The Stuff of Art

Vincent asked: Have you used any physical objects to help in your work (other than paint brushes and stuff)? I’m referring to things like plates used in chalcography, or stencils, or something…

Ah… my interesting tools. I started my current incarnation as an artist using rubber stamps and ink on paper. At the time, I didn’t consider it art, it was just therapy (more on that at another time). But it was art. In creating paper art, in addition to rubber stamps, I’ve used stencils, embossing tools, paper punches and a wide array of scissors, knives and paper trimmers. Whole books can be (and have been) written on the variety of tools and supplies for creating paper art. You know that soapy stuff kids use to blow bubbles? Add a few drops of ink, and have the kids go to town on the sidewalk where you’ve laid out a bunch of paper. (I skipped the kid part, and played with the bubbles myself!)

I’ve got a room full of tools I’ve used in my journey through paper, polymer clay, bead and fabric art. The pasta maker and toaster oven are the ones that get the most second glances… but trying to create polymer clay art without them is rather difficult. I’ve got various molds for both clay and papercasting.

I’ve previously mentioned my irons for use with encaustic art. I’ve got two with surfaces slightly larger than my hand, and several tiny ones with surfaces only an inch or two wide. One almost looks like the sort of thing quilters use. I also use a heat gun. That’s essential for paintings with multiple layers of wax. My most recent addition is an electric griddle where I can put small tins of melted wax. I use that when I’m painting the larger pieces on wood, and actually use brushes with the wax.

For acrylics and watercolors, I like using sponges to create texture. Natural sea sponges are great for watercolors and, as weird as it sounds, regular cheap kitchen sponges work fabulously with acrylics.

Something that crosses the boundaries of different media is bubble wrap. Ink and acrylics work very well, watercolors are tempermental.

In mixed media art, anything and everything is fair game. This is where my drill set comes in handy, because I like doing creative things to old CDs. Oh, and you can use a heat gun to get them to warp in fun ways, too. (Grip the CD with tongs or pliers… those suckers get HOT.)

If I see something interesting around the house, I tend to get those “what if?” thoughts that make my husband shake his head. Things like:

  • What if I put my watercolors in a spray bottle and spray them on paper or canvas? (It makes a really cool painting and a HUGE mess!)
  • What if I finger paint with acrylics? (I go to work with colored hands for a week.)
  • What if I dip string in the paint and wiggle it all over the paper? (The cats go crazy!)

I hope I’ve answered your question! It would have been a lot shorter and simpler if I only did one kind of art, but it’s all so much fun I just have to play with everything. And it makes me happy to share.