Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SpirARTuality: Acrylic Paints

November's SpirARTuality event was taking an acrylics painting class at the fantastic Root Art Center.

I have very little training in art, so the very first thing out of our instructor's mouth was fascinating to me. She set out two reds, two yellows, and two blues and told us that there are both warm and cool colors of each primary color!
So she prefers to work with 6 primary colors (3 warm and 3 cool) plus black and white when she paints. So that's what we did.

She had our canvas paper all prepared. It was taped to a piece of cardboard both to give it pretty finished edges, and to keep it from warping when it got wet.

Our first task was to put down a wash over the whole paper.
I had fun testing out mixing paint and water, but made quite a mess (and obviously I was much more interested in the activity than in taking good photos!):

We then chose an artist to copy. Since we were simply working on techniques today, we didn't need to waste time on figuring out what to paint.
We chose Van Gogh. Analyzing the picture I chose, we saw that it was in the cool range, so I worked with the cool blue, red, and yellow as I mixed and painted. Susan's painting, too was in the cool range (even though it had lots of yellow). We painted for about an hour, then stopped and the instructor led us in a little critique.

Susan's sky and grass were just fantastic. But the light blob wasn't just right, so she went back to work on that. I didn't have enough defintion between the sky and the water. I liked the sky, but wasn't too happy with the water. So when I took it back, I tried using warm colors for the water to see if they would make an interesting contrast from the cool sky.

Here we are, working on our revisions.
I was surprisingly pleased with the result of my first acrylic painting. It's by no means a masterpiece, but it's not too shabby, either. And I love the contrast in the sky and water now. How interesting!

Our reflection questions for today's project is:
When in your life are you imitating someone? Who is the person your are imitating? Are you glad to be imitating them?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fabulous Necklace

I recently attended CREDO II a fabulous retreat/conference offer to Episcopal clergy through our pension fund. One of the participants had a necklace that I really liked:

So I thought, I could make that! And I made the most Fabulous Necklace in the World.

Three years ago, I had a Blessing Way before the birth of my younger son. Many of my friends couldn't attend, but wanted to participate. So each of them were invited to send a bead which would be made into a birthing necklace which I could use as a focal point in labor. They were on some ribbon, but I never quite knew what to do with them afterwards. Now, I've figured it out.

I took my Blessing Way beads and some of my favorite other beads into my local bead shop and showed the owner the picture and my beads. She set me up to work, and I added a few more beads from her collection and some seed beads, and voila!

I love this necklace. It's chock full of love and reminders of friends; it's hand-made; it's made by ME;'s got a magnetic clasp in the back! I've never heard of magnetic clasps, but they rock!

Have an artful day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

SpirARTuality ideas

Our SpirARTuality group got together for lunch and brainstorming ideas for next year. Our ideas include:

Creating our own painting class at Root Art Center
Weaving rolled paper

Making clay beads
Doing our own Art Hop
Going to Whatever Works in Granville
Visiting a glass blowing studio

Creating african-type painted fabrics
Creative writing
Beading at our local bead store
Retreat day (or several days!)

What are your arty thoughts for the coming year?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Monoprinting with Kids

I helped lead the Children's Program for the Ohio Episcopal Celebration at Kenyon (OEC@K). As we were begin planning our activities for the weekend, I remembered I had extra Versatex screen printing ink from the previously blogged about Fish Printing. So this time, we tried monprinting.

In order to get a smooth, elevated working surface for the children (ages 2-11), we used a food storage bag wrapped tightly around a book, with the excess neatly folded and taped. The kids had to be very careful not to rip the thin plastic, but none of them did.

As I was demonstrating the process to the children and I pulled up my piece, I suddenly realized that these could be prayer flags. So suddenly this became an Prayer Flag activity.

(We also stuck with the original plan, which was about decision-making. Children trying out different designs on the paint was like thinking about what decision to make. But then putting down the fabric was like making a decision--it can't be un-made.)

