Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Xmas Bazaar

This is one of the photos taken at the recent Xmas bazaar. And yes, that's me.

I'm really glad I decided to have a table, as it was a wonderful experience. I sold all 24 hand-bound advent wreaths (not visible in this image) and around half of my paperware stock .. and I had a LOT of stock with me.
Many, many people commented positively on my work and were often amazed that one person could (a) produce so much and (b) come up with so many different and partly unusual ideas. Some items were so popular that I had to make more and deliver them in the week that followed.
My thirteen-year-old grandson came along to help me, and I was glad of it, because the table was crowded several times during the afternoon. He really was a great help. I'm sure part of his success lay in the fact that he charmed the ladies, as he has done since he was a baby.
I went to the bazaar with little by way of expectations. If anything, the idea I had in mind was to guage reactions and keep an eye open to see what people found interesting and what they purchased, if anything. I now have a very good idea of what I can make more of for 2008.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mini Albums Galore

Loads and loads of postcard size mini albums of the simple kind. A single stitched signature made from 160g card stock, attached to the cover with an end paper. Add a bit of embellishment, and there you go.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Xmas Cones

Talk about quick and easy... I whipped up a bunch of these cones yesterday, in next to no time. These are three sided, but I also made a batch of four-sided cones and had a spark of insight in the process.

Instead of painstakingly measuring and marking degrees with a protractor and compass before cutting, I did this: I used my nifty circle cutter to cut out a circle which I then sliced it into quarters (4x90 degree segments). Then I took a ruler and laid it corner to corner (the end points of the straight lines) on the quarter circle. I measured the distance between the points and mentally divided it by nine (9x10 degrees). You can also use a calculator for the division. I then marked off four equal two-ninth (20 degree) sections for the sides of the cone and left the remaining one ninth (10 degree) section for the glue flap. The process may sound complicated, but it's not. The moment you try it, you'll see how quick and easy it is.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Money Cards

Now the Xmas bazaar season is underway, I've been checking out what's on offer and where there might be gaps to fill. I've seen cards of various kinds, though there seemed to be nothing on sale that was much like the cards I (and the other women I know) make. I saw a lot of 3-D (the kind you do with pre-printed sheets of images), some intricate scherenschnitte, and lots of photocards, usually matted on plain, untextured card stock. There was nothing scrapbook style, no bright, patterned, shabby chic, retro, or stamped offerings.

Another thing I didn't see were cards for the money/store card gifts that are so popular with youngsters, so I've focused on making a bunch of those. Here are two examples. Each card has a pocket inside for the loot/card or for a photo or a letter, or whatever.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Red Tins

When I'm not feeling particularly arty, I can at least use my time well by being crafty. Here are two more tins, this time in red. I particularly liked the clear half-beads, To me, they look like raindrops.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bazaar Crafts

The banana boxes are piling up in my apartment, filled with goods I've made (and am still making) for the Xmas bazaar on 30th November. I'll be uploading photos of other items over the coming days.

Alongside things I know will be useful and recognisable, I'm making items that won't be quite as familiar to people around here. This explosion box is one of them. I'm going to need to make some "whatever-is-that-for?" examples, so I'll visit the drugstore and print off the photos for those today.

This box is made from pre-printed photo card stock. I guess everyone and her dog has seen the templates plastered over the Web. All it takes is three squares, each a little smaller than the one before and another square for the lid. After that, all you do is trim up some coordinating card stock and embellish as desired.

Once you've made a couple of these, you can whip them up in no time.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Christmas Tins

Each of these tins originally contained a marzipan loaf.

I sanded the metal, to give it some tooth, then glued on strips of Basic Gray "Dasher" paper. That done, I raided my ribbon stash and found a few lengths that coordinated nicely with the paper.

For the topper, I sandwiched together scalloped circles, using foam stickies for dimension, and decorated them with circles punched from the same paper used for the tins, then slapped on a snowflake sticker. Stickers are not really my thing, but (a) I'm using up my stash, and (b) these actually look great. I know they will appeal to potential buyers hereabouts.

Three Red Boxes

I'm trying to use up as much as possible of the "stash of years" to make goods for my stand at the upcoming Xmas bazaar, which takes place in a residence for the elderly later this month. Many of the people who will come to look have conservative tastes, so, I decided to make these traditional style boxes and incorporate the fabric poinsettias.

I painted three paper mache boxes crimson, added four little wooden half-bead feet to each box, and affixed Christmas style paper around the sides. For the lids, I pulled out my glue gun...

First I glued a large white felt snowflake (around 12 cm diameter) to the lid of each box. The snowflakes are cut from a felt table runner I picked up at a euro/dollar store. Next, I cut silk vine- and holly leaves from a garland and stuck them on. Then came the flowers. The poinsettias have a plastic "cup" under the blossom, which means they can't be stuck on flat, so I glued them on at an angle and covered the cup with beads and the like.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Domed Box

One of the local craft stores held its annual fair this weekend, so off I trotted... One of the make and take tables was surrounded by women oohing and aahing. When I finally got close enough to take a look, I could see why. The demonstrator was showing people how to make boxes like this, and there were several of varying sizes on display.

I should have liked to make one there, but after watching for a while, I could see that most of the people in the seats were either children or inexperienced crafters. I worked out that it would have taken more than an hour to get a seat.

I heard the demonstrator mention one of the measurements, and I purchased the template she was using. The rest, I figured, I could work out for myself.

At home, my efforts were not completely successful at first. Among other reasons, I wasn't enamoured of the template, which kept slipping and bending. So, I decided to sleep on it and try again this morning.

After a night's sleep, I had a couple of ideas about how best to approach the box. Instead of the template, I used a parabola ruler to mark the curved lines, and I replaced the craft mat with a foam place mat from Ikea.

This is the outcome. The process is easy enough, though it does require some measurement and careful cutting. I'll try to make time to do and upload a step-by-step photo tutorial later this week.

Kimberley's Card

My eldest granddaughter (10) made this card for my birthday last week. The thing that flabbergasted me was the spinner. I can't recall ever showing her how to do that, and her mum told me Kimberley worked it out for herself. Not only did she get the part about the brad at the centre right, she also make a little "handle" so I could turn the inside wheel.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Maple Roses

Over the past few days, the maples outside my apartment have been shedding their leaves. For me, it was the perfect opportunity to try out an idea I've had bookmarked for some time: maple leaf roses.

The outcome was stunning. Everyone who sees them wants some!

All you need are maple leaves and florist's wire.

Here's the tutorial:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Xmas Journals

Yesterday I made a stack of these little journals in two sizes, and I have another pile half finished, just waiting to be embellished.

The booklets are intended as Xmas list journals and/or cards/journals with enough space for a few photos and some journaling, perhaps as an "extended" Xmas card. They could easily make a welcome and more creative alternative to the traditional Xmas letter!

The cover paper is mainly Basic Gray. The embellishments are whatever I had in my scraps box. Instead of standard 80g (printer/writing) paper, I used 160g artist paper for the journal block. That gives the pages an elegant and "serious" look and a decent weight, especially if the user does decide to start drawing or glueing in it.

Julie's Blog Candy

Julie of Inspirational Craft Blogs is giving away some delicious Blog Candy.
Take a look!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Three Round Boxes

Here are three more round boxes. This time, you can see the little feet. The ribbons around the side of the lid were a bit wonky, as you can see, but I've since corrected that.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Xmas Boxes

These are two of the boxes I worked on the past day or so. I have another four in various stages of completion. As so often, the reason I was unable to get them all done and packed is that I need a tiny accessory, in this case, special screws to affix the knobs to the lids. Ah well, I'll be off on my bike to the hardware store later this morning.
I painted the boxes and knobs in various metallic colors: some are bronze, others copper, and the remainder pale gold. The drawer pulls were a flea market find. These were the nail-on kind, but the remainder are screw-ons for which I need suitable, as in shorter than usual, screws, as mentioned above. What you can't easily see is that each box has three little wooden feet.

The belly band is paper garland I found in the craft store a year or so back. Then, of course, the obligatory ribbons. The acrylic half-beads came from the home decorating section of the local department store. They come in a range of colors. These are very small, around 3mm in diameter. I'd hoped to find larger ones, too, maybe 7-10 mm, but no luck so far. The positive side to it is that I've perfected my tweezer skills of late! Yep, each bead has to be individually affixed to whatever.

