Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dollhouse Deco

"Where oh where did November go,
oh wherrrre oh where can it beeee?"

Welcome to "the Season", I guess. sigh. This will probably end up my only post for December, so ... anyway! On to whatcha came for:

Here's the most recent deco booklet I had the great fortune to work in - made by the wonderfully talented Arrow for Pequad, and currently making the rounds over at ... It's a beautifully crafted dollhouse themed deco and while I usually shy away from posting other people's work, I really wanted you to see the front cover of this deco (I did ask the maker for permission first, of course!):

It's got great layers of textured and patterned paper, and there's real eyelet curtains in the windows! How cool is that?! The front doors open to reveal two sets of blank pages, for the artists to work on, which are also house shaped. The recipient for this deco, Pequad, uses a Kewpie doll image alot in her work, and it's also her icon/mascot on the Nness site, so that was my starting point for my page idea: I was going to make a Victorian inspired house and somehow incorporate little "pequad" dolls (sidenote: I remember once she told a story about how she got her user name and it involved Kewpies and how her family calls them pequads - for some reason that I forget now. Anyway that always stuck with me and so whenever I see a Kewp I automatically think "pequad") I took a sheet of patterened scrapbook cardstock weight paper that I thought looked wallpaper-y, and aged it a bit with an acrylic paint wash, then did the same thing with some scraps to make floor dividers:

I printed some vintage images of household furniture and items in greyscale - and in an effort to be unique I decided I was going to make my page interactive, so! I made little pockets on some of the furniture pieces: The chaise, chair, cushion, bathtub and even the hatbox in the attic all have little pockets to tuck the dolls into. Actually the seat area of the chair was too small for a full usable pocket so it has a strip across the front that will hold the doll in place. I made the pockets by printing a double quantity of images and once I had cut the item out I then used the second matching image to cut the pocket section from, and glued it down to the full piece, making sure to leave space for my dollies to fit into! And that brings us to:

I wanted this deco page to be very personal to the recipient, so - I actually have in my possession an old vinyl Kewpie doll that I took pics of (I got it awhile back cause I planned to make something out of it, came in extra handy for some printed projects ... ) and I used those as my dolls. What you don't see here, because like a dolt I forGOT to take pictures of this! GRRR. - is that I made a backside image to the dolls as well, mmnhmmm, with their lil beehinds showin' - then I sandwiched them together with a length of ribbon in the middle that would later be attached to the page so you could put the dollies in the various pieces of furniture, but not lose the dolls. Cute, right?! I added wings that I painted with iridecent paint (yep, those have backs too), and then as a final touch I made each dolly a crown and a party hat - one to wear, one to keep up in the hat trunk in the attic.

Once I had all the pieces done, I glued the other end of the ribbons to the backside of the room page and added a top layer of text weight paper just to cover the ribbon ends - then glued the whole thing down to the blank page in the deco booklet. (Waiting in between steps for all the glues to dry & cure, of course!) I wanted this to be a special page and I feel really lucky that I got to start the deco off, so now all i hope is that she likes it and that all the little interactive bits hold up and work as I intended ... and I know it looks a little weird with the doll's feet disappearing into the chaise, but it was the best I could do! :D

Oh yeah! And after all that, know what's my favorite part of the deco? The last-minute addition of the framed family photo in the "Parlor" - it was originally going to be an old cross stitch sampler but luckily a more creative idea surfaced before I glued it down ...

Later, I got another project I gotta get back to, so maybe I'll have something new to post in a few days after all! Seeeeeeyuh!

~ gem ~

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

AFC Pink Inchies

Here's my first step for the process of a new project I am currently working on: Pink Inchies - created for a charity art auction for breast cancer awareness via Art For Cures, which is run by the super talented, ever-creative, fount of seemingly endless energy Renmeleon (Ria) ...

I started with a 9x12 sheet of 140lb watercolor paper I prepped using my salted watercolor BG technique, using some metallic pan watercolor and a bit of red-pink tube color that I watered way down and used as a wash on parts of the front as well as the entire reverse of the paper, to give just a bit of color to the back of the pieces instead of leaving them white (I don't feel a piece is really finished unless I've done something to the back as well, so most of my paperart work will usually be arted on both the front and back in some way)

We're supposed to be using Ria's "collage 88" technique, in which you collage your entire work on one single 8.5x11 paper then cut it up into 88 inchies, and then add any embellishements or whatever. Which is actually the way I normally do a set of inchies anyway (paint, collage, etc an entire BG sheet, then cut the squares, then add "extras") I'm just using a larger sheet of paper, which should yield more inchies, right? Yeah well, we'll get to that later ... So I start collaging (now remember the color theme of this project is shades of PINK, with some minor black, white or silver the only other colors allowed) with pink shaded papers from my stash (some KoolAid stained sheet music and papertowel bits, some tissue paper and pink mulberry scraps) - and here's where I make a mistake right off the bat.

