Sustainable Studio


Sep 16, 2014

The Alphabet Series

Last year I gave an educational Halloween performance for little kids at the nature preserve. I dressed up as a spider (called myself Spinderella) and did my routine for 26 different groups over the course of one day. I had anticipated about 6 groups. Yikes! By the time I got to the letter "G" I was doing a pretty good job as a friendly ambassador for the often misunderstood arachnids. 

Often (in art and in life) I don't know when to stop and can get carried away. Layers in a mixed media piece can sometimes start slipping and sliding all the way into the trash. A visit to the beach without a bathing suit or a towel can turn into a similarly impulsive and sloshy experience. A dose of structure can be good, so can planning. In this spirit I decided to I decided to challenge myself to make a series of collages with a lot of white space: 26 of them. This is "B". 

Mar 23, 2014

Pearl Ex Pigment Pendants

I usually work work with recycled/repurposed materials but as a guest blogger for Craft Test Dummies I get boxes of amazing new free products to review. How cool is that? This week I reviewed Pearl Ex Pigment Powders for the Craft Test Dummies blog

I've worked with Pearl Ex Pigments before and what's not to love? They are so shimmery and versatile, kind of like eye shadow for your studio. They will make just about everything look a bit more glam, whether you are working in mixed media, fine art or crafting. Because the new colors are just so pretty I decided to focus on making a series of spring inspired pendants. 

Here's a little info about how I made each one:

For the green pendant I blended with Citrine Pearl Ex with transparent Sculpy, rolled through the pasta machine to 1/8" thick then used a polymer clay stencil sheet brushed with Emerald Pearl Ex to bring out the detail. I used a circle cutter the same size as the flower, baked the clay then glued it in the pendant. I added a layer of Diamond Glaze to even out the surface and really bring out the glow. 

Craft Test Dummies also sent me a sample of white Epoxy Clay. It had dried out a little so once I got it opened I knew I had to keep it really simple. I blended the two parts together, pressed it into my pendant blank and rubbed with the dark brown Pearl Ex. Luckily I had a bunch of little metal bits and pieces near by so I pressed them into the Epoxy Clay. I'm really looking forward to more experiments using the Epoxy Clay. Next time I'll be more careful about fingerprints! 

I used a wooden blank as the base for this necklace. I covered it with a piece of scrapbook paper and painted the edges with a Krylon Gold Leafing pen. I saw on the Pearl Ex website that the pigments could be used to create custom embossing powders. I used approximately 1 part Pearl Ex to 2 parts embossing powder to create a brown for the rabbit and a blue for the bird stamp and added a little text. To add just a little more shimmer I mixed just a touch of Citrine Pearl Ex in Diamond Glaze and gave the pendant a top coat. 

Thank you Craft Test Dummies for sending me all these really cool products to test! My next studio experiment is photo transfer medium from Modge Podge and I'm really looking forward to it. 

Feb 28, 2014

Glu6 and I Rush to Save the Planet

Who's looking at you kid?

We all know that the polar ice caps are melting. Here is a photo I took this week of a seal in the bay near my house. There are now over 100 seals living in my town on Long Island. What more motivation does a person need to go on a planet saving crusade? Seals are just the cutest!

I was asked to review a new eco friendly glue for Craft Test Dummies. As a crafter I actually need a wardrobe of glues more than I need a wardrobe of shoes. Sigh ... For more on the technical specifications of this glue take a look at my Craft Test Dummies Blog. 

Glu6 is made primarily from recycled styrofoam. Its the only recycled glue in stores today and comes in a variety of different formulas. You can find out more on their website.
Inspired by this eco conscious glue, I created a completely “green” crafting project.

  • Thrifted small picture frames
  • Fancy buttons and orphaned costume jewelry as embellishments
  • Wire cutters to trim off back of buttons, pins and earrings
  • Glue6 Craft Paste (I chose the Glu6 Craft Paste because the texture grips the objects well and actually provided a base for curved or uneven surfaces.)
  • TIME: This wonderful glue is very slow drying. Allow 48 hours for this project to dry. 

