Tag Archives: mixed media

Mystery Photos

Thanks to my brother I have a digital archive of photos passed down from several family members. Many identify the people and places shown, but some are just plain mysteries. My cousins have tried and failed to name the people, an unfortunate byproduct of our departed older generation who didn’t write anything on the backs of those photos packed away in old stationery boxes.

I decided to create a multi-panel mixed media piece with some of the mystery photos, which I call the unknown family. Here are some of my candidates.

I’ve settled on three panels: children, women, and groups. I plan to construct each separately, sewing on paper copies of the photos, and then connecting them with some sort of old cloth/lace, etc., so they will hang together. So far I have old linens for a base and decorations. I’m trying out various backing materials for support, but don’t plan to use batting or quilt these.

For a dry run I made a piece that features ancestral houses and an old embroidery sampler.

Top center is relatives’ farmhouse in Telford, PA; top right is grandparent’s home in Germantown, PA; bottom right is grandfather’s family home in County Tyrone, northern Ireland; bottom left is grandmother’s family home in County Donegal, Ireland; and middle left is estate outside of Philadelphia, PA, where many of my grandmother’s family worked as servants. Oh, top left is a drawing of the John Brown house in Akron, OH. He is no relation whatsoever, but I wanted another color photo.

My test showed me the difficulties of using photos with different degrees of clarity and styles. I edited all but one to print in sepia, but still many details don’t show. I also used a lace doily of unknown origin and the decoration from a cotton lawn hanky that belonged to my mother. I added a few more embroidered flowers to try to blend the photos with the background. It’s backed with acrylic felt and a cotton print, both fused on.

I would love to see other pieces that attempt what I’m trying for, either ones you’re made or seen. Cautionary tales about what didn’t work are welcome as well.

I am linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under collage, Completed Projects, In Process, Project Ideas

A Bit of This, A Bit of That

In between lengthier projects I often do mini pieces that may not always involve quilting. Sometimes they are inspired by something I saw or read; sometimes by gifts or supplies from my stash that I have rediscovered. Most recently I used a sunny painted ocean scene given to me by Ann Scott to make a more disturbing landscape than the original. I call it “A Cell With A View.”

I cut up the original and combined it with a printed photograph. Then I quilted it to resemble chain link fencing covered with the stems of weeds. The edges are finished with paint and yarn.

A more abstract yet functional project was two fabric bowls made from scraps and canvas I had painted. I was tired of seeing the canvas hanging in my fabric closet. Hilde Morin’s instructions call for covering the canvas with fabric, but I streamlined the process by decorating the canvas directly.

Inside of bowls
Outside of bowls. The fabric strips are to cover the zigzagged seam lines.

Some of my incidental projects are made from paper as well as fabric.

After I rolled off excess paint from printing onto grocery bags I cut up the bags and sewed them to wallpaper samples. The samples are vinyl, and so far have proved impervious to permanent impressions by any paint or marker I own.
More monoprinted papers from Penny got sewn onto a canvas strip that used to be a blank fabric book.

Finally, a photo I took at a local lake was edited in Photoshop, and printed on fabric. I glued it with matte medium to a stretched canvas. The technique is from Lynda Heines.

I painted the canvas edges black before gluing on the photo. The green is my cutting mat.

There are still more little projects on the go in my studio, though a few may be returned to the “someday” drawer. I won’t even begin to talk about the week I spent sewing little scraps into larger scraps by color, though I am using a few in current work.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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In The Rear-view Mirror

My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to self-isolate for much of 2020, so we’ve remained untouched by the Corona virus. Self-isolation gave me lots of time to devote to my art, and I think I made good use of the time to explore different media. After all, I have been saving collage making material for many years. It became if not now, then when? I know many artists found themselves too distracted for sustained creative work, but art became my escape hatch from grim reality.

I was also fortunate to have a friend who was eager to try out some online classes and videos with me, and we shared our efforts with each other thanks to technology, as well as art supplies through porch drop offs. You can read about our different takes on a Jane Davies class here.

Of course I continued to make art quilts, and you can check out that work on the “My Quilts 2019 On” page of this blog. A few were major projects, but many were experiments in using scraps.

I’m not one to choose a word of the year, but my word for 2020 would have been adapt. I tried to play the hand I was dealt. Thank goodness for Jane Davies, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, and YouTube. With the help of these online guides I took up collage, acrylic painting, and monoprinting. I tried to combine all three in mixed media work.

I learned with “Fiddleheads” not to use canvas as my backing fabric as it is so hard to hand sew through. The matte medium on top of the paper didn’t help either. I had planned more handwork, but scrapped that notion in favor of markers. The work combines woven and non-woven fabrics, magazine pages, and mulberry papers.

“Fiddleheads”

“Take A Seat” started with chairs stenciled on fabric scraps. Then I stenciled on monoprints, and combined all the stenciled bits with fabric shaped like the profile of a chair.

“Take A Seat”

“Covid” was my attempt to use found and made paper images in a collage. I had saved photos of sunglasses ads for years. Those glamorous models got masked and covered up with the reality of the pandemic.

