Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm a Scrappy Momma

As I said in a recent post, studio clean up has been happening.  Once I finally get started on a project like this there is no stopping me.  The "getting started bug", unfortunately, does take a super long time to take hold though.  I haven't been able to work in there since early December.  (Note to my Mom:  I'm going to show a really messy mess now, so don't look.)

The main advantage of cleaning the studio (beyond the obvious of having a clean studio in which to work) is that it inevitably spawns ideas.  Some are big and some are little.  On the side of "little", here's a fun paper doll I made quickly in an effort to not have to find a place to put the things I used to make her.  Make sense?

The doll piece was a left over from the Handmade Paper Guild collaborative piece called Twelve Angry Men seen here in a very bad, blurry photo from our fall 2009 show.  The Angry part will have significance, as you'll see.

The paper scraps (leg, hands, belt) are left over from my participation in the Swatch Swap and I used them just as I found them:  no cutting.

The figure was already dyed but needed some emphasis so I tried, for the first time, some Pan Pasels that I got for Christmas.  Fun stuff, by the way.

The doll face, well, that's just a first attempt.  Let's just say that I won't be jumping on the Female Figure Mixed Media band wagon that is so "in" right now.  :)

As for the Scrappy Momma part.  It has a double meaning.  Obviously, you can get the Paper/Scrap tie in. 

The other part is that a few days before I made her I was blindsided with a loud verbal attack, accompanied (for emphasis) by a door slam in the face, by an acquaintance/friend in a parking lot.  I asked, what was intended to be an innocent question, in the wrong tone or something.  I slunk away, with my jaw hanging open and still have no idea of how/why this came about.  After a few days of dwelling and fretting about what I could have said, should have said, shouldn't have said, etc., I got a phone call and was told that I needed a diagnostic mammogram.  Guess what?  The incident in the parking lot is now NOTHING.  A big, fat, giant nothing.  It is of absolutely no importance at all!  Thankfully, two days later the diagnostic mammogram also came up with nothing. 

So, I made a Scrappy Momma doll in memory of this incident.  Be scrappy!  Little things don't have to become big things.  And, move on as quickly as you can because oftentimes you're the only worrying about it anyway.

Here's to a clean studio and all the junk it brings to the surface.


PS.  No, I don't have red hair.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Artist Spotlight - Jan Moulder

As a papermaker myself, it may seem a bit odd to have not featured a fellow papermaker yet in my Artist Spotlight series.  Well, the time has come!  I'd like to introduce you to Jan Moulder.  I've known of Jan for years through the Papermaking group on Yahoo.  This wonderful group discusses problems, ideas, solutions pertainant to the world of handmade paper.  We each then do different things with the paper.  Jan makes the most amazing lamps from paper.  Yes, lamps!  Her jewelry is pretty cool, too.  So, sit back and enjoy this look into her artistic world and please visit her site/blog when you're ready to see more.

Where do you live?
Spokane, WA in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, United States

What is your specialty?
Handmade paper and twig creations.  I also have a handmade paper jewelry line.

How did you first discover paper as your artform?

It was a dark and stormy Sunday afternoon in 1983 when my friend Deborah suggested that we make paper. “Make PAPER?!?” I screeched, “What? Are you crazy? Why should we make paper? I’ve already got tons of it!” After we sipped our tea and talked of other things, she donned her coat and hat and went home. Left to my own devices curiosity got the best of me and I rummaged through my books – this was in the days before the Internet when one looked to books for information – and what should I find, but a chapter on papermaking!

Now, you need to know that I had always wanted to be an artist but I compared my artwork with others and decided that I just wasn’t good enough. So I closed the ‘artist’ door just as I had closed the ‘dancer’ door because my legs weren’t long enough. But paper was different. I had never seen handmade paper before so I had nothing with which to compare my work. At first I just used junk mail and newspaper and paper napkins beaten in a blender to make cards and little pieces of art. I threw in grasses and flowers for d├ęcor and played with dyes. I learned through trial and error what worked and what didn’t.

Then I found the book called Plant Fibers for Papermaking by Lillian Bell. That book transformed my experience with paper. I found myself making paper from any plant I could get my hands on. I became dangerous as I drove around the countryside looking for more raw materials to feed my obsession. I developed a style of work embedding grasses in paper made from cattail, wild iris and bulrush fibers. So in 1989 I started Wyldewood Papers with the intent of marketing my art (books, cards and pulp painted landscapes) through craft shows and galleries.

In the last 20 years my work has gone through many evolutions with the only constant being handmade paper. I love the process from collecting the materials to cooking and beating the fiber to hearing the drip, drip of the water as the mold drains to the sensuous feeling of running my hands through a vat of freshly beaten pulp. I can’t imagine my life without making paper. It is now a part of who I am.

