Tag Archives: suminagashi

Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain

I’ve been working steadily throughout the first 12th of the year and just want to let you know that the art-making has been continual and fairly serious, but there hasn’t really been much to show, for various reasons.  One newly finished mixed media piece was a belated (okay, seriously freaking belated) Christmas present for my mother, which has finally gone out in the mail but which will remain, for the moment, mostly private. The little bit above is a detail from the piece. Here’s another:

The very fetching child in the bottom row is yours truly at about three years of age.  See? I am still working.



A little wall art

More wall hangings–some gifts I made this morning for some people who have been very helpful to me lately:

Hui Neng: “The meaning of life is to see.”

From Basho:

a cicada’s shell

it sang itself

utterly away

And a Chinese proverb: “That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”

The quotations are printed on some of my suminagashi pieces. A wonderful easy craft–great for teachers’ gifts at this time of year. I did a little tutorial for them back about . . . well, about this time of year! Seems to be the season for thanks.

More wall hangings

I tell you, once you start making these things . . .

Here are two more I cobbled together in just a few minutes:

I must confess that the artwork on this beautiful suminagashi (floating ink) of the hazy moon is not my own work, but that of Second Child, who dashed it off during a break in one of my long marbling sessions when she was about 12 years old.  It was one of those “can I make one, too?” moments, after which she was done. And it’s more beautiful than any I’ve ever done. Beginner’s mind, you know? Anyway, too gorgeous to need words, but a little piece of beautiful ribbon from a birthday package fits just right.

And this one has been hanging on my bulletin board for a long time, but I was inspired by this project to turn it into a more formal hanging:

I need to jiggle the bottom binder on this one to even it up a little, huh? This one’s also a little different from the others in that I added the quotation by putting the original work (done on some high end yellow handmade–not by me–paper a long time ago) through my old printer way back when it was getting so cranky I tried putting all kinds of paper through it, figuring the printer was pretty much moribund anyway. I’m not sure I’d do it on the new printer. Use non-printer-friendly papers at your own risk. This one came out well, though, don’t you think?

Inspiring words: A tutorial

In trying to come up with a little gift for someone, I made up this little wall hanging and thought I’d share with you how I put it together, though it’s really a pretty intuitive project. It was cheap and quick and–with the end of the school year almost upon us– it might make a great teacher’s gift, too, especially if for the background you scanned a child’s drawing or painting, and then added a quotation about teachers or kids. Just thinking out loud here . . .

However you envision your version, you’re going to need:

  • A computer image of piece of artwork you can use for the background. You want the text you’re going to add to be as readable as possible,  so extremely dark or bright colors or very busy patterns might not be suitable.   Be sure, of course, that you have the right to to the piece you choose–stealing other people’s images is bad karma.
  • A few words you find inspiring, appealing, funny, ironic–your call.
  • A good quality printer.
  • One or two (depending on the size of your artwork) binding bars, those plastic thingies you slide over the left edge of a stack of papers to bind  them together. I get mine here (fastest shipping ever, these folks) and buy them in a box of 100 (that sounds like a lot, but wait until you start making these–you’ll find you really do want to keep them around, and they don’t cost much).
  • An X-acto razor saw or something similar that will cut through the plastic binding bars without also cutting through your fingers (adults only, of course, for this step)
  • scissors
  • A nice piece of cord or ribbon

First, select your photo/artwork/what have you. If it’s not already on your computer or your flickr site, start by scanning it in. Then, using your photo editing software of choice, rotate and crop it to the size you want. I’m starting with this piece of suminagashi (floating ink!) that I did back in the winter, and I have in mind a long rectangle about 4 x 11 inches, so I’ve used a cropping tool to make it the right size:

Second, select the quotation you want to use (I collect all kinds of these in a Word file) and just type or copy your chosen words into the text tool. Select an appropriate font and size for your artwork, and play around with its placement until it looks right to you.  I’m using a quotation from Carl Sagan, in 28 point Tempus ITC:


Next, print the image on your trusty color printer (can you tell I’m enjoying my new one?). I’m using a soft gloss printer paper designed for presentation reports, but a good quality matte printer paper will work, too.

