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4 free assemblage art ideas plus beginner’s guide to assemblages
presented by cloth paper scissors
joseph & me: a beginner’s guide to assemblage
birdscapes: a home for my blackbirds
3 4 5
please play with your food
ead man’s party skeletal d assemblage
Looking for a place to perch her papiermâché blackbirds, Sue Pelletier sorted through her collection of found objects and created assemblages involving wire, wood, and collage materials that range from bird house sculptures to a bird “garden” made with an old sugar shaker. In “Please Play with Your Food,” Jenn Mason shows how opening up faux produce opened up a whole new platform for mixed-media assemblage sculpture. Finally, Michael deMeng puts his Day of the Dead stamp on wedding cake toppers with his tongue-in-cheek skeletal assemblages. So, get out your cast-off wooden boxes, your mint tins, your Dremel tool, and heavy-duty glue, plus your collage supplies, and get ready to make mixedmedia art assemblages. Warmly,
Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas Plus Beginner’s Guide to Assemblages
Cloth Paper Scissors®
Division Art Director
e all collect stuff, don’t we? Little pieces of this and that found through junking, scavenging, or just keeping our eyes open to see the rare texture and unusual shape. At a certain point, we want to put these collected treasures together in a meaningful way, and hence, we make assemblage art. In this free eBook, Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas Plus Beginner’s Guide to Assemblages, we show you four approaches to making an assemblage. Boxed assemblages of collections have been popular since the “cabinets of curiosities” in the 17th century, and Joseph Cornell elevated them to an art form with a point of view in the mid20th century. So Amy Hitchcock begins with a box and a group of objects that tell a story in “The Beginner’s Guide to Assemblage.” Leilani Pierson also tells a story with assemblage collage, but she does it poetically within the tiny “canvas” of a tin container in what she calls StoryBoxes.
Larissa Davis Larry Stein
Projects and information are for inspiration and personal use only. Interweave Press LLC is not responsible for any liability arising from errors, omissions, or mistakes contained in this eBook, and readers should proceed cautiously, especially with respect to technical information. Interweave Press LLC grants permission to photocopy any patterns published in this issue for personal use only.
Where mixed media artists come to play
Cate Prato Online Editor, Cloth Paper Scissors Today
Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by
©Interweave Press LLC
joseph & me a beginner’s guide to assemblage Adapted from Cloth Paper Scissors® May/June 2010 “Mr. Robert Andrews and the Curious Woman in the Red Box” • 131⁄2" × 123⁄4" × 33⁄4" • Assemblage with found objects. I like to think that the curious woman in the red box is about to wreak havoc on their peaceful life. and Mrs. from balsa wood. 2007 “This assemblage is based upon Thomas Gainsborough’s painting.com 3 Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC . with the porcelain doll head in it. Andrews (c1750).” by Amy Hitchcock clothpaperscissors. and Mrs.’ The Andrewses look so happy and content. ‘Mr. I built the red box.