“Covid”

“Shadow” was an early collage made up of magazine images with a bit of marker line added. Thank goodness for my years of NYT Magazine page collecting.

“Shadow”

My untitled felt piece, backed with canvas, came about after a friend gave me her felted wool scraps. They were already backed with fusing. There’s a woven paper strip background in there, as well as shiny patterned dress fabric scraps.

felt, paper, and foiled fabric

A monoprint exchange with a friend led to a tribute to autumn. Felted wool, organza, and paper were given a boost with markers and embroidery.

“With A Little Help From My Friends”

I hope to continue mixed media explorations in 2021 and improve my integration of paper and fabric. I made lots of work I’m not including here as it shows what went wrong. Practice leads to better work, but you don’t want to wade through the beginner pieces unless you’re a masochist or closely related to me.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

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Material Collaboration

My latest mixed media creation is built with materials supplied by friends. I just arranged them, added a few leaves and did some sewing.

“With Little Help From My Friends” began with a monoprint swap with a friend. The leaf print set the theme, and I created more leaves from parts of other swapped monoprints. Two organza leaves I had left over from an old project joined them.

I kept machine sewing to a minimum as I didn’t want the paper to come apart. Most of the leaves have just one seam, though the center cluster has more stitching as it is heavy paper. I used colored pencils and markers to alter some of the colors and add leaf veins. I couldn’t resist trying out my new gold Posca marker.

“With A Little Help From My Friends” 14.5″ square

The base is scrap felt from another friend, and the loosely woven gray-brown strip came from my costume designer friend. He had set aside this hand dyed remnant for me. I used some of the raveled thread from it for embroidery. To cap it all, the backing is woven tailor’s interfacing that came from my mother’s sewing supplies. I held onto it for years, thinking I’d return to tailoring, but I’m happy it’s found a place in my art.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Working Small

I realize that small is a relative term, both for ice cream servings and works of art. For me, a small work of art measures less than 25 by 25 inches, which is a medium for some. A small ice cream serving for me is one and a half scoops. While I envy artists who turn out interesting work that is just 4 by 6 inches, I just can’t seem to work that small.

My work continues to use paper and fabric as I try to learn how to integrate them. Often, I begin with monoprinting on a gelli plate to develop papers and fabrics with intriguing designs. It’s just fun to crank out a dozen prints in the time it takes to sew a fussy seam. Of course the downside is cleanup is more onerous.

Two of my recent collages are made with bits from my prints, plus photos and hand painted papers.

“Alien Plant From An Alien Planet” (8 x 10 inches) also uses an ink marker.
I got into markers even more with “Arches.” (9 by 12 inches) It mashes up photos from a trip to Central Park, a bit of an old table cloth, and monoprints.

“Fiddling” combines lots of magazine images, old art postcards and painted tissue paper, plus a monoprint or two.

Moving on to pieces made with fabric and paper, I finished “Fiddleheads” with hand stitching and learned I shouldn’t use a canvas backing if I want to hand sew.

“Fiddleheads” is made with hand dyed fabric, nonwoven fabric, and magazine pages.

In my latest fabric/paper creation I used gesso and markers to stencil chairs on fabric, paper, and nonwoven Pattern Ease. The edging is fused on using Frieda Anderson’s method.

This one needs a name besides “Chairs.” About 22 by 23 inches

Observant readers will have noted that none of the above pieces have batting, though the last two have backing and a bit of top stitching. I haven’t given up on quilting, but have found sewing heavily on paper is tricky. You can end up with a perforated line effect if you’re not careful, and there are no do-overs.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Spring Green

Green has finally returned to northeast Ohio, and my eyes can’t get enough of it.

A mixed media piece I’m working on uses a lot of what I thought was spring green. It turns out that my crayon memories are false, as what Crayola calls spring green doesn’t jibe with what I recall. However, Target offers children’s comforter sets in what I remember as spring green. Maybe my memory of the spring green crayon is faulty as it came only in the 64 color crayon box. That size box rarely came my way.

My piece, which I named “Fiddleheads,” features painted interfacing in two weights, woven strips of magazine pages, bits of painted mulberry paper, fussy cut bits from a large piece of cloth colored with thickened dye and then stenciled, and silk organza. It’s backed with canvas and held together with fusible and glue right now. I plan to stitch it together with both machine and hand work. At present it measures about 18 inches square.

I like using paper with fabric, though my opinion may change after sewing on paper. I’m a bit nervous about the thin magazine strips as once they’re sewn they can’t be unsewn.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

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Artistic Endeavors – Marilyn Henrion

Now 80 years old, mixed-media artist Marilyn Henrion is a native of Brooklyn who has spent time in the New York artistic and literary world.  Her aesthetic vision has always been deeply rooted in the urban geometry of her surroundings. You can see this in her earlier works of geometric abstraction as well as in more recent architecturally-based mixed media works, which feature New Orleans and Europe.

Some of her works are quilts, for all practical purposes, with piecing and quilting. Many of Henrion’s quilted pieces are featured here.