  • Remove the glass and backing from the frames. 
  • Gather up your embellishments. I find its easier to design if choose a theme. In this case I chose gold and bronze. 
  • Trim the backs of the embellishments with wire cutters to make them flat and easy to glue. 

  • Arrange the embellishments on the frames
  • Use a chopstick to apply Glue6 Craft Paste to the backs of the embellishments.

The glue kept the elements in place very well with no slipping and sliding. It smelled like citrus, and I didn’t have to worry about working inside with toxic glue.

Here is my completed photo frame. I'm going to use it for a
black and white family photo from the 50s.

I made another one to feature a family photo from the 1930s.
It has more of an Art Deco look.  This one uses only fancy buttons. 

Feb 18, 2014

A Collage Inspired by a Cleaning Product?

Yes!  Yesterday I wrote about the altered collage papers I created using National Geographic magazines and Citrasolv cleaner. I also included a link to the company's website with instructions because this is a super fun, simple, eco friendly process with many creative possibilities.

This process is perfect for people who enjoy serendipity. Its difficult to control and predict the exact results but that's really the wonderful part about it. While the Citrasolv altered pages are beautiful on their own, I decided to challenge myself by using them to create a series of collages.

My first attempt was really busy and just didn't work, but I saw one small square within it that did. Then I decided I needed to keep the structure very simple to feature these beautiful new papers.

Feb 17, 2014

Citrasolv Altered Collage Pages

I'd much rather craft than cook. I think its a lot more fun to repurpose kitchen appliances and products for creative pursuits. I have a duplicate collection household appliances just for crafting: a pasta machine and toaster oven for polymer clay, a crock pot for melting beeswax, a heated buffet tray for Polaroid transfers, an iron for bonding mixed media and and a blender for making paper. 

Then there are the multi purpose kitchen wraps: I use freezer paper for mixed media and wax paper to press my collages in books to flatten them while not sticking to the pages. I use plastic wrap for creating texture in paint. I've used bleach for making patterns on fabric. When I heard of using the product Citrasolv for creating altered mixed media pages I was excited to try it. The Citrasolv company actually has a excellent tutorial for using their products on their website

Here are a few examples of altered National Geographic pages I created using this technique. I love the mysterious marbleized quality. I almost don't want to cut them up, but that's exactly what I'm going to do right now. I'll be posting my results here tomorrow. 

Feb 5, 2014

Faux Encaustic Technique Using Tissue Paper & Gel Medium

I wish I had taken a series of photos as I was building this collage (note to self: do that next time!) but I can tell you how I did it.

Layer 1: I printed a picture of the plant (left) on a piece of ledger paper. This already gave the piece the illusion of 2 layers. On the right third I pasted down a piece of gold paper with lettering already on it. I have found that a metallic layer really helps give an illusion of depth. 

Layer 2: I scanned and copied an old letter on to tracing paper and pasted it down using using Matte Gel Medium. I flattened it with a brayer. 

Layer 3: I added some bright pink acrylic paint.

Layer 4: I added a piece of polka dot silk fabric with more gel medium.

Layer 5: I added pieces a vintage French verb circular chart, also printed on tracing paper and pasted it down with Matte Gel Medium.

Those are the simple steps I used to create this faux encaustic technique. I rolled the whole piece with a brayer to flatten then placed in a heavy book between two pieces of wax paper to made sure I didn't get "the wrinkles".

"The wrinkles" are a problem if you don't have some way of pressing your damp finished collage. Luckily if you make a collage small enough you can press it in a book between two layers of wax paper and you will have a nice flat finished piece. 

I was so inspired by this project that I would like to try a layered collage using a traditional encaustic technique. 

Snow Every Day!