the materials I’d like to use. all too often an assemblage doesn’t quite work because the relationship between the found objects and the box are at odds. trading cards) • Decorative papers • Balsa wood • X-acto® knife and blades • Cutting mat and ruler • 5 Minute® Epoxy • Toothpicks • Paintbrushes. To this collection I add complementary decorative papers and vintage ephemera. I eventually discovered that once I got started creating. and to make the artwork more interesting to look at. using a sketchbook In the past. Eventually. drawers. a package of old sewing needles. great grandparent worthy of an assemblage. optional • Miter saw and miter box • Wood glue directions 1. Mix the epoxy according to the manufacturer’s instructions. experiment and play to determine the layout. But if you don’t. I may not have all of my materials. but I’m ready to get started. and a box of bisque doll parts. The best thing I ever bought to help this creative process along was a small sketchbook. and I was smitten. Then I look for the perfect box for my assemblage. Allow to dry. using a ruler and a cutting mat. if not. Here were assemblages that told stories that were as common and enigmatic as the materials he used. Just about every family has an excellent story about a great. Who could argue with that? getting started I often look at old family photos to get inspired. Balsa wood is easy to cut with an X-acto knife. new and often better ideas came to light. an assemblage/story emerges. Suddenly my stash of buttons and corks took on a whole new meaning. There’s nothing like a bundle of vintage National Geographic maps. putting it all together You may already have an idea where you want everything to go in your assemblage. they hold a beauty that is both familiar and mysterious to me. and adhere the wood pieces. and you’re feeling uninspired. I’m not interested in fine crystal or silver.i am a collector. Flip through your sketchbook. Decide if your assemblage will have sections or be one space. I find the best thing to do is to just dive in.com 4 . I include what I want an assemblage to look like. For here was a man who created assemblages that were made out of the same found objects that I so loved and cherished. postcards. but they also had a higher artistic purpose. as I sit with my found objects and paper goods surrounding me. but then one day I came across the work of Joseph Cornell. Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. I rifle through all of my supplies and set aside the objects that appeal to me. and any other time ideas come to me. Documenting the evolution of your projects in this way will come in handy when you’re feeling uninspired. 2" • Paints (acrylic or latex) • Wood stains • Beeswax pellets • Double boiler banal and replaceable by some. I use toothpicks to both mix and apply the glue. and floors in my assemblages to create additional spaces for imagery and found objects. I use it to jot down ideas and information about an assemblage as I work. Though found objects are often seen as m at e r i a l s • Sketchbook and pencil • Wooden box • Found objects (family mementos and photos. and any possible titles. I worried that I would run out of ideas for my next assemblage. 2. and your next assemblage may be right there. Work on the interior of the box first. I use balsa wood to make walls. I thought I was alone with this obsession. old and new • Acrylic gel medium • Plastic putty knife. Having the right size box is very important. but instead I’m attracted to vintage found objects. Not only were they beautiful. vintage paper ephemera. maps. It can also be painted and stained.
Cornell was also a filmmaker. Though she has a strong and determined look on her face. At night.joseph cornell (1903–1972) Joseph Cornell was a self-taught artist who lived his entire life with his mother and brother in Queens. he worked on his art in his basement studio. I love the colors and the strong graphics. this allows the paper to dry without wrinkles or blemishes. To create his poetic and often enigmatic assemblages. and desires. he used everyday objects and photographic images of maps. I’m sure that nothing got passed her. With these images and objects. and Renaissance art. smooth out any bubbles or excess glue. Using a paintbrush. he left his job as a textile designer and pursued his art full time. tip: I always wait for the gel to dry (the paper will feel cool while the gel is still wet) before I apply other papers or the top layer(s) of gel medium. During the day. or apply the glue directly to the found object and then put it in place. Set the papers over the wet gel. working from the center of the paper. 2008 “This assemblage was inspired by a photo of my great grandfather’s sister. he supported his mother and brother (who had cerebral palsy) by working as a freelance art designer for such magazines as Vogue and House and Garden. but you will need a saw. “She Knew How to Work a Room (A portrait of Nellie Wood)” •181⁄4" × 113⁄4" × 3" • Assemblage with found objects. as desired. making sure they lie flat. 4. Use the plastic putty knife and. to get the cuts you desire. she also looks slightly amused. 3. clothpaperscissors. Apply the epoxy glue to the surface of the box and position the pieces.com 5 Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC . diarist. and possibly a miter box. In addition to creating assemblage art. New York. and collagist.” tip: You can also use thicker pieces of wood to create sections. memories. In 1940. Epoxy or wood glue can be used to adhere these heavier pieces together as well. 6. he found a means of communicating his stories. animals. Add the 3-D elements. 5. Old soda boxes are my favorite boxes to use. Measure and cut the papers for the interior surfaces of the box. apply a thin layer of acrylic gel medium to the box.
and vintage car headlight bulbs to represent the assemblage’s industrial elements. It’s about three young women. it’s important to remember their personal stories and character. so beautiful and unique (the woman in the middle is my grandmother).“Three Graces” 12" × 103⁄4" × 4" Assemblage with found objects.com 6 . rusty nails. 2009 “To me this assemblage is a story about immigration.” Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. So many immigrants became lost in this environment of machinery and hard work. finding their way in an industrial city. I used parts of an old meat grinder.
