Look What I Found: Packaging As Art

found fiberscate pratoLast week a package arrived from artist Lynn Krawczyk: inside held the Thermofax screens I'd ordered from her, as well as some screen printing ink. I squealed with delight as I pulled out the paper padding that cushioned the paint tubes.

"Ooh, look at this! Isn't this cool?" I said to my 14-year-old, Meredith.

"That's what you ordered?" she asked, with a puzzled expression, pointing at the padding in my hand.

"No, I ordered print screens, but isn't this paper great? It's like quilt batting. Maybe I can stitch it, or paint it?" I gushed as the screens languished in the mailing box. (Don't worry, more about these screens in Monday's post.)

My daughter just shook her head. She knows Mom is a little wacky when it comes to found fibers. Meredith barely registered any interest at all when, a few days later, she opened a box of new wedge sandals and I grabbed for the polka dotted, fabric-y paper the shoes were wrapped in.

"Look at this!" I cried, ignoring the cute shoes, and racing off to my studio with my prize.

The fact is, I'm addicted to papers of all kinds. And if they're free, so much the better. I mean how can you throw out such great stuff when you could sew it, paint it, stamp it, or otherwise make it into something artsy?

Working on Cloth Paper Scissors has made me conscious of how to use found fibers to crafty advantage. I especially admire artists like Natalya Aikens, who can make found fibers like vintage fabrics, paper, plastic netting, candy wrappers, plastic bags, dye catcher sheets, dryer lint, and dryer sheets into gorgeous art with the help of stitch, photos, and art supplies.

paper quiltFor my little study in turning packing materials into art, I chose to machine stitch, hand stitch, and stamp. The dots on the nonwoven fabric made me think of a grid. I sandwiched the paper padding between two pieces of the polka dot material and basically connected the dots using my sewing machine, leaving a gap in the lower middle.

Then I took out my stamps and stamp pad and created a focal point with a daisy stamp and dark brown ink. I used a large dot stamp to make random dots here and there.

I liked the basic composition and I wanted the colors to be relatively monochromatic, but the piece was lacking some emphasis. I went over the stamped images with a brown permanent marker and shaded in the dots a bit with gray pencil.

Finally, I took out my embroidery needle and some cotton floss and stitched around the stamped motifs. I particularly like how the dots came out.

I consider this little experiment in found fiber quilting a sketch, of sorts. I have more of these materials left over, and I have thoughts of collaging and stamping with glue before doing some stitching.

What would you do? Tell me in the comments section below.

And if you're looking for techniques for incorporating found fibers into your mixed-media art, look no further than the Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM "Texture Transformation: Stitch, Alter, Recycle" with Natalya Aikens. You will have so much fun playing with all these "new" fibers and learning how to apply them in your art.

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Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques

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