Upcycling Arts and Crafts

A different kind of Fourth of July parade marched through the El Cerrito Arts & Culture Commission (ACC) booth at the City & worldOne Festival: fair-goers of all ages and types stepped into our booth and walked out with the wondrous artworks and crafts they created from the discarded fabric, sad old messed-up books, and donated ephemera I gathered at the El Cerrito Recycling Center Exchange Zone.

Creative ReUse crafting

Glue sticks swiped, scissors snipped, and our trusty li’l craft machine was busy laminating bookmarks and churning out magnets and stickers.

Creative ReUse crafting

Postcards, envelopes, stickers, magnets, bookmarks, and collage masterpieces transformed by endless imagination rose from what most people would label as junk. Creativity flowed.

Creative ReUse

Smiles and pride in making new treasures from old discards abounded.

Creative ReUse crafting

Some will be gifts.

Creative ReUse crafting

And some will be kept as treasures.

Creative ReUse crafting

Kathleen Glenn, the biggest booster of the arts in El Cerrito and owner of Glenn Custom Framing on Stockton Avenue, created a special bookmark.

Upcycled bookmark

Several generous people crafted postcards that the ACC will mail to Blue Star Moms, a group that puts the cards into care packages going to military service-members. These are some:

Upcycled postcards for Blue Star Moms

What materials are you using in your artwork and crafts that would otherwise go into landfill?
Click here to see last week’s blog post to advertise the event.

Creative ReUse Crafting on July 4th

Headed to the fantabulous City of El Cerrito & worldOne 4th of July Festival? You will not want to miss the El Cerrito Arts & Culture Commission booth on Pomona Avenue, where we’re gonna get seriously hands-on to make a slew of different mail art and other creative reuse projects. image

Using fabric, old discarded books, ephemera and other fun stuff I’ve gathered from the El Cerrito Recycling Center Exchange Zone, we’ll snip, tear, glue, tape, stamp, and collage to create stickers, magnets, bookmarks, collage masterpieces, and all sorts of unique mail art!

Upcycled map envelopes

I’ll show you how easy it is to make upcycled envelopes, postcards and greeting cards at home using old magazines, calendars, maps, fabric, etc.
Upcycled fabric postcard

You can make postcards to take home and keep, mail to a friend, or we’ll cover the postage to send them to Blue Star Moms, a group that puts the cards into care packages going to military service-members. We’ll also have the address so you can mail your postcards to sick children

Declare your independence from buying new art supplies – learn how to give new life to materials that would otherwise be sent to landfill or recycled! And beside saving you money, creative reuse is great for the environment!

BooksI hope to see you on the Fourth!

Pop Goes the Mailbox!

Yesterday: happiest mailbox day ever! Sometimes when I’m owed a lot of Postcrossing postcards they seem to arrive in clusters. Makes me wonder whether some mail art lover along the route is delaying a few of them to admire as a collection? For whatever reason, yesterday I had incoming mail aplenty: three postcards from Postcrossers ’round the world, and from faithful mail art pen pals came a selfmade photo-card and a vintage ephemera collage card.

Postcards

What in the world is that in the middle, you may be wondering. I’m so glad you asked – that is an amazing handmade 3D postcard!

Popsicle postcard by RoselynRoselyn, a Postcrosser in Florida who was randomly given my name to send a card to, made this wonderfully fun, unique popsicle postcard. She told me she had been thinking about 3D mail art since she saw some on Pinterest,  and that after reading my profile she decided to give it a try! Following this post by Sandra Denneler on SheKnows, Roselyn sculpted blue styrofoam into a popsicle shape, added 2 wooden craft sticks, and attached cardstock to the back.  

Popsicle postcardIt only took two first-class postage stamps, and I bet a bunch of USPS people along its trip from Florida to California were grinning as much as I did when I saw it.

A Postcrosser in Germany sent me this very special wooden postcard – there’s a small sketched owl at the top left, and a punched-out owl figure.

Wooden postcard

Such a fantastic idea! I’ve made postcards by printing on wood veneer, but the delicate wood-cut designs used to create these cards are just exquisite. Click here to see the artist’s website, and here for his Etsy store.

Finally, this gorgeous handmade postcard from a pen pal I met through the San Francisco Correspondence Co-op. If the link doesn’t open for you and you’re interested in joining, let me know and I’ll send you information.

