You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ category.

i forgot that i already scheduled a blog post for today so this is #2… ah well.

for those who know me, my deep adoration for poison bottles and specimen vials is pretty obvious. it’s a year-round, deep and passionate love, but during this time of year i think a lot more people share my penchant for such things. as such, i’ve just created and posted two new digital collage sheets for the altered bits site (click to enlarge):

poison and alchemy labels digital collage sheet

you can find these and 7 other new digital collage sheets here: http://alteredbits.com/digital-collage-sheets.php

do you want to know how i create some of the aforementioned poison, alchemy and specimen labels i use in a lot of my assemblages and books? then read on!

free wax topped-poison and specimen bottle tutorial

this is an extremely easy process and it’s both fun and super cool looking. use them in a cabinet of curiosities or oddities assemblage or book, or just display them on a shelf. once my stupid over-priced epson printer is fixed (their warranty service is not my friend today — one would think for $2600 you’d get more than a year of coverage) i’ll be making lots more with the new labels i created. [cross your fingers my husband can fix printers — he’s super handy and has recently fixed a stove (twice), a washing machine, a toilet, a sink, a car bumper that decided to fall off, a rototiller, a few musical devices, a broken deadbolt and some other stuff — he’s pretty amazing so a printer should be a cake walk… but i digress…]

okay… to start, you will need this stuff or similar alternatives:

  • a bottle of any sort, filled with your specimen(s), or whatever you’re using (there are usually lots of little bottles on the Altered Bits site).
  • natural beeswax and something to melt it in
  • acrylic paint (burnt umber is used above)
  • a paintbrush
  • a baby wipe or other moist wiping device
  • some sort of scraper – can be a carving tool, a super-sharp pencil, a thick needle, an awl, etc.

once your bottle is filled and corked (or capped if that’s what you’d doing), melt some beeswax. when thoroughly melted, dip the top of your bottle into the wax to cover it, and let it cool. keep dipping the top into the wax and let it solidify between dips until you feel it’s built up enough. i typically dip about four or five times for small bottles, more for larger. Set aside and let it dry/harden for about ten minutes.

with your carving tool (or needle or whatever you’ve opted to use), carve some random scratch marks into the wax. pierce it, puncture it, and carve it to give it an old or aged look. remove all little waxy remnants.

now whip out your paint and paintbrush. paint it all over the wax, taking extra care to get it into the grooves and divots in the wax. now wipe the paint off of the smooth parts of wax –– the paint will stay “pooled” in the scratches, cracks and divots and look really quite cool.

you’re done!

(in the above specimen bottle i was going for a wormy-type effect but the green is a little NOT what i was going for. the strands that kinda look like gross tape worms are strands of hot glue i dried on parchment or wax paper and shoved inside — the green is natural food coloring but one of these days i’ll provide some way better coloring ideas. i made this about three… or five years ago and i’m smarter now.) ❤

you can find a PDF tutorial of this here, complete with at least one typo (scroll to the bottom of the page): http://alteredbits.com/art-tutorials.php  i’ll actually be adding a couple more “waxen” tutorials (waxen book and waxen dolls) in the coming months as well as recipes for natural dyes, assemblage projects and other fun stuff.

gotta love those weeks of high energy and little sleep!  i’ve worked my ever-lovin’ arse off on the altered bits mixed media art zine and have managed to design 49 pages in the past week.  all i have left is fill a couple of blank spots (you may be able to help here — see below), finish the absolutely amazing artist interview (have all the info, just have to lay it out), add artist bios in the back, then complete an article that you will LOVE and ADORE (it’s not by me — but one of the pages appear to have been lost during my computer crap-out last february when i lost all the pages i’d already designed, blah, blah.  i will fix this or contact the amazing artist who submitted it… but i’m not telling you who it’s by ’cause surprises are good).

peek of an art piece in the "artful retelling of history" section of the upcoming altered bits mixed media art zine

