June Zine 2009

"Guest Artist": I would like to introduce to you a wonderful artist that does some amazing 3-D art assemblages. Living in middle rural America, Mary Schweitzer has a treasure trove of found objects that she incorporates into her art. "I use a lot of natural elements in my art because I have the blessings of having lots of feathers and fungus, etc. in my backyard. A simple hike through the surrounding 40 acres of woods allows me to collect a wide variety of wonderful gifts from Mother Nature. I have always been a collector of discarded stuff: broken, rusty, faded, funky, it doesn't matter, I will tote it home and add it to the growing collection to be used in a future project."

Occasionally Mary spots animal skulls in her forages through the woods and it is through this amazing piece that I had the privilege of being acquainted with her. "This was the first skull I ever painted. It was a long and tedious, often smelly task, to prepare it for use in my art, but when I paint my found skulls, I feel like I am honoring the animals these skulls come from. It is the most peaceful, meditative art that I do. This particular piece was inspired by the Aboriginal paintings of Australia and I use dots in a lot of my work. I have never taken any art classes or attended any retreats. The nearest craft store is quite a long drive, so out of necessity I use the materials that are around me."

Mary is fortunate that she also has a small but functional upper loft and bedroom that she can call her studio. Being the oldest child of 7, all talented in one genre or another, Mary learned early on that she couldn't draw a lick. "Not even stick people. Altered Art Assemblages are the perfect art style for me because I can look at a pile of stuff and can picture what it could be made into."

"My first assemblage was created from an old manual court recording machine that someone had given me. I call her Miss Noteworthy. She is my first assemblage and my favorite, so far." Pictured above, Miss Noteworthy's fashion, sports the original steno paper that was still in the machine when Mary received it. The little bottle on the bottom of this assemblage (kind of hard to see-but it's there!) is full of microscopic alphabet letters. Don't you just love how Mary uses this assemblage! The pencils look like unruly hair and what about the next photo, talk about unruly! Gotta love it!

The next piece, below, is an assemblage sculpted from window screening material and is embellished with beads and tattered chiffon. Mary was inspired to create this piece by the constant winds blowing through the pine trees outside of her studio as well as the song: "They call the winds Mariah."

One of my favorite pieces that Mary has assembled is this one of Einstein which has a background constructed from old barn wood slats and used dryer sheets, dyed for texture. Embellishments include rusty wire and nails that Mary has found. The quote she used for this piece reads: "Reality is merely an illusion" and when you do assemblage art, I would have to agree. Being able to create a work of art from a mis-matched, jumble of cast-offs is a wonderful way to create purposeful, meaningful art.

I have to share one more piece with you and a little story: When I saw this piece, posted below, I told Mary: "I can't use this photo in my interview, because I'm afraid that people will misunderstand the materials you used to make this. I also don't know whether or not the wing is from an endangered bird and I don't want to get either of us in trouble with the animal activists." The joke was on me! This piece was constructed from molding paste! There are no bird feathers or wings involved! Sure had me fooled! What about you?

Pretty amazing huh? To view more of Mary's altered art assemblages, visit her at her blog. There is a lot more to see! I want to "Thank Mary" for sharing her many talents with us and for allowing me to interview her.
Wax Resist Technique:
While I was revisiting my library of art books for last month's zine, I re-discovered the book: Creative Embroidery by: Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn. In this book I found a quick technique to use wax to help you create patterns from painted backgrounds. We all have background papers that we have created and accumulated. Mine have been piling up for quite some time and I decided to give this wax resist a try. You don't need many supplies: painted background papers * melting pot *wax *sponge *scissors *water based black ink (I used Sumi Ink) *brush. (Make sure your ink is water-based or you will have a terrible mess!)

Simply cut your sponge into a variety of shapes, melt your wax, dip the sponge into the wax and stamp your painted background papers with it. You can get quite a few stampings done, as the sponge really holds the melted wax and it takes a little while for it to cool on the sponge.

Just continue dipping the sponge into the hot wax and stamp until you have your paper covered in a random fashion. You don't want to completely cover the paper with the wax or you won't get the fabulous results this technique provides. Once the wax has cooled, mix ink with a little water. (The book recommends 3 parts water to 1 part ink, but I found this to be too thin and didn't like the final result. I used a ration of about 1:1). Coat the entire paper with the ink and let it dry. You can wipe the ink off of the waxed areas with a wet paper towel, but I liked the veiny look the ink on top of the wax provided. Interesting textures! Did you notice that the metallic paint also acted as a resist? What a neat surprise! Have fun experimenting with this fun technique!
Vintage Images:
We have a fun challenge for our readers this month, courtesy of Sherre. She has provided us with a set of 3 cabinet cards. The challenge for you is to create an altered cabinet card, using one or all three of the images provided. You can send me your creation(s) and we will publish them in our July Zine! I would like to further challenge you all, by suggesting you use a "Patriotic" theme. I love the
4th of July and it will also allow us to honor our servicemen and women who are fighting today and tomorrow for the freedoms we are enjoying today. You can use whatever software you have access to, you can use whatever materials or supplies you have on hand and you may use whatever media you are comfortable with, i.e. fabric, collage, paper, paint, digital, etc. The only thing I ask is that you do not use nudity. (I'm not a prude, but we have a wide audience and we do not want to offend anyone.) You can send me your creations, along with your name and blog address, which will also be published in our next zine. To send me your creations, click the contact us button in the sidebar. Please send me your artwork as an e-mail attachment. Deadline for me to receive your artwork is June 15th. Thanks and have fun!