Here I am, mellowly talking about prayer flags as if it was our intention the whole time:

Children then took a plastic-covered book, a flat work surface (showerboard cut to 2ft squares), and a piece of cotton or muslin and then chose a color to work with. I spread the color on the plastic, then they took off with a teen-aged helper and got to work.

After playing in the paint and deciding on a design, the children would carefully put down their fabric piece and use a brayer to make sure the full design was transfered. Here's Grant braying a neat design:

It was a great gift that the teen program chose this particular session to sit in with the children's program. There were just enough teens and kids that they paired up very nicely, and they loved working together:

Truth be told, I think the teens liked this project as much as the kids did. They were very patient helping the kids, but the moment their "job" was done, they came asking to do their own prints:

Oh! And we had enough left-over shirts from the Fish Prints that each of the children could monoprint a t-shirt, too.

Here are our prayer flags in full glory:

This is quite an easy activity that can be done with any age and be successful, even with confirmed "non-artists." Just don't forget to heat set the images afterwards (press with a hot but not steamy iron for 5 minutes).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Paper Friendship Quilt

On our recent trip back to Kansas, we did an art project with the Reeces. Cydney suggested a friendship quilt, and I loved the idea. I, of course, wanted to do it in fabric. She wanted to do it in paper and had all the supplies. So paper it was!

Step 1: Choose the paper.
First, Cyd and I each chose a group of scrapbooking papers that we liked. (Suggestion: have the whole family choose the papers, not just one person.)
There were 3 piles: Reeces, S-Bs, and shared.

Step 2: Choose the quilt pattern.
You can make any shapes you want to on the quilt, but since we wanted to make it easy enough for a 2-year old to do it, we just cut triangles. Each quilt square was to be 5 inches, so each of the scrap book papers was cut first into 2 1/2 inch squares and then cut on the diagonal to make triangles.
Each pile is kept separate (Reece, S-B, Shared).

Step 3: Everyone makes 2 quilt squares, one for each home.
Here, you can see me, Matthew, and Cydney working on our squares. Each of us used triangles from the "S-B" and "shared" pile for my quilt, and from the "Reece" and "shared" for the Reece quilt.
We used glue stick to stick the squares to a backing of stiffer paper (whatever we had on hand, posterboard, perhaps).
Each person got to choose both the triangles they use and what pattern they wanted to place them in.

Luke's one for us is directly below him. I didn't mind the white showing, but we straightened up the one he made for the other quilt because the wonkyness would have driven them crazy. ;)

Here, you can see the 3 piles we were drawing from, the Reeces are more green/muted, the share is ecclectic, and ours are more pinks and oranges:

And here are our finished quilt squares.
They are now divided by family, and waiting to be mounted and framed using this matte board.
Cyd and I are both pleased with the results:

Birthday (The Big 4-0)

My birthday this year fell on a Wednesday, which made it easy to make it an arty day. SpirARTuality meets on the 1st Wednesday of each month, so we celebrated by making these cute little animals out of pre-plastered gauze. We chose these animals to go along with my birthday theme. My goal was to have all of my friends donate to the Heifer Project so that we could buy 40 animals for folks around the world for my 40th birthday. (We surpassed my goal!). These animals graced the table at my party that evening. Jo's lama is so well-dressed. Susan's lamb is cute as a bug. And my lama is ready to go!

In the evening, it was the last in our church's series, "In the Image of the Creator God." Each week, a different artist came to share a little of their art, how God/spirituality influences their art, and then leads us in an art project (HOW COOL IS THAT?!?). It was a great series. This last week, a woman who paints eggs using wax lead us in painting eggs. It was ridiculously fun, addicticting, and everyone was successful at it from my 2-year old son to my 87-year old mom, and the most creative to the most...reserved. Charlie shows off his favorite two eggs:

My niece Sara surprised me by driving 3 hours for the party (and having to leave again very early the next morning). She and Luke worked on some eggs together:

And here I am watching hubby and a bunch of other folks work on eggs. What a great birthday!

Monday, March 2, 2009

ArtiGras 2009

I spent my Saturday at ArtiGras, a fundraiser for the Spirituality Network in Columbus, OH. It was a wonderful day of taking care of our spiritual selves. Three friends attended with me, and there were over 100 participants.

