Arte Es Vida

The Healing Hands Collaborative Book Project by arteesvida
November 30, 2006, 2:29 am
Filed under: Bookmaking, Journaling, Mixed Media

This article was first posted about a year and a half ago.. This ended up being Deb’s last round of chemo.  The spots they found in her spine traveled to her brain and she died this Feburary.  She loved her Healing Hands book…it was one of the few things she brought with her to hospice.




One of the best things about the Internet is that it enables you to make friends all over the world.  It is an amazing gift to be able to create community that isn’t defined by geographical borders.  However, when one of these long distance friends becomes ill, it is frustrating not to be able to go out for coffee with them, or to be able to reach out and give them a hug.

The Healing Hands project stems from just this predicament.  A friend of ours has been fighting illness for several years now and was recently informed she would have to take 20 straight days of treatment; a daunting and terrifying undertaking.  We wanted to let her know we cared for her and to find a tangible way to send her strength when we couldn’t be with her.  But most importantly, we wanted her to heal.  Not just physically, but emotionally.  The amount of emotional courage it takes to fight illness for months and years on end is something that most of us can only imagine.  We wanted her to know that we were with her.

The idea of creating a collaborative journal, where everyone contributed a page struck me almost immediately.  So did the theme: “Healing Hands” in honor of the wellness work she was undertaking.  Most collaborative journals are done by round robin.  A journal is started by one person and then sent to another person who does a page and sends it on to something else.  Most projects of this nature take months to complete, and many get lost in the passing.  We wanted our friend to be able to have this journal in her hand during her last few days of her 20 days of treatment, so I struck on the idea of everyone creating a page and sending it to me so I could put the entire book together and have it sent to her within weeks.

Because bookbinding isn’t my forte, I decided to make the journal a three ring binder with plastic sleeves to slip the pages in.  This worked best for several reasons:

§          It allowed us to continue to add pages to the book as late arrivals filtered in.

§          It allowed for 3D embellishments be added to each sheet and various mixed media techniques to be used on each without them altering the entire book or making the book uncloseable.

§          It allows our friend to move pages around, take pages out, or even frame certain pages if she wishes too.

§          It allowed people to include personal notes and other trinkets with their pages.  I was able to slip these extras into the back of each plastic sleeve so she would be surprised with the extras when she found them.

Many different media were submitted by different artists.  I used beads to create spiral embroidery on a felt hand, which I then attached to a colorful paper background.  Other techniques people used included paint, collage, photography, and stamping. 

Our friend’s response to her journal once she received it?  It made her feel special…and cared for.  Even though it was a time crunch project, everyone really pulled together to make it happen…and we all felt that every minute was worth it.

I am posting the scan of my page below.  The original article had scans of everyone’s artwork and I will post them all again once I contact the rest of the artist’s on the project for their as for their permission.






The Journalers Holiday Wish List by arteesvida
November 27, 2006, 2:12 am
Filed under: Book Reviews

I first published this list at BellaOnline in 2005.  All of the books are ones I still have on my shelves and refer to often so I thought I would share it again for 2006!

Books About Journaling and Writing

Drawing From Life — The Journal As Art By Jennifer New is buy the editor of Dan Eldon’s famous journals. It features the journals of an enormous range of people including such as Hannah Hinchman and Lynda Berry. Some of the journals featured are amazingly artistic and some are as scrawly and messy as our own every day journals. The journals are separated into chapters by how they are used by the writers. These chapters include Observation, Reflection, Exploration, and Creation. The famous The 1000 Journals Project is included in the Exploration chapter!

The Artful Journal By Maureen Carey is quite simply a beautiful book. It is focuses on journaling as a way of understanding, expressing and experiencing spirituality. There is a great deal of information about meditation, writing, and art techniques, and includes a chapter on how you can integrate all of this information into your own artful journal. Make sure you also check out the Ten Principles Of Journaling in the first chapter!

