Tag Archives: mixed media


Our library in Glenside PA has been making up craft kits free for the public to pick up and take home to work on. They generally use discarded library materials such as magazines or decomissioned books and the projects are simple to do but rewarding and fun.

A while back I picked up the instructions for making coasters out of magazine pages, plus a couple of scrap magazines from the pile they had by the door. Here are the instructions:

I spent a few evenings early in January making some of these circular objects while watching the PA Farm Show on our state cable channel (laugh if you want, but you start watching and you’ll see what I mean. My favorite things? Sheep to Shawl competition and the bunny hop race).

But back to the subject. Here’s a view for you:

They are maybe 3″ in diameter. I stopped spiraling when one strip just overlapped itself with maybe a quarter-inch to spare.

I’ve got a group of them now. Here are some glamour shots.

I’m not going to use them for coasters. I think they are beautiful just to look at and I think I’ll keep them around just for that.

Thanks to the staff at the Glenside Library not only for all they do to make sure we have our books, but also for keeping our hands busy, in these crazy times.

Tiny People Made from Eye Drops Vials

As you may remember, I have been having some eye issues over the past three months and they continue to go on. I am getting closer to finding out what may be causing my vision loss and hope to know more very soon as to what the next course of treatment will be and what I might expect in the way of stabilization of my vision.

But, as part of the process, I have been doing intensive rehab of my corneas and eyelids. As part of this I take a LOT of eye drops. I use the single use vials because they have no preservatives, but that means there are a lot of plastic vials to be disposed of.

What to do? Well, when I first saw the shape of the vials I thought they looked like small people figures, somewhat like worry dolls. Immediately I knew I would be making tiny dolls, and what they decided to do for their careers, well, that was up to them – solve worries, live in tiny dollhouses, drive small cars, relax in the lush jungle foliage of a potted fern…

So let’s get going and I’ll tell you how I make them.

Here is a used vial. I take the lids off and let them sit a few days to dry out. Note – You will notice that in the following samples I didn’t do this, since when I wanted to make the demo photos I did not have any vials-in-waiting that were quite ready. But in general I save up a group and make quite a few dolls at a time.

Here are my supplies.

You may be wondering about the pliers. I have two sets – both from my jewelry class. They were very inexpensive.

I take the heads off the dolls while I am putting on their arms.

Then, I untwist a paper clip (I like the larger, stronger ones) and push it through the plastic “body”). This takes a little effort but it gets done.

Then I use the clipping area on the yellow pliers (close up to the hinge there is a sharp part to cut wire) to even up the “arms”. I then use the rounded pliers to form twirls for hands. I don’t try to make a pose with the arms at this time – I wait until the doll is finished.

Next, I get out my assortment of tiny fabric scraps and threads. I think you could also use paper or yarn as well, if you wanted to.

I make these women (they are all always female. Like every other figurine I make) with two basic outfit styles: wrapped thread skirt and wrapped cloth top, or cloth skirt and wrapped cloth top. You might come up with other ideas, it is up to you. For the thread skirt lady, I put some glue on the vial and wrap a lot of thread around and around until I cover up the glue.

For the cloth skirt ladies, I put glue on the vial and stick on a tiny piece of fabric so that it covers the whole bottom section. It doesn’t take much. Here are the two figures with their skirts done.

And, notice that they both have their arms in the air. I flip them to this position while dressing the figures because it gives me more room to work. It also makes me smile to see these tiny figures flexing their muscles or high-fiving me!

Next, the tops. I take a strip of fabric (and it doesn’t have to be very wide at all):

I put a line of glue on the front and back of the figure and begin to wrap the fabric in a figure-8 configuration – around the body, up to the shoulder, around the neck, back down, around the body to the other side and over the other shoulder in the same way. I add dots of glue as I go along to secure layers. Sometimes I don’t have a long enough strip so I just glue on another piece of fabric and keep going.

When the tops are done, the figures are dressed:

But sometimes I want to add more to the outfits. Maybe another fabric detail, or sometimes I use thread to wrap around the bodies in a decorative way. I gave this lady a couple of sashes.

Here are the two figures, all ready to go…

I could stop here, but I think they need faces. This is hard for me to do given my eyesight, so I take my time and if I make a mistake, I wipe the ink off ASAP before it dries and try again. What writing utensil do I use? After trying various pens and so on, I have settled on my cheapie acrylic paint pens.

They are used for painting rocks, and they write on anything, and once they are dry, their marks adhere well to the plastic surface, in my experience. Here are the twosome from above, now with faces:

Now, here are some shots of figures I have made. I have given some away and I’d be happy for anyone who wants three (always at least three, so they do not get lonesome) to let me know and we can work out sending some, maybe.

