Wednesday, January 21, 2009

i'm finally a struggling artist!

No, not like you think.

I'm struggling to keep from bashing my head against the wall, in search of a good way to prep thin pages in books and journals to accept wet media.

When I joined the Composition Book Art Journal group, I read the group files, I googled, I even read some of the books I have in my own library. By far, the most frequent answer is to use good paper (as in watercolor 140# cold press or thick handmade papers).

Well, that doesn't help me one bit, as I am pretty sure if I wrote the composition book people and told them they need to use that kind of paper, they would be laughing so hard they couldn't reply.

Ya know?

Anyhoo, one of the suggests I read was to glue two pages together to increase the strength. Okay, did that. Used a glue stick and it didn't really make them stick together all that well. Tried again. Used Yes! paste and that worked good as far as sticking, except the page was really buckled badly. So, then I added some gesso to both sides. Still buckled. Stronger, but buckled.

Note to file: do not glue 2 pages together anymore. It may work for someone else, but not for me.

Then, I ran across someone on Flickr who said she preps her pages like artist Kelly Kilmer taught her in a workshop, and she couldn't give all the details, but it involves collaging torn paper strips onto the page and then painting or gessoing on top of that.

Well, sweet! So, I thought, could this help salvage my buckled pages? I tore a bunch of strips from a mail order catalog (thin paper, kind of glossy, like magazine paper) and then basically wallpapered them on. Had a great tactile time, too. I used my Yes! paste and my fingers, because it was just easier that way (and I do get some kind of perverse enjoyment out of having my fingers right in the smooshy stuff).

Seriously, I put a little hot water in a glass custard cup, and then every time before I would spread the paste with my fingers onto the paper strips, I'd just touch my finger pads onto the surface of the water to wet them a teeny bit. This really helped me be able to smoosh the paste onto the entire paper strip, front and back. And since the paper I was using was somewhat glossy, it accepted the little amount of water very well.

Yes, I know I could also use gel medium and I have before and will again, but I have this big old container of Yes! paste sitting around slowly getting hard. You know old Kmarty me! Waste not want not!

So here's what it looked like at that point:

{Click on photo to see it larger}

To recap, this composition book page spread is pasted paper collage on top of a thin coat of gesso on top of 2 lined notebook pages pasted together. Here's another photo angle of the raw page up to this point:

{Click on photo to see it larger}

Now I let it *cure*, after first zapping it a bit with my heat gun. I left the book open to that spread, let it *be* for hours, then closed it up with wax paper between the spread and put heavy stuff on the book (to straighten the pages). Then, repeated the whole thing....for a couple of days.

And let me tell you, those pages are strong! You know the old joke about your jeans being so dirty they can stand up all by themselves? That kind of strong. So, of course, I'm loving that!

Anyway, what to do with magazine ad covered pages now? I can totally see gessoing over it or painting. But because I was going to pretty much cover most of it with my journal entry for this page spread, I just sponged on some inks which gave it a nice yellow-green hue. Here is the finished page:

{Click on photo to see it larger}

I am still experimenting. Stay tuned....until next time.
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