Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holidays! Vintage! More Glue talk!

I’m wishing you all a most lovely holiday time – Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, Saturnalia and we can all join in together for Happy New Year. We’ve just come through a blizzard here and today we are finally dug out but not yet on the road. Snow and/or icy rain is predicted for Christmas Eve and Day, so perhaps our celebration get-together will find another day besides the 25th to come into being. I wasn’t going to make gifts this year but got inspired to make one and – not too surprisingly – found myself making several. Now, of course, I can’t reveal any of these treasures today, but they might show up next time.

I did, though, complete the last two pieces of my vintage mood pieces. The Woolworth box is a kind of companion to the diner box. The box is decoupaged with images of vintage Woolworths. The image inside the lid is a Woolworth lunch counter. A old-time Woolworth lunch menu adorns one side. The luncheonette sign on the other. I was very pleased when I found the 7” Coke bottle. It went so well with the ‘Irvin’ doll, who I found on ebay and was actually listed as an Irvin doll, which pleased me immensely. By the way, if you are drawn to vintage 5&10 toys and dolls, check out The Old Curiosity Shop on ebay They are a husband and wife e-store that caters to the lovers of unusual and fun items that tend to bring back memories of days gone by. They have items such as old novelty toys, toys comics, books to who knows what and I’ve bought several batches of dolls from them.

Mz Kodak is an altered doll with a wonderful porcelain miniature camera teapot as her head. The photos embellishing her skirt are vintage photos, including those of my family and friends, printed onto fabric. I used the Vintage Workshop printable linen fabric sheets for inject printers. Their website offers supplies, images and how-to’s.

I especially liked the roll of film on the base. I’ve been digital for years now, I wasn’t sure you could just go and buy film at the drug store anymore. But you can and Kodak still uses the wonderful bright yellow can. Film strips also adorn the skirt and pops out of the head with flowers.

I got some nice feedback on my glue hints. Thanks especially to Deborah. Here’s another specialty glue that is an essential in my studio. It’s Judikin’s Diamond Glaze glue. This is a dimensional adhesive that dries to a clear glass-like finish. It securely holds embossed plastic, glass, beads, glitter, Vellum and many other mediums. It can be used directly over artwork for a raised finish or thinned with water for a lacquer-like finish. Unlike other clear adhesive it is mixable with dye-base inks, watercolors and pearlescent pigments to create custom colors. I find the best deal on this glue online at Create For Less, a trove of all sorts of supplies.

I use Diamond Glaze primarily in two ways. The applicator has a nice narrow tip. I drawn ‘lines’ of glue and then sprinkle micro-beads or glitter to make details. The beaded detail on Mz Kodak’s left shoulder uses this technique. This gives you a lot of control with your beading and the glue really grips the beads. Keep the piece flat until it begins to dry or the glue will continue to flow. Of course, these ‘mistakes’ may give you an effect you like. If you really don’t like it, you can wipe it off and repaint the area.

The second way is to use it as a high-glaze decoupage finish. I typically pour the Diamond Glaze over the area I want to glaze, using enough glue and tilting the piece so the glue flows. I am doing this to avoid brush strokes in the ‘glaze’. Sometimes air bubbles appear, which I simply piece with a toothpick or straight pin. You can lightly brush an area to help the flow, but I find it works best with the pour and flow technique. The Crystalline torso here is a great example of this technique. Here I also used the Diamond Glaze to hold the ‘crystals’ on the crown of the image, which are actually pieces of windshield glass. Windshield glass, by the way, makes wonderful crystal-like embellishments. I have a cache I found in the street [fortunately, not my accident]. But you could check out places who replace windshields to get a supply. I’m sure they’ll get a kick out of helping an artist.

And one last gluing technique. When using Liquid Nails, to apply pressure to insure a solid adhesion, I use medium weight removable painters masking tape. This works on flat and vertical surfaces, such as gluing on a teapot for a head. If the item is heavy, like the teapot, I usually will brace it from behind with a taller object or against the wall etc. When I glue something on an unusual surface, I often place a one pound bag of rice over the object. Yes, rice! The rice conforms to the shape and the weight ads pressure. You can also use the bag of rice to brace things.