Mail art

I love the combination of ephemera she chose: old trading stamps and a lire note, with some music and asian type thrown in.

I’m constantly awed and inspired by the creativity of my mail art friends, and it’s as much fun to make my own creations to send to them as it is to open my mailbox and find a treasure! Hope you have a Happy Mail Day!

Holiday Gifts & Art: Shop Local!

Garden Delights Arts Holiday Show

Time is flying, and the holidays will be here before you know it! This year I’m throwing my yearly blast (aka my Holiday Gift Sale & Art Show) the first two weekends of December. You know how busy you’ll be in December, so here’s my early “save the date”. If you want a real-live postcard in your mailbox, just send your address to heidirand [at] gmail.com

After two years away, I’m excited to bring the Show back to my art studio at 5810 Barrett Ave, El Cerrito, just above Edwards Ave, on December 6-7 and 13-14, from 11 am to 5 pm (or by appointment – email me).

Holiday Show

I’m so proud to show off my new photos, designs, and mixed-media artwork and crafts, and just as excited about my upcycled creations, where I bring fresh life to paper and fabric destined for landfill. Come check out the bracelet cuffs, purses, phone and e-reader holders I make from fabric books; and the envelopes and other paper crafts I make from outdated calendars and books.

Garden Delights Arts bracelet cuff

I’ve also been busy assembling kits and supplies for paper and fabric artists and crafters, ideal for anyone who loves to create mixed-media, collage, book, and mail art.

Upcycled envelopes

Stop by to enjoy some snacks, catch up and chat. You know me – never any pressure to buy, but if you’ve got a list, I have a wide range of handmade and original-designed gifts (for yourself and for friends and family – including pets), at all different prices, and an overflowing sale bin with great deals while they last.

Garden Delights Arts

Jewelry, wearable art, purses, scarves, cards and prints, boxes, home decor, books, soap, beeswax candles, and more! Plus, our honeybees blessed us with a great harvest of absolutely delicious honey this year, and George has made some beautiful hand-dipped beeswax candles, as well as his divine soap.

Local honey

If you can’t make the show or want to see my artwork online, click these links:

Website

Artfire Gallery

My blog

Zazzle shop

Facebook

Little Free Library and Art Gallery

Our Little Free Library & Art Gallery is finally up! It has been a long journey since we first heard about the Little Free Library movement more than 2 years ago. It took us a while to find just the right old battered piece of furniture to use for the Library, and then we had to adorn it. Also, as an artist, I wanted to give away some of my work along with books, so we needed enough room for that – we ended up using the top shelf and an old real estate leaflet box that we hung on one side for artwork, crafts, prints, mail art and poems.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

For decoration, we upcycled old, discarded book covers and other treasures scavenged at our city’s recycling center’s Exchange Zone. As with all of the artwork I make from repurposed materials, I’m only using books that are torn up or moldy so they’re beyond being read. This is the top.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery top

And here’s the inside. We covered the two bottom shelves with discarded game boards. At the back of the top shelf we added an old framed mirror, so people can see themselves along with the artwork when they look in!

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

To the front we added an old brass door handle and old covers from books with … (of course) our names.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

Inside the door we adhered an old leatherette photo folder, and I designed two signs to insert into it …

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

George consulted with Dora, our neighbors’ hen, regarding whether we would have enough copies of “Chicken Little” or “The Little Red Hen” to keep up with demand.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

Our LFL&AG is evolving, and we love thinking up new things to add to it. Please stop by to visit if you’re in the El Cerrito Calilfornia area! We’re registered on the Little Free Library site as number 18978, and will eventually show up on their map.

Little Free Library & Art Gallery

Upcycled Decorator Fabric Bowls

I love making useful things out of my artwork. When I started printing my own photos and designs onto fabric it opened up a universe of options to use the material — for scarves, sachets, pillows, and so much more! One of my favorite things to make with my fabric is bowls and vases.

Fabric bowl

If you’re clever enough to come up with your own patterns I’m envious, but I need some direction, and this C&T Publishing book was perfect: Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric Vases by Linda Johansen. I also love her book Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric BowlsThat one’s out of print but C&T sells it as an ebook or you can find it used. These are two of the first vases I made using a pattern in Linda’s Vases book.