(above is a tiny little peek at one of my pieces in the zine… category: artful retelling of history)

so, here’s the deal.  due to many things, such as my inability to properly count, someone silly submitting a piece to two different categories and me trying to add it to both before realizing the error, and my OCD-like need to have all new category sections starting on the right side of the page, there is still a bit of room.  not a lot, but a bit.  if you would like to submit super late for consideration of the zine, please do so by wednesday 10/24 at 9 PM (USA — PST).  i will need: high res photo(s) of you piece(s), your bio, your URL to site or blog, your location and an optional write-up on the piece(s).  and title of piece.  you can submit up to 3 pieces per person however space is HUGELY limited.  email to hi (at) altered bits (dot) com.

this is what’s left:

one half page (portrait orientation) in cabinet of curiosities
one full or two half pages in artful retelling of history
one half page (landscape orientation) in handmade/altered books and book pages (journal pages allowed as well)
tattered and torn is full unless i get two pieces i die over and must include — it would be a pain in my arse, but potentially worth it

i am also working on the tallest handmade book in the world project but i’m too ADD to talk about it right now — very focused on the zine.  i have not forgotten about it and now that school’s back in, art groups are back on.  super exciting news to share, etc.  but soon… this is zine time!  🙂

if all goes all planned, this zine WILL be ready for the holidays to but as gifts, etc.  also, i’ll be giving away at least one to one of the contributors and probably another to a non-contributor.  we’ll see once we get there (gotta save my pennies for little man’s holiday gifts first, hah).

UPDATE (about an hour later):

there is now only half a page in handmade/altered books and pages/journal pages
and half a page in cabinet of curiosities

i always love fellow artists’ blog posts when they share images of their collections, shots of where they create, photos of the places they dwell, etc.  i don’t do that often, so today i will share a little piece of what my sister claims to appear to be “creepy explosions” and “creepy corners” all over my house.  she’s a weirdo (and is always begging me to make her some art so i suppose she’s a secret lover of creepy too??).

this summer we were supposed to remodel our detached garage and morph it into the studio of bliss and divinity (which was put off from the summer previous), but that didn’t happen.  soon this will happen but i’ve given up my dream of a new studio for myself.  instead it’s going to be a safe and cozy place for kiddos with aspergers and autism to come, hang out, express themselves and make some really cool art.  i have the windows picked out and a plan for a mini loft and wood stove (we’ll see how that turns out — i giggle while i type as the husby will likely roll his gorgeous brown eyes and walk away when i announce such things to him as my plan).  i don’t suppose the kids really NEED a loft, but it would be fun.  my point, which seems not to be a point at all, is that i now have WAY too much stuff as i thought i would be moving my art goodness to a space 4 times larger than what i have but it’s now not happening.  i should have some giveaways!

a shelf in my studio

anyway, i enjoy filling my space with many hoards of various bits.  this big compartment box sits to my left while i’m at my main desk (there are four desks in here).  these are the things that i use most often so they must be readily available.  figure one: compartment hoards.

a collection of curious items
this is my favorite multi-level box of goodies.  i have buttons from the mid 1800s, lots of completely random rusty and metal items, bugs and bones and things i have no clue what they are.  just stuff i love.

collection of goodies for art

below is part of my charlotte and charlie collection, some of my brushes and tools and other odd things.  this is a fairly old pic — i was using a VERY large canvas and a piece of plaid wrapping paper for a makeshift curtain for a bit there as you can see.  it’s all better now and i feel so grown up with real life curtains.  🙂

a collection of frozen charlottes

one of my other obsessions is boxes of old watch vials, filled with watch parts.  i have a few, but this is one of my favorites.

watch parts, watch vials

i have an ever-growing collection of bugs and bones, too.  oh, and a chicken fetus.  i’m not sure where some of this went which is super sad.  i started packing some of it up for the new studio but since that isn’t happening now, i’m going to have to go unpack.  it will be like a pre-holiday celebration, i bet!

bugs and bones to use in my art

this is to the left of my sewing area — a wonderful and gorgeous wing book from my sweet friend kerinny ninny, some of my favorite doll heads, cards from my pal debrina in new zealand and a host of other things.


