Thursday, February 28, 2008

ATC Success

Last night at the library swap was great! Lots and Lots of folks showed up, and we had to get out more tables, and we stayed late, and a children's table developed that was cozy and inspiring for them, and people came from miles away, and, and ... Next month we will have more tables, a longer work time, and a really fun technique that looks so beautiful and is a total secret! Only Molly, the Librarian, and I know. You'll have to come and see!
You know, it would be fabulous if libraries all over hosted ATC Swaps - it wasn't hard to do - YOU could do this too!
1. I talked to the head librarian and showed her some samples, and some of my collage art and ATC books. She was thrilled at the idea of having dozens of people coming to the library, (they get money according to how many people use the library every year). And we will actually be using the library each month: especially for Poetry in April, and Maine history in July, I think, and so on. I agreed to teach a little bit each month, but its mostly just choosing one technique to demonstrate and then letting folks get on about their art.
2. We made a webpage and a schedule for the year meeting one evening a month. You can see ours at Feel free to copy some of our words and ideas! The library sent out a couple of press releases to local newspapers, and I know someone who has a community radio show who has invited me to speak next month.
3. You'll see that I am keeping the technique teaching every month pretty simple - a lot of cut and glue. The library has carpet everywhere and I don't want to be responsible for the spills or the expenses that paint and special products often entail. Last night all we did was magazine collage and everyone had a great time and could have stayed for hours!

Wouldn't it be great if wherever you travelled you could find libraries with ATC Swaps? It could give summer vacation a whole new twist!
I am off to bead.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ATC Swap Day!!!

Well, up here on our edge of NE USA we are having wet snow and so it will take a bit of imagination to let me wish you all a good day ... WHICH IS EASY BECAUSE TODAY IS ATC SWAP DAY AT THE LIBRARY!!! I am so excited. Yesterday I passed out lots of ATC's, and heard that many people are planning to come to the swap. The good part was that so many people had never heard of ATC's and I may have gotten a few more converts with my 50 ATC's.

Those ATC's above were made with cutouts from a catalog of garden statues, the backer is from the padded envelope that held my first international internet swap cards, and some other cutouts here and there.

The ATC's below are the "wooden" ones that Iris and I swapped this week. I put the directions for how to make this wooden paper on my website - the ATC page That is gold ink marker drawings on top.

So. I am off to begin my day job, and pack for tonight. I hope to see you at the library. :)

Monday, February 25, 2008

ATC's - check these out!

Here are some of the ATC's that I will start passing out today. I love these little dollies. I got the idea from They sell these wonderful kits to make 3-D dolls, and in the kits are pewter arms and legs that go with the felted bodies. Too thick for ATC's, so I made my own out of cardstock. It felt odd not to gel or glaze them, but they wouldn't have moved if I had.

Here is a close-up of one of them:

And lastly for today is an ATC with a hand drawn face, a version of a "zetti" face, (you can google that if you are curious), a postage stamp with a clock because "The moment you love, you are unlimited.", the teatag saying, and some lucky numbers because lucky numbers are pretty unlimited too.

This photo is low resolution, and so you don't get, quite, that I covered it with that glass bead acrylic gel medium that I talked about yesterday: The backing is torn strips of very pretty origami paper, all glued down in its raggedy edged glory.

And so that is my story for today. Have a lovely, artful day. And DO ask me for an ATC if you see me today!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

ATC Mass Production

Well, I gave myself a treat this past week: ATC mass production. Here is a horrible photo - but you get the idea:I have about three of these boards full of ATC's!

Now there is a big yell-y, nag-y voice in my head that is using words like" glutton" and "shame" ... >sigh< (I clearly have some work to do here.) But I want to tell you that, nevermind the very old and outdated tapes in my brain, (who is stripping those reel-to-reels as we speak), I am finding this to be a great way to make ATC's!

This is what I did: I made big background papers - remember that brown paper bag paper that I was making? I talked about it here a month or two ago - here's a picture of where I stopped sewing and adding stuff to the big paper:

Well, I glued 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" cardstock to the back of the paper and cut them out - about 9 of them. Then I cut out some phrases and images from a scrapbooking collection that I had, and found some great quotes in an old farmer's almanac. I glued everything down with some netting strips, using, our favorite: acrylic gel medium. Here are some from that bunch:I did that with a couple of different background methods: tearing strips of pastel printed origami papers and gluing those down, raggedy edges and all, then drawing little zetti women and gluing those with some messages from teatags I have collected; painting a kleenex onto a piece of cardstock with ochre paint - letting it get all wrinkly - and then experimenting with a red drybrush technique over the top of that, cutouts glued on top of that and gold pen borders, (which look awesome next to the red).