Melt the wax pellets in a double boiler. It is a good idea to have a fan facing away from you and your work area to disperse any fumes. amyhitchcock. note: The gluing process sounds so simple. Joseph Cornell would be proud. I covered the sides of the box with decorative paper to help finish the look. but this step often ties it all together and sometimes can’t be determined until the interior of the box is finished. but it’s really not. The figurine is standing on part of an old lamp that I almost threw out. and I quickly remove it before the glue dries. I brush it only over the inside edges of the box and onto some of the found objects. Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. • Work in a well-ventilated area.com cautions • The temperature should not exceed 200° when melting wax. As an object is drying in place. Consider treating the edges and outside of the box with paints. 7. this work is made with an architectural model figurine and a child’s gardening tool.“To the Good People of Jamaica Plain” •131⁄2" × 123⁄4" × 33⁄4" • Assemblage with found objects. stains. you’ll have an assemblage that celebrates the true beauty of your found objects and your story. 2009 “Made in homage to my adopted hometown. Always check the temperature with a thermometer. Apply the melted wax with an old paintbrush as desired. Like all great artists. Not everyone likes this look. Obviously. Usually.” 8. you’ll just know when your assemblage is complete. This is when the assemblage/story comes alive. Sometimes I realize that the object isn’t going to work in that spot at all. I hope that when you do finish. this can be done before you create the assemblage. In the end. I can feel the story emerge. or decorative papers if you have used an unfinished wooden box. but I think it adds to the vintage appeal of my found objects and assemblages.com 7 .
scapes n fun. if you will. but they needed a home that would match their lively presence. cigar boxes.com 8 . bird Adapted from Cloth Paper Scissors® March/April 2010 a home for my blackbirds ot long ago. Birdscapes. “Bird house 29” • 81⁄2" × 21⁄2". and wood scraps. I began creating a series of birds that were simple yet slightly quirky. children’s blocks. The birds themselves were by Left to right: “Bird house 28” • 7 ⁄2" × 2 ⁄4". I found tinware. Sorting through my studio collection. I started experimenting with papier-mâché as a sculpture material. “Bird house 27” • 9" × 21⁄2" 1 3 Sue Pelletier Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. and all of these things became homes to a flock of birds.
) • Various embellishments: fabric scraps. sew up the edges all around. I knew I wanted a different look for their houses. 2. fabric scraps. After the bird shape is dry. m at e r i a l s • Instant papier-mâché (I used Celluclay®. 2. 5.com 9 Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC . Place a dollop of gel medium on the wire and stick the legs into the mâché while it is still wet. and embellishments to the front and sides of the house. pieces of vintage measuring tape. Stuff the house form with white tissue and. “Fly High” • 61⁄2" × 31⁄4" details 1. 2. Add gel medium under the staple. birds and houses building the bird 1. so I cut lengths about 21⁄2" long. Layer strips of torn black tissue paper over the bird body and build up the tail using long. I found them in the hardware section. 5. I applied 3 coats using newspaper strips and a glue/water mixture. 6.) • Tissue paper. The ink will stay settled in the letters for a nice contrast. 3. I tore shapes from vintage books and applied them to the bird with gel medium. 3. But after creating these birds. Allow to dry. Create a house sign with the duct tape. Cut lengths of the 14-gauge wire for the bird’s legs. Cut a piece of canvas the size of your house and glue it to the front with gel medium. Add papers. pieces of wood.I have been creating wooden house assemblages for years (see the January/ February 2008 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors: “Home is Where the Art is”). twisted strips of black tissue. Sculpt a bird shape from the instant papier-mâché. 4. 