Please describe your work.
Rustic elegance with a touch of whimsy and a splash of magic.

Do you have a favorite piece?
Elfin Song – A Lamp with Soul

Anyone that has not made paper before has no idea how easy it is to make a simple sheet of paper.   However, they also can't fathom how difficult and time consuming it can be to bring a handmade paper piece to fruition.  Please talk about some of the materials and processes used in Elfin Song - A Lamp with Soul.

I started with a handful of twigs and a handful of hickory bark. The bark was cooked in lye for a couple hours and then rinsed and beaten in my Hollander beater to make a pulp. After I created the framework using the twigs and Apoxie Sculpt I made fresh sheets of paper that were wrapped around the frame while wet. As the paper dries it shrinks creating a very taut and firm surface. Then the fun begins! After stamping it with a resist in a scroll pattern, this piece was dyed with fiber reactive dyes and then embellished with leaves and lichens.

Naming the lamps is always a special time. I meditate on each lamp letting it tell me its name and the message it brings. Elfin Song’s message is:

Join in the dance.

     It’s all just about movement and flow.

          Each step originates from the one that comes before.
               You don’t need to know where you’re going.

                    You just need to take the next step.

What is it about this piece that makes it so special to you?
This was the first piece I’d done with the stamping process. But, what makes it particularly special is that I made the stamp from one of my grandfather’s woodcarvings. It’s such an honor to bring our works together.

What inspires you?
My inspiration comes mostly from the natural world, but I’m also influenced by fantasy and fairy tales and history.  Also, I love Celtic music…Loreena McKennitt, Blackmore’s Night. And I also listen to jazz and classical. Love Pink Martini and Secret Garden!

What is your studio or work space like?
My studio takes up half of our basement. The back room is my wet studio where I make paper and other messes and the front room, which is carpeted has a fireplace, is my dry studio. This is where I make my jewelry and other dry works and have my computer and printers. The other half of the basement is my husband’s photography studio. He does photography for other artists.

Do you have any special art tips for others?
Just go for it! Plunge in and take some risks. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they are your best teachers.

What is the best creative advice you have been given?
Elaine Koretsky, a well known papermaker, once said that a ‘good’ piece of paper is a piece of paper that serves the purpose for which it was made. That was such a freeing statement for me. I had created all sorts of rules for my work which had put me in a box creatively. That statement made it okay for me to get out of the box.

How can you be contacted about your work?

Well, there are lots of options:

Isn't her work amazing?!?  Thanks for taking the time to do this interview Jan.  And many thanks to all my readers for hanging out with me.  I hope these Artist Spotlight interviews inspire you as much as they do  me.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Mosaic Pattern

I'm excited about a new basket weave mosaic pattern that I just tried using paste papers that I made earlier this week.  Each square is one inch.  Eyes are a little wonky now.

So, what's with the brown? I never seldom work in brown. A very patient friend has been waiting for a frame for her bathroom mirror for quite some time and this mosaic pattern will be a part of the effort.

I've really not been creating much lately. I'm in a wheel spinning routine that doesn't seem to let me actually make art but I'm thinking about it constantly. Part of trying to finally get off this Wheel of No Fortune has been to clean up my studio and putter with some things I found while cleaning it out. I'll show you some of that stuff later.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Good Mail!

Isn't it fun when the mailman brings something fun instead of just the census form?  Now days, old geezer that I am, just a once-in-a-great-while regular letter makes for a good mail day.

But I got something even better in the mail last week:  a package. Martha Brown, of Toronto, was kind enough to award additional "winners" after her One World, One Heart giveaway.  I was a lucky one and received this hand stamped and stitched card, along with the very cool fabric heart-shaped pin.  Martha tells me that she'll be traveling to Kalamazoo this summer and we'll plan to meet then.  Another online friendship turned into a real hug.  Check out Martha's work at her blog or her Etsy site.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Swatch Swap

And now on to the other swap that I just got back in the mail...

You may remember the scraps I posted about last month that I was so excited about.  I had made them for the 10th Swatch Swap (or in its more refined, sounds-like-a-real-book form A Papermaker's Sampler) with the Yahoo Papermaking Group. This is the third time I've participated.

Back in October 2009, I mailed in small 2" x 3" swatches of handmade paper that I painted using house paint, bitumen and oil pastels. So, why did I work at only 2" x 3"? Actually, I didn't. I worked larger and then cut up the larger pieces of paper into small swatches. Even at only 2" x 3", they still show off the texture of the handmade paper and the possibilities of work at a larger scale.

