I made this collage on mixed media paper which is folded in half to create a unique cover for one of the signatures in the last journal I made.
It’s comprised of various papers, fabric and decorative paper napkins. Although I had seen them in stores, I would have never thought paper napkins could be used in collage, until I watched a Donna Downey video. She had a paper napkin with beautiful poppies on it that she used in an art journal. After watching that, I knew I had to try it.
Since watching that video, I’ve been on the hunt for all the beautiful paper napkins I can find. I use Liquitex fluid matte medium to attach them to the paper. Regular gel medium is too thick. They are very delicate, as you are only using one ply, so it pays to be careful.
Once everything is glued down and dry, I cover it all with a coat of polymer medium to seal it all in and make it more durable. These would actually make great covers for notebooks, instead of putting them inside a journal.
This is the 2nd journal I’ve made using small art quilts. The cover for this one includes paper and embellishments.
Binding is getting slightly easier, but I still have a ways to go. I really love embellishing the spine with ribbons and beads.
Designing a Product That Takes Too Long to Make
One summer, while at the pool with the girls, I came up with this idea for a business that I thought was going to be a huge success. I had recently become interested in upcycling and altered clothing, but I just wasn’t a good enough seamstress to create something that anyone would actually want to wear, much less buy. My first attempt ended up looking like something that would only be worn by a deranged fairy!
We had gotten a dog about a year earlier, so I came up with the idea that I would create upcycled dog and cat collars. I would turn unwanted clothing into accessories for pets. But that wasn’t all. Since I’m an artist, I decided they would all contain hand painted designs. (See photo above)
This was one of my first mistakes. There is only so much you can charge for a collar, therefore you need to make sure that the amount of time you spend making each one isn’t so much that you drive up your labor cost to a point that it can’t be supported by your sales price. In other words, I was working for about $1 an hour. Serious mistake! Hand painting and stenciling designs on these things was tedious and time consuming. To be honest, sometimes it looked kind of cool, but other times, it looked like crap. It was just too much and unnecessary.
By this point, I was so in love with my idea that I couldn’t let this important piece of information change my business model. After all, I’m an artist, and I was holding on so hard to that part of my identity that I didn’t see I was about to make a big mistake. Remember what the acronym K.I.S.S stands for – keep it simple, stupid. I broke this rule and was not off to a good start, but I didn’t let that deter me one bit! I ignored this inconvenient truth and just kept right on going.
Okay, so looking back what should I have done instead? I think that if I was determined to use my artistic side, I should have learned how to paint and design my own fabric and used this for my pet accessories. This would have allowed me to create a yard or more of truly unique material that could be used for many items, or even sold by itself. But doing this would have forced me to give up the other part of my brand identity that I was also in love with – upcycling.
The lesson I learned is to be more open to what is realistic and feasible and less tied to creating something so unique or different that I can’t make a profit or pay myself a living wage. It’s hard to let go of ideas that we get personally attached to because it feels like we are letting go of our dreams, but sometimes, let go we must!
In my next post, I will reveal my second mistake.
I’m almost done making my first handmade journal. It took me weeks, okay months, to ever actually try to make one of these. I bought books, read blogs, purchased two tutorials and watched countless YouTube videos before I was brave enough to actually try it.
Now that I’ve tried it, I’m hooked. What I love about this is that I can combine my small art quilts and mixed media collages with my love of books. I still need to make a few more for fun before I get good enough to make some to sell, but I think this is where I want to focus my creative energy for now.
This past week brought with it some sad news. I learned that my favorite artist organization and Gallery might be closing because they aren’t able to find someone to take over the role of President and other positions as well. This was the gallery where I made my first sale and got to know some of the most talented and generous artists one could ever care to meet. It will be bittersweet if it has to close it’s doors, but I’m in no position to volunteer for any of the openings.
This week I also dropped a very large and important ball in all the balls I have been juggling lately. I had some artwork accepted into an exhibit and was also supposed to pick up my work that didn’t sell from the previous exhibit. Well, I really screwed up and got my days mixed up and showed up a day late. This is not something I have ever done before and I was mortified to say the least. I emailed the person in charge of the show as soon as I realized what I had done, but didn’t hear back until today. Needless to say they are not thrilled with me in the least. In fact, they were quite angry. Rightfully so, I might add.
After I got over the shame from my scolding, I started to think that perhaps things happen for a reason. I’ve spent a lot of time and money participating in exhibits. There have been times I have sold a piece, but that doesn’t happen often. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to have won several awards over the past few months, which is gratifying, but I still need to sell my work. So I started to wonder if perhaps these things were a sign that it was time to stop all of that and just focus on making handmade books. Maybe this is where I need to be spending my time on not only creating them, but marketing and selling them as well.
I don’t know how this will all play out, but for now, I think I’m done with exhibits for a while and I’m going to start trying to move in a different direction.
There is a wonderful opportunity to connect and heal and help spread love, instead of hate. Find out how you can participate at:
Ever since I discovered reverse appliqué, I have become quite obsessed. This particular piece has two layers of fabric underneath the top piece, but you can have four or five, if you like.
I adhered this to mixed media paper and it will be exhibited at the 9×12 Works on Paper exhibit in Fort Worth later this year.
This is an entry for 9×12 Works on Paper Show. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it.
The background was fun to make, but I had a hard time deciding when to stop. When it comes to layers, when is enough enough? I haven’t really figured that one out yet.
The fabric is made from a really pretty watercolor type of fabric which I cut into petal shapes and sewed onto black fabric. I also added some French knots in the center. I’m still working on those embroidery skills, as it’s definitely harder than it looks.
After I finally stopped adding layers to the background, I attached the flower to the paper with heavy gel medium.
I’m very fortunate to live in an area in which I have access to a number of organizations who provide artists opportunities to exhibit their work.
One of my favorite organizations is the Texas Visual Arts Association or TVAA. The gallery is amazing and the group of volunteers who organize and curate these exhibits are not only amazing artists themselves, but are also very supportive of emerging artists.
This summer I entered several exhibits there and was thrilled, and very surprised to win ribbons in almost all the exhibits I was in.
Wonderland won a 2nd place ribbon.
Wildflower Wonderland won Best of Show, which I’ve never received before.
Finally, the first piece, Wild and Free won 3rd place.
I don’t think I will ever tire of the thrill of receiving an award. It’s such an honor and inspires me to work even harder when preparing for the next exhibit, because who knows if there will be another award in my future!
I bought a new project runway sewing machine, not because my previous one died, but because my daughter said she wanted to start sewing.
Deep down I knew she wouldn’t stick with it, but it was just the excuse I needed to buy another machine. The only thing wrong with my old one was that the feed dog lever quit working, so if I lowered them, I couldn’t get them up again.
Truthfully, I kind of wanted to buy some other brand that might be a little better for art quilting, but last year, I bought a Sew Steady extension table that only fits my Brother. Since I didn’t want to replace this as well, I just bought the updated version of the one I have.