Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips – Recycling Egg Cartons, Cardboard Inserts and Flat Styrofoam

This week there are 32 ideas for recycling egg cartons, cardboard inserts and flat Styrofoam pieces into your art… plus a project using one of my favourite techniques when I am in a quirky mood or my art muse has gone on vacation - “The Ugly Duckling into a Beautiful Swan” background collage technique!

Compiled tips, including some from yours truly, submitted to the September 2008 Brainstorming Recycling Contest. Thanks to Terry Howard, Martha B., Leslie, Donna Zamora, Susan Marie, Kelsey Jones Evans, Stephen du Toit, Moon Willow, Christine Bell, Pam Yee, Pam Crawford, Donna Hall, and Alicia Edwards.

Save those egg cartons and

  1. use styrofoam cartons as disposable mixing pots for dye, paint, perfect pearls, glue, etc.
  2. use as plant starters for seeds/seedlings
  3. use for sorting and storing buttons. beads, brads, charms, small jewelry bits, sequins, vintage game pieces, grommets
  4. use them for drying blown out eggs that you will be painting and/or using for mosaics
  5. soak cardboard cartons in water until they turn to mush and make stiff pasteboard covers for books or other papier mache creations
  6. use to sort and store stickers and alphabet letters.
  7. use Styrofoam cartons to make extra ice cubes when you need them
  8. use Styrofoam cartons as a watercolour palette
  9. fill with wood chips, cover with beeswax or melted down candle stub wax and use as fireplace, bonfire or grill fire starters.

Save those cardboard inserts and

  1. use the heavier cardboard for book covers
  2. place in an envelope as a stiffener when mailing art for swaps, etc.
  3. use the lighter cardboard to create templates for patterns, luggage type tags, small drawings, notes, file folders, dividers, postcard backs, bookmarks
  4. lightly score them in half and make a funnel. Use to catch glitter, embossing powder, etc. and return to the bottle or jar
  5. use to reinforce altered books and art
  6. make small boxes, frames, backing material for your art.
  7. use corrugated cardboard for adding texture to shrines, roofs on houses, etc.
  8. strip parts of the outer layer of paper from one side of the cardboard and use as background for collages, etc.. Can also be painted/collaged for super textured books covers.
  9. Wine box inserts can be used to organize your drawers
  10. Use lightweight cardboard to create chunky book pages
  11. Gesso both sides and paint on them to make art postcards, ATCs, Moo Cards, inchies
  12. Make shims for diecut machines

The Ugly Duckling into a Beautiful Swan Painted Collage Technique/Project

Here’s a neat project for an interesting, highly textured background or collage using a heavier cardboard insert! I call this my “Ugly Duckling into a Beautiful Swan” Technique and you’ll soon see why.

Gesso the cardboard. Glue bits of string, yarn, cheesecloth, dryer sheets that have been shrunk with a heat gun, fabric leaves, play sand, bits of torn paper, cardboard and anything you can find that might be useful in your waste paper basket onto the gessoed cardboard! If you have a sewing wastebasket,,, go through it and pull out bits of knotted up thread, cut material bits, bits of fabric, serger threads or anything you find that is flat! Glue it down on your substrate. Let it dry for at least 24 hours.

Does it look as ugly as sin LOL? Great… that means it will be beautiful when you get done with it!

When dry, paint over it using some of your favourite colours in a haphazard manner. Use a comb to add even more texture in the paint. Just have fun using color and letting your free spirit guide you!

One of my favourite pieces of art was created just like this! I liked it so much that I had it framed. The art gallery that framed it actually valued it at about $900.00! It is unusually gorgeous, sits above my piano as inspiration and no, I won’t sell it,,,,

Where's the picture of this masterpiece LOL? Well, I took one but it didn't turn out very well because it is now behind glass and the texture/metallic paint doesn't really show up in the photo! Sorry....

Save those flat styrofoam pieces

  1. cut to size, place in a container and use it to stick paint brushes in to keep them upright.
  2. carve, paint and make into “adobe” miniature houses
  3. make Styrofoam cutouts to paint or cover with paper or fabric and embellish for books, cards and art
  4. you can use the soft, pliable Styrofoam packing material sheets much little cotton batting (wadding) in mixed media art because it can be quilted, glued, sewn to create a puffy effect and used as stuffing.
  5. draw a design with an empty ballpoint pen or cut out designs for instant, textured printing blocks
  6. Use as a backing for small wall hangings or in assemblages
  7. Use blocks of Styrofoam as a holder for things you want to dry, i.e. beads you have painted and stuck on a pin, waxed leaves on picks, etc.. Just stick the pin or picks into the styrofoam and they will stay upright!
  8. Use as a filler in plant pots to make them lighter. You can also use syrofoam egg cartons or peanuts as well. Just fill the bottom of the pot with styrofoam to the level you want, cut the flat styrofoam piece to fit the pot, place on top. Add the plant dirt and plant.
  9. Use the flat styrofoam pieces to build light weight extensions or create frames
  10. Emboss them with your Cuttlebug, Sizzix machine Diecut or punch them to create embellishments.
  11. Thicker (1/4 inch) flat Styrofoam can be used in much the same way as foam core board to make small shadow boxes or to reinforce larger niches. This kind of Styrofoam was used to make the window wall in the French Bistro shrine in the Sept. 26th blog posting.