I end up almost completely covering my beautifully textured shimmery pink watercolor background! I shoulda (coulda, woulda) collaged on the BACKSIDE that had the plain pale pink, and let the pretty side be the reverse which would show nicely under the backplates but! Oh well, too late now, yeah? So I was kinda GRR'd about that for a bit but let's just move on ... Once I finished my collaging - and yes that last picture is it, I didn't do a whole lot of collaging as far as the actual design, more just a buildup of the background - I decided against any rubberstamping or doodling on the whole (though I had originally planned to splatter paint a little bit at this point, to help tie all the collagy-ness together a bit better - but, well, I just forgot. Woops.), so I went ahead and proceeding to the cutting them up stage:

And here's where mistake number two rears it's head. From a 9x12 sheet of paper I should get 108 individual inchies (88 to send in for the swap, plus a nice batch of extras to provide the host some more material for the auction goods) But for whatever reason, the last 2 strips or so do not come out to be a full inch wide. Did I make a mistake and cut a tenth of an inch too big on some earlier strips? Is the trimmer in need of a new (whatever the little rubber cutty-strip piece is called? and the answer there is YES, it is. I think I have maybe one good edge left on it before it's totally shot) Can I just not measure correctly? (also a yes.) So anyhow I'm left with approximately 94 inchies all told and not even all of those are compleeetley 1" square (grr.) so I just barely squeeked in my 88 pieces from that sheet. And here they are, remixed in no particular order:

So that takes care of step one - step two is the addition of my "goddesses" and any further embellishments and doodly funstuff. Which I need to get a move on with since these are due to Ria pretty much by week's end (!) And I'll post that process later ... maybe ...
~ gem ~

UPDATE - Here are the finished inchies!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Watercolor BG with Salt Technique

Finally getting this how-to done! Although the actual process pics and pages I am showing you today were made back in May, I am just NOW getting around to them ... but I am working on another piece right now that started with a "salted" watercolor background paper, so before I post any tutorials for that one I figured I better get the steps for the background technique posted first ...

I always use watercolor paper for these, but I will use anything from the nicer 140lb coldpress to just a sheet from a cheap discount store watercolor pad. I typically make these background papers in batches of 3-6 pages at a time in maybe one or two color variations, on days when I am bored or don't have any other pressing projects to do. (Some days just scream "make backgrounds!" you know?) Then I have a nice stock of papers to go to when I need to start a new project later. (I also do the BGs for several pages in my journal books at the same time, since I already have the stuff out. It's nice to open the journal and have a whole bunch of pre-colored pages to work on)

I assembled the supplies I'll be using and laid them out on newspaper:

Sheet(s) of watercolor paper
Assorted watercolors - tube paints, watercolor cakes in regular and metallic (Coloriffic Metallic Shimmering Watercolors are a poor-mans Lumieres / Twinkling H2O's!)
Paintbrushes - I'm using the 1" hardware store nylon bristle type for the tube colors, and a smaller half inch brush for the cakes
Pan of water and small spray bottle of water
Cuppa salt! I only use kosher salt (the kind you cook with) though probably sea salt or any course salt would work too. You can try table salt but I think all you'll get with that is some pretty sandpaper ; ) WHICH! could be cool in a project too, so - I dunno, try it!

I start by wetting my entire sheet of paper by spritzing with the spray bottle then spreading it with a brush. I apply my chosen colors either straight from the tubes onto the paper or (in the photo shown) by using the pan colors that have been pre-wetted. I just randomly add color with the brush in an abstract fashion, sometimes adding a bit more water, and letting the paints run and bleed into one another until I have the mix and coverage that I want. *With the direct from the tube method, I squirt small dollops of paint randomly about the page and then work them together and into the paper with the brush. I usually let this stage get jussst this side of dry, then I take the spray bottle and spritz a bit to add droplets that will bleed and blend the colors even more. THAT itself will add little waterspots (you can vary them by applying the spray in a fine mist and larger splat-drops - sometimes I get it dowright wet, just depends on my mood really) and if you want you can stop here and let it dry and that will be a very fine BG paper

But I like to get a much more marbled, waterstained effect so this is when I add my salt - while the paper is still a bit damp - just sprinkling small handfuls all around, 'til I'm satisfied with the amount. The salt crystals wick up the remaining "pools" of water, along with some of the paint pigment, in whatever little spot they were sitting. Wait until the paper is totally dry, then brush all the salt off and voila! what's left behind is a neat bunch of little dotted areas where the salt "ate" the paint & water, giving your page a dappled look, and refining and melding some of those areas where your paint colors met and maybe didn't look so blended before.

Here's the end result on the pages I made that day, including one in a journal (that one I didn't salt but used alotttta water in the paint and just let it pool up together - came out pretty cool) Be sure to click on it to view it at fullsize so you can really see the details.

This is my ALL TIME FAVORITE page background making technique, and I hope you enjoyed reading it (or at least understood what I was saying!) and are ready to get out your art supplies and make some BGs of your own ... Have fun painting!

~ gem ~

Monday, October 8, 2007

Piggy Bank for the Cure

Piggy Bank for the Cure
Originally uploaded by gemgirlart

I took this photo last week specifically to upload to the Passionately Pink for the Cure group at Flick'r:

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Yahoo! will donate $1 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, for each pink photo added to this Group from October 1-31, 2007 up to $50,000! This donation will be used to fund breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment programs.

Pick your Pink. Play Your Part. End Breast Cancer.

The group is already at just over 30,000 photos, so I would like to urge you to take a pink pic and put it up, please! Full details are available at the Flick'r group page. Thanks!

~ gem ~

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Soured on Swap-Bot



Swap-Bot decided to change / update some of their policies, one of which being that you now have to have a permanent and unchangeable username to log in to your account, rather than the old way which was you had a "display name" tied to your email address, and I dunno I guess that was changeable? I wouldn't know 'cause I originally signed up as gem and never even thought about changing it.