Disturbances 1
Byzantium II

Other works consist of hand quilted digitally edited and printed photographs.

North Phillip, New Orleans

Still others are edited photographs cut up, sewn together, and digitally printed with no quilting.

Patchwork City series

Then, some defy categorization, though I think the piece below is very modern.

Vanishing Point series

And this piece has elegant curves and lovely hand dyed looking fabrics.

Byzantium IX

Henrion works in series so you can see how she plays with an idea. Her website has many examples of her work, nicely grouped by theme. I’m glad to see how her techniques have simplified over time as I’ve been looking for less complex ways to create work. Her latest work uses digitally edited and printed photographs. I don’t know if that’s the direction for me, but it’s one path to try.

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Mixed Media Roundup, Part 2

Compilations of techniques are popular for mixed media books. I looked over The Cloth Paper Scissors Book by Barbara Delaney, and The Mixed-Media Artist by Seth Apter. They expose you to many different artistic styles and show possibilities you may never come up with on your own. On the negative side, they skim the surface of techniques. Four pages just isn’t enough explanation if you’re totally new to a technique.

The Cloth Paper Scissors Book contains articles previously published in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, so if you subscribe to that, you may already have the articles. Contents cover printmaking and surface design, journals and bookmaking, collage and assemblage, mixed-media stitching, and encaustic, metal and jewelry. Many of the articles focus on paper, but I think some could be done on fabric as well.

I concentrated on the stitching and surface design articles, as journaling, book making, etc., hold no appeal for me. In fact, the journal/book making aspects of mixed media often raise my hackles. The creations seem so self-absorbed, and require so many pricey stencils, stamps, inks, spray paints, etc.

Here’s an example of what I dislike in mixed media. Badly drawn face, a few big stitches, a button that doesn’t relate to anything else, and a piece of wretched “poetry” that references angels. It needs only flowers, and heart and key charms to complete its twee-ness.

twee art example

I liked Dorit Elisha’s use of stitch in this collage based on a screen print of an old photo. I believe the base is heavy paper, with fabric raw edge stitched on top. The zigzag stitch adds variety.

stitched collage Dorit ElishaThis book is best for browsing. Once I found some artists of interest, I went to their websites for further information. I also put a library hold on the latest issue of the magazine.

The Mixed-Media Artist by Seth Apter features several artists’ responses to prompts such as below the surface, imaginary worlds, and the face I show the world. One section focuses on 30 artists and their self-portraits. Each was asked to list 3 things they’re inspired by and 4 things on their studio table. Most responses were material objects, with a few surprises such as “the caramel aroma of fallen leaves in October” as an inspiration; and “uncertainty” as one of the items on a studio table.

In A Portrait Or The Likeness of a Man Will Ashford

Interleaved with photos of work (and there are lots) are responses to an online artist survey and some descriptions of specific artistic processes. The survey responses didn’t do much for me. I saw them as padding, and would have preferred more “how I made this” information.

The Chairman Trudi Sissonss

The best parts of The Mixed-Media Artist are the artists’ explanations of what inspired their work. Trudi Sissons created The Chairman (above) in response to the prompt long-term memory. As she explains, she was deeply affected by reading “Wherever You Go, There You Are.” The author of that book encouraged readers to pick a board of directors to serve as their internal advisors, and Trudi named Vincent van Gogh as chair of her internal board. Through photo imaging software, she melded parts of van Gogh’s paintings with a graphite drawing. I’ve talked before about copying famous art, but this piece samples it to create something new.

Like the Cloth Paper Scissors Book, The Mixed-Media Artist is good for browsing, but it’s less helpful for techniques. I had no doubt I was looking at the work of serious artists rather than crafters. It’s worth looking for at your library, but I wouldn’t purchase it just for myself.

 

 

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Getting Mixed Up

I’ve taken up mixed media to help expand my repertoire of ways to work with fabric. In this instance I’m coloring tissue papers with ink dyes, sealing them with matte gel medium, fusing them to interfacing or fabric, and using the resulting product as fabric.  It’s part of an online course I’m taking. Here’s an example of a piece that’s ready to use.

MackJoannaTissueGluedToMuslin

Along the way I began applying the colored tissue directly to fabric with gel medium or Yes Paste. A while back I colored fabric with bleeding tissue paper so I had a stock of those papers. I tore up strips and glued them onto drill cloth with the following results.

MackJoannaBleedingTissuePastedSince I had made more organza leaves I decided to sew them onto my collaged fabric, along with some ribbon. I also sandwiched the top with a piece of felt and fabric backing and did some rudimentary quilting.

MackJoannaAllFallDownWell, the instructor didn’t much like this (the ribbon looked like ribbon, the tissue paper looked like tissue paper, etc.) so I began to paint over areas. I also glued on more tissue that I had spray painted. At present the piece looks like this.

MackJoannaAllFallDownFinalI haven’t done any painting (besides walls) since before many of you were born. It’s been fun to get back to it, even if the results aren’t what I had hoped.

 

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Filed under Art quilts, Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques