Merriam Frank

Cut & Paste Artist


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practice rounds…

So holy moly, having an X-acto knife really changes the name of the collage game! There are NO limits to the detail work you can do with an X-acto knife. It’s actually pretty intimidating. I’m calling all my first (post-x-acto-knife) collages “practice rounds” because that’s really what they amount to! I’ve just been spending time getting used to handling the knife and seeing the clippings in all new ways… I go back & forth between being REALLY excited because of how much detail I can cut out now and being really discouraged because of how much detail I can cut out now… haha!

Practice round #1: “It Girl”

IT Girl

“It Girl”

I’m not really a big fan of this one, but it has some moments that I like…

007

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Practice round #2: “Studious”

Study

“Studious”

…which I need to take a little poll on! I actually built this one oriented horizontally, like this:

Study

“Studious”

After it was finished, I turned it up vertically & decided that I really liked it that way, too!

What do you think? Do you prefer it oriented vertically or horizontally?


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November 10th is a special day for me!

In honor of the 1 year anniversary my husband & I just celebrated (yay!!!!) I thought I’d share some pictures of the scissors-and-glue project that occupied a good 3-4 months of 2012 for me!

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Soon after we got engaged, I saw a picture of a bouquet made of book-page roses and knew immediately that I wanted to figure out how to make them for our wedding flowers! It was just too perfect: I’m a lifelong avid reader with an English degree & I’m occupied as a librarian. Plus, we were looking for all possible ways to cut costs and still have our dream wedding and hand-making the flowers definitely fit in with that goal! I read a couple of different tutorials and then practiced until I’d arrived at my own technique & rhythm.

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My basic process was: 1) slice the pages out with an x-acto knife (and here I have to say: I got a lot of disbelieving reactions that I was comfortable with destroying books… I saw it as no more destructive than essentially killing a living plant for the sake of a bouquet! And I was completely comfortable with it as they were not rare or out of print books and the destruction was not of the book-burning, censorship variety.) — 2) cut out stacks of petals in varying shapes & sizes — 3) individually curl the edges of each petal shape (for months I had little baggies of petals in my purse so that I could begin curling edges at the first sign of any downtime!) — 4) prepare the stem (wire that my honey cut for me) by hot gluing a tight tube of paper onto the end to be a base for the petals (by far the hardest/worst part to me!) — 5) build the rose onto the stem, hot gluing petal by petal from the inside out, shaping the rose as it grew! — 6) repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat…

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The project was near and dear to my heart, not just because it was for our wedding but also because I chose a special book for each of my bridesmaids & felt like the bouquets were a gift to them, not just an accessory to carry for one day & throw away!

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[If you’re interested: my sister and matron of honor’s bouquet was made from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott with a few roses from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, as well. My (other) sister and maid of honor’s bouquet was made from Pride & Prejudice with a few roses from Little Women! Both books are about close sisters and both are huge parts of our “family library” – we’ve all read them too many times to count, both separately and together, out loud! My cousin’s bouquet was made from Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, a book from our childhood and fittingly about little girls who aren’t actually sisters but might as well be! And finally, my best friend’s bouquet was made from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, one of my all-time favorite books and again, about close relationships between women who aren’t actually related.

My bouquet was made up of roses from each of their books (so that I could carry them with me!), coffee-filter peonies, and roses from my own special book, Betsy’s Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace. It’s the last book of a series that has been my favorite since I very first began to read it when I was probably no taller than the series itself, if you stacked it up in a tower! The books begin when Betsy is age 5-6 and continue through her life until her wedding and first year of marriage. (If you’ve never read them or if you have a little girl in your life to share them with, I couldn’t recommend them enough!!!)]

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I also made all the necessary boutonnieres and corsages, because hey, at that point I was on a roll! The only “special” ones were my groom’s and my dad’s though, because I had convenient scraps and because let’s be honest, his groomsmen weren’t going to care what book their boutonnieres were made from… ! My husband’s boutonniere was made from the same book as my bouquet, Betsy’s Wedding (because he’s “my Joe”! [the character she marries]…) and my dad’s was made from A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner, which is our special book. I used to read him the stories every morning as he was going to sleep after working night shifts!

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They’re a different rose technique (spiral) better suited to lying flat on the corsages’ ribbon backing or the boutonnieres’ popsicle sticks. (Popsicle sticks might seem like an odd choice, but they stuck conveniently right into the button holes of the suits! No pins required.)

