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Showing posts from 2007

The Library - the best mixed media art books

Links to all of my top recommendations on the following topics can be found at the Why Not Art bookstore . Collage and Assemblage Altered Books and Artist Journals Handmade Books Fabric & Beads Photoshop/Digital Art Creativity Recommended Magazine Subscriptions Technorati Tags: mixed media , collage , assemblage , digital art , photography , altered books , art journals

Chicks with chainsaws

Dani, a few months ago, working on her Phoenix in the open air portion of the wood carving studio…with her new favorite tool :-) Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact. Technorati Tags: mixed media , collage , assemblage , digital art , photography , altered books , art journals

How to make a digital Polaroid image transfer

OK, here’s the verdict: it’s difficult to come up with a convincing digital version of a Polaroid image transfer, and it takes a LONG time to do it. It is a lot easier to do these physically with the DayLab machine. But I am so addicted to my Photoshop, I just have to try to see everything that it can do. Compare these two shots: The frame on the second one still needs a lot more work. It is way too solid and dark. The upper one is better, but probably still needs a few ink smears along the edges to make it really good. Anyway, here’s what you’ve gotta do, and you can decide for yourself if it’s worth going to all this effort: 1. Scan a piece of watercolor paper or canvas to use as the base. You could also just create this in Photoshop using the texturizer. Save this as an 8 x 10 image. 2. In a separate file, create a border for the image transfer. I adapted the directions for creating a "grunge" border found here at You’ve got to size your border to either 3 x

What you need to know about Polaroid image transfers

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to try out an image transfer machine by DayLab . It is extremely cool! You insert a slide, expose a piece of Polaroid film, let it develop partway, and transfer the negative to a piece of watercolor paper or fabric! Very very cool. This is the (mostly) developed picture… …and this is the transfer from the negative. If you do black and white shots, or shots with subtle hues, you can go in and color them afterwards too. Here’s a gallery of images on the DayLab site. If you decide that you want to play with this type of transfer, first you need to know that the machine isn’t cheap! You might really want to think about taking a class if you can find one to make sure that you really enjoy the process. But here’s the rest of what you need to know: DayLab has workshop teachers (note 2012 - sorry, link no longer works, but you can still contact DayLab through their site)  listed on their site and some simple instructions to get you going if

Paper casting

Over at WetCanvas , we did some simple paper casting as an October mixed media forum challenge. The results were really fun! It’s so easy to do, as our friend Sue explained to us. Most of us used one of two simple methods: * wet some toilet paper with liquid starch and press it into a mold, or * wet a piece of watercolor paper and mold around the object with your fingers Obviously there are a lot more sophisticated ways to do paper casting, but we found that these two methods were very versatile, and allowed us to experiment using stuff we already had around the house! Sue graciously listed many other links, which you can find over at the WC thread . Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact. Technorati Tags: mixed media , collage , assemblage , digital art , photography , altered books , art journals

Making an art quilt

This little quilt, September Morning , is very similar to one I did awhile back called My Heart . The techniques are identical, except that I didn’t dye any of the fabrics other than the organza and the lace. Fortunately for me, I had some stained materials left over from the last quilt, so I just used those. The directions can be found here: Making a monchromatic art quilt . Even though this quilt is much more colorful than the last, it still gives the effect of being monochromatic, with the addition of the neutral creams. The leaves were cut from a lucky fabric find from about 12 years ago. No, we don’t throw stuff out in my business :-) Staining fabrics in coffee Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact. Technorati Tags: mixed media , collage , assemblage , digital art , photography , altered books , art journ

"Match color" in Photoshop

Here is an experiment that I did with the new Match Color function in Photoshop CS3 . The basic technique is really easy, deceptively easy…the real work begins after the buttons are pushed, and I’m still tweaking my pictures! 1. Open the image that you want to work on and an image that you’ll use as a color source in Photoshop. Make sure that the image you’re going to doctor up is on top and selected. 2. Click on Image –> Adjustments –> Match Color. Chose the second picture as your source (the drop down box is near the bottom). You’ll be able to see immediately how the palette selection will alter your working image. 3. Play with the luminance, color intensity, and fade sliders until you are satisfied. 4. Now the real work begins! If you really want your image to resemble the artist whose source material you’ve chosen, it’s now time to start working on the style. I began with using the Paint Daubs filter. These pieces aren’t anywhere near finished since they were just for practi

Making a monochromatic art quilt

Below is a little (10 x 8 inch) art quilt that I made from various fabric and paper scraps. I started with all off-white fabrics, and before I started “piecing”, if you can even call it that, I stained them all with tea to even up the tones more than they already were! Working with a monochromatic color scheme forces you to explore other ways of bringing contrast to a piece besides color. I also used some of my favorite things on the quilt - an image transfer, beads, and antique buttons. My Heart Materials & Tools: cutting mat rotary cutter scissors pins fabric glue needles fabrics and papers buttons beads gold thread transfered images (if desired) 1. Instructions for making an image transfer onto fabric can be found in this post: Image Transfers on Fabric . 2. Stain or dye your fabrics in a strong tea solution. 3. Cut a piece of batting to approximately 9 x 7 inches. Lay a piece of tea-stained muslin, slightly larger and with frayed edges, over top of the batting. 4. Begin to