No big deal right? Except for the fact that the notice for this (and the few other changes) was posted to the Swap-Bot blog YESTERDAY and implemented some time this morning? Or overnight? I'm not sure exactly when, I only know that by the time I arrived at maybe 10 AM my time I was surprised to find this out (on my log-in screen, no less -- there was no announcement on the home page, and unless you make a habit of reading the blog or forums daily before you log in you'd never know about it until signing in), and

-moment of panic set in-
tried to claim the username gem
DENIED >> that name has already been taken

Normally something like that doesn't bother me too much - gem is a kinda common nickname around the 'net and I'm more often quite surprised when I manage to snag it than not - BUT. My major problems in this instance are these:

The timing from posting of notice to implementation : No real heads up given that this would be happening, most places give you quite a bit of advanced notice when they are going to be making major changes like this. And this IS a major change -- anyone who has been online any length of time knows full well how attached people get to their screen names and how difficult having to "reinvent" themselves with a different name can be. BOO to Swap-Bot for missing the boat here. I could be less bummed about it if they would have said a week ago "Hey people, on or around X date we will be making this change. If you want to secure your current name, please be sure to get here early" etc etc blah ... If I'd missed out because we all knew and I just didn't get in in time thats one thing, but because it was sorta a sprung-on-you thing, I wasn't even aware until it was too late. And that brings me to the other part, which almost bothers me more ...

I've used the name gem on Swap-Bot for over a year - since I first signed up. The person who now has PERMANENT claim on the name gem previously had a very similar name - I know this because we were both just in a blog link swap (not as partners though) and they also just as recently added me to their contacts in Flick'r. So, they were certainly aware that I went by gem over there, and I am not saying they "stole" "my" name since I obviously don't own it (I'm not that egomaniacal) but it came off as pretty rude / inconsiderate to me, someone who'd been there 6 months less and who very recently had some kind of contact with me, to have swiped the name out from under me, just 'cause they happened to get there first (see reason #1). Well, thats what it feels like anyway: swiped, stolen, hijacked. 'Specially since this person has a very cute Flick'r name that could have been used instead. SIGH.

It's just I am very heavily tied to this name and identity -- it's really pretty much become my name since I sign every piece of art and every posting and all email and online correspondance with it. And it's really who I am online. So, it kinda hurts to have it taken away in such a ... sneakish feeling manner. Glad I saved a little memento before they got everything updated:

I am now "gemgirlart" at Swap-Bot, not that I intend to be joining in any new swaps for the time being, I need to soothe my hurt (lets be real, huh?: mostly angry) feelings - besides, there's other places I can trade at where I'm still "me" so - their loss really, not mine. -wink-

~ gem ~

-= waves ya on through =-

Well, what a difference a day makes! I received an email from Rachel at Swap-Bot this morning that my username there has been changed back to gem ... She explained that they worked together with the other member and changed us both back to our previous names. How this came about I really don't know as I did not email Swap-Bot requesting anything be done about it - either they or the other member initiated it I guess based on this posting or the one on the S-B blog ... Either way I am really grateful to both parties, and I think it was just the right thing to do in this case. I stand by my complaint that the original process was badly organized, but the fact that Swap-Bot stepped up, unasked, and fixed this just proves what personal dedication they have to the site and their members. So thank you VERY MUCH! All's well that ends well, etc etc yadda.

*and for anyone who might be thinking "geez, get a grip, it's a name on a website for cryin' out loud" ... Yeah, I know. But like I said earlier, this IS who I am online in my little corner, so it actually matters to ME. Like I related to Rachel in my email reply, to me it felt much like if I'd logged in to my eBay account to find the name I'd used and built trust and recognition into for years and was still currently using! was suddenly given away to someone else, all because I didn't get up early enough to find out about it? Blindsided, to say the least ...

And with that - have a good day!

~ gem, again ~

Friday, October 5, 2007

Found Friday - Oct 5th

Found Friday - Oct 5th
Originally uploaded by gemgirlart

Been thinking of doing something weekly for the blog, and for some reason all the things I randomly found this week kept getting added to a pile on my kitchen counter, so -bing!- I got the idea to post my weekly treasure trove. (Don't you pick up all the random weirdliness you see lying on floors or on store shelves or on the street or in a book or wherever?) Eh, it's somethin' ta do ...

This weeks findings were kinda small:
A tiny black plastic toy gun my son found while I was cashing a check at the grocery store customer service counter ... A downy feather found on the trunk lid of my car after I got home from the grocery store (different day, different store) ... *I also found a really cool but weird teeny tiny NEON green spider crawling along the rubber gaskety piece of the trunk when I opened it, but even on macro none of the pics came out clear, so he don't count.
Cool leaf I found on the front walkway - it was this perfect little fall leaf shape and I liked the speckledish coloring, but it got way dry after I brought it in and it sorta flaked out on me ...
And my favorite one: a postcard I found in one of the books I checked out at the library today - they're the best for finding cool things in! This is was from Bridget (?) to Aveen hoping she's having fun on vacation (I guess?) and the front is a Disney scene from Sleeping Beauty ... if you can read the message it tells the significance of that. I don't know why that stamp on an envelope edge is stapled onto the postcard, but it's a cool stamp, so - good! *But using a Liberty stamp (currently 41 cents) to mail a postcard? yeeeesh. I buy the Lib's, sure - but I'm not using them as regular stamps yet. I'm waitin', like a smart girl. :D

And so now, I am off to read one or more of those library books.

