This handmade book is my attempt at minimalism. I tend to overload my collages and I wanted to see if I could control myself by producing a book with only 1 small image per page.
I'm happy with the book, although all that white space makes me nervous. Each page includes a cropped image of a famous artwork with text added on top. Can you guess where the text comes from? Here's a hint: it's a classic book that's been made into a movie.
Have you guessed? The quotes come from my favorite kids book, Harriet the Spy. I must've read it at least 10 times when I was young. The text is in all caps not because Harriet is yelling but to show what she's writing in her spy notebook. When I was young, I wanted to be a writer; Harriet was my inspiration.
I've been on a book-making spree. This one began as an exercise to practice a new book-binding stitch. I started with an old pack of construction paper, which evolved into a chronicle of my childhood. Each page features a different object, grouped by color.
Book of Colors - YouTube
In case you can't read my handwriting, here are the objects and their backstories: Red
Lava lamp -- Every year, my family spent spring break on the Oregon coast. We always stayed at the same motel and ate at the same Italian restaurant. While I waited (impatiently) for our food to arrive, my dad told me to watch the lava lamp so I'd quit whining about being hungry. I still love lava lamps.
Fringy vest -- In my favorite school photo, I'm wearing a big puffy yellow blouse (see below) and a fake red leather vest complete with long fringe (and made by my mom). It's as close I got to being "Mod."
Bean bag chair -- I loved sinking into my big red chair, even though the vinyl stuck to my skin and a cloud of little white styrofoam pellets appeared whenever I sat down.
Red delicious apple -- My dad still kids me about liking this kind of apple. He calls it "tasteless." I call it "crunchy."
Goldfish -- I acquired "Napoleon" by tossing a ping-pong ball into his tiny bowl at a county fair. He had a good life, growing carp-size, until he jumped out of his tank while we were on vacation.
Malibu Barbie -- One of my favorites, this Barbie had the orange-brown tan we all aspired to in the 1970s.
Traffic cone -- Doesn't every kid steal a few of these in their youth? And keep them in the rafters of their parents' garage for 40 years?
Creamsicle -- In the summer, the neighborhood kids ran outside to meet the ice cream truck for their after-dinner treat. Me included!
Puffy blouse -- (See "fringy vest" above.) The cuffs were at least 4 inches long and the collar oversized.
Lemon drop -- Sweet and sour and suckable. Need I say more?
Sports car -- More specifically, an MG, owned by our next-door neighbor and parked outside my bedroom window for what seemed like years. Every year, I'd ask for one for my birthday. Every year, I didn't get one.
Kraft Mac & Cheese -- Whenever my dad went on a business trip, Mom would make this for me and we'd eat and read our books at the kitchen table (not allowed when Dad was home).
Ping-pong table -- My dad and I played for hours on the table in our garage. He wouldn't let me win, and I wouldn't give up.
Monopoly house -- My game strategy focused on the big-ticket properties, not building houses in low-rent districts. I remember stepping on them.
Turtles -- Two red-ear slider turtles lived in my bathroom, each in its own large tank. Myrtle and Yurtle ate lunchmeat and stared while I brushed my teeth.
Split pea soup -- Who can forget that scene in The Exorcist?
Bell-bottom blue jeans -- Worn with platform sandals with cork soles.
Gerbil cage -- When my 5th grade class finished its maze experiment, I brought home one of its subjects, a slightly lame gerbil named Cynthia. She lived in a huge baby blue cage, complete with loft and red running wheel.
Blue jeans cap -- I was proud of the distressed denim cap I made for myself. I don't recall wearing it much.
Swimming pool -- My friend who lived a the top of the hill had an outdoor swimming pool. When it got warm, I'd bug her almost every day to see if I could come over after school to swim.
Orchestra gown -- I played the bassoon in high school. If being a "band nerd" wasn't bad enough, I had to wear a hot and scratchy polyester blue gown for concerts.
Mood ring -- Mine stayed dark blue/purple most of the time. I think that means I was hungry?
Sorry game piece -- I played this game a lot and was never a good loser. Or winner.
Carbon paper -- If you wanted 2 copies of something, you used carbon paper...on a typewriter...with no Autocorrect or Undo.
Mushroom lamp -- my bedroom was awash in 1970s decor, including a purple lamp and macrame plant hangers.
Bicycle -- I have been fortunate to have had not one but TWO purple bicycles. The first was a 10-speed, and the second was an 18-speed that my father-in-law MADE for me.
Grape Kool Aid -- Of course it's the best flavor and must be served in a big plastic pitcher with the Kool Aid mascot's silly lop-sided face.
The rainbow sock at the end was actually knit by my mom. I wore them with my platform sandals and my Osh Kosh overalls.
When I'm itching to make collages but don't have any ideas for a big project, I make bookmarks to send along with orders from my Etsy shop. Here's the latest set of 10 (front and back), made with ephemera within arms' reach of me and my scissors (I've started thinking of myself as a "lazy" artist).
I made the backgrounds by tearing thin strips from magazine pages and combining contrasting colors and patterns.
For the second set of bookmarks, I used handmade paper left over from another project.
I sometimes experiment with new techniques on these small, skinny canvases. Below, I play with text snippets I transferred from book pages using Scotch tape. I've started a new project using this technique.
If you look closely at the bookmark with the large fish, you may see a clue about where I got the cardboard for the substrate. (Hint: it's a box of my favorite salty crunchy treat.)
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....
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...
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....
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....
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.