Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's a date: 2016 calendars

Here's a look at details of the images inside the 2016 calendars, all reproductions of my collages. Most of the pieces were created in 2015, and many of them have not been seen before by the public since they were made for a special project or just for the calendar ...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Card tricks

I field questions almost daily about my greeting cards, most of which re-use antique and vintage images. It's fun to talk about where material is found (flea markets, book sales, auctions, etc.), the process of scanning and manipulation, which can be extensive.

Images from my archive are the only ones used. This way, I know exactly where they came from (which is explained on the back of each card) and there's no worry about permissions, etc. Respecting copyright is a concern of mine, so copyright-free images are all I use. (Copyright is complicated; find out more at the U.S. copyright office web site.)

Some images are works-in-progress; tweaked before their next printing (oh, the printing? done by me). Complicated, antique engravings are the most difficult to reproduce clearly, and often require a pixel-by-pixel facelift. But the best way to explain the process may be via the evolution of a recent card …

The girl illustrating a story in the Dec. 1873 issue
of  St. Nicholas magazine catches my eye.
She seems perfect for a book plate
So, the image is scanned, duplicated,
then, the copy* is cropped
and lightened. *I always leave the
original image intact in case I need
to go back to it later,

She is removed from the background,
and cleaned up a bit by erasing lines,
which will make a crisper image.
Then, she is flipped to face right
(because at this point, I decide to
make her into a card and want her
to face the side that opens).

Next, she and the books are colorized
using Photoshop, and more books are
added to the bottom right since she
is looking in that direction.
The card looks a little bare, so a gradient
background is added, and a thin border.
The background color is altered during
printing to add more variety.

She is put into a card template I developed, then the information
is added to the back of the card, and she's ready for printing! 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Making ends meet

On the hunt again. This time, for endpapers. You know, the papers pasted into the front and back of books. Specifically, antique endpapers. With any kind of pattern from marbled to narrative to floral. The worse shape they're in, the better, since they're being cut up for a big new collage project: a Victorian crazy quilt made entirely of paper.

The hope is that that in the end, it will look similar to the quilt above, a fabric family heirloom belonging to my friend Mary Heider. Since Victorian women used the overlooked scraps from other sewing projects as their material (waste not, want not), it seemed that endpapers would be appropriate. Some look like fabric. Some look quite luxurious. Others are drab. Of course, they also are papers with a past, another reason to use them.

The point is to mix them up willy nilly (not as easy as it seems for an artist used to putting things in order) on the quilt. Then, to embellish and embroider it to the nth degree.

It started with this block of pieces glued onto book cloth. Book cloth was picked, because I knew it would adhere to paper well, would be easy to sew through, and I wanted some kind of fabric in the piece. But the backing has since been switched to rice paper, in keeping with the all paper theme. Different glues are being used depending on the endpaper: PVA, gel medium, even some double backed tape.  

Here are close ups of two more squares … on the top one, you can see what I mean about papers that look like fabric. On the bottom one, an antique embroidery pattern from Peterson's magazines is inserted. At the bottom are more antique embroidery patterns that will be used in place of traditional embroidered ones. I searched my archive specifically for patterns printed with faux stitching.    

Once the individual blocks are finished, there will be 12 or 20, then the crazy embroidery begins. For it, I'm using vintage embroidery thread that belonged to my late mother. It will be my winter project. Then, the decision comes whether to join the blocks together to make one "quilt" or to hang them separately (but very close to one another) on cradled wood panels.

The exhibition this is being made for is a solo exhibit of my work titled "Remnants" that opens mid-June at the Loveland Museum in Loveland, CO.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The images above? Designs for 15 new seed packets in the Hudson Valley Seed Library's annual Art Pack Program for which it commissions artists country wide to create package covers. I'm one of the artists, chosen from a field of 400 or so, to design one of the 2016 Art Packs.

Mine is No. 14, and tells the story of how archeologists discovered that snow peas were planted in prehistoric times. The variety: Giant Swiss Snow Peas.

For the collage, I used an antique map of Switzerland to create the mountains, layered vintage wrapping papers with cut-out snowflakes for the sky, dug up an antique engraving of an archeological expedition for the bottom, as well as snow pea "fossils" created from antique engravings, and - finally - vintage images for the vivid flowers of the pea vine, and I ended up designing the peas using a vintage illustration as my inspiration (yes, I try to use original paper only in my work, but had to improvise
for this because I could not find enough snow peas in different sizes to use).

It's exciting to be selected, because years ago I wrote about the program on the old blog. Love the idea of the company continuing the tradition of great seed catalog/packet art that thrived in the Victorian/Edwardian eras, the heyday of chromolithographed catalogs now coveted by collectors.

The packets and catalog will be available Nov. 1, 2015. There's a vote on through Friday Oct. 9 to pick one of the designs for the 2016 catalog cover. Just sayin.'