4. Coat the exterior with papier-mâché. one that was simple and monochromatic. I like them long. Doodle on the roof a bit using a black graphite pencil and water-based oil pastels. etc. clothpaperscissors. Allow to dry. I created my houses this way because I wanted them to feel and look totally different from the wood houses I had been making for quite some time. Apply black India ink to the tape and then rub it off with a paper towel. Attach the bird using a cloth staple. Cut out 2 identical house shapes from the wire mesh. Using the metal printer stamps. using wire. hammer letters into the tape to stamp the words you want. child’s block with bird m at e r i a l s • Child’s wooden block • Tinker toy or other wood shape • Small drill • Gel medium • Bird • Wire (14-gauge) • Saltshaker top • Embellishments of choice building the house 1.) • Graphite pencil • Water-based oil pastels • Duct tape • Metal stamps for letters • India ink • Paper towels • Cloth staples (I used double-point tacks #5. coat it with gel medium. black and white • Gel medium • Mod Podge® • Wire (14-gauge) • Ephemera • Canvas for house background • Wire mesh (I used WireForm®. 4. and then slide the long wire bird legs right through the staple. Add color to the beak and wings. 3.
Collage papers onto the cigar box with Mod Podge. tin cheese/sugar shaker • Air-dry clay • Bird • Celluclay • Button(s) • Embellishments of choice to decorate the tin 3. add a button center.1. clothpaperscissors. 2. “elephant in the room” This piece was created from a fairly random group of materials I had in my studio. Attach the elephant and the wooden dominoes using heavy gel medium. or Tinker toy. m at e r i a l s • Cigar box • Collage papers • Mod Podge® “Bird Garden” • 71⁄2 × 41⁄2" • Heavy gel medium • Small drill or awl • Wooden elephant or similar • Dominoes • Air-dry clay for flowers • Bird(s) • Duct tape • Metal stamps • Water-soluble oil pastels • Graphite pencil • Embellishments 1.com 10 2. stick the wire legs through the holes in the shaker top and into the clay. and stick the wire ends through the holes in the shaker top and into the clay. 1. Create some flowers with the Celluclay. to the top of the block with gel medium. Attach the saltshaker top to the wooden piece using gel medium. Attach your wood shape. Add embellishments to the outside of the tin. Stick the bird’s legs through the holes in the top of the saltshaker and into the holes in the wooden piece. 2. I could never bear to part with it because I knew one day I would come up with the perfect home for him. Stick each on a length of wire. Choose your bird. Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC . 3. m at e r i a l s • Small. The wooden elephant has been hanging around for years. 4. Fill the tin container halfway with air-dry clay to give it some weight. tinware bird This tinware bird was inspired by pieces I found at a local flea market. 4. 5. Drill 2 holes in the wooden piece for the bird’s legs. Embellish the piece as desired.
5. I am often drawn to include wooden blocks and vintage toys in my work.’” 4. and I was thrilled to come up with a new way to use some of these treasures from my studio. It is all about ignoring ‘The Elephant in the Room.com 11 . Apply ink and then rub it off to make the letters pop. suepelletierlaughpaint. “The Elephant in the Room” 11" × 75⁄8" “I love this piece because it makes me smile.3.com Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. 6. Drill holes in the top of the cigar box and elephant to attach the flowers and the bird. Create a sign with the duct tape and metal stamps as before. Add any final decorative details and embellish ments as desired.
storybox directions the StoryBox cover 1. When opened. scrub your tin box all over—inside and outside. It is your journey of discovery through fabric. Leilani Pierson 2. and objects on the small canvas of a tin box. With sandpaper. A moment.A pause in a busy day. Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. A journey. s by toryBoxes appeal to both the novice and the experienced artist.com 12 . Cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than the surface area of the top of the box. Repeat for the bottom. They challenge you to work tightly. Quiet lurking in a small tin box. To forever cherish. Warning: this frolicking is addictive. For you— to tuck away or give away. images. This helps the glue adhere better. sand them away. Calming. If there are any stamped dates on the edges. all held together by a string of words. A laugh. trims. with the freedom to do as little or as much as you desire. A simple. the box bursts with a world of imagination.
