Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When you absolutely, positively can't use it....

If you read my blog regularly, you know I'm all about using what you have.  Sixty year-old label?  Use it!  A century-old invoice?  Tear that baby up!  A certified copy of the Gettysburg Address?  Go ahe - okay, maybe not.  :D

Tonight I spoke at the Fond du Lac County Geneaological Society about what to do if you just can't use what you have.  I brought along some good examples of my family's ephemera - the telegrams sent to my great-grandma and -grandpa congratulating them on their wedding; the same great-grandparents' high school yearbooks; my Grammie's baby book (and her mother's baby book, from 1897); a photo of my great-grandpa wearing his long curls (and a box of those exact curls) - in essence, things that will NEVER be used in my artwork.

But let's say that you'd like to do a project using those photos.  What do you do?  Well, I had a project I'd done from my Grammie's 85th birthday and I created two more just for this speaking engagement.  Here they are:

Do you have any old negatives laying around?  Well, get yourself some Sunprint paper and have a blast!  I love these "cyanotypes" - that color blue is one of my favorite colors on earth.  What I did with this collage is take an old negative of my mom when she was about 6 or 7 and made the imprint with the Sunprint paper.  Then I took various old school books and a handwriting manual, along with a small portion of a torn paper collage (behind the illustration), and voila!  You have a fun keepsake of my mom's school days, done in an unusual way.

This next project is the card that I made for my Grammie's 85th birthday, in August of 2009.  Because she suffered from dementia I wanted to create a card that may trigger some memories for her, so I found a photo of her from her 18th birthday.  I scanned it and made a transparency out of it.  I cut out the image of her and placed it atop a collage I'd created using handmade paper, an old stamp, a ration stamp, a railroad station label and some decorative touches.  I finished it with a "19" and "42", which was the year she turned 18.  She did seem to recall the trip to Chicago that she and her parents had made that year, but mostly I just loved making the card.  :D

The last project I did was a paint-by-number that I created using Photoshop Elements.  The photo that I used for my inspiration is my great-grandmother when she was 17 or 18.  It's very formal, isn't it? :D  I got the directions from Craft magazine about five years ago and had only attempted it once, but I thought I'd give it a shot again.  This time, instead of acrylic paints, I used pastel chalks.  I really like how this turned out!

I still say that if you can, you should use the real thing. If you absolutely cannot, it's good to know there are oodles of options!  :D


  1. You can also use the negatives on your scanner. Just experiment. Nice blog (as usual).

  2. Excellent!!!! Love your great ideas and creativity!
    Thythro = my word verification. Funny!

  3. Do I see a paint-by-number workshop in your future, Mel? :D