Have fun this week with your art... See you Friday!


Friday, September 26, 2008

How to create a French Bistro Cafe...

Take One Black Photo Box

One Favourite Art Calendar

create two French Waiter stand up "photo dolls"

A minature table with bread, wine glasses & cheese

Mount old ceiling tin to the ceiling
Paper the walls and lay a "tiled" floor
Add baseboards around the inside of the box
Add a recessed picture window wall
Glue an outdoor scene to the back of the box
Mount Mucha Art on the walls
Electrify the box with real lights
Plug the lights in and admire your creation

Meet Monsieur Edgar

and Monsieur Henri

Come join me in my Paris bistro for wine & cheese!

I adore the whimsy of Guy Buffet's art, especially his French restaurant scenes! This is my tribute to this wonderful French artist who brings a wide smile to my face and a chuckle to my heart.

It is also my personal "memory shrine" of many wonderful days, weeks and months spent in
  • funky Paris bistros drinking coffee and eating Petit Pain au Chocolat (brioche dough baked around a piece of chocolate);
  • lunching on the steps of Sacre Coeur Cathedral on warm, sunny, spring days;
  • skipping merrily along the left bank of the Seine;
  • experiencing pure joy in my heart in my many wanderings through the Louvre;
  • feeling mesmerized and deeply moved by the majestic sounds of the organ in Notre Dame Cathedral;
  • smacking my lips in total delight sampling the delicious cuisine and wine of Alsace;
  • the experience of true freedom flying gliders in the Loire Valley each summer;
  • singing the French children's song "Le Pont d'Avignon" at the top of my lungs the first time I saw the bridge at Avignon and
  • admiring, for hours and hours, the simply magnificent windows in the Chartre Cathedral.
Till we meet again...


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips - Recycling Plastic Drink Bottles & Fruit/Meat Tray Styrofoam

40 fantastic ideas for recycling plastic drink bottles and meat/fruit Styrofoam trays to use in your art work, studio or around your home…including instructions for two art projects.

Tips and ideas submitted to the September 2008 Brainstorming Recycling Contest by Terry Howard, Martha B., Leslie, Donna Zamora, Susan Marie, Kelsey Jones Evans, Stephen du Toit, Moon Willow, Christine Bell, Pam Yee, Pam Crawford, Donna Hall, Alicia Edwards and some from yours truly!

Save those plastic drink bottles and...