oooh, and my leather-bound handmade books!  the goddess book is such a treasure to me.  it was given to me by my hear friend jo archer in england.  the ones below were gifts from my mother and father in law from their trip to russia.  i love them all!  they have inspired a new obsessive collection of leather bound books.   remember brain boy?  yeah, that’s him in the vase.  i need to get my arse in gear and finish that piece!

hand made leather books, doll head

this is the wall just outside my studio which i can mostly see from my main desk/work space.  there you can find art by many amazing artists: kim palmer, lisa jurist, kc willis, joanna pierotti, lisa sarsfield and this chick named alicia caudle i once met.

there is no way i could make the time to post all of the amazing pieces of art i have in my home but i will highlight five of my favorites this round, and do another five sometime soon.

this is one of my dearest, sweetest, most favorite pieces ever.  it’s called “three bird house” and was created by kerin gale, my sweet and wonderful friend.  i bought this from her when we very first met and we’ve been friends ever since.  i will refrain from sharing the whole nightmare story about it but here is the quicky (a testament to how amazing keriny is!): it arrived with the top shattered.  i sent it back and poof (poof = a year and a half, haha)!  she fixed it and you could never ever tell it was broken.  love that girl!

art by kerin gale

copyright kerin gale

this was a wedding present from our dear friend kevin who is an amazing and intricate collage artist and painter.  this is huge and is one of the first things you see when you enter our abode.  click to enlarge — there is SO much going on in there!  sorry about the glare.

art by kevin

copyright kevin

this, of course, is a seth apter original entitled “melt”.  i saw it on his blog last year and had to snatch it right up.  i will own more seth art one of these days!

art by seth apter

copyright seth apter

this is the only michael deMeng piece i own too, though i hope to remedy that one of these days… when i’m not poor and starving.  🙂

art by michael demeng

copyright michael deMeng

this gorgeous piece is one of my all time favorites too — miss joanne archer sent it to me very recently and i LOVE it.  it’s titled “the harbour” and is hanging in my living room in a very prominent place so i can see it every day and share it with all who come to visit.

art by jo archer

copyright joanne archer

i got a new cell phone a couple of weeks ago and i’m obsessed with playing with all of the filters and effects on the camera.  sepia is one of my favorites.  this is the wall of my living room that i see while perched on the couch — just look up and to my right and this is what i see.  the piece over the shelf and the other to the right are both by the amazing and talented lisa jurist.  if you click to enlarge, you will see a sweet clothes pin doll that miss debrina made me too.  and of course my ever-growing bottle collection.  i got many of these from jo archer’s shop maud and mabel on etsy.  go shop there — she has stuff to die for!

living room wall

a creepy corner?  nopes.  just another little collection of goodness.

new curiosity box

i am in love with african porcupine quills and have them all over my house.  such purdy little things they are, but sharp!  (yes, that is a raccoon penis bone next to them.)

a collection of goodness

i should have gotten more shots of my vintage and antique medical tools.  i have three surgery sets and more than just the four vaginal speculums i’ve shown.  sorry to appear so narrow minded in the medical world.  sheesh.  this shelf is just inside the front door but i am thinking it may possibly make a bigger impact if i move it to the bathroom.  is that too creepy and weird?

vintage medical things

now i’m obsessed with this photo filter.  lovely!  i collect daguerreotypes… well, this is a new thing.  i have only two at the moment but you have to start somewhere, right!?  i like this handsome gent.

i collect ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, tintypes, etc.

what do you collect?  have any “creepy corners” to share?  i want to see them.  🙂

re-announcing, the altered bits print zine! 

i’ve gotten lots of emails stating that i haven’t posted info about the zine on my blog other than the themes so yeps, i’m a huge jackass.  apparently i’ve just spewed off a bunch of empty promises to post about it… so now i’m officially pulling my head out and posting the info for those who are new to my zine or wish to get additional information.