Sympathy Card

I needed a sympathy card for an acquaintance this week, and after seeing what was on offer in local stores, I decided to make one myself.

The base is simple black card stock. The left panel was embossed with a cuttlebug folder and glued on. The strip on the right is made of paper strips glued horizontally onto card stock then cut vertically. I punched the butterflies from the same material.

Each butterfly is made of two punched butterflies glued on top of each other down the middle and held together with a brad. If you don't have brads in the colors you need, which is often the case for me, as I have such limited access to supplies, you can dye plain office-supply gold or silver brand using Staz On ink or Ranger alcohol inks. Just give them a blast with the heat gun to set the color, or leave them to dry for a few hours. The ribbon is attached at the back, between the bottom butterfly and the foam pad needed to affix the butterfly to the card. The top set of wings can then me pulled up a little.

A friend will deliver this card by hand, which is why I was able to attack a butterfly to the front of the envelope. If sending a card like this by mail, you'd need to leave the envelope butterfly off, of course.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Bit of Bling

These red tins were left over from last year's holiday season. They originally contained marzipan.

I started by gluing on strips of paper from my leftovers. Then I added these cherubs from a decoupage sheet to the lids.

In a next step, I wrapped scraps of coordinating ribbon around the tins. The final touch was to glue on tiny acrylic half-beads to add a bit of bling.

Two of the tins didn't make it into my bazaar cartons. They were snapped up by admirers while the glue was still wet!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Christmas Cards #2

Here are more samples of the cards I've been making. The paper is from Basic Gray: Dasher, Scarlet's Letter, and Perhaps.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

File Folder Boxes

These are file folder boxes. Made from scratch. Shall I rant about craft stores that don't restock bookboard in certain thicknesses, which I happen to buy in large lots, when they have it? The explanation for not restocking: there is no demand. I'll just say this: I spend quite a bit of time biting my tongue in craft stores. It occurred to me, the other day, that I'm now finding workarounds for around half the supplies I need. Ok, we're creatives, I know, and yes, I know we are all resourceful, but it's becoming quite frustrating. End of rant. I'll be in Hamburg at the end of the month, so I may be able to pick up some materials then.

I've had this vintage paper for ages, and I also decided it was high time to use up some of the lace and ribbon in my stash. Genuine vintage or not, it's taking up space, and looking pretty is simply not enough to justify that.

It was great fun sticking on this and slapping on that. I've made six more boxes, which I still need to decorate. They will be christmassy in style. I'll post photos of them when I'm done.

Christmas Cards

Anyone know where those elves are? I've been invited to show and sell some of my work at an advent bazaar. That means my apartment looks like workshop in which I just also happen to live. There are works in progress everywhere. You know how it goes: you're almost finished working on something, and then you discover you've run out of whatever, so you put the WIP to one side and do something else, until you can make the time to cycle into town.

I've put together a nice program of goods. At first, I felt a bit limited by the fact that local taste runs to cute crafts more than artful pretties, but it's a good lesson for me in customer orientation. As well as (hopefully) making some people happy through my work, I'm truly looking forward to freeing up some of the space that has been taken up by materials and making cash to purchase new supplies.

I apologise for the quality of the photos. This is not a good day for taking pictures.

The black and ivory cards are slimlines I bought the last time I was back home in the UK. Hard to believe that it was four years ago!
As well as more traditional reds, whites, and greens, I wanted to make a few cards that were just a little more sophisticated, just in case... They look much more so in the flesh, as the glare spoils a lot here. I may replace the photos if the light is better tomorrow and I'm able to make better images.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Snowflake Serendipity

I picked up this snowflake punch the other day, hoping to use it for accents on some of this year's cards. Though the punch itself is fine, the flakes turned out too flimsy for what I had in mind, but while punching, I made a discovery that delighted me! In other words, the punch will be useful, albeit in a way other than originally intended.

Like most paper artists, I'm thrifty. For example, when I punch, I like to find the most effective way to use the paper, so that I throw away as little as possible.

