Monday, June 11, 2012

The Process So Far

A couple of posts ago, I showed you the new altered book piece I'm working on, entitled Book of Dreams. A lot has happened since then- I got a new computer, the school year (finally!) ended, the Figuratively Speaking exhibit opened, and then, on Sunday- I broke my ankle.  I still can't believe it myself- just strolling along the creek side, anticipating a fun and leisurely search for good junk that the Spring rains might have washed down to the island (or, as the ER nurse put on the report, "looking for art materials"), I put my foot on a rock, slipped, heard a snapping sound, and found my self lying in the rocks and mud.

So, my point is, somewhere in between all those events, I was still working on the piece, a bit at a time. Not so much since the ankle fiasco, which I think you probably could have already deduced on your own, right?  And, since I did not hit my head when I fell (why did the ER staff keep asking me that?), I still remember that I had promised to give you a step-by-step overview of my process.  So, here goes.

I started with the front cover, which I envisioned as the gateway to the realm of dreams.  I wanted to use the sphinx from a piece I had made and sold several years ago, so I used photoshop to cut out the figure, then printed it out to use as a transfer.  My idea here was to do an acrylic gel transfer of an inkjet image, hoping that, if I lucked out, the resulting poor-quality transfer would have the appearance of a worn, faded illustration on the cover of a very old and forgotten storybook. (Gel transfers work best with toner-based ink, not inkjet.)  I knew it would probably be a big bloppy mess, but I gave it a try, and to my great surprise, it worked perfectly.  Unfortunately, the acrylic medium soon began to peel off the surface of the book cover, which was more smooth and slippery-feeling than covers I'd previously work on. Ultimately, I had to peel it off and re-do the transfer four more times, including a good deal of sanding, gessoing, and scraping; it never did look as good as it had the first time, though.

Before doing any more work on the sphinx, I glued on the map pieces and dress pattern piece that form the bottom/foreground, as well as the dress pattern pieces that form the rectangular 'door' area.  Images of cuneiform characters were transferred onto the rectangular door, and transfers of the botanical illustrations were layered on top of the other images.  Acrylic paint, inks, watercolor pencils and crayons, and artist pens were used to enhance the sphinx and other parts of the drawing.

I used my awl to punch holes in the book cover for the stitching, which was done with embroidery floss. After quite a bit of debating, I decided to make the letters for "Book of Dreams" from the cuneiform characters, cutting, turning, and/or altering them to make them look like English letters.  Though it initially seems to work, I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.

The "door" is an old brass escutcheon that I bought on etsy, and attached with brads; the "doorknob" is strange sort of screwpost thingamabobby I bought somewhere.

Well, that's the first installment; I hope my explanations were more helpful than confusing.  I'm never sure if I'm including enough information, or rattling on way too much, so please let me know.  If there are things I didn't explain well, or you just want to know more than what I addressed, please feel free to ask.  Likewise, if there are easier or more efficient ways to do things, don't hesitate to share these with me.  I'll also be talking more about some of the materials I use, as I continue to share my process throughout this project.


  1. Amazing how all those little thingamybobs eventually turn out to be useful. Love the close up of the door and the detail it shows. Look forward to the next instalment.

  2. My blood runs cold at the thought of you snapping your ankle bone...... and yet you sound pretty chirpy. Loving the cover of your book, Sharmon. Take it easy now!

  3. your cover is coming along just great, I can't believe you broke your ankle! guess you needed to slow down a bit eh? that would certainly do it! hopefully you will be able to start creating soon... x

  4. Oh yikes! hope that ankle heals perfectly! Love the details of your collaging process my printer is just now getting old enough to start putting strange things though it like cloth, wood, glass and even some old copper sheeting. I still have to read Digital Alchemy by Bonny Pierce Lhotka that has been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year & don't know if this would help but Jo Sonja's All Purpose Sealer is one of the most amazing products I have ever found for getting paint & paper to stick to plastic & a jeweler friend Emily Valentine recommends Weldbond for sticking things together she makes fabulous feather animals out of found plastic toys

  5. Great post, thanks for sharing about your process,Shar - yee gods, i hope your ankle heals up quick. blessings, sus

  6. Egads. Snap.
    How well I recall that sound when the two bones in my arm broke two years ago...
    take 'er easy and mend well.

    Lovin' the work...always a fan.

  7. Thanks, Whitney! The usefulness of various thingamabobs has begun to make me fearful of throwing ANYTHING away; now I'm afraid I'll become a hoarder!

    Thanks Robyn! I wasn't very fond of that sound, either. Taking it easy isn't easy at all, it turns out, but I'm trying.

    Well, Cat, a broken ankle will certainly slow you down like nothing else! I have started creating again, though. the heck with keeping your ankle above your heart- who can do that all the time?

    Mo Crow- thanks for the good ankle wishes, and for the adhesive advice. Coincidentally, someone else just recommended that same book- guess I'll have to read it. and I'm completely baffled by how one would put things such as copper or glass through a printer!

    Sus, thanks for visiting, and for the well-wishes!

    Hello sweet Donna! Isn't that a freaky sound? Don't want to hear it ever again. Thanks for stopping by; I will do my best to mend well.

  8. l'entrée au royaume du livre.. superbe!


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