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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cut, Paste & Cringe

There is always a lot of cutting, tearing, pasting going on around my studio, but I have always wanted to take a collage class.....

I just love to pick stuff up and make collages....
The day after Lunar New Year I was walking with a friend in Chinatown (hello Adrienne) and stopping every few feet to pick up the firecracker wrappers all over the sidewalks.
How could I possibly resist?
I went back a few days later to find more to play with but they were all gone.

I've been having fun making collaged postcards and note cards with the wrappers...something I try to do every new year.

I went to Scrap that same day and found 15 or 16 of these "starts" -- collaged postcards with dictionary pages and sheet music and gesso....

They just called out to me and I had to bring them home and work on them to make collages. A collaboration with an unknown artist. How mysterious and fun.
I can't wait to see what I do with them.

Then, on Wednesday night, I packed up my scraps and apron and headed on over to my first collage class at Fort Mason here in SF. A beautiful location right on the SF Bay and SF City College has an art campus over there....

I make collages every day but they are all pretty small. Most of them are like the pile above, 4x6 inch postcards to mail out. I have made some 8x10 collages as well. My goal is partly to learn to work in a larger format. 

The class was challenging, for sure.  The instructor has each class member stand on a table  while we had one minute to cut out their forms with a the Matisse cut-outs. I can tell you mine certainly looked nothing like Matisse's cut-outs.
After that we were supposed to make collages with them......
challenging, for sure, since this is nothing like the way I usually work.
But, really, that is the point of taking a class - to learn something new.

My finished collage......I have no idea why all that pink is on there since I don't even like fact, I don't like the collage either. I think I will cut it up into postcards. Maybe it will work that way...

The third part of the class was a critique session -- each person (16 or 17 of us) hung our collages on the wall one at a time and had to say something about what we were thinking about what we were making it. (Me? I was thinking how anxious I was). Then one person from class would critique the work and then the instructor would give a critique. All in three minutes. Just like art school.

I think getting out of your comfort level is a good thing. Even if it isn't fun at the time. If you are always doing things you are good at then you really aren't challenging  yourself.
I read somewhere many adults never want to put themselves in a challenging or uncomfortable position in public.
I don't really think that is a good thing.
I'm going back for four more weeks and I'm going to do it again.

(My French classes were pretty nerve-wracking too).

Even if I did have to go home an have some tea and cookies to calm my nerves. Ok, I may have had a little glass of wine too.
Wish me luck and we'll see how it goes. I hope I get better at making collages and learn some new things. And I hope I get better at being brave when facing an uncomfortable challenge.

This is a learning experience an I am not trying to make a masterpiece in class.
Just trying to learn more about collage.

Any of you challenging yourselves with something too?
Do tell.

(and do something creative every day)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Takin' It On The Road

Don't you just love to see other people's art supplies and travel kits?
I know I do.
So when a blog reader messaged me and said she is going on an extended trip and wondered what art supplies I like to bring along when  travel...well, I couldn't resist doing a blog post about it...even though I have posted about mail art kits in other posts.

I figured you guys wouldn't mind another one.

I do try to keep things pretty simple on the road. But you've got to bring along the most necessary supplies. For me, that includes glue sticks and double stick tape.
I know you can buy supplies while traveling but I don't want to waste time searching for the stuff I need -- and often things can be more expensive.
So I am always sure to bring as many glue sticks and (Diaso) double stick tape as I think I will use.

I also bring along an old gift card or something like that little yellow thing in the top photo to really rub on what I've glued so it is flat. (what DO you call those things?)

I like to bring my favorite pens too -- an ultra-fine tip fountain pen (with refill cartridges) for writing in my travel journal and some fine tip Micron pens for postcards and lists.
And I always bring a pencil.
I like to bring labels too -- use them in my journal and on cards. They always seem to come in handy.
And a little tip -- address some labels at home so all you have to do is stick 'em on postcards or letters you want to send. It saves time  and time is usually at a premium when on the road.

I bring along a very small address book I made -- and I like to wind washi tape on gift cards I pick up....a fun and easy way to bring a variety of tape without a lot of bulk in your travel bag.

Address Book
with labels, stamps, washi on cards tucked inside...

Bring some wax paper -- in a roll or or sheets of it. Very useful  to protect the hotel desk when work/glueing/painting. For sticking between your journal pages so they won't stick together.
I like to bring an inexpensive water color tin (that I can leave at the end of the trip) and sponges so I can do watercolor washes on postcards/collages/journal pages and the wax paper is good to have when you are doing that...