  1. use them to carry water to do watercolours outside the studio
  2. fill them with paint or diluted inks and pour washes over your work.
  3. use the lids on bottles as tiny mixing pallets
  4. use them as a package in mail art and to mail surprises for art friends or grandchildren
  5. cut the tops off of several of them. Tape together like a wine rack. Use to store items that come in rolls, i.e. waxed paper, shelf paper, contact paper, Cut down small plastic bottles to store rolls of stickers, paper lace, etc.
  6. Keep a bottle filled with water for washing brushes, filling watercolour troughs, mini misters, or spray bottles. Saves a trip to the bathroom or kitchen sink!
  7. Fill them with craft items for storage or to send them to your crafty friends.
  8. Fill with water, freeze and use as a “cooler” for picnic lunches at the park or beach. When the ice melts on a hot day at the beach, you can drink it!
  9. Make them into wind twirlers! Cut off the top and bottom. Start cutting them evenly around the bottle from top to bottom.
  10. Cut bottles into sections or strips. Heat gently with a heat gun to make them flat. Use markers to colour and reheat. Use them as embellishments in altered books or art.
  11. Fill bottles with sand, cover with a glove puppet and use for doorstops.
  12. Fill small plastic bottles or containers with sand. Use as weights when sewing or anytime you need to “weight down” something in your art to flatten it. Can also use them as pattern weights when you are cutting out a sewing pattern.
  13. Make a pretty collage vase or paintbrush/pen/pencil holder by first painting with gesso, then painting and collaging.
  14. They can be cut down, inked, painted, embossed and stamped and shrunk down in an oven or with a heat gun to make unusual jewelry.
  15. Cut them up and punch holes all around and crochet or knit together to make a see through tote or purse.
  16. Use them as a string dispenser. Cut off the bottom, slip in the string making sure to pull the starter out of the hole and attach to a wall. Punch another hole and tie on some scissors.
  17. Fill with water. Insert plant cuttings you want to root.
  18. Fill with sand and use as a rolling pin.
  19. Cut plastic bottles in half and use the top as a funnel to put glitters, confetti, glues, sealers back in their containers. Use the bottom for mixing custom paints, soaking brushes, as water dishes, mixing bowls for grout, small trays for beads or trinkets.
  20. Here’s a gorgeous project from my art friend Zeb Loray using a recycled drink bottle with Radiant Rain Daubers available from After Midnight Art Stamps. You won’t believe just how beautiful these look until you make one yourself. If you like texture, you'll love to have one of these in your art room.
Save those meat/fruit trays and
  1. Use them for mono-print plates. Draw into them or texture them for unique textured prints on your paper.
  2. Use as covers for a book about groceries, a vegetarian or anti-meat theme.
  3. Use them to sort beads, bits you’ve assembled for a small project.
  4. Trays make a wonderful, disposable paint palette and are a flat surface when using a brayer with ink, paint or rubber stamps.
  5. Use the trays to capture excess glitter or embossing powders.
  6. Punch out snowmen, animals, flowers with punches for craft projects.
  7. Flat Styrofoam pieces make super bases for Christmas decorations or to mail breakables.
  8. Use the meat/fruit trays to plant seedlings for your garden.
  9. Cut into squares or circles and use them to separate your burgers before freezing.
  10. Make your own stamps by carving a relief design into the Styrofoam. Ink and stamp.
  11. Use as holding trays for project embellishments, brads, tiny watch gears, beads, etc.
  12. Put a baby wipe in the bottom of a tray and use it to clean your brayer.
  13. Cut Styrofoam trays into pieces and make stencils or quickie stamps.
  14. Use as a postcard or ATC back.
  15. Glue to the back of elements (i.e. photographs), cut out and create a 3-D effect when they are placed on your collage or assemblage. You can use the Styrofoam as a substitute “glue dot” or foam tape and as a way to “build up” different levels of element layers in your art project.
  16. Cover with paper and use to make frames or mats for photos/images in your art.
  17. Smaller pieces of Styrofoam can be covered with wide decorative ribbon for an interesting mat for an embellishment or image in your art.
  18. Cover Styrofoam squares with fabric and use as embellishments in your art.
  19. Sandwich Styrofoam between two pieces of heavy cardboard, cover with fabric and use as a “bottom” in an art tote, handbag or satchel.
  20. Cut them into shapes. Heat with a heat gun to shrink. Brush with paint to make unusual charms, embellishments or jewelry. Here’s a photo of some charms I made for a swap using black Styrofoam meat trays, some recycled pearls, corrugated cardboard and metallic paint. The instructions to make your own are below. Unfortunately metallic paint does not photograph well but you’ll get the idea of what you could create!

Styrofoam Fruit/Meat Tray Project

Cut the Styrofoam into rectangles (or alternatively just break them into unusual shapes) Make them larger than what you want in the end… they will shrink. Put on a mask and go outside.

Fire up your heat gun. Hold the Styrofoam down with a long bamboo stick while heating (Styrofoam is light and will fly away from you if you don’t hold it down). If you are not planning on mounting it onto another substrate and want a hole in the top to attach a jump ring to, pierce the Styrofoam with a safety pin. Leave the safety pin in while you are heating it.

Dry brush the shapes with metallic paint. Glue a bead or pearl to the shape when dry. Mount onto a piece of corrugated card board cut to the size you want the finished charm to be (you can either recycle some cardboard that you have ripped the top layer from and paint it or purchase some coloured corrugated cardboard). Pierce the top of the cardboard and attach a jump ring to turn your creation into a charm.

Raid, Repurpose, Rejoice

is a new recycling 3 R's slogan just for artists that popped into my head the other day! RAID your recycling bin (and your neighbours too if you are so inclined LOL), REPURPOSE what you find, REJOICE in making art from stuff headed for local landfills)

Go forth and make recycling bin art today my friends… See you all again on Friday!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Much Ado About Mucha - Part 2

The Shopping Face Off…

The sport of ANY KIND of shopping with hubby is like a face off in a hockey game. The puck drops. You’d better be paying attention and ready to move fast.


I was. Around the corner and into the first “room” of the antique store I went… lickedy split. It took exactly one minute for me to spot something that caught my eye.

Sitting on the corner of a lovely old sideboard were four small, elongated white boxes. The writing on them was in German, which immediately drew my attention. Although my spoken command of the language has become rusty over the years from a lack of opportunity to use it regularly, I can still read and understand it almost as easily as I do English. Not bad for a “Heinz 57 kid” with a Scots-Irish-French-Swedish background huh? (The truth is I lived in Germany for a number of years in my 20’s and 30’s and became fluent in the language while living there.)

The manufacturer’s “mark” and name on the outside of the box read “Hutschenreuther Porzellan”, a name I recognized as a German maker of fine porcelain. Next to the writing was an art print of an artist I could recognize from a mile away – Alfons Mucha.

Both my husband and I are longtime Mucha fans. A number of years ago, we purchased some beautiful museum quality prints at a showing of his original works in the Raleigh, North Carolina Art Gallery. We had them framed as a grouping and have enjoyed these gorgeous prints on our “art gallery wall” in our living room ever since.