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All of these pictures were taken by our amazing wedding photographer Megan of Megan & Seth Photography.

I hope you enjoyed looking at them as much as I’ve enjoyed reminiscing over them!!! I’ll be back next week with some more collages. : )


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A designated “studio space” & a collage in progress…

I don’t have a finished piece to share today because I spent most of my spare time this past week working on a collage space rather than a collage itself! It felt a little bit like procrastination, circling around the new ideas & tools I needed to start on instead of actually – you know – starting on them – but at the same time it needed to be done! Although my sweet husband hadn’t complained one bit, I was starting to feel apologetic about the stacks of magazines & clippings on our dining room table, coffee table, bookshelf, and end tables downstairs…  Especially considering the fact that there was an entire spare bedroom upstairs with a spare dining room size table in it for my use if I would only sort through all of the junk that had accumulated on it and then move my stacks upstairs!

So I did, & I LOVE it. I now have my stacks of magazines and mat boards all in one place, my clippings somewhat organized, and a nice, roomy surface area to work on – with the best part being, I can leave it all spread out and just close the door to the room to keep it safe from my cats! (Paper scraps are some of their favorite things, too!)

my little "studio" corner...

my little “studio” corner by lamplight…

The framed photo you can see on the stack of mat boards if of me as a little girl wearing one of my grandpa's undershirts as a smock & painting outside on their patio. :)

The framed photo you can see on the stack of mat boards is of me as a little girl wearing one of my grandpa’s undershirts as a smock & painting outside on their patio. :)

It’s so “my happy place” I actually have a picture of it as my phone background right now.

So after all that sorting & shifting around, I didn’t manage to create a finished piece, but I thought I’d share my (in-progress!) (rough!) first attempt at working with 2 new approaches: leaving blank space, and using markers to interact with the clippings and between the clippings/blank spaces…

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As you can see – rough! Not much of this is even glued down and I haven’t gone back over any of my marks for precision. (This is only a cell phone pic, too.) But I was excited to already begin seeing the possibilities! Though gosh, blank space opens up a whole new world of indecision for me. Typically for me a piece is finished when the entire surface is covered & I like the arrangement. Blank space means I have to decide when a piece is finished! SO much harder!

I’m curious, where do you do most of your art work? Do you have a designated area or do you shuffle supplies around from place to place like I was doing?


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ROAR!

I’ve got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancin’ through the fire, cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me…

ROAR

ROAR

Here, finally, is “ROAR”! The first in a pop art series, this piece is 100% inspired by Katy Perry. It’s bright, loud, colorful, and fun! I may or may not have been listening to the song “Roar” on repeat almost the entire time I put it together…

It was a complete departure from my norm, since usually I like to work with little scenes and whole components (recognizable objects)… but for this, I let anything that was animal print, patterned, brightly colored, or all 3 catch my eye! Then, with just a few exceptions, I forced shapes onto the scraps: mostly triangles and hearts.

ROAR, framed

ROAR, framed

If you feel at all like confetti exploded in your face while you’re looking at, well… good!

I mentioned in my last post that when my dad visited us recently, he and I got into all manner of art-related discussions! If there is such a thing as a “former artist” then my dad is one. It’s been decades since he was able to give his artistic tendencies any time worth mentioning, but he has the born talent, education, and even professional experience, though from long ago. He looked over all of my collage efforts with me and we talked about techniques & ideas & multi-media possibilities… He introduced me to some new tools and even outfitted me with a few of them!

But probably the most valuable conversation we had was the one about loosening up. trying new things. not being afraid to try and fail because there really is no wrong or right there’s just trying and liking or trying and not liking so you try again and again and again and again until you do something that you like…

So that’s where I’m headed next! Opening myself up to the new ideas he gave me and trying out the new tools and techniques until I figure out how they fit in for me, with what I do already know I like: magazine pages.


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Life lately…

Life since last Tuesday has been a little busier than normal (on top of regular happenings, we crammed in a birthday dinner, a guest, a baby shower, & a bonfire party!) so I haven’t had time to finish any new collages. Instead, here’s an Instagram collection of some of what went on…

cheers!

cheers!

bubbly

bubbly

We sold my old car! This was a huge blessing for us. She (yes, she. Her name was Lola. I’m very much a personifier.) was a beloved & dependable “first car” for me, so I’m really thrilled to know that she’s moving on to her next life as someone else’s “first car” – a sweet college freshman who was SO excited about the nice radio my husband installed for me. I really think that might have been what did it for him. Although most of the sale price was already allocated for various responsible things (blah adulthood!), a little tiny bit of it bought a bottle of my favorite champagne for celebrating.