The result of making many cards at once, all of the same background, is that the specialness goes out of it and I felt free-er to experiment - - - resulting in some really delightful cards. And those which were less successful I was fine with regluing or changing. I let go of the pressure to make REALLY PRETTY CARDS and just had fun ... which I think comes through in mostly every card.

I wanted to make so many because I want to pass them out to advertise the swap at the Rockport Library on Wednesday. I will be carrying them with me on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday - ask for one if you see me!

And speaking of the swap, I just want to advertise what a cool library this is, with a very wonderful Librarian - Molly - and a bunch of other fabulous librarians too - Iris, Jane. I mean, imagine: letting a bunch of artist loose in your library every month, actually inviting us in! Imagine being a librarian and spending your downtime at the desk making little scissors-paper-glue confections to advertise the fact that you are inviting a bunch of artists into your midst. Molly has even bought some new, ATC related books for the stacks, (and in April we are celebrating National Poetry Month by ransacking - gently - the stacks for poems for our ATC's!). For a whole year we have been invited to make art and make friends at the Library!

How fab is that? Very. Thank you Molly.

I am off to go paint something with glass bead gel medium. I'm not kidding: try It looks a-maz-ing when it dries.

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Website page

Well, since beginning to work with the library I have been working on ATC's a lot. Paper collage mostly. I decided that my website needed an ATC dedicated page, so check it out: I put in some examples, and some techniques.
Oh! The masking tape technique on that page comes from a book by Nancy Welch called "Paper Craft". I think that it is out of print because I had to order it from the extended Amazon community. I reccomend it. The photos are well done, the writing is clear, and so far, the techniques are a lot of fun.
So listen, if you are in the area, or coming to Maine in the summer, please stop by the Rockport on the last Wednesday of the month to swap ATC's. I keep hearing from all over that folks will be by. Like that mom of a 7 year old said: this stuff is, (with all due respect to those of us in our communities who are recovering from chemical addictions), addicting. (Sort-of: but in a good way.) Sorry, that doesn't sound respectful at all. I think that this mom is having trouble getting her girl to go to bed at night, or do chores or something, (I so relate), because she is too busy making art. This comes close to "not a problem at all" in my thinking. Certainly not anything like the honorable and very difficult work that people do to heal from chemical dependency. Sweet F. is a good girl and I am sure finds time to have a life in between ATC's, and her mom was laughing when she told me about her art inspired daughter.
I didn't tell you, I started to do some beading again. I found myself breathing once more. I forgot that I feel like that. The word 'bead' comes from the root word for 'prayer'. I felt like I was remembering how to pray. >happy sigh<
And the last news for the day is that I have some artwork out and about:
The office of Dr. Aimee Davis at the Breakwater Building in Rockland, ME, has 5 pieces - and I bet that they wouldn't mind if you stopped by just to look. Two of them are in the Prayers Series. Lots of reconfigured trash. Very wonderful pieces. The headers on my website are sections of Prayers I.
Waterfall Arts in Belfast, ME, has "October Bird" - a beaded and trash embellished piece that I have been chatting about here on this blog since, um, October.
Next up is a piece that I will submit for jurying down in Portland, ME, and then I had better slow down on all of my volunteer art projects for a while as my studio is nearly empty of finished works! (YAY!!!!)
Have a lovely day.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My ATC Brown Paper Background

Well good day all. Here's my Brown Paper Background so far:
You can see there, just above 6:00 and at 8:00, two coins - Pondsong's idea from the comments on February 1st - but these are paper copies of coins, the brown paper was too thick to take a rubbing which was my first alternative idea to her idea of putting real coins on the paper. Here is the sheet of coins that I copied, I have got Chinese yuan, Greek drachma, Italian lira, Canadian dollars, I think that those are UK 5pence, and some US half dollars. I adore holding coins - even more than paper money ... silly me ... (well, I'd rather just invest those) ...anyway, those heavy round clunks that they make together. Big beads.

These are paper ones.

I would like to show you some of the ATC's that I have made to date:

The one on the right has an image from an old book of postal stamps that I enlarged a lot. It is shiny with acrylic gloss medium on it as both glue and finish. The one on the left is drawn with markers on watercolor paper.This one also has acrylic medium on it, with stickers - the houses - and sticky letters. I get outraged at the CEO's of corporations who spill their pollution everywhere. Though here I am using plastic gel meduim and plastic coated stickers... sigh ...These two are from a series on trauma. I was thinking that when people are first coming out of a traumatic event - international terrorism, natural catastrophies, domestic violence, any of it, that it is tough to gather the brain power to even ask for help. So I got to thinking about what we all can do to help each other. These cards were one background at first, painted/drawn with Portfolio brand oil pastels - think watercolor pencils, only lusher! I worked on pretty heavy weight watercolor paper, and when the painting was done it looked like a storm at sea. Good background for trauma recovery theme. I cut the painting into regulation ATC sizes and added words. The big letters are stick on, and the handwriting was done in permanent marker.