Above is a tiny sampling of my immense snow globe collection. Frankly I've lost count. I display them from the first through the last snow. I set them up on snowy looking cotton and surround them with white lights to create an indoor winter wonderland. Its always warm & cozy in my winter wonderland.

Last year I decided to restore the entire collection to their snowy glory days. I read online that a touch of glycerine snows down the flakes just enough and was able to find that at my pharmacy. I filled each and every one and they looked magnificent!

I'm definitely an armchair traveller. Most of this collection was acquired at thrift shop and yard sales. Last year my ex texted from California and said he was in a thrift shop selling them for $1 each -- did I want any? Of course my answer was "All of them please!" In the case of snow globes, more is definitely better. This year for Xmas my son brought me two beautiful new ones from his travels. Those are obviously the most special because they were actually bought for me by someone I love.

Many years ago I went to Paris. I headed right to the Montmartre area in search of tacky souvenirs. I got my snow globes, my eiffel tower key ring and my eiffel tower earrings. It was so cool! Our French friends were quite shocked that an American in Paris would value tacky trinkets more than actual culture. I was the typical "stupid American tourist" but I was smiling with pride and accomplishment. I had souvenirs from a really wonderful place, and I had actually gone through all the trouble to get them myself. Once I possessed the souvenirs I was open to going to the Louvre, sitting in a cafe, and all those other wonderful Paris adventures (while blatently wearing my eiffel tower earrings).

Jan 28, 2014

Accidental Collage Texture

I usually keep my process very simple when I create collages. I basically use scissors and a glue stick. My little trick to avoid wrinkles is to place each collage between pieces of wax paper and under a stack of books for a week.

This week I tried a new technique that uses gel medium and an iron to fuse the papers together. The process is explained in detail on this website.

This is how I did it:

1. Use gloss (not matte) gel medium to coat the front of your base paper (either card stock or watercolor paper).

2. Choose glossy magazine images and coat both sides with gel medium. Allow to dry thoroughly!

3. Cut and arrange your images on your base paper. When you are happy with the arrangement cover with a piece of freezer paper (shiny side down) and iron on hot. Make sure the steam is off.

4. Voila! You have a fused collage!

I am an impatient artist so I didn't let the gel medium dry thoroughly. I rushed through it and ended up with a crackled distressed look -- The ink on the magazine ironed off on to my freezer paper. Luckily I was pleased and intrigued with the results. Once I uploaded this photo Google Auto Awesome made it even more awesome by giving it the snow globe treatment. Mistakes are so darn fun sometimes!

The collage on the left also buckled because I was impatient but as often happens with "mistakes" ...  I got a good idea. I'm going to transfer this image onto silk to emphasize the watery ephemeral feeling.

Jan 21, 2014

A Picture Tells a Story

"Once upon a time there was a little boy who didn't like birds. Especially when they were flying towards his head (yes, he had seen the movie) with some crazy blond fairy hanging on for dear life. He didn't like people sticking things like a thermometer in his ... or even Q tips in his ears. So why was this fairy sticking some kind of candy cane probe in his ear? Was she trying to bring him along with her toward that abandoned spooky house he never ever wanted to go back to on Halloween?"

I was inspired by a photo of a boy in a 70s Life Magazine with a huge bubble bursting in his face. I simply replaced the bubble with something more interesting.

Jan 17, 2014

5 Minute Collages: Cathy Rigby Edition

I saw a photo of Cathy Rigby in the 1972 Olympics in Life Magazine and knew I just had to made something from this image. I saw it as a triptych. I just happen to love old Life Magazines. I respectfully save a few the rest ...  I cut them up with abandon.

My other partners in this collage are a children's craft book from the 60s and a Wired magazine from the 80s. I never use online or scanned images, I always rip the right from the books and magazines in my collection. For me its the only way to be authentic, one of a kind. I destroy them but give them new life. Kind of like zombies! I like using media from different decades in the same collage because the color palettes and graphics are so diverse.

The 70s

 meet the 80s

and the 60s.