tip: Choose fabric with small prints or muted.. ribbons. and/or the bottom edge. busy patterns will distract from the chosen image. and rickrack • Small images (I used some from Artchix Studio and Dover Publications. centering the pieces. small found objects Using a foam brush and gel medium. with a small-tip paintbrush and gel medium. glue the fabric to the top and bottom of the box. m at e r i a l s • Small tin box (from candy or other) • Sandpaper • Scissors • Fabric scraps • Foam brush • Golden® Gel Medium • Fancy yarns. lace. Attach some fancy coordinating yarn. optional • Paper scraps • Hammer and nail • Wire • Color Box® Pigment Brush Pad (bronze or copper) Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. ribbon. 6. bland patterns. wire. tip: Instead of centering your image.com 13 . Let this sit for a minute or so.) • Small-tip paintbrush • Text (I used words from a page of an old book. Use scissors to trim any excess fabric hanging over the edges of the tin box. place it in the upper or lower third of the box. Select an image that tugs at you and. glue the image (in an appealing position) to the top of the box. large. 3. where the eye is naturally attracted. etc. buttons. to the lid edge 4. Decide which direction your StoryBox will open. or lace. using the tacky glue.) • Aleene’s® “Tacky” Glue • Small shipping tags • String • Rubber stamps with allover patterns • Ink pad • Embellishments: glass/clay beads. cord. 5.
Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors.com 14 .
5. Take 3–5 small shipping tags and rubberstamp a few allover patterns onto each tag. flattened bottle caps. in pages. but do not glue found words or found objects to the box. Using gel medium. cover the edges and the bottom lid with a few more words that hint at the StoryBox’s contents. tin story find. • Tear a page of words from an old book and wrap the page around the StoryBox. • 3. 6. • • Take a short piece of ribbon and tie the shipping tags together. With a foam brush and gel medium. 8.) • Place blank shipping tags tied with ribbon and some small. Lay your pages inside the tin box. glue the found words for the title to the lid. Surprise yourself! 4. or even just one thought. glue found words onto the tags. • Wrap the box again. If desired. Nail holes into the edge of the box body and attach a wire or ribbon handle. 2. after affixing the fabric. With tacky glue. break grammatical rules. put illogical words together. stamps sewn together. or your own. For your StoryBox title. • Handwrite the small poem I wrote below. Play around with their order.” Give with joy! With the small-tip paintbrush and gel medium. optional techniques • • tip: Feel free to make nonsense with your words. the heart of the StoryBox 1.com 15 .com Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. a list.7. rather than long phrases that might cross into plagiarism. Secure with some string. studiogypsy. Keep the tin box open for a day or so to let it dry completely. Enjoy! • Stain the fabric on the box by rubbing it with Color Box Pigment Brush Pads (bronze or copper). note: When word-mining. and “thread” wire or ribbon through the holes. (Follow the same instructions. leaving the edges to wrinkle or ruffle.blogspot. flat pebbles. be sure to find individual words or a couple of words together. choose some words that move you and seem to tie things together. Cut them out. Nail holes into the top lid of the box. the StoryBox as an “art-therapy” gift • Create a StoryBox with a friend in mind. you unwind. creating some kind of order—a sentence. onto a shipping tag and attach to ribbon: “for pleasure in leisure cut words like birds outside. loose found objects inside the box and then close it. Cover the box with assorted papers or rubber-stamped images on fabric or paper. etc. Use unusual items for the pages inside: small. with a larger piece of fabric and secure with some ribbon. Create a quilted look with tiny fabric/ paper squares glued to the tin box. attach a few small found objects inside and outside to enhance your story. These are your story pages. glue fabric to the inside of the tin box.
please play with your food Adapted from Cloth Paper Scissors® July/August 2007 “Fruit of the Loom” • 71⁄2" × 61⁄2" by Jenn Mason Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors.com 16 .