~ gem ~

Monday, October 1, 2007

Pay It Forward

I've participated in PIF projects at other swap and mailart groups (PIF = Pay-It-Forward, which, in the arts & crafts world is basically: one person offers something up, maybe a small artwork like an ATC or deco or some type of supplies or scraps ... the next person to post claims it then offers their own 'whatever thing' to the next person, and so and and blahblah ) but this was the first one I joined via a blog, and I really like the idea and also liked Sparrow's art and lucked out that I was the last comment to snag hers :)

If you want the breakdown (and I knowww you do) I'm PIF'ing it from Sparrow's Tree, who got it from Blissful Mama, who got it from Not Cherry Pie, who got it from Danielle, who got it from Lori, who got it from Katie (whew!) and I'll pretty much stop there because Katie posts alot and I just couldn't track down the exact PIF thread in her blog ... I don't "know" any of those gals, but have a look at their blogs (AFTER you finish reading this, please, thank you. hehe, 'cause I get sucked away easily too, that's all ...) They all seem to make pretty cool stuff and have interesting things to say ... Anyway! onwards ...

First three people to comment to this post and also pledge to PIF themselves, will get some kind of handmade something from moi within one year (they all say that and I think it's kinda funny, but really - knowing how projects can go, it IS nice to have the leeway, haha!) I promise I'll try to be timely even though it's not my strong suit. And that's it kiddos, see ya later!

~ gem ~

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Zetti Postcard Process

Zetti Postcard 6 (Mine)
Originally uploaded by gemgirlart

I just finished a set of postcards for a Zetti-themed swap at Swap-Bot and thought I'd share my process step by step, so you can see how easy (and fun!) it is to make some really cool art. I originally made 5 cards but I am documenting the process on the 6th card (the one I decided I had to make and keep for myself 'cause I was getting very attached to the others and feeling like I didn't wanna send them off ... ) I added pictured of each step, like I usually do - I tried to keep them small here but click on them to view fullsize and see the details better. So here we go!

I start almost all my collage pieces - but the Zetti-inspired work specifically - with a handpainted background paper. Whenever I have some extra time with no projects going on (or I'm just bored & in the mood to make BGs!) I make a batch of handpainted papers so I always have a stash handy for other projects - most are watercolor or acrylic washes on watercolor paper, the kind I make using the "salt" effect. (If I haven't posted a technique tutorial on that yet, I will try to get one up soon). I cut the paper down to size for whatever I am making, in this case 4x6 cards for a postcard swap. I build my layers starting with the base (the cut-down BG paper, prepainted) then add some rubberstamping, usually with a large background or text-block type stamp, or a foam stamp in one of those architectural designs (fleur-de-lis, gothic crosses, whatever looks cool at the time). I switch off between using ink colors that coordinate or contrast, depending on my mood. Here I am using a golden yellow chalk ink and a large harlequin BG stamp:

Next I move on to the collage pieces. I work with alot of different image sources - from vintage image CDs or collage sheets I have purchased, vintage photos I've found or bought and then scanned, magazines of all kinds: high fashion mags are great for interesting faces and eyes, plus the clothing has cool patterns for turning into crowns or hats or even new "clothes" for your collage person; I love using fishing magazines for fishbodies and eyes; garden mags for birds and butterflies - even junk mail gets saved if it has cool images I can use later. Another great source for images, especially vintage ones is in the Flick'r groups. Now, I don't mean go into Flick'r and just use anyones images whenever you like - I am talking about specific groups that are set up for this and allow access to their images for use in artwork (alot of times they are public domain images that people have uploaded, but please read all the rules of whatever group you join before ya just download & print, mmmkay?)
So! In this case what I've done is cut out some ladies heads from fashion mags and then worked on finding new eyes to go with each face. I look for ones that give the face some odd character or an unusual expression (TIP: turn the new eyes UPSIDE DOWN, it gives them that real weirdly creeped out effect), even if they are too big for the head, you can either leave them if you like that look, or trim them to fit the face, whatever you want. Cutout a bunch of eyes and mix and match them to the faces until you get the perfect one (You'll know, it's the one that grabs your attention and makes you say "Yep, that's it!")

After I get the faces done - eyes chosen and glued down, faces cutout and trimmed down if need be, I sometimes edge them with ink or a Sharpie - then I move on to the bodies. I like to use fish or bird bodies, or cutout some kind of random body-blob shape from a magazine page (look for cool patterns on clothing, textured-y backgrounds like hair from shampoo ads, a blue sky with some clouds, whatever!) I decided to go with text background (from an old Jules Verne biography thats in French) for the vintagey look of the paper, the texture of the text, - it's interesting in itself but still with a sorta neutral nature that will let the rest of the collage stand out. I cut them into triangular shapes and gave the pieces a bit of color with a chocolate brown dye-ink pad, just randomly swiping it around a little and edging all the sides real good. I attach the heads, and look: my little beauties are starting to take shape!

At this point I have my final layout pretty much set; once I get the basic collage shapes done, I can see what their sizes are in relation to each other and I take a minute to arrange them on my background, moving them around a bit, maybe flipping or turning the BG paper to see what looks best. Once I have it in my mind how they'll be going onto the page, I can add the other elements - this way I can make sure I keep everything sized right and in balance. So! I work on finishing the bodies now, adding wings or arms or legs ... I use alot of butterfly wings!, I know! but the trick so they don't always look the same, is to maybe only use half the wing, and just on one side of the body - or, turn them upside down - or, add two pairs together ... you know: be creative! I made a pair of wings out of a dog's ears from a magazine ad (he was a ... what's the one? Papillon? and doesn't that mean butterfly in French? HAHA! figures ...) Also mascara ads are great - the "swipes" from the wand, you cut them into the right shape and tada! black & white striped wings, hooray! Anyway here's what they look like so far (and yes I work a bit messy. It's okay.)

