Monday, June 24, 2013

Topsy Turvy

Those blue bars, framed with dimensional paint and inked with liquid watercolors, are...upside down.  It's an image of a pendant lamp, not a torchiere.  With my usual absent-mindedness and a-minute-here-a-minute-there approach, I glued the whole thing upside down.  No one else would notice, but I do.  But it's okay, especially next to that orange chocolate wrapper.

After spending hours and hours for weeks in front of the computer, working on a project, I had eaten all of the chocolate in the house.  I had dug up brightly wrapped Easter eggs, little valentine hearts, etc., eating my way backwards through the holidays.  Only a few pieces were still around anyway, overlooked because plenty of chocolate arrives between Halloween and Easter.  By June, it's pretty scarce.  I tried to eat...part of a leftover ghost.  My mom sweetly sends us very good chocolate for most holidays, but quality chocolate or not, I knew it was risky to eat Halloween candy in June.  Bleck!

The lack of food or milk would not necessarily make me leave the house.  Chocolate is different.  Late one afternoon, I got dressed (enough to disguise that I was still wearing pajama pieces) and drove to the nearest store which is a natural foods shop.  I treated myself to a prettily-wrapped bar of Chocolove with orange peel.  (I like chocolate with texture, just like collages, with all sorts of lumps and bumps.)  And that bit of indulgence made everything better, the messy house, the too many hours on the computer, and even the upside down pasting.

Saying Something

My kids were curious about those tv ads which advised: "If you see something, say something."  They were puzzled: "What does that mean?  If you see what?"

A page from my son's art journal.  I like how he focused on the "say something" part and that he used art to do so.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When Questions Are Good

I wondered if liquid watercolors would remain inside a circle of dimensional paint.  They do!
That question started this page.  In school, we suggest that students start with a question when they think about essay topics.  Questions are good.  (Well, not always, like when my kids ask: "But why?" or "Do I have to?," but other questions can be good.)

As I cut up a Chipotle menu and pasted it down, my daughter leaned over and said: "Oh..a fence?"  My son walked by a few minutes later: "Buildings?"  I had vaguely thought about blades of grass for a moment at the very beginning.  Then the paper strips asked for smudges of color and became something else.

The page came together very quickly (not including the drying of the gesso, paint, and dimensional paint) because all of the pieces were there...literally; they were already sitting on the table.  This is one of our favorite pages, and my son thought the texture was so cool that he took the photo below.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Not your momma's jell-o (prints)

My mom and her friends used to make these layers and layers of multicolored jell-o for parties.  I think the colors of jell-o were fairly basic back then, but the trick was to make as many layers, each color separated by a thin layer of white.  To up the ante, my mom would flavor the white layers with a touch of almond extract.  Can you imagine what could be created with the new flavors and colors available now?  Alas, I probably am not going to find out anytime soon since we have been making gelatin without color or flavor.

After watching several fun Youtube videos on making gelatin prints and reading MMSA's step-by-step demo, I totally wanted to try this with the kids.  "What is this?" they asked, poking at it.  "It's not for eating," I said, handing them the brayer and paints.

Our Tofu Girl quickly moved beyond the single colors and came up with tri-colored prints.  She has a great eye for color and design and seems to have a lighter hand with the paint.  Her prints turned out beautifully, and she had more fun than her brother did.  He liked the art experiment but decided this was not his favorite.  I agree with Tofu Girl; gelatin is not just for dessert anymore!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Axe Bass Guitar

Axe Bass Guitar
( from Marceline's instruments in Adventure TIME! )

By Mischief Maker

Marceline's Axe Bass Guitar is red, but I painted mine blue for a different look.

I added cords for fun, but they really work like a guitar's strings!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Adventure Time!

By Mischief Maker

Gunter is the evil Ice King's servant.

We found one in our yard.

We decided to attack before it brought the Ice King here.

It was a decoy!

The real one popped up in front of us.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Roller Derby Love

We have been fascinated by women's roller derby for several years now but could only watch bouts on tv.  The stars finally aligned in roller derby world to bring Mother's Day and new nearby teams together in one fabulous weekend.  Flowers?  Candy?  Lovely, but no thank you.  For Mother's Day I asked for roller derby tickets.  My little Tofu Girl and I loved it from the moment we walked in, and she only became a little worried when the announcer began introducing the derby girls.  "Mommy, how many people are on the team?" she asked. "I saw someone with number 200 on her arm."  Fortunately, the announcer then explained that players could pick any number as long as it fit (on their arms, presumably).  Realizing that her parents knew nothing about the technical details, Tofu Girl read the program, matching the photos to the ladies we saw and learning about the referee signals.  If you have any questions, ask her.

Most of our photos look the first one: blurry.  It was super exciting and loud, which our son did not like.  Eventually perhaps we lost some hearing capability and became used to the speaker volume and frequent referee whistle shrieks.  By halftime, even our boy Mischief Maker gave up his aloof act and was cheering on our jammers.  The experience was so much fun, and we cannot wait to go the next home bout (with earplugs for the kids).  In the meantime, the kids want to learn how to roller skate.  And that is a fantastically good thing.