The pear. I needed to do some immediate first aid. The fig played possum in my studio for a while after the completion of the pear and eggplant pieces but was reawakened when I came up with the playful title “Fruit of the Loom. To keep the pellets from eroding out of the produce. As I cut into its plastic flesh. I couldn’t come home with just what was on my list. Right there. Using torn pieces of an old ledger and soft gel medium. Because I tend to work on multiple projects simultaneously. and other found objects to tell your story. I found that you cannot actually cut plastic fruit in half. waxed thread. of sorts. This was the beginning of the new idea.m y art always starts as one really fabulous idea that makes a metamorphosis into something entirely different. carpet tacks. I decided to figure out its inner workings—in doing that. The intent was to find a pear I could turn into book covers.” An old box. Then I embraced the journey and found that my ideas were destined for greater things. then with my stronger. I used to get upset that my project was veering away from the picture I had in my mind. before abandoning my pear. complete with shutters and a stage floor. and I would just get frustrated and stop. So goes the story of my art journey with produce. The eggplant and the figs beckoned me to take them home with the pear. The eggplant’s fate was to be a shuttered sculpture embellished with words and secrets. I turned to my eggplant and created a similar niche. Now both pieces needed a home. all-purpose utility knife. It should be said that in the world of faux produce the inside of an eggplant and the inside of a pear are practically the same. and pages from a vintage housekeeper’s book and an old child’s reader helped tell the story of a little babe in bloomers and a fictitious relative framed in the fig. like every good project. interesting fruits and vegetables. the pear decided that it was not going to go without a fight. Both are made up of just a bunch of Styrofoam™ pellets packed together “The Staged Pear” • 6" × 61⁄2" and a hard core that gives the piece weight. How fun! Of course. I unintentionally created a niche. like every good trip to the store. You might choose to honor a grandmother’s recipe for apple pie or Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. and so. The pear sought refuge in an altered cigar box and the eggplant was mounted on a narrow copper tube and a pressuretreated fence cap from the hardware store. Consider using old recipes. Once home. My plan was to cut the pear in half. now became a little theatre. I was able to seal in the Styrofoam and create a new stage within my fruit. and make a book.com 17 . which started as a set of book covers. Then. first with my tiny craft knife. seal or gesso the sides. The following steps will walk you through some of the ideas I used in creating these altered produce pieces. doll house shutters. I met with resistance—a pit. this required a trip to the store.
Tear your vintage or decorative papers into small pieces and use soft gel medium to adhere them to the niche. 2. glazes. and I’ll see you in the produce aisle! directions creating the niche 1. acrylics. Make shallow cuts through the plastic flesh with a sharp craft or utility knife. acrylic paints. if desired. or inks at this point. Add fluid acrylics. Take your time and work over a trash can. This process is messy and slow but relatively easy.pay tribute to your Irish ancestors with a potato. m at e r i a l s • Faux produce • Craft or utility knife • Paintbrush • Vintage or decorative paper • Soft gel medium • Fluid acrylics. enjoy getting your five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. cut to desired length • Wood fence cap or wooden plaque • Tacky glue optional • Mat board • Glass bottles with spices Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. Choose a fruit or vegetable to alter.com 18 . Whatever you choose. inks • Awl • Nail heads • Old books • Cigar boxes • Die cuts • Copper tubing—1⁄4" diameter.
