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I've spent the last couple of weeks obsessed with a strange old book. It started life as a guide to fingerprinting, published in 1936. I bound a selection of pages into an accordion book using black card stock.

Here are the first and last pages.

I added ephemera from my huge stash of vintage magazines and books. Who knew that Emily Bronte was an amateur fingerprint analyst?

At first, I added lots of people, like the men in this spread. (They came from old kids books that I turn into Kindle cases in my Etsy shop.)
But the more I worked with the pages, the less I wanted to see people. Instead, I pulled diagrams and technical drawings from an old set of "Family Handyman" books. 

And hands...I added all the hands I could find...hammering hands, cutting hands, scrubbing hands, painting hands, even bow-tieing hands.


These hands are polishing the fingerprints to a lustrous shine.

These tiny pink imps are actually electrons. What, exactly, could they be up to????
This is only half the book. Stay tuned for part 2....
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Recently, I challenged myself to create a large-scale collage on a 24x36 in. wood cradle board (like a canvas, but stiff and made of plywood). I was inspired by the intricate works of Lance Letscher, a collage master.

I started with circles. Lots and lots of circles. I cut them out of security envelopes and magazine pages. After arranging them and gluing them to the board, I brushed a thin glaze of paint over the surface. A good start, I thought.
But when I tried placing black and white images on top of the background, they got lost. I started over, covering the circles with vibrant red, blue and green. And yellow and white splatters. (In the future, I'll take the urge to splatter paint as a warning that I'm about to go too far...)
My background was starting to look like a finished abstract painting. I wish I had stopped there, but I was determined to create a collage. What if I pushed back the bright colors with old book pages? I tried "de-collaging" -- first pasting down strips from an old book, then ripping them off to leave a faint trace of paper pulp.

I liked the result. But the background was still too busy for my collage. So I did an about turn, and dug out some old gesture drawings I'd made years ago in a figure drawing class. These large images would pop against the bright background, I thought.
To make them pop even more, I went over the pencil outlines with black paint. And, of course, splatters.
The blank face and truncated arms bothered me. So I added body parts from vintage women's magazines.
I experimented with text. First I tried "Zaftig," one of my favorite words for a full-figured woman. But I worried that few people would know what it meant. So I substituted a synonym... I wished I had stopped at this point. 
I let it sit for a few days, then decided I didn't like the text. I thought the ladies needed an audience, so I gave them one. Lots and lots of men and boys, from old kids books.
What was I THINKING????? I don't like the result at all. I'm not sure what I will do with it. There's one detail I'm pleased with -- I stenciled words all around the edges of the collage. All synonyms for "zaftig." Maybe I'll gesso over the front and start over...

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It's not what you think! This is a special type of collage, called an "Exquisite Corpse." It began as a drawing game invented by surrealists in 1925 and used by artists to collaborate and create unexpected entities.

In my book, I combined figures from art books, magazines, sewing patterns and more. My "corpse" is not as fantastical as the surrealist originals. I learned that it's much harder than it looks to make body parts "line up."

Mixup collage book - YouTube

The combination below works okay.
I was happy with the next combo, until I noted the man's extra hand.
This one is a real mess! Arnold has an extra pair of arms and a tiny little....
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While waiting to be inspired for a new piece, I decided to complete some half-finished projects. This one was easy -- the artist cards were already made (probably a year ago). All I needed to do was add images to the cotton tea bags holding them.

Artist book -- teabags - YouTube


Here are the cards themselves...looks like I was combining people, art and street signs. I don't recall why....

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Remember those ABC cards I made with strange collage faces? I made a simple book to hold them. I started with pages from an old cookbook. The covers are made from used tea bags over an abstract design.

Funny Face book - YouTube


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Here are the final collages in my out-of-order alphabetical funny face cards. (See the first and second sets here.) Now I will figure out how to collect them into some kind of book.





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I'm working my way through the alphabet, albeit not in alphabetical order. Here's the next set. (See the first here.)





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I'm working on a set of A-Z artist trading cards featuring people made up of various bits and pieces. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, but by the time I reach "Y" and "Z" I hope to have figured it out!

Behold A, B, G, H, I and J...



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I still haven't gotten tired of making new faces out of random noses, mouths and eyes. I added a Disney book to the mix, which definitely makes things more interesting.

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What do you do with a pile of fashion magazines and copies of Vanity Fair? I found myself creating strange composite Frankenstein faces. They're AAAALLLLIIIIIIVVE! Almost.
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