While trying to find the most economical punching layout for the snowflake, I lined the edge of the punch with the center of the hole left over from the previous snowflake. To my utter delight, I discovered that my approach created a gorgeous punched border.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pretty Pegs Tutorial

The last couple of evenings, I've been pulling the punches on leftovers from my paper stash and making mountains of these little paper flowers and clothes peg (USA: clothes pins) clips. They are so easy to make and a great way to use even small scraps of paper, and you can use the finished pegs for all kinds of things.

You'll need:
  • wooden clothes pegs ( I picked up 50 for one euro at the el cheapo.)
  • paper scraps
  • glue stick
  • the same type of flower punch in two sizes
  • brads
  • sticky foam pads.

To prepare the pegs (pins):
  1. paint the sides of the pins (optional)
  2. cut paper strips the width of the pegs
  3. glue the paper strips onto both flat sides of the pegs.

To make the flowers:

  1. punch two large and two small flowers
  2. glue them together (Prevents the petals from moving and coming to lie directly on top of each other.)
  3. punch a hole in the center
  4. push through a brad, and
  5. add a sticky foam pad on the back
  6. stick a flower onto each peg.

I'll be using the pegs as Xmas decorations, both on the tree and to hang up my Xmas cards. I'll also be giving them away as "little extras" when I sell my handmade cards and albums at this year's local craft fairs.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Star Book

I'm making star books for sale during the run-up to Christmas. This is one of them.

There are several ways to make star books, some of which require a fair amount of technical skill, but for my particular purpose, I chose this version, as it doesn't use as much material as more complex versions and is fairly easy to make, meaning, I can make more of them (a) with less material and (b) more quickly. (I've included a link to the instructions at the end of this post.)

If you can cut and fold paper accurately and have the skill and patience to run what seems like miles of double-sided sticky tape along the edges of card stock and papers, you can make a book like this in under an hour. I do them in batches, which makes things a little quicker.

Most of the books I'm making this year have a cuttlebug embossed panel on the each of the covers. Back in July, I was lucky enough to find an online store here in Germany that stocked the holiday embossing folders! I'm also using a lot of die-punched flowers, both large and small. (I included a link for the large ones in my previous post.)

Star Book Tutorial

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First Day of School Album

Earlier this morning I posted on the Art in a Carton blog, and I noted that it had been several weeks since I last posted anything on Art Angelix. Wow. But don't think I've been chilling out. As it happens, I've been extremely busy lately, making various art objects for Art in a Carton and also piles and piles of various styles of photo albums for the approaching Christmas fair season.

One of my granddaughters started school last week. It's a tradition in our family that I take photos and create a small "First Day of School" album for each child. This is the one I created for Megan.

This is a "square around" mini album with pockets, which I found on the "Making Mini Scrapbooks" website. I've included a link to the Tutorial below. While you're there, take a look at the other albums tutorials on site.

The flowers on the covers are made with punched "folk hearts". I've included a link to the tutorial below.

For the inside, I used mainly Karen Marie Klip papers in shades of pink. I trimmed and matted the photos, then affixed some to the "walls" and tucked others into the pockets. This album provides a lot of space to work and is exciting to unpack, as you can glue photos to the outside of the pockets as well as hiding others in the pockets themselves. Just the thing for curious children!

To finish off, I applied rub-ons and stickers that I've had in my stash for a long time (the kind of stuff you can only use on albums for little girls), and added some brads and ribbons.

Square Around Mini Album
By Jaine Drake

Folk Heart Punch Flowers

Monday, July 28, 2008

Karen Marie Klip Store in Denmark

I visited Denmark this weekend, and while I was there, I stopped off briefly at the Karen Marie Klip Store in Grasten. Karen Marie is one of the BIG European scrapbooking paper designers and retailers. Her papers are typically Scandinavian, meaning, the designs are crisp and clean. I'm more of a Basic Gray person, but even so, I was excited to visit and see what was on offer, especially as scrapbooking is not all that widespread in the north of Germany and art and craft stores carry only a small selection of papers and stuff.

The Karen Marie store is a large (800 square metres) warehouse type store divided into lots of little themed boutiques. Each of the boutiques carried a theme, either a topic or a color scheme, and the items were beautifully presented. It was fun to poke around and discover papers and combinations. They even had their Christmas line in stock.