• The loom in the “Fruit of the Loom” piece was made by stringing waxed linen thread back and forth between carpet tacks and then interweaving small strips of a book index and text from a child’s reader. depending on your desired look. or even little altered bottles to decorate the inside of the niche. Insert the copper tubing into the wooden fence cap or plaque and bend it slightly. old book pages. use your craft knife to make a small hole in the bottom of your fruit.3. The screws can screw into the wood shutter and be twisted into the flesh of the niche. if needed. To create a stage platform in a niche. Use tacky craft glue to secure the produce to the copper tubing. Use old poems or quotes. cut a piece of mat board to size and cover it in the same torn paper as the niche. decorating the produce and niche • • Dollhouse shutters can be tucked into the niche for a theatrical-like appearance. • Eyelets.com 19 . in either gloss or matte. 2. Use the gel medium to secure it into position and let it dry. torn paper. • Consider adding pen or pencil markings in your cigar box to highlight text or make notations that support the story of the piece. and fluid acrylics. Paint the base. book pages. old silverware. Use die cuts. they can be cut in half with a utility knife. attach very small hinges. to center the produce. photos. 4. 3. To attach the shutters and allow them to move. To make your produce stand (no pun intended). If the shutters are too tall. if necessary. • Consider using half of a cigar box to stage your produce creation. and photos along with paints. glazes. and other pronged embellishments sink into the flesh nicely. carpet tacks. creating a home for the produce 1. use a metal hole punch to make two holes and attach it with carpet or upholstery tacks. and inks to decorate the box. variation: The fig in “Fruit of the Loom” was first covered in gesso and then layered with old book pages.com Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. Use an awl to make a larger hole for eyelets if you want to be able to run thread through the holes. tips • Use soft gel medium. twine. • To attach a utensil to a box. to secure all your papers and embellishments. Reinforce them with gel medium. glazes. jmason@interweave. Hinges and locks can be left on the box and embellished or removed. nail heads. stamps. Use a generous amount of gel medium to glue your piece of produce into the box.
and fuzzy puppies are not my thing. I learned this from the Mexican holiday. In fact. there is no better way to combat those fears Adapted from Cloth Paper Scissors® September/October 2010 ne thing is for sure: pink bunnies. give me a grinning skeleton any day of the week. skeletons and monsters were my cup of Tang.com 20 . Dia de los Muertos. is actually a celebration of life. I think there is nothing wrong with having a little fun with the things that frighten than head-on with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. which.dead man’s party skeletal assemblage o or scare us. the Day of the Dead—a celebration of death. as it turns out. I tend to like things on the shadier side of the street. As a kid. by Michael deMeng Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. yellow daisies.
) • Paints and paintbrushes • Ephemera: small flowers. drummers. and transplanting skeleton heads. and the dancing skeletons frantically try to outdo the rival parade. Calaveras are artistic representations of the dead doing everyday things. or at least that’s the idea. At this point the tuba players. I must have picked up 30 or more of these little handmade guys. But another aspect of this celebration is the presence of the smiling calaveras around every corner. they are actually making fun of the living. . the same width as the wood block and about 1" taller than the figurines • Light molding paste (I use Golden Artist Colors®. gossiping on a park bench. so I often try to come up with a Day of the Dead art project to address these urgings. One of the best ways to purchase these creations is table side in the zócalo (square). size is determined by the figures you’ll be using • A piece of balsa wood. I have a number of these that I have collected over the years: skeleton dentists drilling a tooth of a skeleton patient. During my first visit.) • Safety goggles • Hacksaw or Dremel® rotary tool with a cutoff wheel and a drill bit slightly larger than the wire • Little skull heads or skeletons • Thick-gauge wire (I use rebar wrapping wire from the hardware store. Some are in masks. The problem is that you can’t really plan ahead. . Another version of the calavera is the calacas. One of the symptoms of calavera craziness is a desire to chase after the sounds of marching bands. . candles. a carnival-like procession that roams through the streets. They represent death as the great equalizer. .” m at e r i a l s • A plastic couple or figure (I used a wedding cake topper and Hansel and Gretel figures. Whenever I visit for