One of the workshops I took was "Another's Shoes" where we used plaster strips (like they use to cast a broken arm) to make someone else's shoes and to tell a story about them. There were some wonderful shoes: mom's house slippers she put on each day after working 3 jobs, shoes for a child in africa sponsored by the maker, work books, etc.
My shoe is for the Mommy I'm Not. I don't own any high-healed shoes. This greatly disappoints my 5-year old. So here is the shoe I wish was in my closet for him to play with:

I also went to a dance workshop by happy accident. When my friends re-gathered after our first workshop, Penny was glowing from her dance workshop and said we really should go. I weight it in my mind and thought about skipping my assigned painting workshop to go, but the Dutiful Child won out and I went to the painting workshop. When I got there, my name wasn't on the teacher's list, and the class was full. So off I went to the dance workshop.
The leader drew from many different sources from the bible to "What the body wants" and Gabriella Roth and others. Our hour and a half class was mostly active dancing as we danced our ways though the chakras. It was intimidating, freeing, and exhausting. It was also deeply personal even though we were dancing in the same space. I didn't get a picture of this workshop, but wow!

The other workshop I attended was creating Mandelas. It was really fun. Here's what I came up with:

The ostrich in the center of mine started calling to me from another table as soon as I sat down. He's such a funny creature!
After we made our mandalas, we were given time to contemplate them. I almost laughed out loud when I realized that the ostrich wasn't me!
Pieces of 2 songs came to me, "Crown him with many crowns" (see the safety pin with 3 bells on it on his head?) and from "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" the phrase, "The star of my life is Jesus." HA HA. Apparently, one of my images for Jesus is now an ostrich. Hmm...

When I got home and showed my kids what I'd done, Charlie (5) was facinated by the mandala and asked several times to do one together. So the boys spent most of the morning creating their own mandals. Here's Lukes:

And Charlie's. See how proud he is!
What a great day at ArtiGras. And what a great day with the kids.

SpirARTuality: Nuno Felting

February's SpirARTuality gathering was to do Nuno Felting. (Full directions and information on kits are in the 2 posts below). We began with 9in by 12in prefelt. Here is one fabulous design before we started felting:

And here we are in the final step of the process, when we dropped our projects into very hot water and squished and squeezed them to get them nice an well-felted.

I was shocked about how small my project got:

And then very interested at the sizes of the three projects we did. Each of these were dipped and squeezed for the same amount of time. you think perhaps I was dealing with a little bit of stress?

All three projects turned out beautifully. We were all pleased. Nuno felting with a kit is very do-able, and turns out well. I highly recommend it!

Our SpirARTuality question for this project is, "Are you the roving that holds things together, or are you the silk pieces that brighten things up?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nuno Felting: Part 1

I'll be leading our next SpirARTuality group in Nuno Felting. Since none of us had ever done it before, I had to practice.
We bought our wonderful kits from Suzanne Morgan, here. She's got very complete written directions for nuno felting here, (and a link to my friend Deborah's blog which give me the idea originally). So here's my simplified photo version of How To Nuno Felt.

Here are the supplies you'll need:
-a hard, flat surface that can get wet (I used a big broiling pan)
-a towel to soak up excess water
-bubble wrap or a bamboo mat
-net or tulle
-old pantyhose or rubberbands (something to secure your rolled bundle)
-rolling pin, PVC pipe, dowel rod, or something similar
-The contents of a Nuno Felting Starter Kit, or: a prefelt base (or you may build yourself with alternating layers of wool), loose weave silk or other natural fibers, roving, yarn or thread if desired.

Step 1: Set up your Sandwich like this:
bubble wrap or bamboo mat
tulle or net
prefelt (or 4-6 pieces of alternating roving which will become the backing when felted)
your fabric design*
tulle or net

*For your fabric design, you may layer up fabric. However, make sure that there is roving between any layers of fabric. Also make sure there is roving on the top of the whole project so that the wool will bind through the layers of non-wool and felt everything.

