Altered books, journaling, scrap-booking, and collage all jump from the same ground and share boundless experimentalism. Deep from within, these processes surface and swell, to reveal story, history, allegory, narrative, and expose’. Everything from found bottlecaps flattened on pavement to string from Grandma’s kitchen drawer can become a part of these art forms. We may be doing this work for illustration, for remembering, for inspiring, or twisting away from the ‘norm’, but for whatever reason it’s easier to express ourselves and what we want to say to the viewer if we have a variety of tools and techniques to choose from. Here are some I have encountered:
- Using a page from a newspaper fastened to a support, apply a layer of encaustic (melted wax), and write or draw into the translucent wax. Try smearing with oil paint and then wiping and polishing the surface to achieve a layered effect. Photocopied images of objects or scientific gadgets from the 19th Century can be clipped and incorporated into the design.
- Create an eclectic journal by collecting urban particles of paper. Peel flyers from walls, save wrappers from fruit, use parts of bags and tags from shopping and purchasing goods. Fragments of maps, painted and drawn entries, and photographs can work in a way to unify the pages of this artist’s book. Even the cover can be modified if the book is store-bought.
I have a humble little paper book I bought in Chinatown with a brown paper cover that I immediately attached a tiny Chinese tissue-paper parasol to once I got it home. Each time I go to Chinatown I return with some artifacts to attach to the inside: the string and tag from a jasmine teabag, a hand-written receipt for a steamed bun filled with a paste made from red beans, a round bronze coin with a square hole.
- Found objects can be incorporated into work to add an unusual dimension in the resolution of a piece. This can hint at a deeper meaning to the work.
- Found objects can be used to block out areas of paint and create a negative shape.
Making New Work Look Old
- Coat heavy paper with plaster. When it’s dry bend it to form cracks. Add a wash of paint to this.
- Spread modeling paste or spackle on paper and while it’s wet stamp textures or patterns into the surface.
- Paint gesso onto craft tissue and let it dry. Stain these with liquid acrylics or inks.
- Add non-toxic dry pigments (being careful not to inhale the powder) to clear polishing wax and rub it onto painted papers.
- Peel, tear, or sand papers after they have been glued in place.
- Brush non-toxic crackle glazes over painted papers or images.
- Crinkled, wrinkled brown bags can be carefully brushed or sprayed with non-toxic paint to emphasize the texture.
- Use sheets of plain brown paper and sponge, drizzle, or brush on, non-toxic metallic paint to embellish the surface. Add extra sparkle using metallic ribbons, baubles, bows, and faux jewels.
I bought a Baroque black and white paper one year and randomly glued individual faux pearls to the top of it. I then added a rich violet organza ribbon tied with a generous bow.
This fashion design is an example of composing with a variety of materials and reworking them until the desired result is achieved.
Copyright © 2009 Nicole Rigets