Journals and Journaling Tools

Coloring Mandalas 1 and Coloring Mandalas 2 both by Susanne F. Fincher make wonderful tools for jumpstarting the creative journaling process. I brought these in to work to share with my counseling clients but I was afraid that the staff was going to get to them first! Everyone loved them and found them to be meditative and fun. Each page as a large, gorgeous mandala you can color and space around it that you can text journal if you wish to do so. Either way you will be sure to find the mandalas to be a creative, centering experience!

Sark’s Creative Dream Game is the latest playful offering from the colorful world of artist and writer Sark. This 50 card deck is based on the following ten categories: Games, Gifts, Love, Positive Challenges, Time, Permission, Fear, Reminders, Resources, and Celebrating. The games “directions” invite you to choose a dream you want to work on and choose a card either from one of the aforementioned categories or from anywhere in the deck. Then you tell or write about how this card applies to you! The directions encourage people who enjoy writing, to use their journals as part of their creative dreams exploration process. This game can be played by yourself or with a group…this could be a wonderful tool for a journaling group to utilize! As a side note, I started back to school this past semester to finish my master’s degree in counseling. I have started using the Creative Dream Game with my clients as a goal journaling jump-starter. It has been a huge hit!

The Truth And The Questions: A Journal is a new, delicious blank journal full of prompts and art by the talented artist and published journal-writer Sabrina Ward Harrison. If you have ever read any of Sabrina’s journals and wished you could create something as deliciously creative and are very well photographed

Technique Books For Journalers

Fans of Cloth Paper Scissors may remember Karen Michel’s name. She wrote an immensely popular article on altering photos for the quarterly magazine last year. Her new book, The Complete Guide To Altered Imagery By Karen Michel expands on her altered photo technique and covers many others. As the subtitle explains, many of these techniques were developed for collage, altered books, and artists journals…there are many amazing ideas that you can incorporate into your mixed media journals right away! The different techniques cover using preprinted photographs, using digital images on your computer, incorporating found objects, and even a wonderfully detailed section on print making!

My articles on creating background pages for mixed media journals continue to have the most number of hits every month. Collage With Color By Jane Davies is definitely the book for this group of readers! Jane Davies’ section on understanding and using colors doesn’t just discuss color terminology such as “hue” and “saturation”, but also discusses the colors themselves including their means and the associations we have with each of them. Other chapters give directions on how to make patterned papers, and how to compose a collage. There are many techniques that you can use in your own mixed media journaling projects!

Texture Effects For Rubber Stamping By Nancy Curry covers not only a wide variety of techniques (Shaving cream marbelization? Who knew!), but also features over forty projects! Her ideas are tactile and lush…the “Sunset View” design mixes paint ink and fiber for a final result too pretty for the inside of a journal…you will want to use it for the outside cover!
Collage Discovery Workshop: Beyond THe Unexpected By Claudine Hellmuth is the second book by famed collage artist Claudine Hellmuth. The first one ran through it’s first printing within months, her techniques and teachings are so popular! This book is filled with many more creative and unusual techniques (here I’ve been using the expensive crackle medium when I could have used Elmer’s glue?) including how to create texture backgrounds, using printmaking, combining paper and fabric, using color, and how to bring your personal imagery into your artwork. Tons of great ideas for mixed media journaling!

Tea Staining by arteesvida
November 27, 2006, 2:07 am
Filed under: Fabric Arts, Journaling, Mixed Media

I recently walked a friend through her first tea-staining project and she was impressed by how easy to create such a wonderful effect! Tea staining can be used on just about any kind of paper or fabric…it’s a wonderful way to create aged effect in all sorts of projects, including:

· Staining different fabrics to create a unifying theme for a fabric journal.
· Staining paper to create an aged journal feel.
· Staining backgrounds for vintage photos, letters, and ephemera.
· Staining journal add-in elements such as manilla tags, letters, pockets, and envelopes.