Time for some accessories - if you're a fan of Zetti you know a big part of that is usually the incorporation of crowns and dunce-cap style hats. Now, not everyone likes those and that's cool - I don't think they HAVE to be included to be considered Zetti, 'cause you're supposed to do whatever comes to you creatively and not just stick to some set of "rules", right? Right now I do add them 'cause I DO like them. But you do whatever ya want, ya herr me? Look, see: I gave one gal a headband instead (cause I really loved her red hair and didn't wanna cover it all up)

Nowwwww were starting to look like something, here! In between steps I always put the figures back in their places in my layout, to keep testing if I still like it that way and make sure everything is fitting together well. In this case I actually found something I wanted to change (see if you can spot it in the next picture!), so I made that adjustment and then when I was sure everything was just how I wanted it, I glued the collage pieces down to the background. By the way I am just using a glue stick for all this work, in case you were wondering. And my current favorite is this Extra Strength glue stick by Elmers - it's about an inch wide, goes on sooooo nice and smooth, has excellent adhesion, and - IT'S NOT COLORED BLUE OR PURPLE! (well, actually if you really look at it, it's got a very faint blueishgreen tint, but ... nothin' like those creepy blue or purple ones. ewww.) And now that my pieces are glued down, it's time for the finish work:

What I do is gather up some assorted markers and gel pens - metallic, glittery, opaque white gelpen, neutral brown Sharpies to edge things for shadow effects, pinks for cheeks & lips and maybe even blue or green for eyes and random highlights of color. Then, ya just go to town! Add accents to eyes, eyelashes, paint in cheeks or lips or eyes, add color or lines to wings or hats, add jewels to crowns - whatever you think might look good, probably will! For these cards I went a step further: I scanned a copy of this card I made here (since I am keeping it, no one will get to see this one) and in my image editor I lowered the opacity to about 25% then printed it at 4x6 size, and attached those copies to the back of the cards. It's clear enough to see the image but faint enough that I can write my message and the addresses on the back of the cards and they're still readable. Very last step is to press them flat and make sure that back print is well adhered, I put them in between layers of wax paper and put the whole bunch under a stack of books at least overnight. And since these are postcards that will actually travel through the mail, I will finish them by sealing them with a coat or two of acrylic sealer and let that dry/cure before mailing. The final version is the top-right image up there, the one I have in my Flick'r.

Well! Hope you liked reading my card making process, but what I really hope is that you were inspired to go right now and make your own Zetti collage creation! You can use this technique for postcards, ATCs, 4x4 art squares, journal book pages, decos, pretty much anything you wanna make a collage on or in! So, have fun and see ya soon!

** by the way ~ if you viewed any of the Zetti postcards in my Flick'r, you should know that my two favorites were #1 and #2 ... they came out just a little nicer and brighter, and that's because I started those on a smaller piece of handpainted BG paper, and when I got to the rest I didn't have any more of that exact paper so I had to use a piece that was similar - but it was lighter so those just don't pop as well as the first two. Jus'saying ...

~ gem ~

OH YEAH! and the part I changed in case you didn't catch it - the gal on the far right - I had to change her wings out ... the first pair just weren't working with the rest of the piece once I got that far, so I swapped'em for some yellow one and put them both to one side. Muuuuch better!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

SuziBlu, I Heart You

Heya, quickquickQUICK flyby posting ~
(Zetti postcard steps coming later in the week, just no can do today)

So I was wandering around over at Flick'r, and through some collage group that had a companion website of it's own, I found a link to this gal: SuziBlu - and I had to run right over and share her 'cause She.Is.The.Most.Cutiest.Thing.EVER! Watch ALLLL the videos. Right now!
Save her blog in your faves!

Okay, seriously - I am not typically one of those people who finds it hard to get motivated or inspired or am too afraid to make art ... I do some kinda art practically every day, any time I can. I don't run out of ideas or desires to try something new, or something old in a new way. But even I was comPLETEly inspired and motivated and just generally excited about making art by this snappy lil chick. Something about her entire attitude & presentation is just irresistable.

So for anyone who STILL thinks they can't make art - you'll really enjoy the journal making videos, go watch'em again and then go do art!

~ gem ~

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Red, White & Black ATCs With a Twist

Pop-in posting before dinner, 'cause I just finished a new mini set of ATCs and wanted to get them up here before I forget ... (I've kinda been rationing out my Flick'r uploads because I keep hitting my 200 image "free account" limit, and having to delete stuff. A PRO account is on my Christmas list -already- ... think I can hold out 'til then!?) so I'm posting more stuff here for now.

Alot of my previous swap partners know I realllly like to use the red, white & black color scheme in my Sharpie doodle art. I recently did a whole slew of ATCs like this for trade at and after a couple batches I came up with a slight variation on my usual "doodles in a box" format - instead of a rectangle I make a freeform shape, then apply the same process I normally use to complete the design. THEN I cut the shape out, and using popdots I attach it to textured black cardstock for the ATC base. Here's the four I did this afternoon:

Hard to see the 3D nature of the cards here, and my scanner has been doing a really bad job on these lately (overlighting the scans and showing every minor imperfection which I can't even see with my naked eye) - so as we all like to say: "they look much better in person" :D So enjoy! and now I hafta go get with the gettin' ...

