Author Archives: Claudia McGill

About Claudia McGill

A person who does art and writes poetry. That's me!

Wordless Storybook Pages 17 and 18

In 2021 I completed a wordless artist book for my little granddaughter, who was about a year old at the time. I produced it by converting a discarded kid’s library book, using the same process I’ve used for similar books in the past.

Look here if you want to see more about how I make these books and to view one of my past books.

This particular volume does have a story, though. I had been working on it off and on for a long time and getting nowhere. Other projects kept coming along. One day I took it out to see about finishing it up and to consider what I might write to accompany the images. It struck me that it was fine just as it was, without words.

And I thought my granddaughter might like it when she is a little older, and she can make up stories to go with the pictures herself.

Like the content, the cover has no words. The book has no title. I guess it can be called whatever the reader wants.

Here are the next two pages. Want to make up your own story?

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Wordless Storybook Pages 15 and 16

In 2021 I completed a wordless artist book for my little granddaughter, who was about a year old at the time. I produced it by converting a discarded kid’s library book, using the same process I’ve used for similar books in the past.

Look here if you want to see more about how I make these books and to view one of my past books.

This particular volume does have a story, though. I had been working on it off and on for a long time and getting nowhere. Other projects kept coming along. One day I took it out to see about finishing it up and to consider what I might write to accompany the images. It struck me that it was fine just as it was, without words.

And I thought my granddaughter might like it when she is a little older, and she can make up stories to go with the pictures herself.

Like the content, the cover has no words. The book has no title. I guess it can be called whatever the reader wants.

Here are the next two pages. Want to make up your own story?

*********

Fabric Explorations

Over the past few months I have been feeling like doing some sewing, but I couldn’t get a good fix on just what that might entail.

Functional sewing, such as shirts or other clothing? Pieced quilts? Applique? Painted fabric/stitching wall hangings? I could not focus.

So, I spent some time just looking at fabric work in books and online. I learned some great techniques for making a T-shirt pattern based on your own shirts (I may still try that). I reviewed my ideas about quilting and tried out some things and realized I still don’t like piecing fabric. Along those lines, I read about improvisational art quilting which, to be honest, still sounded like too much planning for me.

I enjoyed reading about making clothes without a paper pattern (reminded me of how my mother made me some gathered skirts in junior high requiring a length of cloth and a waistband; I loved them). But I don’t really need a gathered skirt or even any other kinds of clothing.

I even read up on making drapes and shades though I have no intention of ever making window coverings again (in a previous house, a Victorian with tons of windows, I made curtains for 53, yes, 53, separate windows. Enough.)

In the end, I was back where I started from. Really, I just like to slap down some fabric on a backing, run a lot of machine stitching over it, and then see if I can make it into some kind of imagery. I really enjoy just humming along with the stitches reeling out. I especially like free-motion stitching. I like drawing with the lines of stitching. I like tiny pieces of fabric and sticking them on to other pieces of fabric. I don’t like making large things, I like making small pictures. I like painting on fabric and then stitching to go along with it. Or over it.

So I’m just going to stick with this stitching idea and see where it goes.

Here are a couple of little guys I made in August 2022. Maybe they are pointing the way for me.

Tiny Furniture

Well, you know all about my Tiny Houses. I’ve made a lot of them and I hope to keep on going. I think my interest in creating these structures comes from several sources. I’ve loved houses, house plans, and architecture since I was young. It was a favorite pastime of my family in childhood to tour houses under construction in our neighborhood, which was being built up during the time I was growing up.

In adulthood my husband and I continued this pastime of viewing sample homes, open houses, and the occasional house-in-process.

Along these lines, I also had several dollhouses in my young days, as well as building small villages outside with my sister and friends with scrap wood, under a shade tree to beat the hot summer days. And there were the boats my dad made for us with scrap wood that we sailed in the creek at the end of our yard…and how about all the little cars and the roads we made for them…and the paper dolls and their homes…

I guess I could go on and on. You may be saying, what does any of this have to do with TODAY?

Well, in the Build a Tiny House session I took back in July, I built houses. And then I thought I’d try some furniture. Here are my first attempts from that time in July.