Dia de los Muertos. lopping off the heads. the Spanish term calavera means skull. but I’ve found an approach that’s slightly more fun (and a bit “deMented”). I have purchased hundreds of skeletal toys over the years. Basically. and the year before that I snagged an amazing black pottery creation featuring five skeletal women in traditional garb. giant puppet people called mojigangas and oodles and oodles of dancing skeletons participate. Sugar skulls are beautifully decorated and. but none of that matters when you’re six feet under . The music usually indicates that somewhere nearby there is a wandering comparsa. for this magical event.I head south every year to the city of Oaxaca. Who knew that being dead could be so lively? creating calaca Whenever I get back from one of these adventures I am still a bit crazed. yes. but in reference to the Day of the Dead it refers to an often comical portrayal of death. which depicts everyday scenes with skeletons. powerful. but basically it goes from October 31–November 2. In addition to the band. random accessories Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. glitter. and tears. One of the more recent projects involves making little calaca scenes. “newly deads” or “just buried. though. Different villages celebrate it on different days. Mexico. A favorite at the cemeteries is the calaveras de azúcar or sugar skulls. only if you enjoy a sugar cube for a snack. Voilà. my personal favorite. flowers. These are simple to create and don’t require many materials.) • Wire cutters • E6000® glue • A block of wood. You will often see numerous sugar skulls adorning graves as an offering. different barrios (neighborhoods) or schools organize these comparsas.com 21 . It’s also fun when two different comparsas run into each other on their random path. and trumpeters go crazy. Of course you could make your figures out of clay. so you usually run into them by chance. Lately I’ve been raiding local craft stores for wedding cake toppers. it actually lasts about a week in this area. Most people are familiar with the graveside celebrations and nighttime vigils involving music. You may have been wealthy. laughter. or clever in life. troll hair. Calaveras appear in many forms during this celebration. edible . drunken skeletons listening to dead mariachi players. Last year I picked up a large skeletal Frida Kahlo on a bicycle. At some point they will end up at the zócalo for a stroll around the square. I go a little calavera crazy. it seems that you can do it when you’re not. If you can do it when you are living. others in face paint. and every year I return my collection increases.
If you are using a full skeleton you need to perform the same head-removing procedure on it (photo b).com 22 . Plastic can melt and splinter shooting bits into the ever-sacred artist’s eyes. Wearing protective goggles. Usually you can get a nice garland of skeletons for—that’s right—a dollar. use the Dremel tool with the cutoff wheel attachment (or a saw) and remove the heads from the figures (photo a). c b tip: I stockpile all my skeleton supplies from the Dollar Store around Halloween. If so. save the bodies for a future use. caution: Make sure you wear goggles. I suggest saving the heads. d Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. but for me I like to start off with the dastardly deeds first.a disassemble There are a couple of ways to start this project. you never know when they might come in handy.
5. 4.com 23 . Drill a hole in the necks of the decapitated figures (photo c) to run a wire down into the body. Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. creating a narrow stage for the calaveras. Position the heads where you want them and use a little E6000 to secure them in place (photos f and g). Apply a thin layer of light molding paste over the figures and the base to create texture—a bit of crustiness . Slide some wire into the neck and cut the wire so that when you place the head on the end of the wire it will slide down fully. Glue the balsa wood to the back of the block of wood vertically (photo h). 1. The long end should go up. 3. Do the same to the bottom of the skull (photo d). flush with the body (photo e).e f g reassemble This process will vary depending on the figures and skulls you have. . h 2. . a little extra decay—and allow to dry (photo i).
Go to town and use whatever colors you want to paint the stage and figures. . A little glue on the feet should do it. Attach the figures to the base. 8.com 24 . add some glitter. 7. random accessories. Add tiny flowers. troll hair. Don’t be shy. .6. Embellish your figures and the stage. Let dry. A dead man’s party—all dressed up and nowhere to go . as desired.com/demeng/michael-demeng Step-out photos by Michael deMeng Tips on Found Object Art: 4 Free Assemblage Art Ideas presented by ©Interweave Press LLC clothpaperscissors. If you’re a glitter person. wix.
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