~ gem ~

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Klimt ATC Project

As promised, here is the process breakdown of the ATC project I just finished for a swap at "Klimt; 9 Easy Pieces II" ... The hostess provided the players with a downloadable background page divided into 9 ATCs, and watermarked with a major portion of the Gustav Klimt painting "Tree of Life". Players were to interpret it however they saw fit, with the end goal being an entirely new "whole" artwork once all the pieces were swapped and we reassembled our returns. I know not everyone went the same route, but I decided to keep as close to the original as possible as far as shape and overall design. I worked off an image of the original painting from a book I have here at home, Klimt: Life & Work by Susanna Partsch.

I started by printing the downloaded BG onto plain white cardstock (took a few tries to get it sized exactly right) and used a regular old yellow marker to trace the outlines of the tree and branches. I kind of reversed the tree and background colors from the original painting (Klimt's tree is a darker golden brown and the BG is a creamier pale gold/tan, also the ground is a dark brown in his and I used red.) for no other reason than I needed to see the tree form and the details while working, but also wanted it to be easily blended away into the finished piece. I then cut it apart into 9 seperate ATCs and moved on to my next step: Torn tissue paper collage. I used yellow, light orange, red and some aqua tissue paper for this and just randomly tore bits and glued them down with some gel meduim - I wasn't even really following the original painting at this point but just filling in and adding depth and texture. The red paper was very opaque and didn't bleed like I expected it would so I limited how much of it I used.


After I papered as much as I wanted (I didn't bother with the skinniest tendrils of the branches, just left them marker-yellow for now since I'd be painting it later.) I moved on to painting in the background, using a mix of acrylic paints (I like to use regular ol' craft paints) in assorted browns with some antique white and metallic gold. I did the same thing with the tree and branches using yellows and golds.


The next part of the process was the longest and most tedious (though that tissue paper section got on my nerves after awhile, too) - the addition of all the little details on the tree and ground. I did a mix of collage and painting here, but mostly collage, using random papers out of my scrap box. EVERY PIECE was handcut, except for some of the stars and circles - they were punched. Though one of my circle punches wasn't sharp so I had to trim the edges anyway -eyeroll-. My original idea was to use an assortment of magazine cutout eyeballs for all the tree accents, but in the end I used those only on the little mushroomy lookin' dudes. I mostly followed the watermarkings and the image from the book, though I did add or change just a couple things. A few dabs here and there of paint to finish off some of the details and to meld other places together, and I was done with the bulk of the piece. All that was left to do was add in some highlighting on the background (mixture of whites and light gold paints) and then I outlined the major sections of the tree and ground with a white gelpen.


I tissue paper collaged the reverse and added an info backplate, then scanned'em and packed 'em up for shipping. Like another participant mentioned on her Flick'r page (I know! check hers out, right? how cool is that?), I too wish I had thought to keep one of my own pieces back so it could be part of the final work, but ... who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and get one back in my returns!

Anyway, that's basically it - I had fun on this one even though at times it was tedious work (I managed to score a shoulder rubdown during the last night I was working on it - all bunched up I was!) and I REALLY look forward to seeing the returns and just how they're all gonna fit together.

Have a day, now!
~ gem ~

***UPDATE OCT 2007***
Here are the return cards I rec'd and how they look all put "back" together - pretty cool!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bucket O' Fun

Wanted to quickly share a few deals I got in the Dollar Store section of my local SuperTarget - they've had scrapbooking supplies stocked recently and while I don't actually scrapbook, we all know they are great for a wide variety of other altered art projects like ATCs, decos, journals, etc, so I tend to snap stuff up when it's a decent price. Here's today's haul (each item was $1):

The cute yellow bucket ~ will be used to hold markers
100pc container of felt flower stickers ~ 3 shapes in hotpink, purple and moss green
Mini alphabet rubberstamp set ~ woodmounted, about 1/4" ... the PERFECT size for ATCs and decos
2pk of embellishments in fun test tube containers ~ one set has multicolored jewel brads and flower shaped jewels in blue & green - the other has the same flower embellishments in pink & green and a tube of regular flatbacked jewels. I like that you get the embellishments, plus cool tubes to use in another project later! BONUS!

~ gem ~

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Birdhouse ATC Set

Birdhouse ATC Set
Originally uploaded by gemgirlart
I just wanted to write a quick note about this set - done for a swap at, and for the life of me I don't know why I decided to not only DRAW the birdhouses, but draw from scratch, thinking up the images myself. That's like my worst type of art to attempt (I can draw okay enough if I copy a photo or recreate a "still life" setup, but straight out of my head is super hard for me) So yes, I know they look pretty juvenile, and the perspectives and proportions are all weirdly off, but - I am NOT going to let it bother me. Can ya tell.
-=teethclentched=- I am soooo not bothered by that upper addition to the white birdhouse that is just sort of ... floating behind the main part. Whyyy would I be irritated by the altogether WRONG shadowing of the birdholes? Don't care. So what. They're fiiiine.

ANYWAY: Quick-sketched the shapes with mechanical pencil then outlined and colored in with regular old colored pencils, using a Prismacolor blender to sorta meld the colors a bit. I actually LIKE the colors, and yes the horizon lines are off-kilter on purpose but I think it works. And there ya go. Hopefully whoever gets one will be quite happy to overlook it's shortcomings. Like I am. Sorta.


~ gem ~

Ibex Ryhton project

Haven't had time to post anything new in the past few weeks since kids went back to school (you'd think I'd have MORE free time with them away all day but it's been back to back appointments and errands with hardly time to breathe in between!) Anyway, here's one I've been meaning to post all summer - since school let OUT at the end of last year in fact.