Alfons Who?

Allow me to digress for a moment and give you some background on Alfons.

As a struggling and relatively unknown Czech artist living in Paris, Alfons Mucha achieved immediate fame when, in December 1894, he accepted a commission to create a poster for one of the greatest actresses of the time, Sarah Bernhardt. Though the printer was apprehensive about submitting Mucha´s final design because of its new, unconventional style, Miss Bernhardt loved it. So did the public. ´Le style Mucha´, as Art Nouveau was known in its earliest days, was born.

The success of that first poster resulted in a 6 year contract between Bernhardt and Mucha. In the following years, his work for her and others included costumes and stage decorations, designs for magazines and book covers, jewellery, furniture and numerous posters. If you’re interested in finding out more about Mucha and his art, click here

Finding Hidden Treasures

I picked up the first box. It looked brand new. Carefully, I opened it. Inside was a beautiful china panel plate of Mucha’s decorative panel, “Autumn” from “The Four Seasons” series.

I called my husband over to admire it. He looked at it and liked it so much that he picked up the next box. He opened it to take a look. When he put that one down, he opened the last one, I knew these found “treasures” had captured his undivided attention.

It didn’t take us long to discover that none of panels had likely ever been mounted on a wall or sat out in a cabinet. Not a chip, fading or other “previously loved” mark was to be found anywhere. They probably hadn’t been out of the boxes they came in since the day they were originally purchased.

We chatted back and forth about them for a few minutes. The workmanship and colour in the plates was splendid. My husband was interested in determining the quality of the china manufacturer. I assured him that Hutschenreuther was on par with other china names that he could recognize…Royal Dolton, Wedgewood and Rosenthal. Neither of us had a clue whether the price ($80.00 for the set) was fair or not.

“Who cares,” said the man of the house. “Even if they aren’t old or even worth the price they want for them, I really like them. Hard to resist Mucha. They are beautiful china panels. I’ll buy them anyway. Maybe I can get a few bucks knocked off the price of the set when I pay for them.”

He picked up all four boxes and tucked them under his arm. We looked around some, then headed for the cash register desk. He chatted with the owner about the panels and ended paying $69.00 for the set. He was pleased as punch with his purchase. Within a few days, he would find out just how pleased…!

The four china panels. I am afraid they aren't the best photos in the world in spite of my efforts... and I just realized that I cut the bottom off the bottom photo when I resized it.... darn,,, and I don't have time today to re-do them. The photos really don't do them justice but I did discover that it is not as easy as I thought to photograph china!

The Sleuthing Begins…

Later on that evening, husband went on line to see if he could find out more about his newly acquired “treasures”. He didn’t have much luck other than to discover that the manufacturer, Hutschenreuther, became part of the Rosenthal division of the Waterford Wedgwood Group in 2000. That was news to me too.

A couple of days later, I decided to do some further digging for him on some of the European sites on line to see what I could find out. Being able to read in a couple of foreign languages really helps when cruising websites that don’t have a translator on them.

It didn’t take me long to find out when they were manufactured. I looked up the mark on the back of the panel. 1970… hmmm, they weren’t as new as we thought they might be.

Digging deeper, I found two expired European e-bay listings… one in France from last year and the other in Switzerland from this past spring. I did a double take. On both sites, the exact same set, same year mark, in their original boxes, had sold for more than triple what he had paid for them!

When husband arrived home from work, I told him the results of my “sleuthing” on his behalf. The look of pleasant shock on his face followed by a big grin said it all. He was excited and absolutely delighted! Not that he would ever sell them. Not that he had even got them at a bargain price. Nope. Somehow I got the sense that with his first “score” he was bitten by the “antiquing bug”.

Hmmm… I wonder how many other antique shops I could entice him into now?

Gonna close for now… I have to do an internet search. Gotta find me some antique shops around the island we can go to!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Much Ado About Mucha - Part 1

On a recent Saturday morning, the trip to a salvage shop in search of some small, old hinges for one of my cigar box assemblages led my husband and I by an out of the way, unfamiliar antique shop.

Now anyone who is even slightly acquainted with me is keenly aware of my passion for quirky (and not so quirky) antiques. I absolutely cannot pass a “strange” antique shop and not go in! I am compelled by the antique Gods to take a peek!

“Oh look, an antique shop” said I gleefully, hopeful for even a tiny hint of a forthcoming response from the driver.

My dear husband knows when he hears “Oh look, an antique shop!” exactly what is coming next. I just shoot him the cutest smile I can muster up, flutter my eyelashes at him and say, ever so sweetly, “Oh, let’s just have a quick look!”

A Girl’s Gotta Do What She’s Gotta Do

The look on his face when he hears the words “a quick look”,“fabric store” or “antiques” coming from my mouth says it all. It is the facial expression of someone doing a silent, slightly painful, inward groan. He’d probably deny it if asked but I am pretty good at “reading” those looks after all this time!

