Magnet Making Unmasked! (Holiday How-To)

 

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The magnets in my Etsy shop are pretty simple in design, but there are many steps and layers involved!  Here’s a peek behind the scenes of my latest line of letter magnets.

Lately I’ve been enchanted with verdigris, the gorgeous blue-green patina taken on by copper over time.  I wanted to create a background texture which suggests it. If I make mixed media backgrounds with regular art paper, I prepare it with a layer of gesso first.  For this project, I skipped that step by using Canson’s Canva-Paper, which has a linen texture and is pre-primed.

For loose “reference,” I simply brought up some Google images on my phone by typing in “verdigris.”  This is what I had finished on my drawing table a short while later:

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Now, because I liked the effect and wanted to remember how I made it, I took this shot below of the supplies I used – my recipe to refer back to.  I first mixed metallic copper paint liberally with acrylic gloss medium and painted big swaths across the blank paper.  When that was dry, I started painting the blues and greens (also with liberal gloss added!), and some metallic silvery white – letting layers dry or mostly dry in-between. Unless I wanted some scrunchy texture, which I made by blotting areas with a rubber-y square made for loosening jar lids, or humble wadded-up paper towels.  Oh, and I did a dab or two with a page from an old Italian wallpaper book as well.

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I painted 2-inch by 2-inch canvas board squares with metallic copper acrylic paint (Amsterdam).  It didn’t go on as smoothly as the craft black I always use, but I just doubled up on the front sides. You can find the mini canvas panels at local arts and craft stores, or online.

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I always paint the backs first, and lay out everything on wax paper to inhibit sticking of stray drips.  When the paint is dry, I glue on a strong ceramic magnet.  (And my little logo piece.)  Hint:  I discovered a trick to helping the magnet “hold” while it’s curing – let it dry on a metal tray!  It will stay right on that little square board, attracted to the metal underneath. Cookie trays work, or any flat metal surface lurking about.

After these set up, I painted the back with a layer of acrylic gloss medium.Then, yep, more drying.

Then, I flipped those babies over and painted all the fronts with the copper paint.

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Then they had to dry.  Sigh.

When my verdigris sheet was dry, I used deckle-edged paper stamps to make 1.75-inch squares.  I usually have to find these stamps used online.  But it beats trying to cut each edge with special scissors.

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When the magnet tops were dry, I glued on each lovely textur-y square.

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And, added ANOTHER layer of gloss medium on top, being sure sides were coated all the way around as well.

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Then – you guessed it – they had to D-R-Y.

Before I even started on all of this, though, I had rustled up some wonderful metal letters made out West by an artisan/fellow Etsian, distressed to look really old.  (The letters, not the gentleman.  Well, I assume not the gentleman.) I had bought a few alphabets’ worth a while back.  I do love the rust, but figured magnet recipients might not enjoy the powdery iron-y mess, so… acrylic gloss to the rescue again.  I painted all the backs and let the letters dry overnight on wax paper, and then painted all the fronts the next day. And let them dry!

So my letters were shiny-rusty.  (Same treatment for some small metal stars I had also purchased.)

When EVERYTHING was dry, I attached each letter to a prepared magnet and kept it flat while the glue dried.

Finally… Voilà!

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To adapt this adventure for a holiday gift-giving project, you can simplify it, of course.  If working with kids, be mindful of adhesives and fumes and choose non-toxic materials.  Young creators can make letters or any designs out of cardstock, or they might enjoy clipping items from old texts or magazines to recycle.

No time to make your own?  Well, that’s why I’m here! ;0)

Feel free to peruse lots of new magnets in my Etsy shop. Go on, let them pull you in…
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Happy Thanksgiving!  This Black Friday through Cyber Monday weekend, any order of $25 or more in my Etsy shop ships FREE! :0)

Happy World Teachers’ Day!

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Many thanks to ALL the teachers of the world!

If you need a creative “thank you” for your favorite teacher, I have a few items in my Etsy shop, including TWO ready-made gifts packs! The brand-new Teacher Gift Pack features my apple and books note cards (8 blank cards & envelopes), a hearty pewter shepherd’s hook bookmark with apple and book charms, and a handcrafted magnet with an authentic mid-century postage stamp celebrating education.

The TEACHERS RULE pack includes my apple and books note cards, TEACHERS RULE glossy cardstock bookmark with tassle, a handcrafted TEACHERS RULE magnet, and a 6-inch ruler, just for fun.

Items in the gift packs are also sold separately.

Learn more about UNESCO World Teachers’ Day here.  And, if you’re reading this, thank a teacher! :0)

Shark Week Fun – Limited Edition Gift Pack for Shark Fans!

 

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Today the USPS issued some beautiful new Forever postage stamps, right in the middle of Shark Week.  I’ve tucked them into a limited edition gift pack with my shark note cards (commercially printed from an original hand-tinted woodblock print) and added a fun little metal bookmark with a vintage pewter shark tooth charm.  DSC02775 c

Lots of charm.  Lots of tooth….  Click here to check out! ;0)

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Library Card Catalog Cards! & Vintage “Found Poem” Valentine…

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‘Tis the Season of Love… and I love some new adventures in the studio making greeting cards from altered vintage library card catalog cards!  Depending on the year of your birth, you may or may not wax nostalgic about those big, clunky, glorious card catalog files which used to be a fixture in every library.  Sighhh.  Swooon.

