Friday, November 19, 2010

Quedlinburg - Papier Atelier

Last week I attended a seminar in the beautiful town of Quedlinburg in the Harz mountain region of Germany. Most of Quedlinburg is medieval. What remains of the medieval town covers an area equivalent to a block of around 120 football (soccer) pitches and is choc full of half-timbered houses. That's around a third of the area the old town covered at the end of WWII. The other houses were simply demolished by the East German government. The remaining buildings and streets are now part of the UNESCO World Heritage programme and are being rebuilt and renovated.


I'll post pictures over the days to come and will tell the little stories that go along with them, but the first pictures I want to post are very special to me.

As you probably know, I'm coordinating and participating in a year-long journey in the name of the Travelling Artists' Guild. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, just click the TAG link in the sidebar on the right of this page.

Part of Alba's story tells of how she arrives at the Guild. On her walk up to the Guild from the town, one of the streets through which she passes is "Artisan Row".

On my way up to the castle complex in Quedlinburg, I took a shortcut and found myself in an alley which was, to me, quite clearly the back of (my) Artisan Row. On my way back into town, I walked the other way and was, indeed, on Artisan Row. As I passed along the back alley, I stumbled across a tiny shop called "Papier Atelier" (address at the end of this post), filled with paper and simply beautiful things made of paper, like cards, visiting card blanks, and journals, but also lamps and decorative objects. I went in, of course, and had a fascinating conversation with the owner, Katrin Ruhnau, a young woman who studied textile design. Among other things, she allowed me to photograph one of her paper and fabric objects.

I know we all make and see a lot of art and are accustomed to seeing sumptuous, rich objects. Even so, this roll stopped me in my tracks: it was so beautiful. I think I last had that feeling when I saw Susan Kapucinsky-Gaylord's "Spirit Books", or Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" exhibit (waaaaay back).

See for yourselves.

Papier Atelier
Katrin Ruhnau
Schlossberg 27
06484 Quedlinburg

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord's Spirit Books

Judy Chicago "Dinner Party" - Brooklyn Museum

Calorie Free Cake!

What do you do when it's a friend's late autumn birthday and she's sworn off cake? I decided the best idea is to have your cake but not have to eat it. I made this little cake box for a birthday, at the beginning of November.

The template is from Stampers' Sampler:

For the flower, I punched and layered blooms and leaves and affixed tiny gold-pearl stamen (florist supply department in any craft/DIY store) in the center. A touch of ribbon, and off you go.

The challenge was to find a small gift that would fit in the box. The obvious choice would have been a small edible delicacy, but, see above... So, after looking around the local gift store, and with Christmas approaching, I chose a tiny barrel organ music box that plays "Silent Night" when you turn the handle.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My New Roommate

Adam/Jake Fish shared the draft of his first encounter with the Guildmistress. Adam's description of the Guildmistress and Jake's thoughts and reactions made me laugh. A few days ago, I was given this lovely marionette. She is around 1 metre 20 tall. Other people found her scary, but I liked her, even though she did look somewhat stern.

When I got her home, I found a space to hang her and then we had a nice little conversation. In the days that followed, her eyes, though piercing, took on a more kindly look, and her smile seemed to widen. Rather than frightening, she now appears regal and authoritative.

She has lost her hair and looks as though she's undergone chemotherapy, so I'll need to find a solution for that problem. I also intend to change some of ther clothing, as she is very glitzy at the moment. I think I want to tone that down by using new accessories.

The Making of Alba's Map

This is Alba's map. I'd say it's around two-thirds of the way completed, but that seems right for now. I have a hunch Alba will learn more about the map tomorrow, and the rest will become evident as she journeys.

I started out with two A4 sheets of heavy watercolour paper, because that's all I had that was suitable. You don't really want to use flimsy paper when drawing maps, as it might tear when adding colour or erasing things. I taped the sheets together to create a larger canvas. I may take the map apart again, when I decide how to fold and transport it (for Alba). The first thing I did after that was singe the edges of the paper all round. I did it first to prevent burning away some of the work I intended to do. That said, it might have been equally interesting and possibly more mysteriousd to do precisely that.