James had a project to do for reading class that involved them selecting a piece from the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art online gallery, and writing a report on it, as well as recreating the artwork. He chose this sculpture from the Ancient Near Eastern collection - we thought it was really interesting and didn't look too impossible to sculpt a replica. We worked with some plain white modeling clay and used an empty plastic water bottle as a form since it had almost the exact shape as the ibex's body. He sculpted & painted it and it turned out great (even though parts of the body had to be retouched several times due to cracking, and the legs had to be made a bit shorter & thicker in order to support the piece) but probably the best part was during the weeks we were working on it, there was an episode of Planet Earth that featured a short bit about ibexes, and also one day I noticed a posting by a Flick'r friend of mine - of a sketch she did of a similar Iranian rhyton from a museum she was visiting. Pretty cool to be able to relate these random snatches of info to an actual project we were working on at the time.

All the artwork the kids made was displayed at school the rest of the year and I was bummed to think we wouldn't get it back, but! turns out on the last day of school they did get to take their artwork home. Only problem was - as much as he KNEW I wanted that sculpture back (I'd been asking about it almost daily the last couple weeks of school) what does my son do but shove the thing randomly into his backpack (!!!) and didn't even tell me ... of course the horns were both broken off but luckily were swimming around loose in the bottom of the bag. I set it aside to be repaired and then summer promptly got away from us, so I only tackled it like the week before school started up again. ANYWAY! Here it is, with horns reattached and a fresh coat of paint - and shown compared to the original version from the Met's website photo -
(you maybe can't tell for sure, butours is the second one, hehe)

Not too bad for a 4th grade project, I thought! and one of the more interesting ones they've gotten to do - and now it sits proudly on my shelf, my very own piece of ancient sculpture. Take that, Met!
So thats all I have time for today, have a good one ...
~ gem ~

Ok, so as of right now, I am going post-by-post through my blog and fixing all the broken image links (since I deleted & quit my Flickr account, all those pictures went *poof!* here, obviously) LUCKILY I actually still have most of them - but in this case I had to take a new photo. And the fourth grade kid who made this project (that I obviously still have, and still display on a shelf in my art room - even though it has since lost an ear and suffered more horn damage ...) is now nearly a 17 year old high school senior. Whaaaaaaat?! SIGH :*)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bookstacks - July/Aug 2007

I saw this done on another Flick'r member's page and thought "Hey! I like that!" so I decided to keep track of our own reading log the same way ... I only just started with the past few weeks' library hauls, so I am bundling all of those into todays post. There were a couple interim visits I made but didn't get pics and I've already returned those books (I'm usually a quick read!) but here's the few I've recorded so far.

JULY 20, 2007

Top to Bottom

Devil's Footsteps
sorta mystery thriller for my 13yrd old son

PS2 Arena Football
Simpsons DVD
Simpsons DVD

(eh, it's summer)

Cabin on Trouble Creek
!SCORE! This is on my 10yr olds summer reading list and you KNOW how hard it is to get a copy of any of those at the library. You know. Like, DURING summer ;)

The Jane Austen Book Club
I think I recently read a magazine review of this, so it caught my eye

Making a Movie in Premiere Elements
This is for my 13yr old who's recently started "filmmaking" and just got the Adobe program

Idiot's Guide to Altered Art
I have way better books than this here at home, but thought I'd give it a look for kicks

Making Creative Cloth Dolls
THIS book looks realllly cool, and I mean has ALOT of how-to's and photos and super neat stuff inside. It may end up a double-checker-outer

The Miniature HouseThe library had a small (hehe) miniatures display that got me to check this one out

The Kidspace Idea Book
- This ones just for lookin' at

JULY 25, 2007

Top to Bottom:

Michael Crichton's The Great Train Robbery -I got this one for my take-to-jury-duty read, and finished it about 3/4 done while I was there for the day. Pretty good story.

Mabel Riley, A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril & Romance
(pre-teen/young teen) Historical fiction, I loved this one!

How to Buy A Home When You Can't Afford It
I grabbed this in passing when I saw it on the shelf, I didn't read too much it as I just wasn't in the mood to really settle in a "learn" anything yet.

Your Travel Guide to Renaissance Europe
(sort of a kids history book, pretty cool) I was planning on using this as inspiration for some Medieval / Ren artwork ...

Art (kids book)
A kid named Art who makes all kinds of ... art! Cute, colorful.

Wake the Dead (kids book)
Kid who is making so much noise he "wakes the dead" then has to try to get them back in the ground. Fun illustations, a LOT of "dead" puns.

Italian Renaissance Art
Another intended inspirational volume ... I ended up getting sidetracked with another project so I just browsed through the pics and never did anything else ...

The Decorated Journal, Gwen Diehn
I loved The Decorated Page, and hadn't seen this follow-up before - lots more tips and suggestions (including how to make your own book-sewing frame out of an old book) LOADS more beautifully photographed journals and pages - I will probably end up buying this one.

Everything Crafts - Rubberstamping
Kinda ho-hum, wasn't very inspiring (and the color photo pages were not in any sort of order that matched the instructional pages.) Badly laid out overall, I thought.

The Frog Prince Continued, Scieszka/Johnson
Wasn't as good as some of the others but it was cute. I think I just prefer Lane Smith's illustrations, but I didn't care for this story either, really. (I know! I'm not exactly the intended audience!)