Making a packing tape transfer collage

Materials and Tools: images scissors packing tape or contact paper water canvas foam brushes acrylics matte medium liquid or self-leveling medium (optional) cardstock 1. Paint a small canvas with the acrylic color of your choice. Cut or tear out pictures from a glossy magazine or catalog. Apply packing tape and burnish well. (more details on making packing tape transfers can be found at this tutorial. 2. Cut the transfers to the sizes you need and arrange them on your canvas. Soak in water and remove the paper backing. 3. Moisten the canvas with a thin layer of matte medium and apply the transfers. Top them with another thin layer of matte medium to cut the shine. The shine you see in this photo is from my flash…the surface has a satin look, not glossy. 4. Without waiting for the top layer of medium to dry, paint around and in between your images to soften the lines. Add any colors that you want. 5. Make a tape transfer of a phrase that you want to add to your collage. The nice thing a

Making a simple collage with an image transfer

This is one of the most simple collages that I’ve done in a long time. The biggest departure for me was to mirror image what I might normally do: most often I would have the bird on the left side, looking towards the writing on the right. I am still not sure if I like the final results here, but it was an interesting exercise to flip things around. And I didn’t even sew anything onto the collage!! Shock! It is so hard for me to keep it this pared down. Anyway, here’s how I made it: 1. Print out an image that you wish to transfer onto an inkjet transparency. The instructions for doing one of these transfers are in this image transfer post . Transfer the picture to smooth colored cardstock instead of fabric. Cut it out and top it with gloss medium. 2. Take two similarly sized squares of patterned or colored cardstock. Keep the background square whole, and rip a strip out of the other. Cut a piece of dark cardstock (I used black) slightly bigger than the patterned square. 3. Adhere the st

How to digitally create “fuzzy memories”

While I can’t tell you the exact settings that you will need to use to alter your photo into a slightly blurred "fuzzy memory", I’ll take you through the steps that I used on Joshua’s portrait. It’s a bit hard to tell online, but Joshua’s features are in focus while the rest of the image is softly blurred. And the color has obviously been changed. So, grab an image that evokes sleepytime or daydreaming for you, and let’s go! 1. Open your file in Photoshop, duplicate the image, crop and size it. 2. Add a curves adjustment layer. Lower the contrast, dim the highlights, and dull the whites. 3. Add a hue/saturation adjustment layer. Tick off colorize, and add sepia tones (hue approximately 38, saturation approximately 25). Shift the lightness slider left until satisfied. Adjust opacity. 4. Merge all layers onto a new layer. 5. Add as much gaussian blur as you like and adjust opacity. 6. Apply a layer mask, and bring the child’s features back with a large soft brush. Copyright 200

Making a digital stamp

Photoshop "stamps" are really easy to make. You’re actually using the Brush Tool, but instead of dragging it to paint with, you merely click it in place and your image is stamped onto the background. You can change the color of “ink” that you use, fool around with the opacity and blending mode, anything that you’d normally do in Photoshop . After I cut out my expanded square with an exacto knife, I mounted all the pieces onto white cardstock. Then I scanned it. So here’s how you can turn your scan into a Photoshop brush in 3 easy steps: 1. In the layers palette, double click on the background layer and rename it to layer 0. 2. Use the Magic Wand Tool to select the white background and delete it. Don’t forget about any white parts that are inside the square. 3. Go to Edit —> Define brush That’s it! Give it a name and start playing with it. Try painting with it too…you never know. I suggest saving your file in a folder outside of Photoshop as well. When you

How to create a peaceful landscape

Not every landscape photo is well-suited to the tranquil feel of this one. I look for strong lines, not too much detail, and water! As usual, when it comes to manipulations done in Photoshop , I can’t really give you exact settings for filters and colors. Each photo is different, and you’ll have to do some experimenting with your own. Still, here’s basically what I did: 1. Open your image file and duplicate it. 2. Apply the smart blur filter to the entire shot. I used a fairly high radius and threshold on this one because I wanted the water and sky very blurred. 3. Apply a layer mask, and fill with a black to white gradient, bringing back the sharper edges of the land and dock. 4. Add a channel mixer adjustment layer. Check off monochrome, and adjust the sliders to give you a good looking black and white shot. I usually keep red very low or even on zero, and make blue and red add up to around 100. 5. Add a curves adjustment layer. Lower the highlights so that there are no harsh whites.