I’m always on the hunt for vintage items and ephemera to re-purpose into found poem art.  (Click here for a post about a workshop I led at Poetry Camp a few months ago if you’d like to see some details about the process.) When I stumbled into purchasing a big batch of catalog cards which used to live in an elementary school library, my heart skipped a beat.  While most of these don’t easily offer up a found poem possibility, some do!  (I’ll use the others in something else, I’m sure.)

I first tested this project with a Poem Postcard Exchange  with my Poetry Friday crowd over at my author blog. The exchange was organized by Jone MacCulloch, and I posted about the cards I received here and here.

I made five different cards to send out by 1.) “antiquing” the edges of thick Stonehenge paper with inks, 2.) carving and printing a “back” for the postcard:

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3.) picking out phrases from the catalog cards to highlight as found text (the words covered up here by adhesive strips of sticky notes):

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and 4.) painting glossy washes over the words, 5.) removing the sticky note strips, and 6.) adhering the cards to the front of the postcards. Oh – and I used this great little antique key to print its shape onto the cards.

I completely forgot to take a picture of any of the finished ones, so Jone kindly sent me a photo of the one I sent to her!

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Jone writes haiku, as I do, so I thought she’d enjoy the haiku-like vibe of this one.

I’ve made a few recent cards for family and friends, and employed this catalog card idea. Then I decided it would be fun to find one that might lend itself to being a Valentine, or at least a romantic card, above.  Here’s a closeup of the text:

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For fun, I attached a vintage library card pocket inside, and tucked in a blank vintage check-out card for a personal message:

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DSC09233 magnet valentine library card cThe illustration on this card was clipped from the February 1927 issue of Country Life.

   

I had time to make one more before leaving for the day:

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This one reads:

 

LIFE – 

a poem

of

wanderings,

wilderness

family,

and

Stories

 

It’s topped off with an illustration clipped from a McGuffey’s Eclectic Reader (1920).

And, yes, it’s hiding away a vintage blank check-out card in a vintage paper pocket, too:

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These cards are made with Strathmore textured paper and come with matching envelopes.  At 5 X 7, they can be easily framed if desired. They’re in my Etsy shop, and I’ll be making more, for sure. :0)

Thanks for visiting, and wishing you love for Valentine’s Day and all days!

A Birthday Gift and a Doggie Detour in Acrylic…

 

Today is my daughter’s birthday, which prompted a fun artistic detour for me last week. It all started with a wedding gift she and her hubby received last summer from my dear friend and exquisite painter, Ann Goble. Ann surprised them with a gorgeous 12X12 oil painting of their beloved dog, Cooper. They treasure it!

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painting ©Ann Goble.

Well, they decided their fur-baby needed a companion, and spunky four-month-old lab Maggie joined their family a few weeks later. She’s grown into a beautiful nearly-full-grown dog.  maggie 15747548_10154472617073089_4612668225072901288_n crop ps

I thought she needed her own portrait!  I bought the only 12X12 cradled canvas in stock at my local art supply store, and rummaged through my studio for tubes of acrylic paint.  (Ann’s painting is in rich oils, but I was working with available time and supplies. No way I could replicate her work anyway, but I was aiming for something along the lines of complementary.)

In recent years I’ve been swimming around in mixed media, collage, printmaking, and lettering, but I must admit it was fun to tackle a straight painting.  Hmm… Would it be like riding a bicycle?

Yes – at least it felt that way!  First I filled a couple of sketchbook pages with rough sketches and gesture drawings from a few photographs. (The one above became my primary reference photo.)  I remembered old tricks such as making a drawing upside-down, just focusing on shapes and lines.  (Remember Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain?) I also made a loose grid to guide my composition – folding a copy of my reference picture into 16 squares, and adjusting my drawing on paper accordingly if my rendering seemed too far off in one section or another.

Then I rubbed the back with charcoal and placed my sketch on the canvas, going over the lines again with a pencil to transfer them to the paint surface.  Now it was painting time!

So much fun making a messy mix of colors!

So much fun making a messy mix of colors….

Here’s a rough progression:

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Final:

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Ant then the best part, giving it to Morgan:

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If it makes them smile, that’s success enough for me for this little artistic side trip.

And, really, any creative project that gets our right-brain synapses firing helps nurture other creative projects, too, don’t you think?

Happy New Artsy Year!!

 

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Greetings from the New Year side of the holidays!  Thanks to all my wonderful customers who’ve filled a stocking or two with artsyletters wares in recent years. It’s an honor to be a part of gift-giving traditions.

I look forward to creating all kinds of new items this year, and more of the offerings which need restocking.  My studio is my happy place. :0)  I’ll resume more “open” hours in February here in Beaufort on Bay Street (this month I’m hibernating with multiple creative writing projects and traveling some, too).  In the meantime, my Etsy shop is open 24-7.

Wishing you and yours an inspiring and creative 2017!

Ho Ho Ho – Studio/Shop Hours This Week

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If you’re enjoying shopping in downtown Beaufort this week, stop in and say hello! I’ll be open Wed. through Friday afternoons from 1-4 pm, and possibly Christmas Eve too.  811 Bay Street #3.  Look for my sandwich board sign on the sidewalk. If it’s out, come on up. (If you don’t see it, save yourself the climb – ;0) ).

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!