Here's how it works: the handmade paper artists send in a specific number of swatches (in this case 72) to the hostess. In return, each artist gets back a most amazing and beautiful book that contains swatches made by each of the other handmade paper artists. The "recipe" on how each swatch was made is also included. Most of the paper artists that participate in this are more into the natural possibilities of paper. They harvest and cook (often smells pretty bad) various things found in the wild or in a garden like cattails, hostas, corn husks, and more exotic goodies then turn the pulpy concoctions into wonderous paper.

If you're a regular reader of mine you'll have guessed that I'm not really into that.  Or, said differently, it is doubtful that I would gather plant materials and cook them (cooking dinner is more than enough of a chore).  But, I definitely appreciate the effort and beauty that the process brings to life. And, I know that it is more than possible that the other paper artists might look at my brightly colored swatches and think to themselves "well, I'm not really into that" but I hope they will appreciate the effort and beauty too.  Papermaking presents endless possibilities and this book is just one indication of that.

The four Canadian hostesses, calling themselves The Paper Dreamers, put in an incredible number of hours to get this labor of love put together and mailed to papermakers in seven different countries. And each papermaker put in lots of hours to get their swatches made. It would be completely impossible to count the time involved. Think of this: more than one papermaker wrote something like "let plant material ret for 2 years", or "soaked for 2 months under weights" or "beat in Hollander for 18 hours" or "paper was stacked and dried in a dry box for 24 hours". This is craziness! This is devotion! This is wonderful!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

PhotoArtJournal Swap

A number of years ago most of what I did creatively, it seemed, was swap after swap after swap.  They pushed me in new directions and I met new online friends.  However, they can become expensive and I felt like I was always trying to keep to deadlines that I had trouble meeting.  As I became more confident in my abilities and bogged down with the mailings, I stopped.

Recently, however, I participated in two swaps.  It was time to give it a go again and they were well worth it.  Here are the results from a Color Series swap with the PhotoArtJournals Yahoo group.  I've drooled over Joanne Huffman's swaps with this group for years and finally asked to join.  I think I'll be an occasional participant but WOW on the first one!

The rules were to submit a photo with the color blue featured, along with a quote.  This is my entry featuring a sheet (really just a small scrap) of my handmade paper.  We had to print 40 (or so) 4" x 6" photographs then fold and glue them in half.  My entries got mailed to the amazing hostess for this group, Catherine Anderson.   She then binds all swappers entries, with great consideration and care, into a cozy little book.  Catherine gets the final product back to the participants within a week or two!  For those of you that have done swaps before, you know that this is an incredible feat.

The second book featured the color red.  This is my entry showing a sheet of my paper mosaics.  The group also did books highlighting yellow, orange, green and purple. 

The group doesn't just stick to colors.  Upcoming themes are:  Dreamscapes; Ant's Eye View; Roads,Trails and Pathways; and, The Birds and The Bees.  Most members are photographers and their results show this expertise.  I'm not much of a photographer but hope to continue with these swaps once in a while to improve on this aspect of my art.


Monday, March 8, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different...

At last week's Altered Sisters meeting one sister was kind enough to demo how to make the Sitting Pretties initially created by Claudine Hellmuth and shown on Martha Stewart.  Angela brought all the supplies needed to make these cute poppets.  (Many thanks to Angela for her time, effort and tips!)  As students, all we needed to bring was the photos.

We had a fun meeting exploring this technique.  I'd say it was definitely a success as there was several minutes, here and there, of no noise at all.  Just concentration.  Now, if you knew this group like I do, you'd really think that is amazing because we never shut up!   I made "Pretties" of my three kids.  Of course, they immediately told me that they don't dress like that!

The ingenious bendy base for these guys is aluminum flashing.  It is then covered with paper or fabric.  I primarily used paste paper scraps as well as some commerical papers. 

I had fun making these and they will go to my mom for her birthday.  I think they'll go over big.  My hope was that this would be a great 2010 Christmas gift idea for friends and family.  Sorry guys, I think these will be the only ones I make.  The result is fun but the process was too fussy (lots of scissor work) and problematic (glue didn't stick, markers didn't stick) for me. 

Then again, maybe I'd get better if I made more...


Friday, March 5, 2010

Close Ups

Last week I retrieved my Show Piece from the Carnegie Center for the Arts.  With these beautiful (and rare) sunny winter days I decided to take some close ups.  Tight crops can be so interesting...

The blue shapes (houses) are all pieces of my handmade paper.  The background is a plaster concoction.  Go here to see the beginning of how this piece was made.

Hope your day is sunny.


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