Squids Will Be Squids
Probably my favorite Scieszka/Smith book! It's their take on an Aesop's fables type of book - Great illustrations and some really funny little story bits. "Straw & Matches" was so funny, I loved that one most but they are all good.

AUGUST 10, 2007

Top to Bottom
(will add "reviews" after I read these)

Van Gogh
A pictorial biography ...
Pretty good, really concentrated not just on his works but works of his contemporaries at the time & in whatever place he was currently living/working
Understood Betsy
This was a good story - young girl who lives with spinster aunts gets sent off to live with other "less desirable" relatives after an aunt takes ill - I've been reading alot of tween/young adult books lately especially in this pioneer/frontier genre. Really liked this one!

The Midnight Horse
Sorta mystery suspense set in the late 1800s(?I think) - not bad.

Misty of Chincoteague
(I'm on a kick of rereading childhood faves right now)

Marie Antoinette
I dunno if I'll make it through this one, but I've wanted to read a Marie bio ever since I saw Marie Antoinette the movie - which I loved! though no one else did ...
FINI! Boy it took me all the alotted check-out time to read this one but it was worth it. Really detailed, involved retelling of her story from the marriage into France until the very end. Hard to keep names straight (especially when they had like 5 names for each person what with all the random titles) but I was glad I stuck with it.

The Decorated Page, Gwen Diehn
Had to check this out after reading the follow-up Decorated Journal ...
I'll end up buying both of these I'm sure

Leonardo DaVinci
another pictorial biography

That's it for today ... now I have to go do a quick run-through housecleaning before I can settle in with those newest books (ahhhhh now, now - you know you do it too when you realize how late in the day it is - and you've done nothing much around the house - and it shows ... plus I usually feel like I hafta work before reward!)

Happy Reading!
~ gem ~

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Alice and Sara

This turned into a knock-it-out-this-afternoon project for two reasons: One, I was waiting to find out if I am required to show up for jury duty tomorrow (and possibly longer) so I wasn't sure I'd have any spare time later in the week to work it - and 2 - it started storming pretty bad which meant shutting down and unplugging all the electronics (including computer and TV) so I figured I may as well sit down and do this! even though I kinda wasn't in the mood ...

Another mailart project for Nervousness: a pair of ATC pocket decos that are traveling together, you make an ATC and slip it in the pocket, in the end the recip's would get back an adorable booklet with 4 ATC's inside. Mine was the last spot, so these will be heading home when I'm done, and I didn't want to keep them any longer than I really had to.

First off, the decos themselves were so neat! Really delicious pale colored & patterned cardstock that was sewn into a little 4 pocket booklet that tied shut with thin ribbon. The ATC blanks were already included (matched the deco paper!) and while I originally planned to do something completely different, once I saw the blank and the previous artists' cards (that were all very pretty and vintage-y and matched the colors of the deco) I knew I was gonna go ahead and keep to the same theme so it had a nice cohesive look.

I started off by stamping a decorative design onto the front of my blanks (I chose to use the harlequin printed side) with a foam stamp and sand colored ink. Then I added texture by lightly spattering with two colors (antique white and victorian green) of acrylic paint. I chose two ladies from a page of printed vintage images in my stash and tore a random page out of an old paperback for some text. Turned out it had two different girls' names -score!- so I tore off thin strips and painted over all the text but the names, then arranged them onto the cardback and glued them down. Looking at them afterward I feel I should have anchored the girls' images somehow, but ... didn't! and can't now. Added a row of paint dots down the side and edged the cards with the sand ink - signed the backs (which were striped and perfect as text lines) and they are enveloped and addressed and as soon as I stamp them they'll be set to head out in tomorrow's mail ... which is a good thing ...

'cause I DID end up pulling jury duty. GRR.

Judicially yours,
~ gem ~

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Altered Art Folder

This is a Very Long Overdue PIF gift for a gal at Nervousness. She graciously sent me nice batch of clear wax crayons at Easter-time (I use them as resists, mostly in background-making) and I promised I'd make something for her in return. And here it is kneedeep in summer and I've only just gotten myself together and finished this up.

I got the idea from a how-to posting at Lisa Vollrath's site Go Make Something (you will need to register to view most of the stuff there, but it is free and SO worth it) I have a box FULL of old AOL CDs - ones in folders, tins, etc - so I had no problem getting my supplies together: AOL folder (I tossed the disc, as I wasn't going to alter it as part of my project), cardstock - I used a plain beigey brown, inks including Ranger's Distress Ink in Walnut Stain, and a handful of my favorite rubberstamps.

First I seperated apart the AOL folder and traced onto my cardstock as shown on Lisa's site, and cut out the pieces, gluing the two sides together (but leaving the flap part open for now) Then I applied a light colored (sand) ink pad directly to the cardstock to swipe some color lightly all over, on both sides. Then I used the same color to rubberstamp my images in a random, collage-y fashion, until all areas were covered. I used the darker distress ink to stamp some accents inside the section where the pocket would be, along the back edge, and I stamped a frame type image and some text onto a scrap of the cardstock to make a title embellishment, which I glued on to the front cover. At this point I used the darker brown and distress inks to ink all the edges of the folder (make sure you fold it up and check all the sides!) Then I glued the inside flap over to create the pocket, and after it was dry I stuffed it with some handmade ATC envelopes and a couple other goodies - all soon to be on their way to beehive in New York.

It was a fun way to both try a new technique and fulfill an ART-trade obligation!

Now go sign up to that site and, as Lisa says: Go Make Something ...
I'm getting ready to Go Out to Dinner, myself - so see ya later!

~ gem ~