Or, you could make your own. Look around and see what materials could work for you. If you don’t have eye drops vials, how about twigs or even rolled up paper? No fabric – try paper. Glue? I bet you have glue!

Your imagination will guide you!

Long-time Winner

I’ve done an illustration for a story, Long-time Winner, by Sharon Boyle, for Fictive Dream, the online magazine devoted to the short story.

I made two versions for editor Laura Black and she picked one of them to accompany the story. But which one? Go to Fictive Dream, read the story, and find out!

Here are the two illustrations. I created them using collage, acrylics, and inks on paper. They are approximately 7″ x 11″.

A Haunted House Story

I’ve done an illustration for a story, A Haunted House Story, by Jen Michalski, for Fictive Dream, the online magazine devoted to the short story.

I made two versions for editor Laura Black and she picked one of them to accompany the story. But which one? Go to Fictive Dream, read the story, and find out!

Here are the two illustrations. I created them using collage, acrylics, and inks on paper. They are approximately 7″ x 11″.

Outdoor Art Time

On June 30 a couple of art friends and I got together in my back yard to do some art work and visit a little. I think it was a good way to assemble in a safe way and enjoy ourselves, in these times as they are. Here’s what we did.

I met these two friends in the mixed media class I taught last year. We have stayed in touch and wanted to get together. But how? I volunteered my back yard. We picked a day, and luckily it turned out great weather-wise, sunny, but not too hot, and no threat of rain.

Here’s what we did:

First hint: have shade available, or a shelter from the sun. I figured I could set up my tent (that I use in art shows) but it was not necessary. Our yard is very shady.

Second hint: Make sure there is a comfortable amount of room to spread out. We decided to wear our masks as we set things up, then, as long as we remained at our table, or ten or twelve feet apart, we took them off. Then we put them back on to clean things up. Having plenty of room made things comfortable.

Third hint: Bathroom. I had one available nearby, involving walking in my back door into my studio and going only a short distance inside the house. I did a **SPARKLE** clean on that tiny room and had towels ready for hand-washing so each person could have her own.

Fourth hint: Tables and chairs available. Or some kind of area to set up so that each person can have a good space to work. Alternatively each person could have brought her own chair and table, or whatever she needed to work comfortably, but this needs to be settled up front.

Fifth hint: Cleaning items. I set up a table with hand sanitizer, spray cleaner, and towels if anyone wanted to clean anything, and I also put out some bug spray, just in case…


Well, we had a great time. Here are some pictures. Here is where I sat:



and here is our general set-up. We were facing each other so that we could talk or show each other our work.


Mary Ann made a lot of painted papers and she set them on the grass to dry.


I put out the red buckets of water for washing brushes and so on. The hose was just around the corner of the house if we had needed more water.


Here are Mary Ann and Andy cleaning their things up and packing after the session.


Things went smoothly with this set-up. We were comfortable and felt safe. All of us are living very cautiously right now, and this allowed us to get together and experience a bit of an activity we really value – doing art with others. I am so happy we were able to pull this off, it meant a lot to me.

Shout out to Andy and Mary Ann, for a real spirit lifter!



Mary Ann’s Living Room

In December 2019 I gave my mixed media class students an assignment for the last two sessions – come up with a proposal, including materials, theme, and techniques, for work to be done independently in class.

One student worked on a large representation of a section of her living room. I wanted to have a project myself (to keep from hovering over the students) so I had brought a canvas and materials to class myself, but…no ideas. (I obviously did not follow my own class requirements.)

The student mentioned above was working at a table in front of me. I asked her if I could use her composition as a reference. She was amenable, so I did a version of her living room, from a reversed position and looking at it upside down (though I created the picture right-side up from my point of view). I guess it’s a mirror image I was making.

It ended up looking nothing like hers, except for having a chair and fireplace in it, but…I enjoyed it and it did cut down on my interference with the students’ work.

I did most of it in class and finished it up at home later on.

Acrylics, inks, crayons – 20″ x 16″, December 2019.

Mary Ann's Living Room 12-19 20 x 16 small

Gesso Was the First Step

I created these two small works by smearing a thickish layer of white gesso on the surface (which was prepared with a layer of black gesso) and drawing in the images with a knitting needle. Then I used acrylics, crayons, and inks for the colors. It gives a nice texture, the gesso does.

6″ x 6″, December 2019.

Advice Given and Taken

Telling someone what to do seems to be the theme of these two small mixed media works?


December, 2019, 6″ x 6″ – acrylics, acrylic inks, crayons, India ink.