Friday, September 13, 2013

Use what you've got

Our vacation house was nestled amongst tall pines and the ground was thick with ferns.  Early in our stay I picked some and flattened them inside a heavy book, and was able to glue them to some postcards a week later.
 The background for this was made with a styrofoam meat tray.  Even though I took two bags of supplies on vacation with me, I still considered myself to have limited resources.  After cooking for 9 people all week I had a lot of styrofoam trays in the recycle bin, and I grabbed one and started carving random lines into it with a dull pencil.  I really didn't have a plan or vision for what it would look like, but when I went to test it out, I serendipitously chose white paint and stamped it over a dark background and realized it looked a lot like birch bark. (which made me start thinking about what other natural materials/images I could use from my surroundings, and the fern exploration began.)

 When I had used up my small stash of dried ferns, I was still in postcard-making mode.  I didn't have time to press and dry more ferns so I decided to try using them as stamps.  I rolled green paint onto the fern with my trusty brayer and pressed it carefully onto the card. I was surprised by the level of detail I was able to get. 

 Let's try it with white paint...

I also tried using them as masks - laying the ferns on top of a green painted background, rolling white paint over the whole thing, and then removing the paint-covered ferns.  I stamped with copper paint on top of the masked prints.

I then went kind of fern crazy and made and mailed a big pile of these cards.
Before we left I picked some more fronds and they are currently being pressed in my huge dictionary.
I will likely forget about them and when I eventually stumble upon them in the dead of winter I will have a wonderful summertime connection.

Do you make art on vacation?
What kinds of local "supplies" have you used?


  1. I always make art on vacation. It all depends on what I am into at the time or what can travel well. This year I embroidered. Usually I am sketching or coloring with colored pencils. One year I taught myself micro macrame. Another year I taught myself how to do tiny beading. I must have made a hundred pairs of triangular earrings! LOL

  2. I'm glad you experimented with the styrofoam trays--aren't they fun?? And printing with ferns, something else we like to do around here. It sounds like a great vacation in all possible ways!

  3. I love these cards. I don't take vacations, I just make art of some sort every day.

  4. I have a stack of trays that I've been saving for....I dunno. Now I know. I also have a stack of leaves I pressed from last fall that are so cool but I've been saving for....I dunno. Why is it that I gather, press, collect and then SAVE instead of USE? Do I think there are going to be no more leaves??? Okay, I'm over it. That stuff is getting used! :) Thanks for the shove!

  5. I'm so impressed with your birch bark - intentional or not! And I love what you were able to do with the ferns. I have done a few journal pages on vacation, but never end up being nearly as productive as I intend to.

  6. That's a great use for some styrofoam!

  7. awesome bark! :D well done. Always love leaves and plants in printing - lovely, lovely, lovely

  8. Love the way you think....and do......and, oh yes--I make art on vacation. All art all the time!

  9. I love that white application!
    I haven't played much. lots going on lately.