Trim away any unwanted white parts using either a ruler and a sharp blade,

or a paper cutter:

I did one side with the paper cutter and one size with an x-acto knife–each did a serviceable job–thank you to my Better Half for the photos–that’s his sneakered foot there. I’m not trimming the white edges from the top or bottom–they add a tiny bit of extra length and they’ll be hidden by the binders anyway.

Now measure the width of the piece you end up with, and mark one of your pieces of report binder to indicate the cutting point. Now use your little craft saw to cut two of these, so depending on the width of your artwork, you’ll need either one or two binder thingies.

Be sure to save the cut-off parts of the binders. You’ll get around to using them on smaller wall hangings, and they can also be used to protect your saw blade when you’re done:

Now take your cord or ribbon or string or a licorice lace or whatever skinny thing you’re going to use to hang the work, and cut a piece about 2-1/2 times the width of your artwork and your binder thingy.  Thread the cord through the binder thingy (you only need to do this for one of the two pieces) and tie the ends of the cord together in a knot or a bow, leaving whatever you consider to be the right amount for a pleasing hanging cord.  I’m using a piece of waxed linen cord here. Allowing for differences between your cord and mine, it should look like this:

Take your artwork and slide the top edge of it into the binder thingy as nature intended:

Slide it gently along so the ends of the binder line up with the sides of the artwork. If your binder is very tight, you can get the piece started by inserting the tip of a sturdy table knife blade (don’t try this with a sharp or pointed knife) to open it up a bit.

Now slide the other binder piece, the one without the string, onto the bottom edge of the artwork. This bottom piece weights the paper to keep it from curling, but it also adds a certain finish to the piece.

Hang it on the wall, pat yourself on the back, and go and make other ones for everybody you know. If you want to mail one, you can roll  it gently and slide it into a paper towel tube.

New year, new look

By the way, I thought it was time for a new header image.  One that better matches the name and spirit of the blog.

What do you think?

The tally–and more floating ink

Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November . . . and–including this post–I managed to blog here for 22 of those November  Art Every Day Month challenge days. It was fun, a good reminder to post more often–thanks, Leah, for issuing the challenge!

As a last post for this busy month (and to honor my sense of profound denial that tomorrow is De . . . Dec . . . no, sorry, just can’t say it yet), a few more bits of floating ink. Except for a few things like driving First Child to the airport to go back to college (sniffle), I’ve claimed the post-Thanksgiving days as days mine, for making things (again, denial steps in here and protects me from the fact that I have four deadlines coming up this week–[inserting fingers into ears] la la la la la la la . . .).

I spent much of Friday doing some suminagashi–Japanese marbling. Here’s my messy work table from that day. See the marmalade jar of paintbrushes? and just behind them there’s a little black card with some wispy white lines on it? Those are cat whiskers, carefully hoarded from whenever one of the cats (now, alas, the only cat) would lose one and I’d find it on the floor. They make wonderful tools for manipulating the ink floating on the surface of the water (so does the cheap fan over to the left of the pan full of black water). It’s black because I just kept adding and adding and adding different paints to the surface as I was trying to use up some almost empty bottles of paint. In the pan on the bottom, which I’d just begun using at this point, you can see where some of the paint is no longer floating; it has settled down to the bottom of the pan.

Traditional Japanese Marbling doesn’t typically use as many colors or prescribed forms as traditional Turkish marbling, the kind you are used to seeing on, say, the gorgeous endpapers of books, but it has its own beauty. And I’ll admit right up front that I’m completely intimidated by Turkish marbling. One of these days I mean to take a class on it.

But as a parting post for AEDM (and in spite of the fact that the weird gray weather and funky light here this weekend made for better marbling than for taking pictures of marbling), here are a few pieces that came out of this batch. If you’d like to see more, click on the flicker widget over there on the right to go to my flickr site.

And check back here soon for more goodies–I’m in the middle of a pile of projects/presents for show and tell in De . . . Decem . . . oh, crap.  You know, the month that dare not speak its name.

All the time . . .

Sometimes I go about pitying myself,
and all the time
I am being carried on great winds across the sky.

— Ojibway song