Sunday, March 16, 2014

- Stumbling on Happiness: Altered Book Collage

Altered books and mixed-media collage have fascinated me to the point of buying numerous books and browsing through countless Pinterest pins. Two books have been particularly useful: Altered Book Collage by Barbara Matthiessen and Mixed Media Collage by Holly Harrison.

Trying my hand at creating my own collages has been gratifying and humbling by turns. I've decided to blog about two of them that made it to completion ... others have had less fortunate outcomes.


Stumbling on Happiness was created using a book I gave to my Mom the year before she died. I began the collage after we moved to Texas, so the title seemed apt. It has two sides representing the two places I most love: the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the Hill Country near Austin. The flags of each state informed the background colors for the two sides of the book. After priming the book with gesso, I used Mod Podge to attach a page of "joy" from the Library of Congress Subject Headings and the title of the book onto the spine.

I began with the North Carolina cover, weaving strips of blue handmade paper, lyrics from James Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind," and red paper from old book covers (one of the perks of being a former librarian).  I added a sea star from Melissa's wedding, sand and shell from Avon, a sprig of dried grass, a tag stamped with the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and a bit of needlework that I made many years before of an architectural element found at the apex of many OBX beach cottage rooflines.


The Texas cover featured the same blue handmade paper and strips of red, with lyrics from Walt Wilkins' "Trains I Missed," which became my driving-through-the-Hill-Country-to-work anthem. The rusted star was clipped from a garland I purchased in Gruene, the flowers were picked and pressed at our first (rental) home in Wimberley, the scissortail flycatcher was cut from a Melanie Fain notecard (see below for more on her artwork), and the needlework was from the same long-ago piece with stylized Galliarda (aka Blanket Flower), a wildflower found in both Texas and North Carolina. 

However, I have no illusions about the final product: while it gives me great pleasure, it also makes me appreciate how much time and practice goes into truly accomplished mixed-media collage ... or any  artwork, for that matter.


Now this is art: a hand-painted etching of a roadrunner by Melanie Fain. She has a wonderful link on her website about her etching process, which makes me appreciate her artistry all the more.

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