Add a black tea bag or two to the bottom of a small bowl or mug. Poor a small amount of boiling water over the bags (just to cover) and let steep. Use the bag itself to “paint” on your paper or fabric. The bag itself can be fragile and may break…which is ok for some projects. The tealeaf itself on the paper can lend a variegated color pattern (just brush off the bits of tea after it dries). For a more uniform look, and to keep the bag from breaking you can wrap it in old pantyhose, cheesecloth, or an old flour sack towel. For a more texture look with paper, crumple the paper while it is still damp. (Carefully! It can tear easily). For a longer lasting finish on fabric, you can heat set with a iron.

Other staining options include using coffee (for a darker brown stain) or green tea (for a soft sage colored stain).

Recipe For A Dadaist Poem by arteesvida
November 27, 2006, 2:03 am
Filed under: Journaling, Mixed Media

Dadaism was a literary and artistic movement from the early part of the 20th century (1916-1923 is considered the heyday of the movement). Tristan Tzaza, Hugo Ball, Hans Arp, and Richard Huelsenbeck created the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland as a place to showcase their group art efforts. Defining Dadaism isn’t easy. There was a hugely diverse amount of art being created under the Dadaist umbrella. Most of it was widely considered to be in complete defiance of all artistic tradition and wildly pessimistic. In fact Tzara himself, abandoned Dadaism by 1930 for the equally strange but more ebullient Surrealist movement.

However, Tzara’s recipe for a Dadaist poem lives on in books, magazines, newspapers, and on the web. Part word game, part collage, and part free-association, the Dadaist poem also makes a wonderful journaling exercise!

“Recipe For A Dadaist Poem”
Tristan Tzara, 1920
Take a newspaper.
Take a pair of scissors.
Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in the bag.
Shake it gently.
Then take the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
Copy conscientiously.
This poem will be like you.
And here you are a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.
I did my Dadaist poem entry slightly different. I used a paragraph from a descriptive travel article from Gourmet magazine, and I didn’t cut out each word individually. There were a couple of two or three word phrases I left intact because I was curious how they would look in a new configuration. I also removed my words and glued the directly to the journal page rather than copy them down. I did a watercolor background on the page first, then glued the words on one by one.

The text by itself reads: People’s pleasure sharing
In a shocking display
Fertility added
Raises appreciated
In food
Magically transformed
Surely this is it.
Every hard tomorrow
Has subtle nights
We provide
Daily land to concuer
We gracefully
Filled pleasures
Of ladies and gentleman
Under the burning sun
A table around them
A collective bravo
Rises as if by prayer
Among work of cooks
Tonight it’s some
Other mutiny
Delicious affection
Turn the conditions
In the hard like rhythm
Caressing over and over
Slowly understanding fear
We’d planted
Across the soil
They move
While the rest of us stumble.
–Faith Harper, 2004

It might be really fun to take the Dadaist poem a step further, and write an additional entry deconstructing your creation. What does the piece mean to you? What symbolism was created? Did you find the piece reflected your thoughts and intentions well? While the Dadaist poem is a great journaling exercise in itself, it can also be a wonderful journaling prompt to explore further!

Stamp Carving by arteesvida
November 27, 2006, 2:00 am
Filed under: Letterboxing, Mixed Media, Rubber Stamping

Carving your own stamps isn’t hard, I promise!

You can purchase lino-carving blocks and tools (which are very reasonable) or you can go even cheaper, using rubber erasers and an xacto knife!

For this simple version, the inexpensive, soft white erasers carve the easiest. The pink ones are sturdier but are harder to cut.

Draw your image direclty on the eraser. What you draw will be the actual stamp…the part that inks up and leaves the image. Make sure the lines are thick enough to carve around.

Now use your x-acto knife and cut out all the stuff that isn’t your drawing. All the white eraser still showing through, about 1/3 of the way down through the rubber. (You can cut deeper, but a slightly more shallow cut allows you to still use the other end for another design!)


You may want to do a practice ink and stamp to make sure you have all the areas you want carved completely cleared away. If any bits you want to stay come loose, they glue back on easily with a dab of strong glue and it won’t break down the rubber or harm the integrity of the design!

