Friday, January 30, 2015

Newsprint is it an art tool - or unique art supply?

This is my 3rd post about my favorite artist tools - but I suppose they could actually be called unique art supplies depending upon how you use them.  FYI - Art supplies and tools don't always have to be expensive to be considered "good".

This week's post is about newsprint.  But of course, I rarely (if EVER) use NEW newsprint... I instead, prefer recycled newsprint.

What is newsprint?  It is most recognized as..well.. newsprint.  Your morning newspaper is printed on it (if you still subscribe to that sort of thing).  Or you may know it as packing paper (which is how I usually find it).  I know it as the paper I was allowed to color on and make messes on as I grew up.  :) My parents always had a stack of it in the basement from when we last moved.  As I grew up and started to recognize quality art supplies (and quality art paper), I turned my nose up at newsprint.

BUT as an artist who is not only looking to recycle and reuse items, but to be thrifty as well.... newsprint actually is a very economical paper source and one that is often readily available IF you're willing to do a bit of work!

 You CAN buy newsprint in nice boxes, where it's guaranteed to be clean and wrinkle-free.  OR you can luck-out and find a box of it in a thrift store that's ALMOST brand-new and still clean and wrinkle-free (which I did).  That was a most-excellent thrift store find!  It was something like $3.99 half-off for an entire box (perhaps a few sheets were missing but it didn't look like it!).  

A few of the 13 garbage bags full of recycled newsprint
OR you can do what I did when I ran out of my beautiful, thrift-store find.... I looked on craigslist.  Now I didn't want to BUY any more... I wanted some for free.  And did I find it for free?? YES I DID!!  13 BAGS OF IT... and not just shopping bags of it, but 13 huge trash-bags of it!   Now I went through 8 bags.  All of it was crumpled (because it had all been used to move someone accross the country).  So I spent HOURS uncrumpling paper, smoothing it out, and sorting into usable vs non-useable piles (non-useable had big holes or tears in it). The stuff I deemed non-useable was offered to kids to color on or paper-mache with - and some did go into the recycle bin (especially if it had questionable stains on it!..ew!!).  But the majority has been neatly stacked and is ready for me to use.  You can even iron it to get wrinkles out should you need to!

How do I use it?  Well, as a silk painter, at first I needed it to roll up my painted silks so I could steam them. (silk painters use a lot of newsprint for steaming!).  But since I have so much of it around, I started finding more uses for it. 

Right now I have several layers of it taped down onto my tabletop, to protect it from the silk dyes.  When they get too messed up, I just un-tape them, recycle them, and tape down some more.

Artwork patterns taped to an old closet door

As I started to paint on bigger pieces of silk, I found that I needed larger pieces of paper to create my patterns on.  So now I have a rolling wall (ie, an old closet door with casters on it) that I hang the paper on so that I can draw out my designs in large-scale.

I'm also experimenting with abstract art (and SLOWLY working my way through "Exspressive Drawing" by xxxx - which is a FABULOUS book by the way), and need big pieces of paper for some of those exercises.  Newsprint paper is perfect for me to practice on without feeling like I'm wasting "quality" art paper!

I also grab a few sheets of newsprint to use as drop-clothes when I'm doing craft or home projects.
What can I say - newsprint is SUPER handy!

Oh and by the way, when I say I'm done with the newsprint and am going to recycle it, yes that sometimes means it does get tossed into the recycle bin... but it also gets re-used, yet again, for other things.  For instance... my art journal is covered in newsprint that was a drop cloth for some craft projects I was doing.  I so loved how the paper looked, that I ended up using it to cover my journal (I think I used modge-podge to decoupage it).   Cute right?  I like the look so much, that when I finally fill up this journal, I'll be covering my next one with something I've recycled. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Another Favorite Tool For Silk Painting And Other Art Mediums

A frog in a flower, NOT a floral frog! Thank you to Pat Tracy for 
sharing this lovely photo on Paint My Photo's website
This next favorite tool is probably my hands-down favorite!  I've had them for YEARS and never known what to do with them.  They're floral frogs. 