Armchair!

Bed!

Small Chair!

How did I do these? It’s surprisingly easy. I constructed a basic form using thin (think cereal box) cardboard. It was important to take the time to make sure the form was sturdy and could hold up. For the two chairs, I built the forms from individual scraps; for the bed, I cut down a box to make the basic shape and then added the head and footboards.

Then, using the papier mache skills I learned in the Tiny House class (look here for a description) I covered the framework and built up the forms.

Once they had dried (about 2-3 days) I painted them with acrylics, acrylic markers, and India ink.

Wow! What a lot of fun! I will be making more furniture.

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Here is the armchair in the attic of Tiny House 9.

Here are the bed and chair relaxing together.

Wordless Storybook Pages 13 and 14

In 2021 I completed a wordless artist book for my little granddaughter, who was about a year old at the time. I produced it by converting a discarded kid’s library book, using the same process I’ve used for similar books in the past.

Look here if you want to see more about how I make these books and to view one of my past books.

This particular volume does have a story, though. I had been working on it off and on for a long time and getting nowhere. Other projects kept coming along. One day I took it out to see about finishing it up and to consider what I might write to accompany the images. It struck me that it was fine just as it was, without words.

And I thought my granddaughter might like it when she is a little older, and she can make up stories to go with the pictures herself.

Like the content, the cover has no words. The book has no title. I guess it can be called whatever the reader wants.

Here are the next two pages. Want to make up your own story?

*********

Tiny Houses 10, 11, and 12

Here are more Tiny Houses made while I was taking another session of Build a Tiny House at the Smithsonian in July, 2022.

The three are the smallest houses I have yet made. And they are done a little differently. Let me tell you how.

All my previous houses have been based on a cardboard box form with surface decoration added. I kind of did my own thing, following what came easiest to me. During the class, however, our instructor Marcie Wolf-Hubbard used a method that involved covering the house with papier mâché. At the time of the first class I took, my eyesight was impaired and I didn’t have the patience to take in the information. And, it didn’t really matter, as the idea was to work with your own skills as you liked.

In this class, though, I wanted to try the method. So, I started small. I used cardboard boxes of the type teabags come in (think Yogi Ginger tea, for instance). I took off the lid and used it to create a floor, resulting in a simple two-story interior.

Here are the houses I made, and then I’ll tell you more about how I created them. Here is a view of their interiors.

And here are the houses from the back.

Here are views of Tiny House 10:

Here are views of Tiny House 11:

And here is Tiny House 12.

In constructing these houses, it’s first necessary to put together the structure. It needs to be sturdy enough to take the wet paper mâché, but it doesn’t have to look great. When I make houses in my other style, I have to make sure that tape and other construction items can be integrated into the decoration techniques. In these houses I am discussing here, all these things will be covered up.

Next step is to get the materials together for the papier mâché. I used newspaper and magazines, and my glue was something I first tried out in making paste papers (look here for a post where I discuss this process), Elmer’s Art Paste.

Our instructor uses the traditional flour and water paste, but I had a quantity of this art paste already made up, and I thought I’d try it. I was pleased with the results and intend to continue using it in the future.

Well, all you do then is dip your paper into the paste and apply it to the house. You can lay it on flat or you can crumple and squish it to build up wrinkles or relief area. The house does become quite wet, and I needed to be careful to support it at time or let it dry a bit (that is where working on more than one house at a time helps out, I could skip around).

I covered every surface, finding that the wet gluey paper slid on very easily and could be maneuvered around corners and into crannies as needed. Once I was finished, I let the houses dry for about three days. They were significantly stronger than the cardboard boxes that they’d started out as and were ready for paint.

I painted directly on to the surface but many people gesso first, to even out the surface and reduce show-through of the papers.

I also could have applied decorative or painted papers to my house in the papier mâché process and skipped or reduced the painting part, if I had papers I felt would do the job.

OK! That’s where we are. I really enjoyed using this technique and I am full of ideas of ways to use it. Thank you to our teacher Marcie Wolf-Hubbard and to my classmates for a great experience.