Then there was a birthday dinner for my mother-in-law, and then my dad came to visit! He’s off work right now due to some recovery time needed after a surgery and I was able to get a day and a half off work to spend with him. Since he’s an artist (among many, many other things), we had a great time going over collages and collage techniques and collage ideas. The excited conversation necessitated a trip to Hobby Lobby for some new tools… (and a new decorative pumpkin. You can not go in Hobby Lobby for just 1 or 2 things, am I right?)

new art tools

new art tools

Since I knew that my friend was receiving just oodles of really awesome stuff at her baby showers, I felt free to be a little inventive with my gift. I’m no pro at hand lettering, but the offer was sincere! She (and many other moms there) were VERY excited at this idea…

baby shower gift

baby shower gift

It reads: One month of grocery shopping service! That’s 4 BIG Saturday stock-up trips… anything that can be bought at WalMart, Super 1, or Brookshire’s! *AND* up to 3 Emergency evening (6pm – 9pm) quick trips! [Examples: “oh no! John’s at work and I’m out of diapers! – or – “there’s nothing for dinner, wish < insert restaurant > delivered…” -or – “Mama needs a bottle of wine STAT”] HOW IT WORKS: -> make a list  -> call, text, or email it to me  -> sit back & wait for groceries to arrive at your door  -> write a check for receipt amount

I finally got around to trying a new recipe that I’ve had printed out for awhile… Thai stir-fried sweet potato & beef with lime & mint! It was very good, although there are a few things I’ll do differently next time. (I always like to follow a new recipe pretty closely the first time just to see how it is.) I loved how sturdy & autumnal a dish it was with its orange & brown colors.

Thai stir-fried sweet potato & beef

Thai stir-fried sweet potato & beef

And, of course, a cat picture…  Endora first came home with me as a tiny, scrawny, funny-looking all black kitten on the day before Halloween 4 years ago. She’s now a gorgeous, fully-grown feline with a totally sumptuous black coat. I love the heart shape her haunches and hair make when she squats like this:

heart butt

heart butt

Check back again soon for the finished “ROAR” collage! It’s ready for glue, hoping to finish it tonight or tomorrow.

Linked up to Life Lately at http://www.wild-and-precious.com/  : )


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Fall’13(2)!

Ta-da! Here’s the whole collage from which the 2 corner sneak peeks in the post below were taken…

Fall'13(2)

Fall’13(2)

As you can see, I’m still really digging warm gold, brown, & red colors right now…  From my perspective, this piece turned out more architectural than instinctual in its overall design. It was a fun change for me to play with squares and circles and color blocks!

Fall'13(2)

Fall’13(2)

[Apologies to the lady with the teacup for putting her lips in the saucer… I’m sure it makes it hard to sip, but at least her lipstick will stay perfect, right?]

[Also: I love the tree growing out of the couple’s clasped hands. I imagine their relationship growing & blossoming out of maybe a first dance? Maybe a family tree? ]

Fall'13(2), framed

Fall’13(2), framed

This spot in my house where I take pictures is right by a window, which is great for the natural light, but sometimes is a challenge with the glare. I should have waited for a less-bright day, but instead I tried a few angles that didn’t reflect the blinds and ended up loving this one below!

Fall'13(2), framed

Fall’13(2), framed

I know I’ve been yammering on about fall for a couple of posts in a row, but I’m actually taking a break from it to start on a pop art series that’s been on my mind. I shared a glimpse of bright clippings on Instagram last night…

#colorexplosion

#colorexplosion

I’m almost finished with it & can’t wait to share! It’s quite a change from what I’ve been doing, but it definitely fits with its inspiration… [Hint: ROAR!]