Step 2: Once you've completed your fabric design and put the tulle/net on top, wet it down with some water with a couple of drops of soap (don't over-soap it--it will become a bubbly mess!)

Step 4: Rub in small circles for 10-15 minutes until the design is tacked down.
You can do this either with a wadded up ball of plastic, or you can use rubber gloves or a plastic sack on your hand.
Start out rubbing gently in small circles. As you go, you can press more firmly and make bigger circles.
Give extra care to the edges of fabric to make sure they get tacked down.
Every couple of minutes, pull both layers of tulle away from your fabric piece to make sure they are not getting felted into the piece. At that point, you can also re-position anything that has slipped.
Keep rubbing until everything in your piece is tacked down and doesn't move around.

When everything is tacked, it's time to roll up your sandwich and start the second part...

Nuno Felting: Part 2

Step B1: Once your patterned is stuck together a bit, it's time to roll it up and get to serious felting.
I used a rolling pin covered with Saran Press N Seal (to keep the wood from getting too wet) as the center of my roll. You could also use PVC pipe, a dowel, or whatever you have around.
Wrap the sandwich (bubble wrap, net, your fabric piece, net) around your core and secure it.
I used rubber bands. You can also use old panty hose or whatever.

Step B2: Roll! Roll! Roll! and Roll some more!
Roll it at least 100 times in one direction.
Then undo your package turn your fabric 1/4 turn, package it together again, and roll 100 times.
Undo package, turn fabric 1/4 turn, and then roll at least 100 times.
Make sure you roll it in all 4 directions at least 100 times.

You can roll any way you like--on a table, up and down the wall (a REALLY good workout), or on the floor using your feet (gliders work great for this step).
When you roll, put your body into it--use lots of pressure. But be gentle with your body, too.

Note: the fabric shrinks in the direction you are rolling it. So if you want to make it skinnier than it is, roll it up sideways then roll, roll, roll.

Step B-3: Squishing.
When you're done with all the rolling, then unroll it and pull your fabric out of the sandwich.
Get a bowl of hot water and dip your fabric into it.

Then squeeze it out 3-4 times.
Open the fabric and gently pull on the edges to "clean them up."
Then drop it into the water, squeeze the water out several times, and pull the edges.
Repeat, repeat, repeat until it's as small and tight as you want it.

When it's the size you like, spread it out and let it dry. You're done!

Magnetic Fabric Photo Frames

I've been away from my blog for so long, I can't figure out how to turn a picture or how to turn off underlining. Please excuse my unintended emphsis.

Each Christmas, we get dozens of photos from family and friends. And I'm not good about putting them in a photo album. So this year, we decided to send pictures ready to put onto your fridge. It was a really fun little project. Turn your head to see how they turned out:

Step 1:
Cut Timtex to your desired "frame" size.
(I prefer Timtex because it is very stiff and is sticky on both sides. You may use any sort of batting or stiffener, and separate sticky stuff if you prefer.)

If making mulitples (which I encourage you to do), cut them all at once. Remember, the frames don't all have to be the same size.

Step 2: Iron on your backing fabric.
Backing fabric can be just one piece of material, or you can sew together many scraps. I suggest using those things that take up room in your stash but never call out to you.

If you are making multiple frames, save yourself some energy here and place all the timtex close together and lay a large piece of fabric over all of it and iron all at once. Then cut the rectangles apart, leaving just a tiny bit of fabric overhanging the edge.

Step 3: Iron on your front fabric.
I did lots of strip piecing of my favorite scraps of fabric to make the fronts. I was really happy to be able to use tiny pieces of my favorite bits.

Again, if you're making multiple frames, put the timtex pieces beside one another and iron all at once. Cut rectangles apart, leaving a tiny overhang of fabric.

Step 4: zigzag around all edges of your frames:

Step 5: Sew on a vinyl cover for your photo. You may choose to cut the vinyl the same size as your frame, or just slightly bigger than your photo.
Sew around 3 sides of the vinyl.

Final Step: Glue magnetic strips or circles onto the back of your frames. Insert photo.