June 29, 2010

Dyed Lace Appliques

Recently I have been using DyeNaFlow dyes with venice lace fabric to create some really beautiful lace appliques. I love the colors!!
I am searching for more venice lace fabric - if anybody knows where to get some please let me know!
I'm looking for the kind that is very heavy, that you can cut apart into appliques.
Any help is appreciated!! : )

Here are some photos of the lace pieces I dyed - I sold several of these on etsy and now would like to make more for myself! I also used a few vintage doilies and other random lace pieces I had on hand - I really love the look of these.

June 2, 2010

Tutorial - Mixed Media Collage with Kids - "Art Lessons at Home!"

Please note: I started this post as a "Show and Tell" - however it may be used as an "Art Lesson" for children (adults will have just as much fun!!). Scroll down to the numbered section to get straight to the "Lesson Steps" we followed to create a unique, multi media layered collage piece.


My three daughters and I started having "Art Lessons." It is quite a sight!!

Three beautiful girls sitting at the big new kitchen table (thanks Mom!!) that is covered in plastic, wearing old t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up...we might have a little Bob Marley's "Every Little Thing" playing in the background...(OK let's be honest here, it *might* actually be Justin Beiber's latest...when they are choosing the music!)
Their faces are so different, but in each set of eyes I see a glimpse of my own - anticipation, excitement, determination, and inspiration - and for a split second, it all comes together - I'm "Mama, the greatest artist in the world" and I feel a few twinges of nervousness as I hope I can live up to my title.

     "These moments will shape their creative future! I better do a good job here...I hope they end up liking their projects when they're finished...Wait, should I cover the carpet too? What if they use all of the Cerulean Blue?"

This is the side of my brain I constantly have to shush - this kind of doubtful dialogue gets me frustrated and uninspired in a hurry! Glancing again at their little faces, I realize that to them, this is FUN. Plain and simple, it's *FUN*!!! There are no mistakes in art, no messes that can't be cleaned, no supplies that can't be replaced, and there are certainly no moments like these that *can* be relived.

I used the book "Taking Flight: Inspiration And Techniques To Give Your Creative Spirit Wings" by Kelly Rae Roberts (you can find it here on Amazon.com:  http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Flight-Inspiration-Techniques-Creative/dp/160061082X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275477221&sr=8-1#noop) as my source of inspiration for these art lessons with my daughters. I knew they would admire the whimsical style of Kelly's collage figures, especially since they are female, wear dresses, and have wings - I'm a "big girl" and I still fancy these things! I explained to my girls that we were going to make "Mixed Media Collages" and they LOVED the idea - especially when they each got their own canvas! It makes them *feel* like "real" artists - and I feel in this case, it helped them focus and take more time with their project, as they knew it would be something that would actually hang on the wall later.  I told them that they could use whatever colors, shapes, or supplies they wanted, but that they'd have to follow one - and only one single rule: "The only thing you *have* to do is follow the steps I give you, one step at a time."  My goal in this "art lesson" was to teach them a variety of techniques to create a layered background - something just as fun for me as it was for them! And a great way to teach them basic skills as we went along, such as how to clean the brushes, how to mix the paints, how to use a brayer...etc.

