Thursday, October 16, 2014

Easy Watercolor Skull Pennants

by Sarah Trumpp

I love Halloween.  I love it like Joanie Loves Chachi, probably even more since Scott Baio isn't involved.  If you love Halloween like I do, this is a perfectly simple decoration that is shockingly easy to make.


My cousin's kitchen is adorned with Tibetan prayer flags, and I decided she needed some skulls.  Hey, it's not every day that I get to decorate other people's houses!

I started with watercolor paper cut into 5 x 3-inch rectangles and then cut those into long triangles.  I sketched very simple skull shapes in water-soluble pencil.  Wonky eyes?  Uneven chins?  Perfect!


 I used a very wet watercolor wash for the background, starting with plain water and then dropping the color down in random places, letting it run as it pleased.


While the paint was still very wet, I covered it with Kosher salt.


The salt absorbs the pigment and leaves very cool random patterns once it dries.  Let it dry completely and scrape it off using an old credit card or the edge of a piece of watercolor paper like I did.


After I tried to see my future in dried watercolor blotches (and failed miserably, I might add), I shaded the skull with diluted India ink.  I have never found a black watercolor that doesn't make me want to gouge my own eyes out, so I use ink for blacks.


I used very wet watercolor loaded onto a brush and gave my pennants some splatters for added texture:


Once that dried, I used a 01 Micron to give the skulls some definition and decoration.


To string them all together, I used Perle Cotton on a ridiculously long needle (you can use a shorter needle - I just happened to have a dollmaker's needle in my backpack with all of my clothes.  Why I decided to bring a dollmaker's needle on a 3000-mile road trip is beyond my own comprehension).  I started by poking a hole through the front...


and then brought the thread around the back and poked it back through.


Once I decided how far apart I wanted them (about 6 inches), I locked them in place by making tiny cuts by each hole (being extra careful not to actually cut all the way to the hole)..


and then brought the thread through the notch, pulling it tight to lock it in place!


I hung the pennants over my cousin's sink using simple scotch tape.  I'm sure she'll find a more permanent solution - she's smart like that. ;)

These skull-themed pennants are a great way to bring the Halloween spirit into your home or the home of unsuspecting family members whether it's October or June!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Creating a Seasonal Mailart Display



 by Ann D'Angelo



Although my house is already brimming with mailart, I am always looking for new ways - and new reasons - to display more.  I don't need a particularly good reason, by the way. The mailman came?  Let's display mailart! My husband made grilled cheese? Does it have a side of mailart? The earth is still circling the sun? GALILEO MAILART! 

As one might imagine, Halloween nearly provides more reasons than my mortal human form can withstand. For anyone who shares my affliction, here's a fun project that helps considerably.



To make one of these - or something like it - follow these steps.

1.  Start with a wooden base.

My base came from Goodwill, and it looked more or less like this:



Wooden alphabet blocks would also do nicely, as would an old-fashioned cheese box.

2.  Paint it up.

I decided to go with a traditional Halloween color scheme using Mars Black and some "Tangerine" craft paint, but any paint will do.



For added appeal, I tinted the tangerine and grabbed a stencil.



3.  Embellish the front of the base.

For the front of my base, I wanted something dimensional that also looked sophisticated. On the tangerine blocks, I stamped Halloween images using Staz-On ink, then embossed them four times over with clear embossing powder and a heat gun.






For the black blocks, I robbed some doll heads of their eyes (I know - it sounds gruesome, but it looks cool!).



4.  Insert the display elements.

The most obvious way to display mailart is to use 18- or 20-gauge wire, drilling tiny holes in the base and then using epoxy or epoxy clay to hold the wire in place on the bottom while rolling the top into a spiral shape.  For this project, I decided to go a different way:  I drilled larger holes and inserted Tinker Toys, which is to say, two-inch sections of dowel rod with a slit in the middle.

For maximum visual impact, I painted the dowel rods with stripes.



5.  Add height.

This last step is an optional one, but I typically like to put a display like this up in the air.  In this case, I used plain wooden spools, nailing them into the bottom of my base before embellishing them with components from snaps.  Thimbles would work well in place of the spools, as would dice, drawer knobs, and a variety of other found objects.

Once the piece is finished, display some fabulous mailart, like these ATCs by Sarah Trumpp, Cindy Jo Blair, and Sal Scheibe!


 
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