I confess. I will most certainly use my feminine wiles and "promises"on him when it comes to browsing through antique stores. Fabric stores too for that matter! It's amazing how fast he'll pull into a shop's parking lot when the promise of a freshly baked fruit pie is up for grabs.

But don't think for a moment that he's fooled by my antics. He's not. He usually lets loose with a huge laugh when I really start digging myself into a bigger and bigger hole. I am beginning to think I'm not the "smartie pants" I thought I was.

Gosh, you'd think by now that I would remember that he's got a memory like an elephant. He never lets me forget my "desperate" promises. At the first opening, sometimes even days later, he'll make sure he holds me to it. I think he's REALLY got MY number not vice versa. Sigh!

Nice guys do finish first in my book and ya know, my husband is a really nice guy. More often than not, he is willing to indulge“his honey” on a trip down the memory lanes of an antique shop. He has always been very willing to do things for me that will bring a smile to my face. He's been known to utter that wonderful, old southern saying “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” to buds seeking advice and counsel with their better halves. Bless his heart.

Now when I say indulge, that it not just a throw away figure of speech. I really mean it.

Point One…

Browsing antique or fabric stores is not an activity hubby finds very interesting or stimulating for longer than ten, tops fifteen minutes. A quick glance around and he’s ready to go. Sound familiar? It does to most of my female friends who have ever been in a relationship for longer than a month!

Fabric and antiques just aren’t his bag. Wood, tools or hardware on the other hand … a much different story. Heck he even grunts like Tim Allen on Tool Time at the sight of a router, drill press or electric drill in Rona or Home Depot. At least once a month, I hear him sadly lamenting the fact that we don’t have a Lowe’s in Victoria!

Now, most of the time he’ll be quite pleasant about my aisle cruising. He’ll either find a book he can browse through as he waits (I always cross my fingers that it is interesting enough to keep him occupied for at least a half an hour) or when his “out of patience” buzzer goes off, he’ll just leave and wait for me outside. I think he secretly hopes that his leaving will hurry me along. I pretend to not notice that he’s left the store.

Thank heavens he isn’t the grumpy type when I linger longer than what he would really like. Good thing too. I’m usually just getting started at the ten minute mark. The fact is, I could easily hang out in a larger shop for a couple of hours. I feel “duty bound” to explore every last little nook and cranny I can find. However tempting it might be at the time, I don't push my luck quite THAT far.

Point Two

Husband thinks antique stores are way over priced for “just a bunch of old stuff somebody wants to get rid of.” I have to admit, sometimes he is right about the overpricing. My experience is that often it depends on the location and the “quality” of the items in the shop. You do have to know “your antiques”. You do have to shop around to get a good and fair price. You do need to be prepared to “bargain” with the owner if you think the price is out of line. I'll be the first to admit, I'm not very good at that last one.

Point Three

The first whiff of potpourri in ANY store will turn him on his heels quicker than a jack rabbit and propel him back out the door he came in. One leap and he’s outa there. Of course at 6’2”, long legs help with giant hops GRIN! He hates the smell. It gives him a screaming headache in two seconds flat. Needless to say, I understand completely. That shop, unfortunately, gets crossed off my list.


We pulled into the antique shop parking lot and got out of the car. Up the stairs and into the shop we went. WHEW! No potpourri. Things were looking up.

Ah… but in the back of my mind, I knew the clock was ticking. I wondered how many "hardware store trip points" I could cash in if I needed them. The cogs in my memory bank started whirling searching for an accurate point count.

~~ to be continued...

So that's it for today. Please take note of the P.S. below. Stay tuned for Part II of "Mucha Ado About Mucha" next Friday You'll get to read all about our ... uhh.... hubby's... great find in the antique shop.

Have a super weekend.


P.S. As some of you may already know, I am a summer storyteller at one of the oldest historic homes in Victoria, British Columia - Pt. Ellice House. Next week, on both Friday and Saturday, I’ll be donning one of my beautiful Victorian dresses and a snazzy hat to match and doing a one hour “O”Reilly Family Stories” storytelling presentation (as part of the Victoria Heritage Festival Sept. 13 - 21) on each of these days at 1:00 pm.

Getting ready for these sessions is going to take up the bulk of my time next week. Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips will return on Sept. 23. Part 2 of "Much Ado About Mucha" will be scheduled for publication next Friday, the 19th.

Thanks for your understanding!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips - Recycling Envelopes

WOW! We certainly hit the mother lode with all the recycling ideas that made their way into my mailbox in response to the contest/challenge/game last week. Loads of them! It’s gonna take me at least a month to sort through all these wonderful, trash into treasure ideas and share them with you. LOL

Let these thrifty artists loose on a heap of trash that most people toss out every week…egg cartons, envelopes, plastic shopping bags, juice boxes, soft drink pull tabs, cardboard, blister packaging… and they enthusiastically wave their magic wands and spin their trash into treasures for their art!