Merry Merry. Happy Happy. Bye now.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Recently I had some emails in my in-box. One was a wonderful shout-out from Heart Woman who not only shared that she liked the work on Altered E but connected with how the sensibility of the work that I feel. My little city in the Shenandoah Valley is not a very congruent place for my altered art, so I’ve made my home on the web and it’s always special when someone ‘out there’ finds and appreciates and takes the time to share.

Another email came from an assemblage artist asking my recommendation for glue.
As you can imagine GLUE is a big factor in bringing together and keeping together all the odds and ends of an assemblage. I’ve tried a slew of glues over time.

My essential and singular glue now and for the past 5 years is Liquid Nails Small Project glue. There are many other Liquid Nails, includi
ng construction grade glues but verifying that it’s ‘small project’ is important because it dries clear. Oddly, I have yet to find this glue at craft stores. I buy it at Home Depot, Lowes or WalMart. I not only use this for all the assemblage pieces but have used it to add embellishments to fabric, canvas board and more.

Small dabs will hold well. This is not a fast drying glue. Position and leave it alone. It will do a first ‘set’ in an hour or so but be sure to let the piece ‘cure’ over-night for the fullest adhesion. Typically, I glue all the pieces I can [those which can easily fit next to and with each other] in one sitting. Then I either work on another piece or go away. Yep, I often have to just get myself out of the studio so I don’t touch the work.

If you get the glue on your fingers
or on the piece where you don’t want it, regular petroleum jelly will remove it. On a piece, I usually apply a bit with a q-tip and then use the other side of the q-tip to remove the glue or a piece of paper towel. On your hands, rub it on and wipe off with a paper towel.

For paper collage, decoupage and paper embellishments, my other essential glue is actually not designated as a glue. I use artist-quality acrylic Super Heavy Gel Medium. This product is meant to be used with acrylic paints to add body. I use it for that at times, but I primarily use this as my main paper glue. It’s great on flat paper as in collage but equally great in adding paper to a curved box, such as the diner box. I apply with a brush.

On flat surfaces, you can ‘burnish’ the applied piece by placing a sheet of paper over it and rubbing with a popsicle stick. You can buy paper burnishing tools. I use a wooden clay tool to burnish and I use the waxed paper from used label sheets to put over the image. Wax paper also works well, Clean up with water like other acrylic paints.

Thanks for the inspiration to talk on glue.
I haven’t shared techniques much in the blog but am most happy to reply to your emails and share in a post.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I came across these wonderful dotted suitcases quite a while ago. Here Mz. Vintage Dot dances with her 30’s ceramic cat and her classic T-bird. Her dancing shoes are filled with polka dots. To get just the right size ‘dot’ for the shoes, I hand-painted some berries from fabric flowers.

The diner box is decoupaged with images from vintage diners. The wonderful odd doll comes from a lot I purchased of old 5&10 store stock. A row of red-vinyl diner stool images are decoupaged to the interior wall of the box. The large white ball and smaller balls add a dissonant texture. I call this Diner Visitation because my friend Helen said the white balls and the odd figure looked like aliens that had been dropped down into the diner. That wasn’t in my conscious mind but I loved the association.

The lovely lady is Sybil. When we look closer we see her eyes are darked, empty – a darkness perhaps open to the unseen and unknown. Does she know the other side? Were her eyes opened to know more than can be seen in the usual way. What secrets do her night black lips hint at?

Her once beautiful dress suggests dark travels. It is embellished with faded flowers, mossy tendrils and earthy tints. Black crystal beads wind her neck and a large black faceted stone adorns her bodice. A black feather adorns her blonde locks.

My son saw this doll about to be thrown away because her eyes were missing. He asked if he could have it because his mother makes things with dolls and would love her. The people found it odd that I would want an eyeless doll, but of course, it was a perfect gift for me.

People often ask me about the meaning of my assemblage pieces. Unlike my more ‘aspect art’ pieces, these are free-flowing and seem to me to dance among images and found objects that hold some kind of archetypal energy for me but they 'why' of the image appeal it is often not clear to me. The dolls are always expressing potential and all the varied aspects of being human. Or so I think!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Murals of Ocean Beach

One of the great features of Ocean Beach was it’s fabulous murals. They were in great abundance. Thought I’d share a few.



Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ocean Beach Travel Collage

Recently I was fortunate enough to spend 9 days at Ocean Beach, outside of San Diego. Ocean Beach is an ‘old school’ beach town – low-scale cottage architecture, surfing, heaps of restaurants and some very interesting and comfortable bars as well. We enjoyed going to the beach every day, catching the glorious sunset every evening and just wandering about the town. Ocean Beach also is know for it’s very special dog beach – a section of beach where dogs can run free. We enjoyed touching into unbridled dog joy watching them run and play with each other, with mad dashes into the ocean as well.

Whenever I travel I like to do collage work. I have a little ‘collage kit’ that I take with me which includes glue sticks, colored pencils, airplane-permitted round tip scissors, a popsicle stick for burnishing the images, stick-on letters and a stencil for letters.

I then buy an inexpensive journal for each trip.

As I travel, the hunt begins. I collect ‘memorabilia’ of the place - business cards, menus, bar coasters, printed restaurant napkins, maps, advertisements about from guide books and newspapers and so on. I use bits and pieces from newspapers, magazines and other printed matter for more general images, text and the colored scraps that I use as design elements. And it’s especially fun to add found object paper to the mix – such as this ‘Biker’s For Jesus’ flyer I found on the street.


I love to wind down the day working on my collage book. It’s a wonderful distillation of my experiences and I the remembrance quality of the books – capturing favorite moments and places, elements of the place I am spending time in and exploring.

These books are much more about the ‘doing’ for me than the final art of the project. I really get into the focus and transformation energy that occurs as you take elements from one aspect and capture them in another form. This is a free-form collage in the structure of the trip. I love it all.

I’ve got three pieces coming to completion in the studio and I look forward to sharing them soon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Traveling Assemblage Girls

So where did September go?? An impromptu trip to Virginia Beach, a day in the studio with the Art Girls, this and that and studio time for me.

My assemblage ‘girls’ have been traveling and I find like the travel theme for my boxes. A conversation with my childhood best friend Jan, brought up so many memories of our summertime haunt – Wildwood, N.J. So naturally, I sent the Alpha Girls to Wildwood, using vintage images of Wildwood and other summer motifs.

The Numeral girls traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida, which I discovered last winter. My husband found a super cheap airfare to St. Pete, so we bopped down for 5 days. It’s the home of the Salvador Dali museum, among other things, so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed and we weren’t. Typically people hit the beaches, but we spent our entire time in the downtown area, with his wonderful parks and walks along the bay and a lot of galleries and fun restaurants. The colorful image on the inside and outside lid of the Numeral girls is an altered photograph of a display of metal work I took at a street market. The piece also uses vintage postcard images.

I’m in a vintage mode. Currently I’m working on two pieces. One will evoke an old-time diner and the other a vintage Woolworths. I’m also working on a ‘dark doll’ in the cool October All Hallows vibe.

Till next time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Surgery Journey Journal

As I mentioned, my friend Katherine created a wonderful journal for me. I found it very powerful to work in this medium. I prepared by copying excerpts from the many emails into a document and printed it on colored paper.

I used images of the pieces I created during this time, including the Warrior torso and the small Warrior doll, who was meant for the torso but in the end, was her own piece.

I gathered my crow motifs, crow feathers gathered on my evening 'recovery walks' with Dennis, ribbons from the flowers I received and so on. I used rubber stamps for text, chalks for highlighting and other images that spoke to me.

The journal was designed with 'pockets' where I placed all the cards I received during this time.

I added my own signifier images to the covers and in the end, had a full gathering of my experience.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy to be blogging again

I had surgery about a month ago. The scary part was that cancer cells were discovered in a routine test and the surgery could resolve the situation in and of itself or could reveal that the surgery was only the beginning treatment. Most fortunately, the cells turned out to be precursor cells and the surgery was all that was needed. But I must say, the two weeks between the words ‘malignant cells’ in the biopsy and the surgery certainly took me to some emotional depths.