Fabric vases

When I scored a stash of amazingly beautiful fabric in decorator sample books at the Oakland Museum White Elephant sale I realized that the larger pieces would upcycle perfectly into bowls. If you’re in the Bay Area SCRAP-SF usually has a great supply of sample books at very reasonable prices. I’ve made three of the bowls so far from fabric I got out of one book. The fabric’s richly embossed and overstitched with divine floral patterns. I used a template for a 9 inch bowl with six leaves, the same one I used for the bowls in the first photo above. This is my current favorite, made from the gold-toned fabric.

Upcycled decorator fabric bowl

The red one is gorgeous too. Here’s the bottom. They’re easily reversible, all you have to do is push on the base and the bowls turn inside out.Upcycled fabric bowl red

The front of the red bowl.
Upcycled fabric bowl red

The easiest way to make these is to construct a sandwich with 2 pieces of fabric, good sides facing out, and slip between them a piece of thick stabilizer that’s fusible on both sides. Bond the sandwich by ironing to activate the adhesive. Place the template or pattern from Linda’s book on top, then mark around and cut. Depending on your template or pattern you may also have to mark the base.
Upcycled fabric bowl white

Sew up the bowl and you’re set! I double satin-stitch around each of the leaves and the base. Bowls are great gifts, perfect to hold keys and coins, dry food, beauty and bathroom items, at your bed side or on your vanity, etc.

Sorry,  I can’t find a link to show you the template I used for these because I bought it years ago, but click here if you want to see an example of one you can use to make a small basket.

Interested in upcycling?

This is my blog post about upcycling books into art.

In this one I talk about using upcycled fabric in an art hanging.

I show an envelope made from old paper in this post.

 

 

Upcycling Books into Art

How do you feel about altered book art? I know it’s controversial and discussions about the subject can become heated. I’ve been reading a lot of books about using books for art, and am interested to find that they all contain an explanation, with varying degrees of defensiveness, of the author’s philosophy.

My take is definitely colored by my nature as a lifelong book-lover. Growing up, the inevitable answer to my parents’ question, where’s Heidi? was “in her room, reading a book.” After early jobs in fast food joints, I started my “real” work-life in libraries after graduating with a degree in English Lit. My current law job involves constant reading, and now my answer to George’s question, where are you? is still pretty much the same.

So it probably makes sense that when I first found out about altered book art it made me squeamish. I understand other artists’ philosophies, but I still would not be comfortable tearing up, painting in, or cutting a book in good shape that someone else might want to read, for art or craft. My increasing interest in upcycling, defined by Wikipedia as “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value” has helped clarify my personal stance.

In my recent blog post “Mail Art Pen Pal” I told you about upcycled envelopes I’ve been making. Here’s one from an old calendar of botanical drawings.

Upcycled handmade envelope

Out-of-date calendar pages are ideal for upcycling into collages and other mixed-media artwork, or to use as wrapping paper. And similarly, I’ll use books that other people would not want to read – those that are headed for landfill or downcycling because they’re unreadable, ripped and torn, scribbled in, or outdated but not historically significant.

Upcycled map envelopes

I made this set of envelopes from a 1990 Thomas Bros’ book of maps, not old enough to be valuable vintage ephemera and too old to be relied upon by the few people around who don’t use Google maps or have a smartphone or GPS!

I’ve been gathering books that fit my strict criteria at the El Cerrito Recycling + Environmental Resource Center, 8501 Schmidt Lane, El Cerrito. Along with an award-winning recycling program, the Center houses an “Exchange Zone,” where people donate and take home “reusable and gently-used materials.” There’s a big dumpster filled with newly-dropped off books to scrounge through, and many are also shelved in a vague sort of order by volunteers. If I’m not sure I’ll hold it up and ask George “would anyone use this?” He has the final word.

Books

We’re also very lucky to live near another wonderful resource, the Bay Area Free Book Exchange, where you can take any book for free (up to 100 a day!) and also donate books. According to the Exchange’s website, they currently have “approximately 10,000 free books in [the] store, and have given away 406,010 books since May 2009. All books on all of the shelves are free for the taking. If you are interested in donating books, you are welcome to drop off during our business hours, Saturday & Sunday 9am-6pm.”  The Book Exchange is at 10520 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito.