This is a tiny plastic case I picked up in Chinatown and on a road trip I will tuck some tiny rolls of washi inside....
I generally don't bring rubber stamps -- but I did get a small, cheap set of ABC stamps that I am going to bring next time....

You've gotta have a great travel journal, right? And these are my favorites....

I like the paper in these books -- the fountain pens writes beautifully on them and I like the way you can tie them closed....and you can paste stuff on the covers too.
You can order them in various sizes from Dick Blick. I like the 9x11 size best.

Travel Snacks!
I recommend tucking in a few little snacks or treats inside your bag too. You never know when you might need one, especially on a plane. They don't give you much at 30,000 feet anymore!
After gathering everything up you've got to have something to put it in!
(Travel bag made by Dori Singh)

I am so incredibly lucky to have a couple of very special mail art pals who have made the the BEST zippered pouches for art supplies.
i love them so much that i don't even bring them on big trips for fear they will somehow get lost or stolen -- they are irreplaceable!
But I use them like crazy here in SF or on my road trips....

Travel pouches by C.S. in NYC

This is my "local" travel bag (the black/white one). Nice and roomy and perfect to take to collage class or the library or my favorite cafe when I want to make some art on-the-go. Holds the red bag and the water bottle and the black apron and the art supplies.....

For plane trips, I usually pack this Blue Q pouch since I know I can buy another one if the need arises. And zip-lock bags are the BEST. You can see what you've got in them and they seal and are very lightweight. But I bet you already knew that.

Travel Journals
I think the best souvenir of a trip is a fully loaded travel journal. And photos. And collages made from ephemera I pick up on the trip.
You can prepare pages in the journal ahead by giving them a watercolor wash and sticking some stamps inside from the country you are visiting. I always pick up vintage postcards at the Vintage Paper Fair of places I am hoping to visit and use those inside my travel journals too.
On the road, I write and collage in the journal every day. I leave spaces inside for adding photographs when I get home and use a pencil or stick-it note to remind me what I want to put in the empty space.
When I am back in SF, I put all the finishing touches on the travel journal, adding photos washi tape, rubber stamps, etc etc -- a very fun way to extend the trip.

Travel collages

I pick up as much local ephemera as I possible can and often make little books from the city I visited too.
Local post offices often have free postal forms that make great pages for little books.
My basic supple list:
1. Journal & pens
2. Glue sticks, double stick tape and card to firmly attach ephemera to paper
3. small scissors
4. stick-it notes, labels, washi wound on old gift cards
5. cheap watercolors & sponge for color wash

An Open Book

Here's an empty travel journal just waiting to go on a trip. Just writing this post has made me really want to pack a suitcase and an art kit and go somewhere.
But I don't have a plane ticket!
Anybody want to invite me for a visit?????? Or, meet me someplace fun?  I've really got the travel bug now.
I'm a nice guest!

Hope you all enjoyed this post and please let me know what YOU like to bring when you travel. Am I missing any good ideas?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Little of This and Some of That....

Some lovely incoming mail with Valentine themes and Typewriter themes.....
Fabulous Valentine mail from Dori Singh, mail artist and pal extraordinaire!
Bet you didn't know there is another mail artist in my family -- my sweetie! He hand lettered this envelope and made the heart out of torn chopstick wrappers -- what a guy!

From Tough City Writer I got a fabulous tri-old card with tattooed and half dressed guys inside!
More that bikini gal on the card from Garci and the heart made of cancelled stamps she tucked inside.
Maybe next year I should make some Valentine cards....since everyone was so creative in the ones they made for me. 

A-mazing mail from Liz in New Zealand. I know some of you don't like FaceBook but I really have fun with it. Liz posted on her FB page that she was sending out 49 pieces of mail art -- no strings attached -- to the first 49 folks who asked for it. Well, of course, I asked -- and got this fabulous piece of sewn, painted, stamped, collaged mail art a couple of weeks later.
And inside were two little sewn pouches with tiny books inside with watercolored pages.
Now that is the true spirit of mail art -- just send it out and make someone really happy.

Here's the back of the envelope -- i would sure like to know how she did it -- it seems like she gessoed paper ??? Liz -- feel free to leave a comment and tell all.
Check out
Book Art Studios
to see some of Liz's work. And if you happen to live in New Zealand you can go see the art exhibit Project 49.
She is on Facebook too --
VERY cool -- many thanks, Liz and I will be putting something in the mail to you very soon.