My totem torsos [see July 7 entry] did me in good stead, as well as the many calls, cards and emails from my friends. So many good vibes, blessings, affirmations, prayer circles, rituals, and so on came my way that I can be most sure they are a good part of my good news and recovery.

My dear friend Katherine made the wonderful accordion journal you see here. This Friday we have convened a meeting of the ‘Art Girls’ and I plan to create a book of this journey, including those cards & excerpts from the emails, and ribbons from the flowers and so on. Look for it in the next post.

The last thing I did before surgery was upload the final version of Aspect Art – Art As the Soul’s Journey to Amazon.com. It was a perfect moment of completion as I stepped into the unknown. Just click this link to check it out.

Reviews are most welcome!

And I’ve revamped my website to a sleeker look. There are new images, an excerpt from the book and other things. And if you find a typo or broken link, please do let me know. www.alterede.com

And the last new thing I’ve done in the past two weeks as my energy came back, is my new shop at Ecrater –alteredEart.ecrater.com. I’m not on Etsy or Ebay right now, but this little site has a few goodies.

All is good.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shifts, Challenges and I'll Be Off-the-Grid for Awhile

It's been an interesting time indeed. And life's interesting times can also evoke art. Since April I've reached a new place about diet, health and the body.Of course, work that seems to focus on the outer, always begins with work on the inner. And in that I got in touch with another aspect of my inner strength and wisdom. I think of it as 'aligned will'. So this piece is Shouting Out Will and Wisdom and has served has a strong totem for me.

But life continues to ask us to be fluid. When one thing comes into alignment, another may shift and still more alignments need to evolve. I have a challenge in my life right now that calls for my attention, my willingness to be in life just as it is, my capacity to listen within and be present. All of that came to me as a kind of fierceness, a Warrior energy - warrior as a great protector, one who faces all challenges, one asks, 'What does this moment require?' and listens to what may come as the answer.

She may be fierce in her focus. She may carry a sword to cut through illusion and fear. But she is surrounded with earth energies. Crystals of many sorts, holding the energies of compassion, balance, grounding and transformation. Her feathers hold the energy of the Crow Clan and other spirit animals. She sits upon rock and even carries shards of ancient pottery to remember that we are all of an ancient clan.

So life has grabbed my attention and I'll be off-the-grid from typical things and literally off-line for awhile.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Minimal sales but maximum magnificent people!

Tea Cup Miss spoke deeply to the beautiful spirit of Kathleen who took her home.

Well, I had an interesting two days high atop Afton Mountain on the grounds of the Swannanoa Palace, an 1900's Italianate mansion. My best buddy Deb, of DifferentLightStudio, got me into this and it wouldn't be half as much fun - or any! - without her. She is so outgoing and generous and just is on sparkle all the time. She was even game for an impromptu juggling lesson.

This was also the first time I have put my OrionWisdom spiritual work in the same venue as my art, so it was a bit of a coming out party too.

Dennis put together a great display and people were mostly intrigued and a couple of pieces even found new homes. My opening line was 'A little bit different, isn't it?.

There was lots of good conversation and I made some great connections with other vendors.

Night More sells magickal jewelry and things. She has two sites on Etsy. One for her jewlery and art and the other for supplies for you to create your jewelry and art! Check out Night at BellaBohemian and The Moon and The Sea

Pam Roland explores fine art and whimsy. Her whimsy are the delightful Joybelz - wonderful little beings that dance with caring, uplifting sentiments. Pam is sharp and bright and delightful herself.

In another vein, the lovely Christina Kramer wears many hats, Reiki Master, healer and channeler of Mother Mary. She's developing her web presence but if you'd like to know more, just email me and I'll pass it along.

When my Elves and Fairies started to come to me they each brought their name and story. I included these stories in my Ebay listings and soon found that I created 'back stories' for all the pieces. I include these stories when I ship a piece. At this event, there wasn't room for each piece to have their story, but I chose one story of each type of piece. I found it so interesting that people seemed to read every story. It seemed that they found a way to connect to the art through their stories.

This little Elf is Elandor and she also found a new home at the show.

My son, Alexander, suggested that next time I be sure to have note cards available of the pieces with their stories on the back. Good idea!

We'll have to just wait and see how 'next time' presents itself!