My plan was to take a look around to see what was available, purchase a few little things, and then return with a friend to do some serious shopping at a later date. The photo shows what I bought: Two large sheets of double-sided card stock, a pack of four 12x12 in the same pattern, a couple of single 12x12 sheets, a stamp, and two sets of chipboard pieces: one set of shapes and one of letters.

I'd been warned that Denmark was expensive (which it is), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that even the full-price scrapbooking sheets were no more expensive than in Germany, and many of them were slightly cheaper. Another bonus was the wide range of papers. Scrapbooking stores this side of the border stock only a small selection of the available papers and products.

The big bargains are the end of line sales, though. Dotted around the store were mountains of last year's papers, many of which were being sold off for what worked out at 25-50 cents a sheet. The other surprising discovery were the chipboard elements, which are also marketed by Karen Marie's German distributor, Rayher, but which I've not seen in the stores here. They were much, much cheaper than I'd ever have imagined. I'll certainly pick up several packages of those on my next trip.

I found the background stamp on a bargain shelf, and it worked out at only 7 euros, which is an unbeatable bargain. Here in northern Germany, it would retail at around 20 euros... if you could find it, which is highly unlikely.

The only disappointment was that I had hoped to find more rubber stamps and possibly a wider range of scrapbooking embellishments, which wasn't the case. In particular I'd been hoping to find book screws, but I drew a blank on those, too. I'll have to visit Berlin at some point this year to stock up on things like that.

Overall, it was wonderful to be in a "paper place" again, even if only briefly. With luck, I'll be able to visit again in the near future. One of my friends -- the one who told me about the Karen Marie store -- works in a local craft store and would be wowed by the selection of papers I saw. I think it should be easy enough to find two more women to fill her car (read: share the high cost of petrol through four of us) and make the trip to Denmark to do some serious paper shopping.

Links (in Danish. No english pages available)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Microwave Paper Clay

I finally got around to trying out a new product today: microwave paper clay. This product has only been on the market here in Germany for a few weeks, and when I stumbled across it, I knew it was something I wanted to try out.

The perfect reason presented itself over the weekend. I picked up a small framed African mask, about three inches high, at the euro store. I took the frame apart to get at the mask. I knew that I wanted to try to replicate the mask for use on art dolls. So, today I rode up to the craft store and purchased a package of the new paper clay.

The clay is so easy to use. I rolled a ball and flattened it, then I pressed in the mask and created a reversed impression. To "fire" the paper clay, you simply pop it into the microwave for 10 minutes at 600 watts, along with a half full glass/beaker of water. If you inadvertently set the microwave to a more powerful setting, or fire the clay for longer, that's no problem.

After firing the reverse impression, I used it as a mould to make copies of the mask. It worked like a dream, and it was quick and easy.

According to the instructions, you can also add to work that has already been fired simply by moistening the fired object and attaching new elements before popping it into the microwave again.

Once done, the pieces are light but tough and can be sanded, drilled, painted, or whatever.

I purchased terracotta coloured clay, but the product also comes in white. Further colours are planned.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tagged by Val Foster

Valerie Foster tagged me this weekend. So, I have to tell you three things about myself. Hmmm... let me think...

1. I almost always wear black. Why? It suits me. I also used to work in a designer job, and everyone wore black. I like black. Everything goes with everything else, so buying clothes and getting dressed in the morning is easy. I mean, why waste time on stuff that keeps you from your art? The funny thing is, the way I dress tends to unnerve people, but what the heck. If I'm having a really upbeat day, I wear something grey. It suits me...

2. I used to know a lot of somewhat airy folks who liked to sit around talking about their past life regression therapies and previous incarnations, usually as queen of this or emperor of that. I thought I'd skip the regressions and simply think about some things I might have been in the past. I decided I could easily have been a librarian in the Great Library of Alexandria, the mistress of some king or other (the power behind the throne), or -- and this is the one I tend to like a little more than the others -- a priestess in a Mesopotamian city temple. Those wise ladies invented writing and beer, among other things. I'm told the above still show through...