Another surprise in the mail -- from Sharon. Sharon reads the blog and saw the post about the Vintage Paper Fair where I was drooling over the Japanese First Day Covers I couldn't afford to buy..she emailed me and asked if I would like her to send me a little packet and of course I said yes!
She sent a whole set of wonderful First day Covers postcard from Japan with drawing, a stamp and beautiful red cancellations of them.
And this one is of Japanese postal workers.
How cool is that? What a fun surprise to get in the mail -- just because someone was being nice and generous. Many thanks, Sharon.

A creative Valentine mailing from Niko who does bad things in the name of art --
see for yourself
Philatelic Atrocities
He started the PDX Mail Art Group too, just so you know. He set three different sheets of artistamps he made.....

OK, now this is what I'm doing......
Vintage Book
Have you seen those little secretive nooks for "Free Books" tucked away in your neighborhood?
There seems to be a movement going on of sharing books -- and I like it! I found this old book tucked into a little nook today and figured it is just what I needed to make an altered book like the one my pal Barb showed at the last co-op meeting. I loved that cover of the woman cooking. I kind of like to cook myself. When I'm in the mood. And, when I'm not busy with art projects. I think it is Swedish.....(anybody?).
I buy those cheapo sets of ABC stamps at Michaels and store them in a box. They aren't the greatest stamps. The rubber falls off sometimes. But hey -- they are cheap and fun to mix and match and sometimes sort......

I finished up some little RAM booklets and a NYC book....just puttering at the work table...

And I've been making some nice origami folders for remember, I did a tutorial on how to make them a while back. The tutorial on how to make the origami folders is right here on "Most Popular Posts". I actually saw an online class on how to do it and you had a PAY. Mine is free! 
I made four....and one for me too....

I love the way the look all stacked up and filled with little surprises. They are six pockets in each one that you can fill....

Put a Bird on it!

OK, kids, that's it for now. We are having crazy warm weather in SF right now. It feels like summer and I am not liking it at all.
So I have to go in my studio and make stuff to cheer up.
I know...I know...those of you in the snow (Hello Boston) probably think I'm crazy but I just don't like 75 degrees in February. I don't like snow either.
But I do like mail art!

Many thanks to all of you who have sent me great mail lately. If you don't see yours here you might see it on the blog's FaceBook page.
I enjoy and appreciate every piece of mail I get.

And if you want to see Cappuccino & Art on FB look HERE

Hope you all are having a good day and making some good mail.
No Mail Monday = No Fun

But at least it gives me a chance to catch up. What are you all making? Sending? Doing?


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fun Little Tutorial

Would you like to make some sweet little books?

Start with a 12x12 piece of paper. You can use double sided scrapbook paper or cut up your own paper....

Since the paper I used for this one was white on the back (and no fun), I gave it a watercolor wash, dripped some paint on it and hit it with a gold dabber.....I let it dry on wax paper under some heavy books so the paper would stay flat...

Then just fold the paper in half --

and in half you've got four quarters...

Measure up two-inches on top and bottom and fold up. These are going to be the pockets in the book......

Then fold each quarter to the center fold so you end up like this....
give it a good crease with a bone folder...

Now you will cut along that center fold from left to right -- cutting the first three sections on the middle fold and *important* leaving the forth section intact...(It kind of looks like I only cut two sections here but I cut three...right on the the crease....)

Then you just fold in half like this.....

You've got an accordion book.....just fold it open and fool around with it so you get the front and back covers without a's easy to do but hard to explain....
I glue those little sections (above center of photo) closed so the pockets aren't opened like that...

You can glue a ribbon on the back cover of the little book and then tie it closed....rather charming...

Now the fun part -- filling the book up with tiny surprises and treasures for a friend....

I put stamps and stickers and little notes inside the pockets...

Themes are always about an air mail theme?
Or birds? Or a Holiday theme?
Valentines Day is coming...I'm just sayin'.....

I had fun with this airmail theme...

And a bit of a Valentine theme...

You've got time! You can made some sweet little Valentine theme books too.
I think these have potential for all sorts of little projects, don't you?
I think a gift card would fit inside a pocket.....or a love note...I know I'd like to get one of these.....and I bet you all know someone who would too.
Now go forth and make some stuff and eat some chocolate and have some fun!


This post is coming rather close to the last one but I thought it might be inspiration for making something for Valentine's Day.
Romance is on my mind since my wedding anniversary is a week later........


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