Hand Work and Junk Mail

I’m still working on a small piece I shared with you earlier here. I’ve added quite a bit to this but I still don’t feel quite done.

01-27-work-in-progress-1Decisions, decisions!

01-27-work-in-progress-2While I pondered the seeming endless possibilities open to me, I realized that my stack of junk mail postcards is almost gone. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity to refill the supply and — more importantly — feel a sense of completion.

In no time at all I had mail painted with gesso drying. Then I pulled out a set of rubbing plates recently gifted to me and I rolled acrylic paint on, using the plates like stamps. This fern plate got a second color of paint and a rotation; finally I used some watercolor paints and a two-inch brush and had fun dabbling it on.

01-27-junk-mail-3I used a ginkgo rubbing plate in the same way and with the same color scheme. Why not?

01-27-junk-mail-2 01-27-junk-mail-1In a very short time I created 25 postcards. Very satisfying!

If you’re just learning about my junk mail frenzies, read back from here about other projects where I turned recycle into something fun and useful.

Christmas in August!

Forget December 25th, Santa dropped down my chimney last week — at least it feels that way! I ordered a Schmincke travel paint tin from Blick Art Materials (none of my local art stores, including Blick, carry Schmincke products) and expected to wait 2 months for its arrival. Sigh. Within a few weeks I got an email saying my order had been shipped. The anticipation began to build and I was soon feeling like a 5-year-old on Christmas Eve listening to the radio report about where Kris Kringle had last been sited.

When the package arrived I ripped it open. There it was — a small black tin — along with a bag of 12 half pans. What is it about something small like this tin, or a lidded ceramic dish or carved wooden box, that is immediately so endearing? I had already read about this useful tin and yet, when I received mine, it was as if I knew nothing about it or its use. At each step of opening the tin, my delight grew. By the time I had filled the 12 half pans with paints I was practically giddy. Click on an image for a larger view.

Schmincke paint tinThe 4-part tin is very smartly designed. The lid has deep bowls for mixing the colors; the inner flap covers the paint pans without touching the paints.

Schmincke paint tin2The section holding the half pans of paint lifts out of the tin, making it easier to fill the pans. I launched right into filling the pans from my tubes of paints.

Schmincke paint tin3The tin also comes with a small chart to record the names of each of the paints. It fits neatly on top of the section which covers the paint pans. Schmincke really thought this completely through.

Schmincke paint tin4And here is my travel bag all ready to grab and go:

Sketch-watercolor Travel bagI’ve packed a few postcards recently made from junk mail, a pad of virgin watercolor postcards, pencil, pen, eraser, Niji waterbrush, a spray bottle and the paint tin — and there is ample room to tuck in a sketch book. All I need are a few postcard stamps and I’m ready for come what may.

And here’s the first sketch completed using the paint tin.

EucalyptusThis eucalyptus is a very different species from the trees near my home. I found this tree near Sulphur Creek Nature Center when I attended their Flight to Freedom event recently. The volunteers at this organization rehabilitate wild creatures and release them back to the wild whenever possible. The night I was there a barn owl was released. It was quite exciting and satisfying to see this majestic bird fly away! If you have such an organization nearby, I hope you are supporting it.

This post has been shared with Off the Wall Friday.

More Junk-Mail Postcards

Okay, so I got a bit carried away. But there I was, between steps in a project that meant I had to wait. Not wanting to waste the time without creating something, I pulled out some leftover junk mail. Pretty soon the rotary cutter and the paints were flying. I was simply having too darn much fun to stop myself. And I’m not unhappy about it. Click on an image for a larger view.

I was thrilled to have found a quote from Edgar Degas which I used on postcard #17:

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

What a great find!

I intentionally left a large clear space on postcard #20 so I could sketch something on it. Quite a few of the others have enough space for a little sketch. I’ll see what happens when I’m ready to mail them out. I plan to grab some of these the next time I’m on a trip or just out sketching.

My first two experiences of creating new art from junk mail can be seen here and here.

French Knots and Finger Cots

I’ve completed the on-line course at Craftsy with Carol Waugh. I have thoroughly enjoyed working through her methods, constructing my own machine stitch reference and doing some needle work I haven’t done in many years — embroidery.

I used a fat quarter of fabric to create my surface design. There is extensive machine work in the form of couching, decorative stitching and quilting. When I completed that much, I cut the piece apart to create a notebook cover and (as always, click on an image for a larger view)

Franki Kohler,

Almost done with this notebook cover

some postcards.

Franki Kohler,

Almost done postcards

Then there is the hand embroidery. Carol took us through the techniques for stitching French Knots, running stitch and the lazy daisy stitch. That took me straight back to my childhood and learning those very stitches from my Grandmother. Whoosh! Nostalgia time.

Even though it’s been quite some time since I’ve done crewel embroidery, those stitches are still with me. I pulled Judith Baker Montano’s Elegant Stitches from my book shelf and looked through it. Her instructions are great and soon I was stitching a Squared Palestrina Knot — on the left, the ‘x’s’ with a knot in the middle– and combining buttonhole stitch with lazy daisy for a simple design.

Squared Palestrina Knot, left; Buttonhole with lazy daisy, right

Squared Palestrina Knot, left; Buttonhole with lazy daisy, right

Most of the embroidery has been done with pearl cotton. Let me tell you, it’s not easy getting pearl cotton through fast2fuse and a layer of fabric stabilized with shirt tailor. After struggling to pull the thread through, I dove into my supply of tools and pulled out some finger cots. I rolled one onto my thumb and — ta da! — the needle comes right through — even with very bold French Knots. Grandma taught me to wrap the thread around the needle three times for a French Knot but Carol has no hard and fast rules. So I thought, let’s go for it and I was wrapping the thread 4 and 5 times. I’m happy with the bold look it gave  the daisy and solo French Knots on the left.

Bold French Knots

Bold French Knots

I’m not quite done. I have some beads that are screaming to be stitched on and then there will be a trip to my local bead shop to find just the right ones to add to the closure for the notebook cover. Stay tuned, I’ll share the final results.

Here is where this adventure began.

T is for Toile

Postmark’d Art is wrapping up a trade inspired by the alphabet.  It has taken us four rounds of trading to get through the alphabet — and what fun it has been!

For this round I selected the letter T. Along with a love of gardening, I thoroughly enjoy spotting birds in the backyard. We have feeders, nesting boxes and water features in our yard to attract them. And I have a collection of embroidery bird designs created in the toile manner. I knew you’d follow all this. Keeping toile fabrics used for home decorating in mind, I decided to stay simple and graphic with my design. I used seven different bird designs and the word toile. Hover your cursor over the image for more information. Click on an image for a larger view.


Rnd16-Toile-Nuthatch Rnd16-Toile-Downy-Woodpecker Rnd16-Toile-Chickadee Rnd16-Toile-BluebirdRnd16-Toile-CardinalRnd16-Toile-Scarlet-Tanager
Here is the fabric I used for the address side:


I had the letter N for inspiration in the last round.


See what I did for the first two rounds of alphabet trading here and here.