Before I announce the winner of the “Recycling Brainstorming Contest”, I’d like to acknowledge all of the contestants for their fantastic “trashy” recycling lists. LOL I think they deserve a big round of applause and a LITTLE somethin’ for taking the time to enter don’t you?

Put your hands together and give each of the following artists a round of rousing, genuine, appreciative applause … Take a well earned bow my fellow artists…

Alicia Edwards, Donna Hall, Pam Crawford, Pam Yee, Christine Bell, Moon Willow, Stephen du Toit, Leslie, Kelsey Jones-Evans, Susan Marie, Donna Zamora, Martha B., and Elizabeth


Each of the “runner-ups” will receive the following digital heritage background files I created just for them. You can use them in your digital art or print them out to use as background "collage" paper in your art creations. In .png format, they will be zipped up and sent out this week! More “stuff” I hope you can use in your art *GRIN*

This small, unexpected "prize" comes to you with a hearty thank you from me for doing your bit for our environment and taking the time to play the Brainstorming Recycling Game. You are all WINNERS in my book!

And now, the moment we have all been waiting for…. the *WINNER*… the


and winner of the mini shopping spree

for submitting the most (100 of 'em) recycling ideas is…



In addition to your gift certificate Pam, you will also receive the zip file of background sheets I created for the runner ups. Congratulations! Have fun picking out your “goodies”!

Thanks again to Linda Hanson of After Midnight Art Stamps for donating the mini shopping spree gift certificate.

Many people wrote to say how much they enjoyed the game and some, who were short on time and couldn’t play this time, thought it was a grand idea and wrote to say thank you. I am just thrilled to bits at the response… so THANKS EVERYONE!

Using Recycled Envelopes in Your Art

So what can you do with all those envelopes you get in the mail? Here are some “super duper” ideas for you compiled from the lists I received and my own brainstorming. You didn’t think I was gonna miss out on this now did ya?

By the way, speaking of missing out, wouldn't you like to have all of your "art buddies" around the globe find out about these terrific recycling ideas they could use in their art? Consider posting a link to mystoryART in the groups or forums you belong to or mention this post in your art, altered books, digital scrapbooking/art or crafts blog! If you would like to exchange blog links with mystoryART, just send me your address so I can drop by your blog for a visit.

Here's this week's list of all the ways in which you can use recycled envelopes in your art:

  1. Carefully open the envelopes up. Steaming them apart over some boiling water is often the best way to do this to avoid rips or small tears in them. The printed/patterned inside of security envelopes are nice in collage, altered books, journals. Use recycled coloured envelopes for backgrounds, teabag folding, die cuts, paper punching, iris folding, card making, layering in collages, stamping.
  2. Make 'expanding files' to store bits of ephemera, stickers etc.
  3. Use the clear plastic window parts in envelopes to put over a saying in your scrap book or journal; use them as windows in ATC’s, altered books and microscope slide mailers; stitch the window material on mixed media creations either by hand or with your sewing machine; use the envelope windows as a form of a "shaker" holder, large window envelopes make nifty art journals.
  4. Cut (cardboard) priority envelopes in half, glue together, and use as your substrate (base) for ATCs, 4 X 4s, and other projects where you need a stiff base to work on.
  5. Open the envelopes out, bind them through the fold into a very funky base for an altered journal or envelope book.
  6. Cut them into long triangular strips and make paper beads out of them. You can also use tyvek envelopes to create beads. (see project instructions below)
  7. Turn them inside out, glue them back together and use them again as envelopes
  8. Cut them to size to use as memorbilia pockets in your journals, books, or mixed media projects.
  9. Save the stamps/addresses and use them as embellishments in mixed media art. Use foreign addresses as print ephemera. Cut out the postal mark and use it on your altered pages or scan it into your computer and create a graphics “brush”. Steam the stamp off the envelope to use as an embellishment.
  10. Use recycled envelopes to store and keep together small bits of papers, pix, tiny embellishments, doodads, etc. when working on a project.
  11. Store your art shopping lists/wish lists/art ideas in them.
  12. Paint or ink them to re-use as envelopes for mail art, fun and funky letters to friends, as painted paper for punching, folding, embossing, die cuts, etc.
  13. Reuse bubble mailers to send art exchanges and books to other artists.
  14. Use as doodle pads, canvases for small drawings.
  15. Use the paper to create scratch pads. Put them in a small box and decorate the box.
  16. Leave a note for the milkman! (I couldn't resist including this one... LOL)

A Project Idea with Instructions

Elizabeth (aka the Queen of Free) at Altered Book Lover even sent some project instructions along with her recycling ideas to share with you... here's one of them...

"Tyvek envies can be painted, stamped, and heated slightly to make wings, and other embellishments. Cut painted tyvek in strips and make beads. Roll in UTEE and heat slightly. "

Lots more recycling ideas to come in future editions of Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips. Take a minute to bookmark my blog and check in on Tuesday mornings (I usually schedule the posts for 3:00 AM PST to accommodate eastern US and Canada blog readers). Stay tuned…. See ya Friday!


