” bags for making iced tea to keep in the fridge, and the larger size is nice to work with. But any size bag that you can unfold is fine. Glued bags are pretty much worthless for this technique.
I find needle-nosed pliers to be very handy for removing the staple. Sometimes the staples are too tight to slide the pliers under, so the point of a thin narrow-tipped paint spatula or paring knife will do. Be careful to always push the blade under the staple away from your other hand. Hold the bag down at the bottom with one hand, with the staple at the top. Pushing away from your hand, loosen the two prongs of the staple so they stand erect, then turn the bag over and slide the end of the spatula under the flat part, or use the pliers at this point. Pull the staple out carefully. The paper is tough and will resist, but if you tug too hard you can tear it.

Shake out the tea. (Ours goes into the compost bin.) You now have a cylinder of paper with a seam. Run your finger under the seam while pulling one edge away gently and it should open easily. Flatten it out. Now, isn’t it pretty even at this stage? The tea will have stained it according to the type of tea. Mine come out a beautiful golden and brown using ordinary store brand teabags.


You can use the paper as is. One artist coated the papers in wax, sometimes including a leaf or other small flat object. She strung these up to create a “curtain” that absolutely glowed when the light shown through. And not incidentally, the fragrance of the bees wax was soothing and delightful.


But wait! As they say in the commercials, “There’s more!!”


Yup – you can stain those tea bags further with transparent colors – watercolors, inks, acrylic inks – experiment! They will take on color while retaining their striations and varied intensity of tones. Now they are suitable for use in many kinds of collage.
Stained with acrylic inks. Upper left stained
with Winston metallic ink.

 I did a quick abstract to show how nice they look juxtaposed, or layered, or just by themselves. You can cover another object (a box, for example) with them. Add them to assemblages. Make greeting cards. The effect is lovely and can’t really be reproduced easily any other way.
I liked the dark spots that appeared
on one piece, so I duplicated them
on a couple of others using water-soluble
And just look - I discovered that I can add a picture frame in my editing software! 


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Remember that today celebrates our Independence and freedom from tyranny. Lets all be watchful - these are qualities to be protected and preserved.

I can't say that I have done a lot of 4th artwork...but I have a few things on celebrating,

Too Many Bubbles, ATC on Bubble Paper


We Celebrate

as well as on hot weather, which we are certainly experiencing here in Western Oregon. We are normally a temperate and well-watered climate, and we natives are pretty uncomfortable with heat! (Especially those of us whose AC has died.) So I'm putting in a few sun-heat related images as well.

Watercolor and colored pencil ATC


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More About Dale Copeland, Collage Exchange and some Books

Yesterday I introduced my blog with a description of the International Collage Exchange and a few examples of my submissions in the 2013 15th annual exchange. I will admit that I had wanted to do this for years, but always made myself “too busy.” THIS year I decide that it was high time to invest in some of those projects and adventures that I have put off for too long. It’s really past time for me to become a deep-sea diver or ride a camel across Australia, but there is plenty of time (if and when I make it) for some of these long-anticipated projects. So the collage exchange became a high priority in order to complete before the mid-March deadline. Making that commitment, it was easy to soldier on. And since I also made the commitment to try some specific techniques or explore certain materials I was able to do some exploring while I was at it. This was a major break-through for a workaholic who really does not need to work full-time at a part-time business….but does.

For those who want to know more about the collage exchange and see some past exhibits:

Dale is a real go-getter when it comes to promoting art, as well as being a self-sustaining artist. In addition to everything else, she self-publishes books of her work, the work of others, her own collection of collages from the exchange, and books on other aspects of her passions – bookbinding, assemblage, Taekwon-Do. Yes, this woman of a certain age - artistic, creative, inventive, curious, joyful – is also passionate about Taekwon-Do. Go figger.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Starting a new Blog - What a Pain!

Once you get started, it's easy. Trying to get the danged thing set up is a pain in the patoot!

A Collage for the Internatonal Collage Exchange based in
New Zealand but trading around the world
Here are a few of my artworks to get us going.

Dale Copeland runs an International Collage Exchange. Artists from all over the world send their works to Dale by a specific date. One may be offered for sale. One goes into an archive somewhere in the world. The rest are exchanged between the other participants. You don't know what you'll get, but it's great fun sharing and making artful friends.

This piece is 8x10 and incorporates decorative papers, fabric swatches, fashion clippings from a 1920s catalog, a clothing label and some small embellishments.