[ ::edit:: It’s now Tuesday, which is rapidly becoming my favorite day of the blog-week, thanks to Artsyville’s Glue it Tuesday feature!!! I love having visitors & going to look at all of the other artsy-glue-blogs. ]


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fall daydreams & sneak peeks…

Ok, I’m totally just daydreaming this fall thing now. True to form, Louisiana weather is being contrary… the so-called cold snap might have left us with mercifully lower-than-summer temperatures but with the humidity hanging out at 96% there is nothing “crisp” about the cool! I’m still trying hard, though. I have yummy fall scents in our scented-wax-warmer (“crackling fire” and “candy apple” make a magical combination), all the fall & Halloween decorations out, and all my favorite autumn music loaded in my stereo. Does anyone else do that? Have certain artists you listen to more at certain times of year? Christmas is an obvious season for music, but for me fall is just as strong an influence. The second that my soul gets an inkling of autumn (you know the one I mean? The tiny little throb of nostalgia, the tender pang of restored wonder at the world around you? Maybe it’s just me, but I find fall so much more rejuvenating than spring…) – I start listening to my boys, as I affectionately call them, pretty much exclusively. James Taylor, Paul Simon, and Rod Stewart. Maybe it’s their warm voices? I listen to them all year long, but during the autumn it’s A Thing. James, Paul, and Rod, with sides of The Shins, The Format, and Five for Fighting.

With their help, I’ve almost finished another fall collage despite the lack of ideal fall weather! It needs a top coat & framing, but here are 2 sneak peek corner shots from Instagram:

fall2preview1          fall2preview2

Favorite elements are the architectural squares & circles in the left picture and the sultry eye under the tree branch in the right one. Plus “Great Scott” just makes me giggle thanks to the Back to the Future movies.

Fun fact: I include an ‘S’ or a ‘W’ in every composition. Sometimes they’re obvious & sometimes they’re hidden. You can see the ‘S’ in these sneak peeks! Do you see it? It’s not the S of GREAT SCOTT, either.


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Fall’13(1)

I’m so in love with this piece! I was tempted to leave it hanging on my own wall.

fall'13(1)

Fall’13(1)

It came out exactly like I wanted it to (after many, many rearrangements): warm & rich & completely fall without actually having a single pumpkin or leaf on it!

I die for: that hand on the tree holding up an end of the banner, the gold circled medallions, the Kerouac excerpt (“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved…”), the window with curtains…….. oh all of it, really.

fall'13(1)

Fall’13(1)

I enjoy the process of collaging so much. It’s like a puzzle, only you don’t actually know what it’s supposed to look like in the end and your pieces aren’t pre-cut. I can get lost in my own world for hours as I try to figure out where the pieces want to go to make a beautiful whole. When they don’t fit or work right, you just know, and you can’t force it anymore than you can force mismatched puzzle pieces together. The flip side is that when it DOES finally come together, you know, & it’s such a good feeling.

fall'13(1), framed

Fall’13(1), framed

[ Available at: www.etsy.com/shop/merriamfrank ]

P.S. Are you on Instagram? If you are, find & follow me! I finally listened to my sister & signed up: username “merriamfrank” (of course!) I’m absolutely loving it. You’ll get lots of “#behindthescenes” and “#artinprogress” sneak peeks! And cat pictures. But I’ll try to keep a handle on those.


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Merriam Frank is on Instagram!

Are you on Instagram? I just signed up, username “merriamfrank” (of course!)

My sister has been telling me for awhile that I needed to try Instagram & I have to say, I’m having fun already.

Collage process...

Here’s what a collage in progress looks like for me — hours at my coffee table!

And here’s who keeps me company while I work:

Mascot kitty enjoys: curling up on my magazines & scratches behind the ears.

Mascot kitty enjoys: curling up on my magazines & scratches behind the ears.


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up next: fall

Technically, it’s now fall. My calendar says so! But here in Louisiana, the weather generally doesn’t follow traditional seasons… We were all excited last weekend with the first “cold snap” of the year – highs around 92, lows around 67!!! Hey, it beats the summer weather. (Highs: Dante’s Inferno. Lows: Satan in a good mood. Humidity %: fish could live on dry land.)

I’ve never been one to let the weather stop me from enjoying the season, though! I lead the way & let the weather follow. It’s a faith thing — if I decorate for it, it will come — right?! So I made a new wreath for our front door. The acorns hanging in the middle are actually jingle bells, which is a fun feature when the door swings open!

fall wreath

fall wreath

And since my surroundings absolutely won’t look like this for quite a while still, I’ve been enjoying looking at this picture I took from our hotel window on our honeymoon in Memphis last year.

Memphis in November

Memphis in November

I was up late at our dining room table working on a new collage last night! Theme? You guessed it… fall. It’s my favorite season & I’m so ready to embrace it.