Then I drew the outlines of country and islands and sounds. I like islands, so I alway include some. My islands are almost always to the north.

The next step was to mark in the major geographical features like mountain ranges, rivers and lakes. I like to draw topographical mountains. I'm sure there are some geographic impossibilities on my map, but this is about fantasy rather than perfection. Then came the colouring fun. I used watercolour pencils and watercolour crayons.

That done, I sat down to mark and name locations. This part of the process is fascinating, because events tend to pop into my mind as I name places and landscape features. The story begins to tell itself to me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Making of Alba's Doll

Alba's doll took a while to manifest. I actively considered several options, with paper being my default choice. However, this was not, apparently, what Alba had in mind.

Walking through the local park, I'd find myself scouring the ground for something I couldn't define. A few days ago, I picked up a couple of twigs and intuitively knew they were the basis for Alba's doll.

When I held the twigs together, they looked like a figure with raised arms. So, I taped them together to keep them in position and then bound them with some rather rustic twine.

In the next step she got an underskirt of black netting, which was simply gathered, tied around her waist, then slashed to make it easier to fluff out. Using the same twine I used to bind the twigs, I crocheted a skirt band and threaded strings through the holes. Tucked away in my stash, I had some paper tubes which I cut to make beads of various lengths, which I threaded onto the strings, along with some wooden beads. Then I draped more of the netting around her upper body to make a blouse. She seemed to feel the cold, so I knitted up a shawl from some pretty yarn I'd had lying around for years.

Back in the park, I gather a few reeds and some twigs that bore little cones and bound a tiny wreath for a headdress. Some of the material is still tinged with green but will darken as it dries.

The paper clay face is from a mould I have. I make 20-30 faces at a time and toss them into a box for when I need them. The face is glazed with gold acrylic but otherwise unadorned.

She had a nasty cold gap at the waist, so I found a scrap of bejewelled trim in one of my boxes and made her a waistband.

I may add a touch of something here or there in the days to come, but essentially, Alba is now completed.

Yesterday, a friend visited and saw Alba. She asked me if Alba was a voodoo doll. (Nothing would surprise her when it comes to me and my art.) I said "no", but if she needs a voodoo doll, I could show her...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Making of Alba's Travelling Box

This project is part of my prep for the Travelling Artist's Guild Journey

My travelling box started out as two wooden three-bottle wine crates. The feet were a lucky find. Someone tossed away wooden rings and the end stoppers for wooden curtain poles in the local park. I found them, and hey presto, I had the perfect feet for my box and a collection of rings for
another project I have in mind.

The inside is lined with paper from a roll of gift wrap.

After thinking about the outside for a while, I tossed my original idea of varnishing the box and decided to distress it. I covered the surfaces with some scrapbook paper I'd had for years, then papered over the edges with book pages. After that, I sanded the edges to blend the various papers and gave the outside of the box a couple of coats of acrylic glaze.

I attached the box lids to the outside of the new box to form "wings". Then I created additional storage possibilities by adding pockets to one wing. I'll be doing something similar with the other wing, too.

The hinges and closures came from my collection of metal parts. I also added some bands as hinges to prevent the wings from sagging. The current solution is not quite as good as it could be. I'm on the lookout for an old brown leather belt, cracked and supple with age, that I can cut up to use as hinges. I'll affix them on top of the existing hinges, as I like the idea of something looking old and often-repaired.

