Progress Pictures: Broken Ties

64 Arts, Projects

Now that I’ve told the story of what inspired the change from trivet to mixed media art, I thought it’d be a good idea to share some in-progress pictures for those that are interested in processes.

prepping the canvas board

Prepping the Canvas Board

First I went a little Jackson Pollock-esque on a spare piece of canvas board–always helps to have extra art supplies around. Don’t agree and hate the extras that come in packs? Email me for my address–I’ll take ’em off your hands.

Actually, even better would be to donate them to your local school system, Ronald McDonald House, nearest Children’s Hospital or Boys and Girls Clubs.

Messing it all Around

Smearing the paint splatter

Next I took a large paintbrush and spread all the splatters around. Since I didn’t need a particular look for the background–most of it ended up covered, anyway–it didn’t need to really look like anything. I added a few more drops of the red, which mostly disappeared, and swirled it with a skewer (leftover from mixing the plaster to make the heart-shaped base.

Mapping out item Placement

Mapping Out Ephemera Placement

While the canvas dried (took overnight since some of the paint was more piled on than others) I worked on the placement of some key items for the mosaic. Some things, like the earring I bought with her while on Sr Trip and the half of the friendship charm from middle school, were directly related to she and I and others were items that I found while digging out the other bits from my old jewelry box or found around the craft room.

These things I wanted in a specific spot so arranged them and then drew a rough outline in pencil to know where not to put the stones and beads and stuff. The glue that gets brushed over the entire surface is clear so you can still see your road map.

Before the Grout

Before the Grout

Again, I’m still astonished at how the grout really pulls all the disparate items together. I mean, yeah, this looks like a total hodge-podge in a what-was-I-thinking sort of way, but it gets better. Never give up, never question, just dive on in.

Great Grey Gobs of Gritty Grout

Great Grey Gobs of Gritty Grout

This is a mid-grout picture. Gorgeous, huh? This was not what I meant when I said it gets better.

Some things were too delicate to glue directly to the plaster, so after I put on the grout and worked it into all the nooks and crannies and leveled certain parts of it I then added the smaller elements to the wet grout. The idea was that they would stick in and save me extra gluing. This mostly worked, some things needed a bit of help.

All Cleaned Up and Nowhere to Go

All Cleaned Up and Nowhere to Go

After 10 minutes I could start removing the extra grout and excavating beads and glass and all. It really did feel like an archaeological dig–hey, great idea for summer projects (outside projects) for bored kids–carefully washing away the extra grout and grit. I managed to uncover almost everything that was supposed to show.

Important lesson: it helps to have things all the same depth. Not only does this lend to a smooth surface, it makes it easier to wipe away excess grout instead of having to dig for it. Tiny stuff can get glued on.

Broken Ties by "Scraps"

the Finished Piece: Broken Ties

After the grout dried I sorta stopped with the picture taking. Basically I was so caught up in the collage part of things that I was just zooming through and not thinking about the blog. But here’s what I did to finish up:

  • pulled out some pictures of her and I, tore one of the two of us at my wedding in half
  • flipped through a nearby Glamour for words and images that worked for the theme or that reminded me of us way back when
  • collaged the painted background with PVA glue (neutral pH adhesive, aka book glue) and a foam brush, diluted the remaining glue and brushed over the whole thing
  • sprinkled on some seed beads to see what would stick
  • adhered the mosaic pieces to the background with a 2-part epoxy–incredibly strong hold, incredibly strong smell; a well ventilated area is key
  • surrounded the mosaic with pearl beads attached with hot glue, added extras to corners and added a few more bits of ephemera
  • took the whole thing outside and sprayed with pink spray paint to make it all blend a little more
  • added captions and notes with silver permanent marker

I still have yet to clean off my work table 😉

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So, do you like seeing things like this–process pictures and descriptions–for a project like this or do you just want to see the finished product?

Paper Craft

64 Arts

So, I have this project…

Yes, in addition to the 2 webcomics, the 3 blogs, and the cookbook project I have a graphic novel that I’ve been working on for several years. Well, okay, that’s not true. I have a graphic novel that is 1/3 scripted, 2/3 plotted and absolutely undrawn as yet. I have a graphic novel that hasn’t been touched in so long I’m not even going to link to it’s progress blog because it’s so very sad with neglect. But it does exist in it’s way, and I think about it every time I see my reference materials or script drafts sitting there gathering dusts.

At any rate! It’s a wedding story, very chick lit, set in New Orleans, with an undercurrent of occult–a thread throughout the book involves a tarot deck, cards of which pop up in unexpected places. Only problem is, when I started writing the story, the deck I needed didn’t exist yet.

Being the DIY diva I am, no problem, I’ll spend a few years researching it and make my own! And, being an artist, that means putting my spin on things, themed to the max, and (perhaps) a bit more complicated than it might have needed to be. I’m collaging each card’s image. (That’s 78 collages for the unfamiliar.)

So really it’s two projects–the story and the deck–and both are languishing.

Being wedding themed, I finally hit upon the idea (after much back and forth as to what to do with the court cards in the Minor Arcana) to have one of each suit represent a season and the remaining each represent a month, and all would be brides.

I’m sure you can see where this is going, then, as Miss Tulip Cotillion was perfect for a fantastical spring bride. So, this little paper project is now going to be the first completed art for the deck. I love progress.

Tulip Bride (in Progress)

Here she is after one evening’s work. The bones of the image are there (tulip-girl is not yet mounted to the shimmery lavender backing nor is the tree in it’s final spot) but there’s a lot of details–a lot of embellishment–left to go. This’ll be my main project for the weekend (that and, ugh, taxes). Which means that there will probably be further updates this weekend as I get to various points in the process.

I don’t know exactly which card she’ll be for. It has a lot to do with symbolism, both of the tulips–yellow ones mean hopelessness, according to their old meanings, perfect for the reverse of the card, while the current meaning is sunshine and cheerful thoughts–and the card that it is meant to take the place of. So far, though, flipping through my original notes, the Queen of Rods is actually looking like a good fit so far. But we’ll see.

So far I’ve used a few scherenschnitte techniques as well as paper tole (the spacing of some of the layers to add a shadow-like appearance; the link will take you to another one of my eHow articles). Before it’s through this will be a true mixed media piece as wire, beads and a bit of fabric are all in my plan.

The biggest debate I’m having, though, is whether or not to detail her face. On the one hand, a stylized shape lends more of a modern-art, everywoman feel to it; on the other hand it may just look unfinished. I’ll probably save that bit for last, anyway. Maybe cut a spare head and do a test run to see how I like it. Decisions, decisions.

A few disclaimers for those who’ve read this far or might be curious: Yes, I know not everyone is down with the woo-woo aspects of the Tarot–it’s okay. Along with astrology, which I’ve also researched over the years, I consider it more a tool for contemplation and meditation than divination. The future is what we make of it, but being more aware of potential influences never hurts, now does it? Yes, I also know the importance some place on these cards. This is why I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying the histories and meanings of the cards. I am, by no means, an expert, but I do respect what the cards represent to practitioners and I approach this project both from the artistic and spiritual sides. This will be a functional deck when completed.

Any questions? I’ll be happy to answer them. You can comment here or send me an email at randomactscomics[at]gmail[dot]com