This past weekend our guild hosted a marvelous workshop with Harvest Crittenden. There was much playing with walnut, coffee and other natural dyes. We experimented with bleach, salt, mica powders and even watercolor crayons. There were techniques for transferring laser copies of photographs with acrylic mediums, blender markers and contact paper. We made coffee clay ornaments and tried out various rubber stamping techniques. The final focus would be to create an antiqued square paper adhered to binder’s board with a smaller frame, similar to the one to the rear of the photo here.
It was great fun, but the real challenge is coming back home and finding out how to incorporate these techniques into one’s own work without becoming what I like to call a “workshop clone”. We’ve all been there. It’s so tempting to repeat what you’ve learned and suddenly you have a studio full of paste papers or fancy curlycue doo-dads.
That doesn’t mean you can’t make a frame and background. Here’s mine, which while unfinished, gave me a chance to try using acrylic pouring medium to transfer the photo here at home. It resulted in an interesting puddle of acrylic rather than the smooth flat acrylic skin you get when you brush on multiple coats of gel. Since it comes in only gloss finish, I added a coat of matte medium over the finished skin to take down the glare. Although I may never finish this project, the experimentation was great.
The ultimate goal in any workshop should be to take what works for you and see how you can use it in your own work. The paper we used was Arches text wove. I cut my experimental workshop pages in a 5 x 14 inch size so that I can include them in another of my coptic bound sketch books.
The photo to the left is a detail of one of the sketchbook sized pages where the paper has been bruised with a ruling pen, covered with coffee stain, walnut ink and instant coffee granuals. The transfer was done with contact paper, but I didn’t like the plastic look. When I peeled it off, it left a wonderful shadow. Happy accidents are always welcome.
To the right is a page from one of my current sketch books where I tried transferring a photo with the chartpak blender pens. I highly recommend these as an alternative to the very messy and smelly acetone transfer technique that some books suggest.
Another experiment involved using matte medium and artwork from cocktail napkins. This is lots of fun and the results were lovely, but probably not something I’d use in my original artwork since there could be copyright issues involved in using the artwork on the napkins.
All in all, it was a great weekend. Harvest is a master teacher and her techniques are all applicable to artwork from antique to modern. I enjoyed every minute and could spend hours experimenting and creating here in my studio.