The outside is decorated to an extent where I can say, I can off on my journey. I know I'll be adding to the box as I travel. The inside is still to be completed. Here, too, I think I'll work as I travel. My intention is to add drawers and compartments to house various items I already have and will find as my journey progresses.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Felted Wrist Warmers

Not art, but knitting... A couple of times over the past days, I've mentioned I was knitting something. Yesterday I completed my latest little project: wrist warmers. The idea is that you knit the warmers and then felt them in the washing machine. I fell in love with the wool last week. It's Lana Grossa "Feltrino Mix", which is pure virgin wool. The wool is multi colored, so there is no hassle with changing balls, to create patterns. You just knit away, and the patterns appear as you do so. Apparently most people use Feltrino to knit gloves, caps, and slipper-socks.

Before shrinking and felting

Once you've completed the item and sewn the pieces together, if required, you simply toss it in the washing machine and wash it at 40 degrees (Celsius), to shrink and felt the item. Feltrino shrinks by 30-40%. A couple of years back, I accidentally shrunk and felted a woolen cowl I'd knitted. At first, I was a little disappointed, until I realised that the felted cowl was much warmer than the unfelted one. Since then, I've been an absolute fan of felted winter accessories. Here are the before and after photos for my wrist warmers.

After shrinking and felting

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Art Angelix Journey 2010 - 2011

I'm back. It's been a long time since I posted here. Let's just say that a lot of life got in the way, but whatever...

Autumn in the Air

So now it's September. The equinox approaches. All around me I see the last fruits of summer ripening in fields and gardens and by waysides. My nature-wise friends tell me, the signs predict we're in for another long, hard winter, much like the last one we had here in northern Germany. Last winter, we had snow for almost three months solid. With that in mind, I think it might be a really good idea to set up a nice, long, involved art project...

A New Art Project

For the past few weeks I've been looking around for a long-term project to join, but either I started too early or I've been hunting in the wrong places. I originally wanted to join in on someone else's project, but, that's rarely the way things work out for me. I'm more of an initiator and teacher, so, I ran the basics of an idea past my arty friend Gena, and, based on her response, decided to offer a project of my own.

An Archetypal Journey

The project will work with an archetypal journey format based on the "Story Maps" writing workshop I taught for many years. The journey will take place between October 2010 and September 2011. The project is a combination of mixed-media art, art journaling, and, if you're also a writer, a story to join up the pieces, so to speak. I'll provide a basic storyline and set of prompts for journal entries and art projects. Your art and writing will be your personal interpretation of those prompts. Where necessary, I'll provide tutorials on this blog or, at the very least, links to online tutorials that will show you what to create at each stage.

The Guild of Artists

The linking idea is that all participants belong to a Guild of Artists and were bound by the statutes of the guild to undertake a journey at some point in their lives. On their return to the guild house, they recount their adventures and show each other what they experienced and what they found along the way.

Project Duration

There are no deadlines, except the October through September project deadlines. That said, based on many years of project experience, I strongly suggest you plan time for art into your life and make an effort not to fall too far behind. Each artist will work at her own pace and is free to complete the activities in any order, though I will suggest an order for those who prefer to work that way.

Project Type

This is not a round robin project. Should you decide to participate, you will not be required to send your artwork or journals to anyone else. That means you can work on any scale, with materials you enjoy. It means you can afford, in all respects, to invest yourself in the creation of beautiful art and descriptions of your personal experience. What we will do, though, are occasional small-scale exchanges of the kind typical for journeys: mail art, ATC, perhaps an ephemera exchange, and the like. These are all things that will keep postal charges low. All sharing will take place in Blogland, on a blog I'll create for the Journey.

Joining In

There will be a core group of artists who make a commitment to the project. These artists will post to share notes on their progress and images of artwork for others to see. But the journey project will also be open in the sense that anyone can tag along, without the need to register or commit or keep to deadlines, unless they want to, of course.

Core Group Commitment

If you want to be in the core group, please send me an email. You'll find the link in my profile. All core group members will have access to the project blog and be able to post images there. Posting is expected.

Arting Along Without a Commitment

If you want to art along with us without any commitment, send me an email when you post your work on your personal (art) blog and I'll be happy to add your blog or website link to the project blogroll.

Signup Deadline

Signup for the core group is 30th September. You'll find the Email link in my profile.