So here are the "steps" that WE followed:
(alter for your own supplies, time limit, etc - play and have fun! This is just to teach basic techniques and get the creative juices flowing!)
  1. Paint your canvas with gesso.
  2. While the gesso dries, pick out several pieces of "special" paper (vintage book pages, scrapbook paper, handmade paper, tissue paper, decorative napkins, school programs, junk mail, anything goes!) that has a design or text on it. Tear the pieces into smaller pieces (any shape you choose - squares, rectangles, circles), and place randomly on the canvas, leaving some blank spots. Overlapping is OK.
  3. Use gel medium to adhere special paper pieces to the canvas. Coat the canvas, apply the paper, then coat the top of the paper as well. We used matte gel medium.
  4. Step #3 takes awhile to dry, so this is a good time to prep for the next steps: Pick out 3 colors of paint. Cut a piece of bubble wrap into any shape you choose. Pick out one or two brass or plastic stencils. Pick out a piece of sequin waste ribbon. Clean the brayer. Get a paper plate. Pick out 2-3 rubber or foam stamps.
  5. Now the gel medium should be dry! At the bottom of the canvas, squeeze out three big dots of paint side by side. Use the brayer in an up and down motion to spread the paint all over the collaged canvas - this is a really fun step because the kids get to see how the colors react and blend with eachother.
  6. Allow to dry. At this point, we used a heat gun to help speed up the process. In the meantime, also grab a lace doily (paper doily is great) and a spray bottle that has 50% water, 50% acrylic liquid paint mixed together (alternative to canned spray paint).
  7. Because this next step can get a little messy, I recommend going outside (the getting up and moving for a minute will help the little ones focus again!) and trying this next step on a practice piece of paper first, before on the actual collaged/painted canvas. Lay the lace doily over one section of the canvas, on the grass - lay it over the corner, the center, the bottom, a complete half, etc - and spray over the doily. It is like magic when you lift up the doily - a beautiful pattern is revealed! Let dry and go back inside.
  8. Use the piece of bubble wrap as a stamp! Pour some acrylic paint onto a paper plate, and dab the bubble wrap on the plate. Press the bubble wrap down onto the canvas, and voila! You get a really neat dot print! (My girls loved this technique!) Stamp 2-3 times on the canvas.
  9. Use an actual rubber or foam stamp, using ink pads or acrylic ink. Stamp 2-3 times randomly on the canvas. (Now is a great time to teach them how to properly clean a stamp! : )
  10. By now, the piece should be looking very layered with lots of different colors and patterns on it! Now, use a piece of sequin waste ribbon as a stencil. (This is where I asked my daughters - "See? We've used a lace doily, bubble wrap, and now this ribbon to make designs on the canvas...How many other things can you think of that would leave interesting patterns with paint?" I was inspired by their answers!!) Dab paint in an up-and-down motion with a sponge, on top of the sequin waste ribbon. Note how the dots created are different from the dots created by the bubble wrap! (Monoprinting vs. stenciling and the thickness of the ink applied.)
  11. Using a brass or other stencil, apply some texture medium with a palette knife. Smooth out the top, or purposefully texture it! We chose to do two textured stencils on the piece shown below - the star on the upper right, and the leaf pattern on the lower left - to "frame" the piece.
  12. Paint the texture medium, or leave white - your choice!
  13. We finished (for now) at this step - however you could add more paint, cut out words and apply, add a favorite photograph, glue on sequins, glitter, ribbons....be creative!!
  14. The last step - which we will add later as the piece was still wet - and I think one of the most important steps for me as a mother - have your child(ren) sign and date the piece. I happened to have a Monet print hanging in my dining room, and pointed out to my daughters how Monet signed his pieces - they have now been practicing their "Artist Names" and plan to sign them very soon! : )
The result of all this work is not only a beautiful piece of art, but my girls now having familiarity with different techniques and tools that they can hopefully use on their own in the future. Also, they have begun to look at items around the house as possibilities for mark-making in art, which is fantastic - recycling at its finest!! They had the most wonderful hour of being "Master Artists" and they really enjoyed creating. They have beautiful keepsakes that are modern, colorful, cheerful, and creative - and they are so beautiful displayed together! Each of my daughters was given the same instruction and set of supplies - yet their own personalities shined through in their pieces of art. And I even got a couple of comments like "I want to hang this in the living room!" and "Mama look! It looks just as good as the ones in the book!" So - I *know* they were pleased with the results of this process as well.

In conclusion, in their eyes, I might just very well be "Mama, the greatest artist in the world" because to me, they are "Brittaney, Bryanne, and Bryley, the greatest artists in the world!"

One of the finished pieces (minus the signature and date!):

Closeup Views:

PS - Nothing at all spilled on the carpet! : )

"Don't you worry, about a thing....
cuz every little thing....
is gonna be alright!"
- Bob Marley