3. I love sushi. I used to live in Berlin, Germany, where sushi bars abound and each of them has a happy hour. I could write "A Guide to Eating Sushi in Berlin" with no trouble at all. My problem is that I now live in a small town in the German boondocks. There are no sushi bars. Get my drift? All I can get is frozen sushi, which is ok. Good, but not great. Better than nothing in a situation... In fact, I have a box of frozen sushi defrosting in my kitchen right now. I intend to visit Berlin soon, both to stock up on art materials (also not available here) and to eat some decent sushi.

Val Foster's Altered Heart Journey blog:

I've tagged

Suzy Pierce -
Tamy Bollar -
Chris Bennett -

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Flea Market Find

Today was flea market day in town, and I decided, on a whim, to take a look around.

I found this photo album. I spied it in a box, leafed through it, then plucked up courage to ask the guy what kind of price he had in mind. I expected him to ask around €40, which I didn't have on me and wouldn't have been able to spend in any case. Then he said "before it falls apart completely, how about five (euros)?" Stunned, I stuffed the bill in his hand, picked up the album and walked away, inwardly squealing with delight.

The album is genuine vintage (Art Nouveau), probably 90-100 years old, and it is around one third full of cabinet cards and photos, most of which date circa 1900-1920. The cover is green velvet with metal art nouveau ornaments attached. Someone has tried, badly, to replace the original closure, only half of which is still attached, so I may decide to do something about mending that. The album is hand-bound and gilded. As a hobby bookbinder, I really appreciate the style and quality of this binding, which, in contrast to what the seller said, is fully intact and in anything other than a delicate condition. The only damage is to some of the pages, where photos have been pulled out of the niches over the years.

When time allows, I'll scan the cabinet cards and upload them as blog freebies. I've been meaning to scan my entire cabinet card collection for this, actually.


This weekend I had one of those oh-so-simple ideas that leave you wondering why it took you so long to tumble to it. I've been painting lots of small wooden buttons and feet, and until yesterday, it was fiddly and annoying, and then the light went on!

I took a bamboo chopstick with flat sides, ran a strip of narrow double sided sticky tape along one of the sides, then stuck the buttons onto the tape. Painting was a breeze after that. I can now paint the entire surface in one go, with no paint smeared fingers or blemishes on the material. Once the objects are dry, I peel them off the tape, then peel the smeared tape off and dump it in the trash can.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Migratory Book Arrived

One of my recent posts was about Michelle Wilson's migratory book project. Well, "my" book arrived yesterday. It's a gatefolded booklet that can be read from either end. One version of the text in English and the other in Portuguese.

My task now is to contemplate the book for a short while then answer a question before releasing the book for another step of its journey (migration).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Review: Penland Book of Handmade Books

I've not written about art-related books on my blog until now, but I thought it might be a good idea to do the occasional review.

Many of my artist friends live in Europe, as I do. One of the disadvantages of that is that it's not easy to find the range of great art books that is available in the US, and ordering US books has, until recently, been expensive. That's changed a little in the past months. One of the few advantages of the strong Euro in combination with the weak dollar is that US books have become very reasonably priced (through Amazon International).

I've been waiting for a long time for the paperback (brochured) edition of the Penland Book of Handmade Books to be published. When it came out last month, it cost me only 14 euros though Amazon International. I was pleased about the price, and I am thrilled with the book.

The Penland Book of Handmade Books contains approximately 400 high quality photographs of the work of book artists who have taught at the Penland school.

If you still think of books as a pile of papers bound between two covers, be prepared to revise your opinion. Among other things, you'll see book sculptures, boxes, scrolls, and objects that take the idea of "book" to the extremes. You'll probably find yourself looking at everyday items in terms of book-makeability!

The book contains tutorials that show how to reproduce some of the books, objects, and binding styles. It's simply full to bursting with book making ideas to ogle and adapt.

One of my favourites from the book is Barbara Mauriello's handmade "Women of the Bible" box. Here's a photo of the box from the Rutgers website.

Dolph Smith's books gave me a bunch of ideas:

And there were many, many more...

Because the artists are professionals, some chapters of the book show fascinating, large scale projects that would be difficult to do in the kind of kitchen table workshops many of us have. At the same time, because the ideas and tutorials are more artistic and ambitious than the step-by-steps in craft books, I felt inspired to stretch my abilities and attempt some of the more complex techniques, and I was successful!

In addition to the images, the book contains short essays by some of the artists in which they write about their materials, processes, and backgrounds.

Though this is an art book, rather than a craft how-to, I found it practical as well as inspiring. Leafing through the book gave me many new ideas to try in the coming months, and it also boosted my confidence. Without wishing to sound boastful, seeing the work in this book made it clear to me that some of what I've done in the past few years is probably as close to being as good as that of professional artists as it can be, given the makeshift circumstances I work in.

If you're looking for a truly great book about artistic bookmaking, this is one I'd recommend, especially if you have to budget. To my mind, The Penland Book of Handmade Books is one of the best bargains available at the moment. Check out your local Amazon.

The Penland Book of Handmade Books
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Lark Books (March 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600593003
ISBN-13: 978-1600593000

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Migratory Books (Libros Migratorios)

Michelle Wilson, from Philadelphia, USA is looking for participants for her Migratory Books (Libros Migratorios) project.

Michelle writes:

"I've been working on an ongoing bilingual book and blog project I'm calling the Migratory Books (Libros Migratorios). This project involves releasing books to individuals, and asking them after they have read the books to visit the blog and post an answer to a question in the end of the book. Afterwards, I ask that they pass on the Migratory Book, to ensure their journey continues.

I am looking for interested people who would be willing to receive a book and participate in this process. If you are interested, please send me your mailing address, and I will get one (or more, if you are willing, please indicate in your email), in the mail to you. Participants outside of the USA are welcome. "

You can find Michelle's email address on the project blog.

Migratory Books Blog:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Three Tier Box

This little box is only 8cm (around 3.5 inches) high. I picked up a stack of twelve nested cardboard boxes at the el-cheapo for only 2.99 euros! The three smallest boxes fit nicely into a carton.

I covered and lines the boxes with old print then painted them with sand, naples yellow, and red ochre, shabby chic style. I applied rub-ons to the box bases and braid to the rims of the box tops. The smallest box is crowned by a trio of cherubs, and the entire box stands on four little wooden feet.

Art In A Carton:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Vintage Paper Cone

I'm tidying and reorganising my stuff at the moment (again...), and in the process, I re-discovered a cardboard cone I picked up sometime way back. The cone fits nicely into a milk carton, so I did it up yesterday and will pack it into one of the ready-to-roll cartons.

The main part of the background is a page from a 1939 French magazine. The woman is (a scan) from a vintage postcard in my collection. Her name is Valeska. The rest of the embellishments are scraps of gold mesh, German scrap, wooden buttons, lace, fibres and tags. The filling contains some vintage looking balls dusted with gold, off-white paper roses, more gold mesh, tags, and a ribbon bow.

I liked the outcome so much that I was tempted to keep it, but... one of the ideas behind Art In A Carton is to use up my stash and spread some enjoyment, so into a carton it will go!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cartons Galore

I've had a couple of emails lately asking me what the cartons look like and what artists might do to them to turn trash into treasure. So, I decided to post a few examples to this blog and to Art Angelix. Here are examples of the cartons I have here all packaged and ready to go out to the next artists who sign up for Art In A Carton.

I started out by painting each of these three cartons with two coats of black gesso. For the carton on the left, I stippled bronze metallic paint onto the black background using a sponge. When that was all dry, I pulled out my glue gun and dribbled lines and squiggles on each of the four sides. First, I let the glue dry and cool, then I dry brushes over the glue ridges with copper and then bronze acrylic paint and dabbed leftover paint into some of the spaces in the pattern. Can you say "easy peasy"?

The center carton also has a black and bronze stippled background. Then I glued on a band of gold foil and gold tissue. The bottom edge of the band is finished with fabric trim. I then layered on some gold mesh ribbon, which I attached on two sides using simple gold brads from the office supply store. As a final touch, I matted a clipped cabinet card, added an eyelet and some yarn, and attached the photo cars with foam tape.

The carton on the right has hand drawn and Cuttlebug embossed panels overlaid with peach and pink tissue. This is topped by a length of gold mesh ribbon attached by brads on all sides. Two of the brads have die cut flowers. I finished off by knotting yard to the mesh.
Want one? All you have to do is become an Art In A Carton artist! Just read the instructions, send me an email, and you can be the owner of one of these or the other cartons a few days from now.