Since my artistic focus is using my photographs and the images I create from them in my artwork, I’m just very slowly starting to use books in my mixed-media pieces.

Le petit oiseau

I found some pages from an old ripped-up French/English piano music book for children. Leafing through it, this page for “Le petit oiseau / The Warbler” jumped out at me. I chose several of my bird photographs and arranged them on a blank canvas in Photoshop Elements the same size as the sheet music, which I cut down slightly so it would fit in my printer. It went through with no problem. Printing on untreated paper doesn’t look the same as on paper that’s treated for inkjet inks, so the colors are a bit muted and the resolution isn’t as sharp, but I like the effect on the aged paper and with the musical notes running through the images.

I love the idea of honoring old books that were once loved but are now tattered and torn, by using them in artwork. And re-using old paper saves a sheet of the new.

Interested in finding out more? These are two of the books I found at the San Francisco Public Library: Book Art : Creative Ideas to Transform Your Books– Decorations, Stationery, Display Scenes, and More, by Clare Youngs and Playing with Books : the Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book, by Jason Thompson.

Holiday Gift Sale and Art Show

2013 Art Show and Gift Sale

Hard to believe it’s holiday season again, but December is fast approaching. I love this time of year because I get to show my friends and collectors what I’ve been working on for the past 12 months.

My 2013 Holiday Art Show and Sale will be held at the Village Shops and Galleries,10330 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, between Eureka and Stockton Streets, on Saturday to Sunday December 7 and 8, and Wednesday through Sunday Dec. 11 to 15. We’ll be open each day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Evolon cuff bracelet

I’m so proud to show off my new photos and mixed-media artwork and crafts, and excited to introduce a line of upcycled creations, where I bring fresh life to paper and fabric destined for landfill. Come check out the bracelet cuffs, purses, phone and e-reader holders I make from discarded home decor fabric books; and the envelopes and other paper crafts I make from outdated calendars and unusable books.

Upcycled handmade envelope

I hope you’ll be able to stop by to enjoy some snacks, catch up and chat. As always, I have a wide range of handmade and original-designed gifts (for yourself and for friends and family – including pets), at all different prices: including jewelry, wearable art, purses, scarves, cards and prints, boxes, home decor, books, soap, beeswax candles, and more!

Honey and beeswax candle

The Gallery is wheelchair accessible, and there’s plenty of on-street free parking. It’s about a half mile from the El Cerrito Plaza BART station.

Hen clock

If you can’t make the show or want to see my artwork online, click these links:

Website

Artfire Gallery

My blog

Zazzle shop

Facebook

If you have any questions, or would like me to mail you a postcard to remind you about the show, email me at heidirand@gmail.com or leave a comment after this post.

Mail Art pen pal

In a recent post I told you about Postcrossing, a website for people around the world to send and receive postcards. In a scant four months I’ve sent 47 and received 37 cards! My postcards have travelled 395,996 km (246,061 miles) and those I’ve received have gone 298,069 km (185,211 miles). Here’s my Postcrossing map:

Postcrossing map

In their profiles (click the link to see mine), people tell a bit about themselves and can say what kind of cards they’d like to get. A wonderful Postcrosser from back East who was chosen at random to send me a card saw that I collect vintage embossed holiday cards and mailed me two fabulous old postcards. She used a triangle stamp on the envelope, because I mentioned in my profile that I collect those. Talk about a Happy Mail Day!

DSC_6715 small

Emailing through Postcrossing, we realized that we have many similar interests, and she proposed corresponding by mail. I couldn’t say yes fast enough! She also loves photography, and sent me a greeting card she made from her wonderful photo of a Fall garden, along with two more precious vintage embossed holiday cards from her collection.

For my first offering, I decided to send one of my accordion cards, which I made by printing four of my native flower kaleidoscope designs onto a sheet, and folding it. I wrote on the back.

Native flowers kaleidoscope accordion card

I’ve started making upcycled envelopes from paper that would otherwise be thrown away or recycled. I chose one that I made from an old calendar of botanical drawings.  The stamp in the right corner is one I designed from my photo of a masdevallia orchid. I had the stamps made through my Zazzle gallery.

Upcycled handmade envelope

Have you had a Happy Mail Day recently? If so please tell!

Here are my other blog posts about handmade postcards:

Passion for Postcards

Handmade Fabric Postcards

Printing on Wood Veneer