Carving your own stamps is really fun for letterboxing, but you can use them for lots of other purposes too. Create a signature look to go at the top of each of your journal pages, or carve several to use as the mood strikes you!

More Stamp Carving Info:

The Carving Consortium
An online group of softblock carves and printers. Lots of great information, links to tutorials, swaps, and a discussion board.

Stamp Carving For Kids
From the Letterboxing site…no knives required!

Foam Pad Rubber Stamps
No cutting at all…use Dr. Scholls adhevsive foam pads to create inkable images!

How To Make A Rubber Stamp
With good information in image transfers and negative lettering.

Want a unique stamp but don’t want to carve your own? Have a sheet of your own stamps made and support charity at the same time! You can use public domain images of any images you create!

Building A Letterbox by arteesvida
November 27, 2006, 1:53 am
Filed under: Journaling, Letterboxing

Many letterboxes are actually quite small (less likely to be discovered and removed that way), my son and I made ours out of an old medicine bottle!

I folded and cut slips of paper and stapled them together to form the book. Rolled up, the book fits nicely in the bottle. My plan is if the letterbox lasts long enough for the book to be filled, to mount all the stamps inside it in a larger journal for my son later.

Carve your stamp and slip it inside. Small, eraser sized stamps will fit perfectly.

Tape a small label to the front. Cover the whole label in a clear tape for extra water-proofing.
The one I created looked like:

Journal-istic Integrity

Find a good hidey-hole for it. Public access areas are best (and remember that it is illegal to hide them in National Parks!). After you hide your box, retrace your steps and create directions to post for others. The main site for posting box clues is Letterboxing USA. The box my son and I hid is listed here.

Letterboxing 101 by arteesvida
November 27, 2006, 1:47 am
Filed under: Journaling, Letterboxing

Letterboxing combines rubber art stamping, treasure hunting, collaborative journaling, and nature journaling all in one! Although probably not as well known as geocaching, it’s been around quite a bit longer and is a whole lot of fun!

People all over the world hide small boxes with a small journal and hand carved stamp inside. Clues are passed around (typically through letterboxing websites…see the end of the article for links) and the hunt is on! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to decipher the clues and find the box!

This is a wonderful family outing (and a great way to get kids interested in maps and directions) and a unique take on the idea of the collaborative art journal.

So what do you need to get started?

Log on to a Letterboxing site and look for boxes hid in your area. Most box owners are really good about checking on their box from time to time so there should be updates if the box has gone missing or been removed.

Carve your own stamp to use for boxes you find. You can use a pre-fab stamp but almost everyone uses stamps they carve themselves. It isn’t hard to do, nor is it very expensive, and it really adds to the uniqueness of the project. Check out the links below for more information on stamp carving.

Pack your journal (you can use your nature or travel journal or create a journal just for letterboxing!), your stamp, an ink pad, and a pen for any notes you would like to leave and set out!

When you find a box, stamp your stamp in the journal that is packed in to the box, and stamp the stamp from the box into your own journal. You may want to leave a little note and date their journal before repackaging and re-hiding it (in the same place you found it!). It’s also fun to date and note the name of the box in your own journal next to the image you stamped in!

My 5 year old had so much fun finding letterboxes, he insisted on making and hiding one of his own! We carved another stamp that spells his name, and hid our letterbox behind our local library. Our box’s name is “Journal-istic Integrity” and the first page says Journals@BellaOnline for all the BellaOnline readers who letterbox!

Letterboxing Links And Information:

Letterboxing USA
The main website for letterboxing information and clues.

Joural-istic Integrity
A letterbox conceived, created, and hid by my 5 year old!

Letterboxing And Atlas Quest
Another active letterboxing site with lots of information and clues to boxes.

Mapsurfer Treasureboxes
These are letterboxes that are a bit trickier to find. They have a lot more clues and research involved for people who love a good challenge!

They Live And Breath Letterboxing
An article from Smithsonian magazine about the letterboxing phenomenon

Letterboxing Discussion Group
The offical discussion group for Letterboxing USA (through Yahoo).