A few tips for making altered book cover frames

Like all altered book projects, there are really no rules that must be followed. However, there are a few things that will make your life easier if you want to make one of these! The first tip is to use a box cutter to make the holes for your image or images. Make sure you’ve got a sharp new blade - book covers take some work to get through, and you’re much more likely to have skipping (and cuts!) if your blade is dull. I used clear silicone caulk and Elmer’s carpenter’s glue to create a “frame” around the cut out. When they are thoroughly dry, they both accept acrylic paint quite well. I also used the carpenter’s glue to attach the fabric to the one cover. I used acrylic paints on both covers, and added some texturizing media to the Homer cover before painting. I checked in with my favorite folks at the Altered Books yahoo group to gain the benefit of their collective wisdom. Here’s what I’ve been told: If the cover is shiny, prime, sand, or gesso it. Otherwise, not really necessary.

How to alter photos

Back when I was using a film camera, I managed to collect tons of shots that were…well, ok…but certainly not remarkable. Fortunately, I saved them. All of them. (Remember our motto here: don’t throw out anything! I practice what I preach.) Anyway, I’ve learned a number of very fun and fairly easy altering techniques that can be used on photos, so if you have already thrown out all your duds, just have a handful of your digital shots printed out. Many techniques work on shots printed on either photographic or regular printer paper (like inkjet prints), but I like the way the real photographs respond the best. Your mileage may vary. Here’s what I did to these poor photographs: 1. Soak them briefly in water to soften the top layer. Rub all or parts of the photos with medium grit sandpaper while they are still damp. The “Long and Winding Road” is the only one that I thoroughly sanded. The others are selectively done. 2. Apply spots, streaks or lines of bleach. I used a Clorox pen on “Pictu

Making a painted foil pin

Here’s a fast and easy project you can do with left overs from the painted foil backgrounds that you’ve made. Haven’t made any yet? Well go ahead…here are the instructions …I’ll wait! 1. Cut out pieces of painted foil to use in your pin. Cut one larger one that will be the background, and as many smaller pieces as you want. 2. Trace around the background piece onto a piece of foam-core . Cut it out with an X-acto knife . 3. Paint the back and sides of the foam-core with Carbon black acrylic paint . Let it dry. 4. Use two-part epoxy resin to adhere the foil piece to the front of the foam-core. Attach the other pieces as well. 5. Apply an image or some text to the back of a flat-backed glass stone. Glue it in place. Glue on any additional embellishments. 6. When the front is thoroughly dry, use resin to attach a bar pin onto the back. Let it dry. This post contains affiliate links Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. Ma

Painted foil backgrounds

Plain old aluminum foil makes a wonderful background for collage, and also can be a nice accent to add to a larger piece, especially when the foil is painted. There are only a couple of tricks to making paint work with foil, and as long as those points are observed, your experiments with these techniques can go on and on and on! 1. Use very thin washes of acrylic paints and build up your layers slowly. However, do not thin your paints with water. It will seem ok at first, but later on the paint will peel off or chip. The painted foil pieces will only stand the test of time if you use an acrylic medium to thin the paints. My preference is Golden’s GAC 100 , but I have also used Golden’s glazing medium . I like to make the paint layers very thin so that the metallic sheen of the foil shows through. Otherwise, there’s not much point in using foil as a substrate! 2. Let your layers of paint dry slowly. You can use a heat gun, but keep it well back from the foil. Since the foil

Making woven paper pieces

I’ll bet you remember doing paper weavings when you were a child. My memories of this craft involves blunt-nosed scissors that you couldn’t possibly get a clean cut with, and trying to keep those cuts as straight as possible. Not the most artistic results! Now that I’m a big girl, and I get to use an exacto knife, my shapes and weavings are a bit more interesting. Although my slicings and weavings are nowhere near as intricate as Georgia Russell’s, I’m still much happier with them than the laminated woven paper placemats that I used to make! 1. Cut and decorate two pieces of paper that are approximately the same size and shape. For my piece, I cut the background paper that I made last week in half. 2. Using a very sharp exacto knife, slice one of the pieces vertically, varying the width and shape of the slices. Leave 1/4 inch still attached at the top so that all the slices stay in order. 3. Slice the other piece horizontally, all the way through, also varying the size and shape of the

Making a mixed text background

The original inspiration for this background was a bag of letter blocks that I found in an antique store…SCORE!! Using my new toys, I decided to make some background papers for use in other projects. Here’s how to make a very simple style of mixed text background paper. Materials and tools: Watercolor paper Assorted texts Letter and/or other stamps Matte medium Foam brush Black ink Acrylic paint Glazing medium 1. Rip up different texts, including foreign text, dictionary pages, envelopes, and any other ephemera you want to use. I included old sheet music as well. 2. Arrange them on a heavy piece of watercolor paper and use matte medium and a foam brush to stick them down. Brush more matte medium over the top surface. Let it dry. 3. Use a permanent black ink to stamp the surface with the letter blocks and stamps. Apply acrylic glazes to pull the colors of the text together. Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for perso