WHAT are floral frogs you ask?  Well they are NOT critters that live in ponds with flowers and go "ribbet, ribbet".  Floral frogs are actually what our parents and grandparents (etc) used to use before floral foam appeared on the horizon. 

I've had mine sitting around in a drawer for years (like 20+!!).  As I started to get into silk painting, I listened to what other artists used tool-wise..and many use cups or vases to hold their paintbrushes.  I ran across my frogs and had an "ah-ha!" moment.  And ever since, I've become even more passionate about my frogs.  

Plastic, metal, and glass floral frogs
I LOVE THEM!!!!  They are vintage, they are funky and cool, and they are pretty easy to find at antique stores and flea markets (usually for not much money... most of the ones I've purchased, I've paid less than $4 for them).

I use them for EVERYTHING I can!  In my studio, they hold my paintbrushes, my pens and pencils, and my sharps (like scissors and x-acto knives).  I went from having too many, to not having enough.  I began to seek them out and covet ones I don't yet have.  I now have another set of them in my craft/scrapbooking room. Bigger ones can hold pretty good-sized markers.  Small ones can hold little items like chalk, toothpicks, and q-tips. 

I have metal-wire frogs, plastic-wire-looking frogs, and glass frogs.  I'm still coveting a few more (for instance I ran across a HUGE metal-wire frog..but it was too expensive for me - but someday .. it's MINE!!).

(By the way, the magnolia painting in the background of the grouped-floral-frogs picture, is my latest silk painting... an exercise in frustration that I may or may not blog about later).

E6000 - another favorite tool!

I will say that many of the frogs have open you do need to slightly modify the frogs if you want to be able to move them around without the items in them slipping out.  I simply cut out cardboard slightly smaller than the shape of the frog and glued it on with E-6000 glue which is yet another favorite tool - how did I ever craft without it??).  Did you know that E-6000 can be removed if necessary? It's strong and flexible and removable (unless you're gluing super-porous things together). Hmm..I think I see another favorite tool post starting!

Anyways...   I've thought about painting the metal floral frogs (and I think they'd be cool painted a fun color), but I love how they look as-is.  So for now, I'm leaving them alone.  


Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Favorite Art & Silk Painting Tools (a series of posts)

I thought it would be fun to go through some of my favorite tools.  I have a lot of different items that I use as a Silk Painter (and for art in general). 
A lovely saki-cup from Uwajimaya's

Today's favorite tool:  The saki cup(s)

My current saki-cup set-up
Yup, saki cups!  I found my original set at a thrift store.  They are perfect for mixing larger quantities of dyes.  They are white so show the true color of the dyes, and best of all....they are ceramic so they clean up easily!  Oh and they are inexpensive - I found more of these lovely cups at Uwajima's which is a wonderful Asian market!  I found that they fit perfectly into mini-muffin tins.  The muffin tins come in 6, 12, or 24 cup sizes.  I use a 6 cup tin when I am at a show demonstrating Silk Painting, and I use my 24 cup tin when I am home.  The tin allows the saki cups to be stabilized (meaning they don't tip over) and I can use the tin to pick up the whole set with dye in them and not spill anything.  Plus as an added bonus, if I do dribble dye over the edge of the saki cup (as I tend to do).. the tin catches the drips.  win-win!
The upper left-hand side of the picture shows the lovely, square-divided ceramic trays which I use often for mixing small amounts of dye

In addition to the saki cups, I've also found that Asian markets have other, equally-lovely, ceramic items which can also be used for mixing smaller quantities of dye or paint (and unfortunately, I do not know their original use).  So I've added these lovely, divided-compartment dishes to my Silk Painting set-up, and I use the all the time!  Since they are also white and ceramic, they also show the dye color nicely and clean-up wonderfully.  

These are today's favorite tools!!