What if Scrapbooking is dead? Other uses for Tools and Supplies

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This article is written by  Ann Strecko Koeman

While I attended the last Craft and Hobby Association Conference and Trade Show in Anaheim, California in the United States, I often heard the following phrase:  “Scrapbooking is dead.”  Now, I also heard several people bemoan that statement and even express complete denial, while others nodded in agreement and expressed their own agreement.

Crop bag with Scrapbooking tools and supplies now used as Mixed Media tool kit

Although I do believe that the commercial and retail aspects of selling scrapbooking supplies has reached its peak and is quickly declining as so many fads do, I don’t believe it will completely disappear.  After all the concept of collecting and cataloguing memories in paper form has been around since the invention of paper, it also continues to be essential to our existence and to the history of our future generations.  Although the accumulation and collection of memories is done differently these days and appears to be the wave of the future.  We take a lot more digital images now and record a lot more of our experiences, we just do it differently.

So what are we to do with all of those tools and supplies we have invested in over the decades?  I say, keep them and use them.  If however you have chosen to completely give up on anything handmade then please send your unwanted tools to another loving home.  But if you are reading this, I gather that you still have a love for the handmade process.  Mixed Media artists now is the time to take advantage of all those clearance sales and cast offs of unwanted scrapbooking tools.  Just because a tool or supply is marketed to be sold in one market does not mean it cannot be used in another.  Over the years I have collected a variety of skills and thus a vast collection of tools including an overpriced collection of intended for scrapbooking tools.  I am keeping my best tools for my Mixed Media work.  As a Mixed media artist any supply is game and any tool is game.  I will use my straight edge 12 inch trimmers, my punches, and even my page layout guides in my art.  I still need to cut things, make shapes, and those plastic page layout guides, well they make great stencils!

Mixed Media Art background made with the help of Scrapbook doodles templates and punches

As for all those 12 x 12 papers I have collected, they are great in mixed media making, especially in making my own books.   so are those stickers they make great masks.  All those embellishments are just that, embellishments.  I am also hanging on to my old scrapbooking supplies and tools because I am way behind in my memory album keeping.  For example I have yet to finish my now 18 year old son’s baby album!  In the mean time I am having fun collecting more of my neighbours unwanted  out of date scrapbook papers, and buying out lots of discontinued embossing folders at low prices.  Scrapbooking may be a dying fad but Mixed media art making is very much alive.

Art journal page with layer of scrapbook paper fussy cut images and die cuts

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Ann loves to collect and organize as many tools and supplies as possible because she is always making things.  Incredibly she finds a use for most of her collections.  She enjoys making Mixed Media Art because it allows her to use all her skills and collections.

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Creating Acrylic Backgrounds with Water

 

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This article is written by Anjuli Johnson

As a self taught artist, I would say that I’ve experimented with a lot of paint.  Watercolor, oil, gouache- but I always come back to acrylic.  There’s so much to love about acrylic paint- how different brands react so differently to certain techniques, the fact that it dries fairly quickly, and especially how it reacts to water.  My spray bottle is one of the most used tools in my studio because of how often I use water and paint to create acrylic backgrounds for my mixed media paintings.  I have 3 paintings to show you, and I’ll outline how I created the backgrounds for each one.

Texture paste and quilled paper pieces on an acrylic background

Magnetism- For this piece, I began with a dry canvas.  I used red paint on one corner, orange on the other.  I brushed the paint closer to the center without the two colors touching, and then used my spray bottle over the entire canvas.  The water is what brought the two colors together in the center of the canvas, and I tilted the canvas a little each way until I was satisfied with how the colors were blending.  If you start with a dry canvas, it may take some extra effort to get rid of any brushstrokes, which may or may not be a concern for you.  I don’t usually like to see my brushstrokes, so I’ll continue working until the water has blended the paint smoothly into the canvas.  One tip- this brand of acrylic paint is Liquitex Basics, which was an essential factor in achieving the lightning type blending you see here.  Other brands do not react the same way, which I find incredibly fascinating.

Close up of the point of blending colors orange and red

True North, mixed media painting with an acrylic background

True North- With this piece, I misted the canvas slightly before I began.  As you can see below, I used greater concentrations of paint in certain areas and worked until, once again, all the brushstrokes have disappeared.  I added some splatters of white and blue paint to add more color, which react with the water to blend slightly with the paint around it.  Super cool!

True North mixed media painting with acrylic background

True North progress shot of acrylic background

Mixed Media painting with acrylic background, Pacific Reef

Pacific Reef- For this piece I didn’t use a brush at all.  I started with a dry canvas, and added thick spots of paint in random places, many times overlapping, especially with the white.  I used my fingers to flatten and spread the paint as I sprayed the canvas with water. Make sure you’ve tipped it up so the water will draw the color down the canvas to create that flowing effect, and if you want the colors blended smoothly, make sure you wet the entire canvas.  I have mixed the brands I used with this piece- the craft brands usually spread very smoothly over the canvas, whereas the liquitex or winsor newton brands will spread in different ways.  I love it!

Mixed media Pacific Reef with acrylic background

So many awesome ways to use water with acrylic paint to create amazing colored backgrounds!  I’d love to hear how you create your acrylic backgrounds and if you come up with any new techniques for using acrylic paint and water together.

