Saturday, August 25, 2012

How it all started in the kitchen

I'm hosting a "kitchen" post card swap over at Mail Me Some Art.  The idea was to find something in your kitchen and use it to make a piece of art.

Here are some examples of what I made:

And since most of these marks were made with un-traditional tools, and since Lynn was asking me questions about backgrounds, I took some pictures of the stages along the way.

I started without a plan, as usual.  
The first thing I did was dip-dye some paper towels with diluted food coloring.  I folded up the towels in a variety of crazy ways (no fancy origami - just random folds) and dipped the corners in various colors.
When unfolded, it looks like this.
I made a bazillion.  And since they are two-ply paper towels, you pull them apart when dry and now you have two bazillion.
Then I took my new favorite mystery tool and stamped all over tissue paper.  
(Gina tells me this is a whisk and that her mother used it to beat eggs.  She wins the prize.  Maybe I'll send her scrambled eggs.)
And I took a cool patterned styro-foam meat tray and rolled paint on it with a brayer and stamped it on cheap printer paper.

THEN, I grabbed some 9"x12" sheets of water color paper, this awesome spatula, and my liquid watercolors (which I have poured into spray bottles) and made three layers using my spatula as a stencil.  I started with my lightest color, yellow, then switched to orange, then fuschia:
 same idea, different color palette:
 I gathered the various types of papers I'd made in similar color schemes:
 I grabbed the mod podge and started layering:
 and layering some more:
 and adding in some mesh vegetable bags in different colors:
 and finally, when all that was dry, I cut the page into four postcards:
 I decided they needed a little more embellishing.
I found this tube of weird stuff called "texture magic" that I'd found at the job lot store for a buck.  I think you're supposed to use it with stencils on your walls.  It's kind of thick, like toothpaste.
I squeezed it over the spatula and smooshed it into all the little holes with my fingers:
 This is what the finished cards look like (I also used blue dimensional stuff):

 I decided to add black accents to my orangey cards.  I like making marks with this silicone basting brush:
 More spatula stencil marks - this time using spray inks:
 This one was rapidly becoming a hot mess.  It's got a ridiculous amount of layers trying to compensate for the parts gone wrong.  I didn't have any orange dimensional paint, but I added some orange acrylic to some modeling paste and used a different (non-kitchen-related) stencil with that.

This was not my most popular theme over at MMSA, but clearly, as the picker of the themes, this is one I adore.  I love the challenge that comes with making art with non-art materials.

You can see some other great examples of kitchen art from the swap here and here


  1. Despite the late hour, I have an urge to go rummage through the kitchen drawer of rarely used tools. Very inspiring.

  2. Karen, why aren't you running an e-course? Except that you already work 200 hours a day. I'll sign on.
    Thanks for my lovely postcard, a great surprise to lift my day. This blogpost is breathtaking. I'm really envious of that spatula - you're fantastic. Xx

  3. Genius! Funnily enough, last night I was working on adding some art to the book you sent. I'll post some piccies soon :)

  4. I like these very much, I'm going to look out for these sort of tools at our flee market, I'm excited to have a go!

  5. Very very cool art :) Good luck with washing out that silicone basting brush - you could end up with some fun rainbow food!


  6. LOVE this my friend! If I had not been so rushed for time with trying to catch up on paperwork conducting the great household purge of 2012, getting ready for company, and heading out on the road for two weeks next Sunday I would have loved to get into this swap! I love looking for things around the house to use for art!

    Maybe soon!

  7. I LOVED the kitchen swap! It was one of the most fun, most creative things I've done! You are a great swap theme picker! And thank you SO MUCH for the amazing tutorial. I really appreciate the time you spent documenting and explaining. The "texture magic" is so cool! (i'm glad you mentioned what it was, cuz my next question was going to be, "How do you get that awesome textured sunshine shape?!")

  8. Wow great old spatula, who needs stencils when you can find something like that. Your whisk marks turned out great too. and two bazillion paper towels, well that's one heck of a lot. xox

  9. That is one of the coolest spatulas I have ever seen! (I would love to see Gina's face when she opens an envelope full of scrambled eggs - I hope you at least wait until the weather cools off...)

    I love the cards in the post below, too! I knew you'd be putting your treasures to good use in no time!


  10. I'm in with all the above -- what a wonderfully inspiring post and "how-to". I can't wait to play! Wish I could come over to your house. I love everything! Thanks for sharing.

  11. I just knew kitchens were good for something. Thanks for enlightening me Karen.

  12. Love!! I wondered what that textured stuff was too. And the paper towels--what fun.

  13. Fantastic ideas Karen! You're just so darn ingenious and creative :)

  14. Woman, when you take on a task, there is no holding back. You are amazing... play, repeat. Awesome pieces. I'm not sure I have the patience for all the fabulous layering you have done! Thanks for the great steps and inspiration. Looking forward to receiving my eggs in the mail... hahahahaha.

  15. Your creativity and energy always amaze me! LOVE the results you got from the spatula/stencil. I too need to rummage through my drawers now, although I know I don't have a spatula like that!

  16. OMG, OMG!! I am in LOVE with these colors. And do you not LOVE dip=dying? I get out my twinkling H2Os and the dog runs into the other room. There are pigment dyes all over everything. thank goodness we don't have walls or floors!

    You've got great imagination with your tools. This is inspiring, even to lazy slow people such as myself.

  17. OMG. You are such an inspiration. So much going over here. Love the kitchen prints and stamps and stencils. So much scrummy texture!!