ART DOLLS "HOW TO" With Recycled Supplies

I have been creating art dolls from recycled/repurposed materials for about 12 years now.  It's something that I always come back to at some point, no matter how long I am pulled in other artistic directions.  If you follow this blog you'll have seen the post from December, 2012, where I shared some images of a series of art dolls I made with tags.  Here's the link to that post if you missed it:  We Want Some Old Stuff - Part 5

And another day, I will post some other art dolls I have made from all sorts of materials.

Today, I wanted to share with you a series of "Star Gazer" art dolls I made with the most innocuous of base materials.  Most of these examples have two basic ingredients:  a vintage wooden milk bottle cap liner and a chipboard star cutout (photo shows them with a quarter for size reference).

The chipboard stars were given to me by a friend who was going to send them to the trash.  "Oh no," I cried, "I can use those for something."  When will I ever learn?  It's comments like this that have my studio packed to overflowing!  Anyway, I digress.  As soon as I saw the stars I loved their wonky shape and thought they'd make a great body for some kind of art doll.  While rummaging through my stash of crap (I mean, wonderful stuff), I came upon the vintage wooden milk bottle cap liners and started experimenting with with a couple of face rubber stamps I already had.

One thing led to another and this "Star Gazer" series of art dolls emerged.  I painted the stars and then used various treatments on them.  Some have foiling, some are stamped and then glittered within an inch of their lives, and some are covered in glitter glass (which, for those who don't know, is glass that has been pulverized until it is the size of chunky glitter.  It is incredibly sparkly but hard on the fingers when working with it).

I had some Prima paper flowers that had been salvaged from the trash, along with a bunch of other doodads and a big supply of recycled butterfly embellishments that were abandoned on my doorstep.  Seriously.  I'd often open the front door to find bags of stuff (not crap) left for me.  Thankfully, these butterflies were things I could use.  Not everything left on my doorstep was exactly a treasure let me tell you.

Below are scans of the finished art dolls.  I am very pleased with how they turned out.  There are a couple that use vintage recycled slide mounts for part of the head (No. 6 and No. 9), and one has a face of hand molded clay (No. 6).  They all hang from metallic thread for easy display.  If you double-click on any image you should be able to get a close-up look at them.  The scans really don't do them justice.  They are VERY sparkly !!

I will list these in my Etsy store sooner or later, but if you are interested in purchasing one or more, please email me at:

I will be charging $25.00 for each one-of-a-kind doll and if you order here through my blog, I will pay the postage anywhere in North America (that's a savings of about $10.00, as my thanks for supporting my blog).

Any questions about how the dolls were made, feel free to contact me.

Adios Mi Amigas!

Altered Art With Game Pieces

As a kid of the 1960s I had this fun game called, "Funny Bones."  It was kind of like Twister but without the sheet of plastic on the floor.  Instead, you used cards with instructions like "connect the hand bone to the hip bone," to contort yourselves into hilarious positions.

Somehow, I ended up keeping that set of cards with me for decades and decades and finally decided I should either get rid of the set or do something with the cards.  Again, like the large sized laminate samples I blogged about on January 20th, they were such a good size and good material onto which to do some altered art.

So, here are some examples of the altered art / mixed media / collage work I made with a few of them.  As always, I used a high content of recycled/reclaimed materials in these pieces, along with vintage images, stamped images, assorted embellishments, paints, inks and other materials.

I hope you enjoy these!


Where Do You Get Your Quotes?

I have been using quotes for many, many years in my art and I am often asked where I get them from.  I started collecting quotes that really resonated with me a long time ago.  This was long before the advent of all of those websites there are today where you can find any kind of quote you desire.  I used to write them down longhand in a booklet or type up lists of them to save and use in my art.

I think that a great quote (or part of a song's lyrics) are a key ingredient in my art.  I can't imagine creating art without them.  I am particularly partial to using song lyrics because music is my very favourite art form.  Yes, music, not art, although art is a close second.  I could do without many things in my life, but not my music.  There is nothing more valuable to me and I think the greatest gift we can give one another is the gift of music.  It is the universal language.

Sometimes I will have a quote (or lyrics) rolling around in my head that I really want to use in a piece of art and that is the jumping off point when I start creating.  Other times, the art itself starts to come together long before I find a quote to go with it.  Sometimes the art will sit for months, mostly finished, just waiting for the right quote or lyrics to pop into my head.  I never try to force myself to match up a piece of art with the right quote.  I have complete faith that the right one will reveal itself to me at the right time.

When I was a teenager in the late 1970s, and had to do typing practice for school, I would type up song lyrics.  I kept a huge binder of them for years!  Needless to say, many of those lyrics are still rambling around in my brain.   Trust me, you want me on your music trivia team.

Because I no longer play music (as a musician) and focus on creating art instead, I try to meld these two loves as often as I can.   I love to do homage art featuring lyrics from my favourite musicians and bands as a small way to pay tribute to them for all the enjoyment their music has given me over the years.  If I had more time, perhaps when I retire from the workforce, I would like to do a whole series of art with music quotes. 