Friday, September 5, 2008

Goodbye Summer... Hello Fall

A couple of early mornings ago, I opened the door leading to our backyard patio and found a surprise waiting for me on the welcome mat.

Nope it wasn’t our neighbour’s kitty. The one who seems to think our welcome mat belongs to her. It wasn’t our “resident” raccoon either. The one who hangs out somewhere in the “mini” forest behind our house, sneaks up to our patio door and peeks through the window to see what we are up to. So what was waiting for me to discover on the welcome mat? A big, rusty coloured maple leaf ... just dropping by to let me know that it won’t be long before we all say good-bye to summer and hello to fall.

Two events always mark the beginning of the third season of the year for me. The first fallen leaf and the Metchosin country fair. I look forward all year long to the sights, sounds and absolutely delicious smells that permeate the air at this country fair! That’s where you’ll find us this weekend.

It’s an old fashioned type fair with country vendors, music, entertainment and games for the kids. But by far the best part is the salmon and lamb barbeque (roasted over open air wood burning fires) at 5 p.m.. It's quite a bargain at $12.oo a ticket! You get a big piece of salmon, big piece of lamb, homemade apple mint jelly, corn on the cob, coleslaw and a roll. This is followed by mouth-watering, delicious homemade "prize winning" pies for dessert. I understand that this year they are also going to have a cake baking contest and the prizewinners will be sold by the piece at the barbeque.

It is a great fundraising event for this little country town. One thing we have found out over the years... you gotta get there early to buy your dinner ticket! They sell out FAST, often by noon, every year.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." Albert Camus

When I was a little kid, I absolutely delighted in jumping into a mountain of raked leaves in my uncle’s back yard. Now mind you, my uncle Gordon, who had just spent a couple of hours raking up that pile, made noises that he wasn’t terribly amused. Funny though, he always had a tiny smile at the corner of his lips, his eyes twinkled with laughter and he always invited me back to rake leaves with him throughout the fall. GRIN

Gathering pretty leaves to make a “turkey” pasted on paper for a Thanksgiving card was a favourite childhood pastime in the fall! (Thanksgiving is in early October in Canada). Today I continue to enjoy gathering those lovely autumn “flowers” to use in my “grown up” art. Here is a digital collage I created this week with the leaf I found on my doorstep and scanned into my computer...

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves in Beeswax

There are a number of ways to preserve fall leaves. Pressing them. Ironing them in waxed paper. Dipping them in a mixture of glycerin and water. However, over the years, the leaves I love to use in my art and collages are simply brushed with a thin coat of beeswax.

Want to wax your own leaves this fall? It’s a simple and easy process.

What you'll need:

Autumn leaves
Paper towels
Mini Travel Iron
1" paint brush
Melting pot or other utensil suitable for melting beeswax in
brown paper bag
large square of 1/4" plywood to protect your work surface

1. Gather leaves at their peak. I like to find fresh ones that perhaps have a little blemish here and there. These tiny imperfections add interest.

2. Sandwich the leaves between two paper towels and iron them dry but not to the point that they become brittle.

3. Heat up your pot of beeswax. You can use a melting pot with a project tray or a small aluminum pot that will fit into the base of the melting pot. You can also use an old crock pot although I find it takes forever to heat up! One of my friends told me she uses a small pot on one of the old coffee mug warmers. I haven't tried it, but if you do, let me know how it works.

One word of caution. Never heat beeswax over 140 degrees F. It can flash and start a fire! Ask me. I once nearly burnt my freshly painted, new kitchen down when I melted some candles on the stove. The phone rang in the middle of this process and I forgot all about the wax. I caught it at the very last moment and used a fire extinguisher but what a black, gooey mess my fresly painted ceiling was... we won't talk about the top of the stove! It was a real pain in the you know what to get cleaned up! I shook in my boots at that close call for weeks.

4. My “worksheet” is a piece of brown paper bag on top of a large ¼” piece of plywood board. I often keep my worksheet once it is saturated with beeswax for other uses.

5. Brush a thin coat of beeswax on both sides of the leaf using a brush devoted to beeswax work only. My beeswax brush is just an ordinary 1” paint brush from the paint store that I use strictly for working with wax.

6. Lay your leaf on the brown paper. Using a mini travel iron or quilting iron (one devoted to beeswax work only) to smooth out the wax on the leaf . You're done! Wasn't that easy?

As I close for today, I’d like to wish you a lovely weekend and share with you a delightful quote about the seasons by Stanley Horowitz that really says it all:

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."


P.S. Remember to get your entry in for the “Recycling Brainstorming Contest” (see Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips from Sept. 2 for details) and the chance to win a mini shopping spree at After Midnight Art Stamps! Deadline is midnight (your time zone), Sunday, Sept. 7.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Playtime – A ReCycling Brainstorming Game - Win a Mini Shopping Spree

Two of my biggest pet peeves used to be the “over packaging” of consumer goods (a tiny bottle in a large box) and “blister” packaging (everything from beads to high end headphones). Then I discovered mixed media art and those pet peeves turned into “yippee… more stuff I can use and it’s FREE”.