I went to the funeral, yesterday, of a woman who was a remarkable teacher on the subject of trauma recovery. For years she taught, well, life skills to people who had not managed to learn them elsewhere, things as basic as how to hold a conversation and make it true. Bitsa taught us how to see the child of "God" in everyone, even ourselves. She just pointed a whole lot of us in the correct general direction. May I just say, here, Goddess Bless Bitsa Hoag Turner and her family in this time of transition. My love to you all.

And here are the Guardians, corporeal images of the ones which make it possible for us each to find what we need. Thank you.

(Here's a fun link as a treat for your inner - or outer - child: )

Saturday, February 2, 2008

What's an ATC??

Eeeps! Sorry to Pondsong and any others who might not be clear what I am proposing here.
An ATC is a small, baseball card sized piece of art to trade. Like baseball cards only ... different. So: 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" big, you can paint or draw or collage endlessly. Google "artist trading cards" and you will get lots on the history and techniques for how to make them. The Swiss artist who thought this up back in 1997 had the idea that we would set up "swaps", times and places to trade them. I have gotten most of my information about ATC's on the internet, and there are many internet groups who trade with others internationally. But I don't live near any that I know, nor did I have friends who made ATC's, and I wanted to trade in person as well as on the internet. They seem soooo wonderful don't they? Little pieces of art to just bring beauty and wit and deep thought into the world. Eventually a series of events got me to ask my town librarian if we could swap at the library once a month and she said yes!
Anyway. Especially with collage methods, one can make large background papers, combining painting, and drawing, and all kinds of gluing down just about anything, to have a foundation, a starting place for some cards. We then cut this background paper inti 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" pieces and then make a tiny collage on just that small card. (You can then add words, dried flowers, photos, bits of ribbon, wood, metal, anything!)
Because I am going to be teaching this workshop at the library, (Rockport, Maine, Public Library), I am trying to make some cards to be a step or two ahead of all who come for inspiration, and to have some cards to swap when the time comes. I thought yesterday that it would be fun to have a bunch of us making a background paper at the same time. We are all bound to do it differently and we could learn from each other in that way.
Get it? So go get a brown paper bag and start your own background paper. I like the idea of a penny on the final ATC, and, and! How about this: put the penny, or any coin, under the paper and rub over the top with a crayon or colored pencil! Do lots of rubbings! Oh My! I gotta go try that! Thanks, P! Bye!

Friday, February 1, 2008

ATC's and Brown Paper Backgrounds

PHEW!!! Family art project there. Kinda took me away from all of this. I'm here now though, and what news I have for you!

Last fall the Rockport Public Library put on a show called "Out Of Bounds". I talked about it in earlier blogs: it was all about altered books. Let me tell you that it was soooo wierd to have the librarians telling us to cut up and paint on the books. Wow.

Anyway, those art techniques are often the same ones used for making Artist Trading Cards, and my longing for a local place to swap - because trading cards are for trading, yes? - came screaming up to the forefront. So I asked Molly Larson, the head librarian, if we could set up one at the library. And she said Yes! Actually, she said way more than yes: she said that many folks might not know what an ATC is, or how to get one, and would I like to sort-of teach a workshop. Along with the monthly ATC Swap. And of course I said yes. Too. I said yes, Molly said yes: we were having a little yes party. What a good time. :)

So then I wrote a guest column for their Newsletter, and now I am thinking about how to make ATC's all the time, and this morning I came up with a great idea. To make background paper for future ATC's. Well actually I had started this paper a couple of days ago, but as I was working on it I thought that I would really be having fun if I was working on it with some friends. I choose you!

Here's the idea:

I will start us out coloring, and variously transforming the background paper and you can follow my directions. Then you can, by adding comments here on the blog, give the rest of us directions to another layer of transformation and we will follow you.

Brown Paper Backgrounds Sewn Up With String...
1. Take a regular brown paper bag and cut it open.

2. Crumple it up very tightly - try not to rip it though. Flatten it out. I actually repeated this step a couple of times to make the wrinkles pretty small.

3. Color the paper lightly with the side of a colored pencil. (Hmmm.. you can hardly see the color in this photo - it was red.) (O.K., light red.)

4. Get out some rubber stamps and stamp all over the paper. What color ink will you use? What theme of stamps will you use?

5. Hand sew your paper. I have started out with just a running stitch, but you could use a cross stitch, or a chain stitch, or anything.

O.K.,now, I have given you a couple of ideas. Your turn! What shall we do next?