Green Queens

I made these postcards for Mail Me Some Art's green card swap.  This first photo below shows...smudges.  It started out as an image of a map that was reversed and then printed onto the acetate which, sadly, resulted in smudging.  Stamping images with permanent ink worked out better but is limited to the stamps you have on hand.  The final look is rather pretty, better in person than in photos, but I will need to think about better ways to use acetate.  The base of the card includes painted paper, strips from vintage books and library catalog cards, green stamps, and a little clover.

Clickety Clack

Years ago my son was completing a worksheet, and one prompt asked: "Which one of these does not make noise?"  Some of the options pictured were of a rotary dial phone, a television with knobs, a radio with knobs, and the like.  He knew those made noise; they were similar to things around the house (or we even have had them).  "Mommy, does that make noise?" he asked, pointing at the mystery object.  That was a typewriter.  I was astounded to realize that he had never heard the lovely clickety-clack of a typewriter.  It sort of resembles a keyboard...or not?

I then kept an eye out for a typewriter, and when a friend asked if I wanted one that was going to salvage, I hauled the big clunker home.  The kids were enchanted, typing and typing, until the novelty of it waned.  Then it sat in the basement for several months until we saw a Euromaxx tv segment on typewriter artist Dirk Krecker.  

Next thing we knew (heard, actually), the typewriter had been hauled upstairs by our son, and the loud clicks and clacks resulted in this:

He made these fun creatures and even inserted words like "brim of hat," Word World-style. 

A couple of weeks ago, the ribbon finally gave out, and we are looking for more ribbon or, preferably, a much smaller and lighter typewriter.  In the meantime, I am trying to persuade the kids to learn how to type (through BBC's online dance mat program), so we will be ready when our next typewriter finds its way to us.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

StarBurst Monster!!!

The Return of 

By Mischief Maker

A special company makes comics with real candy.
But sometimes, it can be dangerous.

Like dangerous enough you shouldn't eat it.

"Ooof! That hurt!"


And then he disappears.




And then it gets very, very dark.

The Blorbies


By Mischief Maker

Papa Blorb was not happy.

A psychic had told him he had a nasty fate.

Then, his son came to ask him: "Papa, why are you acting strangely?"

He told him about the psychic.

( His sister was secretly crawling up behind Papa )

"BOO!" Sister Blorb had scared Papa at a horrible time. Brother Blorb was supposed to distract Papa, but he had also learned of the psychic.

But he already knew the fate of Papa. 

He would lose his hat!

"You planned this?!?!" Papa was very mad. "You are going to have a punishment!"

"Poor Brother Blorb." said Sister Blorb.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Cure for Colds, Cabin Fever, and More

This morning school was delayed by a couple of hours due to a few inches of stony, glittering snow that fell throughout the night.  By the time the kids returned from school in the late afternoon, the sparkly frost had turned into a layer of slush, not fun for sledding or playing. With one sniffling girl, one coughing dad, one achy but refuses-to-be-sick mom, and one energetic boy in the house, this could have been a tiresome evening.

However, for hours no one bickered or misbehaved or whined about not feeling well.  The kids were the ones who noticed this at bedtime: not a single moment of bad behavior because "we didn't have time."  Our salvation?  It began with a three-pack of distressed ink stains.  I showed the kids what I had done with the inks last night, merely swabbing them onto watercolor paper.  Ho hum, not interesting, looked like any other watercolor brushed onto paper.  Actually, it was worse than that.  Some of the pages were downright ugly and splotchy.  Yep, those were distress stains all right.  That made the kids smile.  I asked: "Does it look bad?"  More smiles, perhaps full of pity and dismay, but no unkind words.  We turned to Youtube to figure out the appeal of these distress stains, and we learned about the magic of adding water and using glossy paper. Voila! what a difference they made.  After experimenting with the dabbers of ink, the kids took out all sorts of acrylic paints and watercolors and their art journals.


Three of Tofu Girl's postcard backgrounds and Mischief Maker's art journal and even a colorful paper towel rag.  We made a big mess, and miraculously, we all felt better after several hours of this mess-making.  For dinner we moved everything aside and ate a chicken and rice casserole from a Weelicious recipe.  Our boy actually ate mushrooms and brown rice!  (I used brown rice, not wild rice.)  Perhaps Old Man Winter brought another round of colds to our house, but during this winter storm, we also rediscovered how creative mess-making can be a happy cure.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Duct Tape Journals

Mail Me Some Art hosted a duct tape journal swap, and the creations were inspirational.  So many beautiful and stunning journals of all sorts of styles.

Here's the journal I sent off (ignore the not-photogenic hands):

The swap was not exchanged between two people, but instead, the coordinator mixed up it for extra fun.  I was the lucky recipient of this gorgeous journal with hand-painted pages and three sewn-in signatures from the talented and color-happy Corinne at Sparkle Days Studios:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dolls and Dementos

What to do, snow day after snow day?  We found this fun popsicle stick doll idea and, luckily, had everything on hand to make them. (We could not drive anywhere snowy streets.)

Tofu Girl made one and then another and another.

This craft is great for boys as well.  Mischief Maker created a set of his own quirky, demented-cute stick figures.  He thinks that the hypnotic one will be quite useful. 

 The beautiful painted papers in the background of each photo were treats received from the Mail Me Some Art swap.