Now, mind you, when I received a whole box of fruit packaging trays from a neighbour (I had asked her to save those kind of trays for me), it was just a tad bit of recycling “overkill”! A couple would have sufficed… but 20? I don’t think so!

We mixed media types are the self appointed “queens (and kings)” of recycling! We’ll find a way to use just about anything that we can find in our own (and our neighbour’s) recycling box!

Now I don’t know about your neighbourhood but in mine the majority of recycling boxes are filled to the brim with all sorts of goodies like egg cartons, cardboard, juice boxes, plastic blister wrap and cereal boxes. Some folks even have two or three recycling boxes. I just have to close my eyes and keep on truckin’ when I go past them on recycling day. I think of all that potential FREE “art material” going to the landfill and I have to wipe a tiny tear from the corner of my thrifty eye!

Thrifty Artists UNITE…

Your mission this week, should you choose to accept it, …BIG GRIN… is to do some brainstorming about how you can re-use the mountains of FREE "packaging" material that comes into your neighbourhood every week.

No, no, you don’t have to go pawing through your neighbour’s recycling box and embarrass the heck out of your kids or your family. Just take a sideways peek at it as you drive by on recycling day or drop by for a neighbourly visit and tell them you are on a scavenger hunt (well you are kinda…) and oh, while you are at it, take a good long look at your own box in the garage. Now think about how you could re-purpose some of that lovely “stuff” into your art.

Below are 20 sentence finishing prompts to get your “recycling” wheels a movin’ and shakin’… They don’t have to all be filled in but the more you can complete with one or more of your ideas, the higher the probability of you winning the contest!

1. Save those envelopes and …
2. Save those plastic drink bottles and
3. Save those meat/fruit trays and
4. Save those egg cartons and
5. Save those cardboard inserts and
6. Save those flat styrofoam pieces and
7. Save those bottle caps and
8. Save that clear plastic blister packaging and
9. Save those canning lid inserts and
10. Save those old business cards and
11. Save those tags on new, store bought clothes and
12. Save those plastic shopping bags and
13. Save those brown paper grocery bags and
14. Save those small juice boxes and
15. Save those gift bags and
16. Save those elastic bands and
17. Save those cereal boxes and
18. Save those small plastic starter plant pots and
19. Save those soft drink pull tabs and
20. Save those tea bags and

How to Enter This “Re-cycling Brainstorming Game” Contest

Copy and paste the above prompts into an email . Finish the sentence fragments with as many ART uses or ART re-purposing ideas that you can think of as quickly as you can.

Now go have a cup of coffee or tea, read a book or do something else for 10 minutes. I’m betting that more ideas pop into your head for those sentence fragments that you missed. Add these new ideas to your “list”.

Get your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews involved. Ask your neighbours. Call your mother. Brainstorm with your best friend. The whole idea is to have fun coming up with lots and lots of practical and useable ideas. You are guaranteed a few good smiles along the way! If you really get into this, you’ll likely stumble across some bizarre or downright strange ideas that make you laugh!

When you are ready to submit your entry, count up the number of "ideas" you have come up with, put that total IN THE SUBJECT of your email along with your name. Please remember to include your email address somewhere in your email. Click send, then cross your fingers that you win!

The Best Part is here… WIN a Mini Shopping Spree!

The more ideas you can think up, the better BECAUSE the person with the highest number of ideas WINS the Recycling Brainstorming Game Contest! In the event of a tie, the “timestamp” of the received email will determine the winner.

If you are the lucky winner, Linda Hanson of After Midnight Art Stamps has very generously offered to award YOU with a $10.00 gift certificate for a mini shopping spree in her online store! Wander on over to her site and check out some of the cool stuff that this lovely lady has to offer in her “shop”. Lately I have had my sights set on some Radiant Rain daubers, some more Midnight Art Glass and the teapot stamp to add to my “studio spot” drawers!

The contest closes at midnight (your time zone) on Sunday, September 7, 2008. I will announce the winner in the September 9th posting of Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips. So make sure you check back to see if you are the winner!

All practical and useable ideas I receive from participants in the contest will be sorted, compiled and shared with blog readers in upcoming editions of Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips.

Please take a minute to add a comment to the comment section of this posting! I’d love to know what you think of this contest idea and the chance for you to win a prize!

See you Friday! Get those thinking caps on….LOL


P.S. Please note that I am not affiliated in any way with After Midnight Art Stamps nor will I receive any monetary compensation from them for this contest. This is strictly a generous offer made by Linda because she loved the idea when I told her about it! Your email address will be kept confidential and not shared by me or Linda with anyone without your prior consent.

Copyright 2008 Dr. Sharon House http://www.mystoryart.com/