Anyway, here are a few pieces, some brand new and some quite old, that use some of my favourite quotes. I  hope you enjoy them.

Namaste, my friends


Bonus!  I found this sheet of vintage Valentine tags that I had created some time ago, and thought you might enjoy using these for any last-minute goodies for your sweetheart.

Just right-click on the image and save it to your own computer.  It is a JPG file that is set up to print on a single 8.5 X 11 piece of paper, although you may have to re-size it a bit depending on the differences between our respective systems.

The images come from my huge collection of vintage postcards from the Victorian/Edwardian era.  As always, you are free to use the images as you wish for your personal use.  If you make something to sell, I would appreciate it if the credit is noted.

The collection is copyrighted by me so please do not re-distribute in whole or in part or re-produce in any form for resale.

Hope you enjoy them!


MORE Angel Ornaments, Courtesy of Kay and Mary Beth

Wow, I am just SO impressed with how my fellow Facebook artist friends are taking this idea of angel ornaments (made with recycled greeting cards) and running with it.  These latest beauties are by Mary Beth Aufmuth and Kay Portmess.  Aren't they gorgeous??

If you're wondering what this project is all about, go check out my blog posts from December 27 and December 30 to see.  It is an easy project that is so much fun!

Mary Beth's angels are the first photo and Kay's are the second two!





Altered Art Bingo Cards

I was fortunate, a few years ago, to be given a supply of very old bingo cards to use in my altered art projects.  They had a wonderful patina to them that only old stuff has and made a great base for doing some funky art on top of.

Stamped images, vintage images, assorted doodads and all kinds of recycled and repurposed materials were used in these pieces.

Paper Towel Art? Really??

Yes, really.  There is no reason on earth not to make use of some of your unappreciated but well-used background tools in your art.  They can make unique and funky additions to your mixed media, collage and art-journalling projects.

When I am using the ol' credit card  paint scraping technique to prepare a substrate (and I use this technique about every five minutes), I will often wipe the credit card off onto a paper towel before I use the card again for another color.  The same goes for brushes, my brayer and other tools.  The paper towel ends up looking pretty cool, so I've started incorporating them into my backgrounds.

Here's a couple of pieces of paper towel that have certainly earned their keep in my studio.

Close Up Of Paper Towel
Close Up Of Paper Towel

And here are a couple of scans of two journal pages (in the making) using paper towel (those are the pinky/orange areas of the pages).  I used Mod Podge under and over and the effect was that the paper towel almost melted into the background, leaving only the color and the interesting swirly pattern.  Cool, huh?

(Start Of) Two-Page Journal Page Spread

Paper Towel Scraps Are the Pinky/Orange Areas

Paper Towel Scraps Are the Pinky/Orange Areas

Close-Up Of Paper Towel On Journal Page

Close-Up Of Paper Towel On Journal Page

Close-Up Of Paper Towel On Journal Page

You can see why my studio ends up bursting at the seams with stuff.  It is hard to throw anything away, even the dirty ol' paper towels! By the way, many paper towels are double ply, so if you pull them gently apart and you'll double the cool pieces you'll have to add to your art.  The photos in this post are of two-ply paper towel.  My experimentation has shown that the colors on the paper towel sit up better when I don't separate the plies, but when I really want the paper to sink into the background, it's better to separate the plies.


"Discard Divas" Altered Art

I did a whole series of "Discard Divas" who were all made from a variety of recycled materials, hence their name.

These two examples were created by altering laminate samples from the hardware store.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Laminate samples, like the kind you'd take home to see how they'd look in your kitchen if you were thinking of  replacing your countertops.  These sample pieces were about 4" X 5" but most you'll see in the hardward store are much smaller.  They make a great base onto which to create small art because they are very sturdy and have nice finished edges.  The hole in the top makes for ease of display once they are turned into some fun and funky altered art.

I used paint, inks and stamped images on the laminate itself for the background.  The divas are made up of a variety of vintage images, discarded/salvaged items and assorted embellishments.  Each piece is adorned with scrap fibers and funky ribbons.

Wish Upon A Star - Altered Art Doll

"Wish Upon A Star" began as a wooden star wand (from the kid's crafts section at Michael's) and a bunch of wooden star shapes.

I used inks and dyes with stamps for the large star piece, which became the doll's body.  The wand was painted silver and adorned on the star section at the top with various glitters, a stamped image for the face and a metal finding with rhinestones for the headdress.  The other small wooden pieces were added as accents to the body.




I was thrilled to get messages from Kathleen Childers and Lois Inman Engle, fellow FB artist friends, with photos of the beautiful little angel ornaments they made from my post here with the instructions I posted here.

Aren't they adorable?  These ladies really have taken a simple little idea and run with it.

Thank you, Kathleen and Lois, for sharing them with all of us!


PS - The first two photos are Kathleen's and the last four are Lois'.