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Author bio: Author bio:  Anjuli Johnson  is a Mixed Media Artist from Raleigh, NC.  She began her art career as a scrapbooker, and it’s been an evolutionary process every since.  She loves all things mixed media- paper, glue, paint, canvas, pens, wire, gears… the list goes on and on.  She is constantly trying to push through her fears to discover and develop her talents, meet new people, and learn from those around her. TheFarPavilion

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The Importance of Using Symbols

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This article was written by Anjuli Johnson

Google defines a symbol as “a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract.” In other words, a symbol is something tangible that represents an abstract idea.  When we think of symbols, I believe the tendency is to think of them as obscure references, not widely used, but the truth is we use symbols every day.  They are all around us. Logos and banners, gestures, signs- symbols are on our money, on our cars, and even in our language.  Letters and words are themselves symbols if you stop to think about it.  Each letter of the alphabet is simply a mix of lines and curves on a page.  By themselves, letters and words don’t mean anything, but because our culture has ascribed meaning to these markings and the order they may be arranged in, they enable us to develop thoughts and ideas about the world and share those ideas with other people.

Symbols are a teaching tool, and as such are indispensable when it comes to artistic expression.  Artists can teach absolute truths indirectly by incorporating symbols into their art.  I’d like to talk about a few of the ways I have added symbolic meaning to my art, and how each of us can share our ideas of absolute truth with our audience through the intentional use of symbols.

This panel represents corruption and sin- our attempts to hide our sins, and the fact that such an endeavour is impossible.

Symbols are best for sharing ideas when they are easily recognizable.  The piece pictured is one in a series of panels, and this particular panel is using color to symbolize sin and corruption.  Black and Red together are easily recognizable as symbols of darkness and terror. (Think “The Masque of the Red Death”, by Edgar Allen Poe.) Combined with the mess of elements, the erratically stitched muslin, the splashes of paint, and the overall messiness and chaos of this piece, the ideas of corruption and attempts to hide that corruption are well represented.

I use text in this piece to represent our knowledge as individuals and as a society.

In this piece I used blocks of text from different books that are easily recognizable in western culture (The Bible, Shakespeare, Don Quixote, etc.)  By themselves, these blocks of text could symbolize an accumulation of knowledge and culture; the birthplace of our western societies and way of thinking.  However, combined with the mess of paper clay, the splashes of brown paint, and the randomness of the paper elements, the meaning changes.  Now it represents how our culture forgets and covers the past in many ways to justify the choices of the present.

The symbols of direction and guidance are important in this piece.

I generally approach my art in two different ways- I work on a piece one element at a time and allow it to develop a life of its own, or I plan things out carefully and really take my time to ensure my vision matches what I have created as closely as possible.  I’ve found that deliberately finding ways to incorporate symbolic meaning generally means I have to take my time and plan my work very carefully, but that process really stretches me as an artist.  It’s when I’m working in this way that I experiment more, I expand my thinking and my ideas, and I end with a creation that feels like more of myself.

There are so many ways to incorporate symbolic meaning into our art.  Through color, texture, text, visual signs and tokens, etc. we can share important ideas and themes.  Just as words are written down to reveal truth and knowledge to its readers, so too symbolic art can teach absolute truth to those who take the time to understand it.  This is one of the main reasons why I believe art is so important- the fact that it can help change and stretch us as artists, individuals, and societies.

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Anjuli Johnson is a Mixed Media Artist from Raleigh, NC.  She began her art career as a scrapbooker, and it’s been an evolutionary process every since.  She loves all things mixed media- paper, glue, paint, canvas, pens, wire, gears… the list goes on and on.  She is constantly trying to push through her fears to discover and develop her talents, meet new people, and learn from those around her.  TheFarPavilion

www.thefarpavilion.com 
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Altered Book Jewelry Box

This article is written by Anjuli Johnson

Box cover close up

I have been a fan of Tim Holtz for a loooooong time.  I mean, who isn’t, really?  His lines of scrapbook and art supplies are just delicious, especially to a steampunk fan who loves to add text to most of her projects, whatever they may be.

One of his products I’ve been dying to try was his configurations line- book boxes that are filled with interchangeable compartments.  These books are perfect for altering in just about any way possible, including my choice- a jewelry box.

Tim Holtz configuration line

After altering the cover with lots of paper (notice all the text? I can’t help myself!), ink, chipboard, and paint, I used paper and fabric to line each box.  Using rolled up strips of the same fabric made my ring holder quite easy to assemble.  I didn’t even have to use glue- the pressure of the fabric rolls holds everything together, including however many rings I may end up adding to my jewelry collection.

Cover shot

I’m so pleased with how this one turned out, that I think I’ll make 2-3 more and instead of having them lay flat on my dresser, I’ll mount them on the wall and add jewelry hooks.  At first glance they will look like a range of my favorite books hanging on the wall when in reality, it’s the rest of my jewelry nestled in unique little boxes, organized and adding quite a bit of charm to my little corner of the house.

inside my jewelry box

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Anjuli Johnson is a Mixed Media Artist from Raleigh, NC.  She began her art career as a scrapbooker, and it’s been an evolutionary process every since.  She loves all things mixed media- paper, glue, paint, canvas, pens, wire, gears… the list goes on and on.  She is constantly trying to push through her fears to discover and develop her talents, meet new people, and learn from those around her.  TheFarPavilion

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