Art In A Carton:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Altered Tin

Last week, Marilyn Wells signed up for Art In A Carton. At the same time, she invited me to take part in an altered tin swap on a spring theme. I decided that, as I was sending her mail in any case, I might just as well take part and include my tin. (I rarely take part in US based-swaps these days, as the intercontinental postage is too expensive.)

This is the front of my tin. I won't show the other views, as I've built in a little surprise that I don't want to spoil by writing about it here.

Marilyn's Blog

A Round Tuit

How often have you heard yourself saying, "I'll do it when I get around to it"? Well... this is a round tuit I made for someone, who, as it happens, has no need of one whatsoever.

Using an old CD-ROM as the template, I cut a circle of wire gauze the same size as the CD-ROM. You can cut wire gauze with scissors, easy as pie. Using the gauze circle as my "fabric", I sewed on objects like beads, buttons, tiny shells, and bits of metal junk, including a ring pull and electronic resistors. I filled in the gaps with knotted eyelash yard.

I then drilled four holes in the CD-ROM and attached the gauze using cheap brass brads from the stationery store. The outcome looked good, but that little something was still missing. I thought it needed a little more bling, so I put together a corona made of glued together clothes peg sections and painted it with various metallics. When it was dry, I stuck the tuit onto the corona and... bling!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Leaf Journals

The style of these journals is borrowed from the palm leaf journals found in Asia. There, sheets of paper (papyrus) made from palm leaves are bound on a thong between wooden covers. Most of the palm leaf books I've seen or heard of contain sacred texts. These journals contain blank pages, so the recipients can use them to write and store their own secret or sacred content.

For the covers, I started out by cutting two pieces of balsa wood. Anything between 2-4 mm thickness will be fine. You can also use sturdy cardboard or bookbinder's board. These particular covers are 5x15cm (ratio 1:3), to fit in the cartons I'm using for the Art In A Carton project. For my own use, I prefer 5x20cm (ratio 1:4). I drilled two holes in each cover before painting and so on. By drilling the holes at the start of the process, you can save yourself the trouble of having to go back and touch up the holes so the wood doesn't show. Simply paint inside the holes as you go.

I base coated the covers using Pelikan Prism, a two-tone acrylic paint that contains gold pigment. Two books are done in pink/gold and one in blue/gold. I then used a hot glue gun to dribble threads of glue onto the covers. Once cooled, I rubbed alcohol inks in to the threads. After a couple of minutes drying time, I went over parts of the covers with light coats of Lumiere metallics. After the covers were completely dry again, I dabbed on just a hint of glitter glue and a dusting of micro pearls.

Each journal contains around 10 pages. Just cut card stock to size and use the holes in the covers as a guide to mark out where the holes need to be in the card stock. Punch the holes with an eyelet tool, or whatever you have for the job.

Cut 2 lengths of narrow ribbon for each book. (I used 3 mm ribbon, because that's what I had. You might prefer to use twine or leather thongs or, or, or...) Each length or ribbon measures around one metre.

Thread each length of ribbon through one set of holes. Tie a bead or a button at the end of each length or ribbon, to prevent it slipping out of the holes. Repeat for the other set of holes.

Easter Basket

Remember the word stones from a few weeks back? This is a little Easter basket -- well, a small one-serving can -- that I made for a friend. The "eggs" are a set of word stones.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Maxi Matchboxes

These is one of two large matchboxes I made yesterday for Art In A Carton. Again, one is posted here and the other on the Art In A Carton blog.

Both are decorated with paper and ribbons, wire and buttons. I had quite a few "voyage" images, so the boxes have a loose voyage theme. Each box contains little topic-related surprises for the recipients to use in their own art.

Collector's Chest

This is one of two chests of drawers I finished off today for inclusion in the cartons I'll be sending out on Tuesday. You can see one here, and the other is posted on the Art In A Carton blog.

It's sometimes challenging to thing up projects that will slot into a carton and still be substantial, but these matchbox chests fit the bill and are fun to make.

Each of the drawers is filled with little surprises the recipients can use in their own art.