after going through the suggestion and voting process, we came up with four themes for issue two of the altered bits zine.  the themes are as follows:

cabinet of curiosities ( i’m actually working on a piece for this category today.)
tattered and torn (i’ve gotten the most submissions for this category so far.)
an artful retelling of history (this was my choice, so of course i’m quite excited — love the merging of art and history!)
handmade & altered books and pages (this is a super fun one too!)

feel free to interpret each of these categories as you please and use your imagination.  EACH ARTIST CAN SUBMIT UP TO THREE PIECES.

here is a peek at some of the submissions so far.  i’ve muted the color a bit so i don’t give everything away.  i promise you’ll still want to see the zine in the real.  it’s going to be gorgeous!!

altered bits zine #5, issue 2 print

the deadline for submissions 21 December, 2011.  i have had to extend this a bit due to all of the recent chaos in my life… so hopefully this will work for everyone.  if you need an extension, please let me know and i may be able to work something out, though i cannot make any promises just yet.

what you must submit to be eligible for inclusion:

  • send high resolution photos of your art piece (or photography), at least 300 dpi, no smaller than 6 inches on the shortest edge (at 300 dpi, 6″ = 1800 pixels).  please attach to email rather than inserting into body (some email programs shrink files when you do that).
  • indicate which category you are submitting each piece to so i don’t put it in the wrong place.
  • PLEASE don’t send small photos.  use name files like this so i’m not confused: lastname_firstname-artpiecename.jpg (you can send jpgs, pngs, tiffs — no gifs or bitmaps — those don’t work for print).
  • a short bio in odt, txt, rtf, doc or pdf format.  please DO NOT SEND DOCX files — i can’t open them and don’t want to buy ms word.
  • the url to your  website or blog
  • optional: a short write-up about your piece and/or your inspiration (these will be space permitting)

what you need to keep in mind:

  • kind of a no-brainer but i’ll say it anyway just in case: do not submit anything with copyright restrictions.  for example, don’t use egon schiele’s “standing nude young girl” in a collage or whatnot — i don’t publish copyrighted content as that could ruin it for all of the responsible participants.
  • please ensure all of your images are royalty free or have commons licenses.  there are great places to get images like that (flickr commons, wikipedia commons, etc.).

when it will be published:

i will be working on layout and design over the winter holidays and the start of the new year.  i’m shooting to have this published and ready to order by late february or march.  i’ll keep you posted though — if you sign up for notifications on my blog, you’ll be insta-enlightened when i post about it.

extra bits:

if you are interested in submitting an article or tutorial, let me know — i’ve never included one before but think it could possibly be fun to have one in each issue here on out.  if you are interested in advertising in the zine, go to my website to find the rates and info that i will be soon posting: http://alteredbits.com/artzine.php (or email me)

send everything to hi [at] altered bits [dot] com.

thank you so much, friends and fellow artists.  if you haven’t submitted yet and you plan to, i cannot wait to see!!!

there were an astounding 215 votes for the next altered bits zine themes and the top four are the winners.

the next altered bits zine will have four themes:

cabinet of curiosities (if you know me, you know this thrills me beyond belief!)
tattered and torn (this one actually surprised me)
an artful retelling of history (this was my choice, so of course i’m quite excited — love the merging of art and history!)
handmade & altered books and pages (you know i love this too!!)

i was a little sad that assemblage and dolls/doll parts didn’t win but then i realized that i could still do assemblage for any of the non-book themes, and of course include dolls or doll parts if i so desire… which i probably do!)

zine theme for mixed media altered art zine

submissions are now open!  deadlines for submissions is october 31, 2011 (that’s halloween so you may not want to wait until the last minute).  limit three submissions per person, with one main shot and up to two detail photographs of each piece.  you can read all of the submission guidelines on the altered bits website on the zine page.  please read the submission guidelines VERY carefully as it  is a huge amount of work to follow up with people if they’ve sent improper files or missing information (and i may not have the time to get back to you, thus you may not have the opportunity to be included, sorry).  i am very open to helping if you have any questions prior to submitting so always feel free to email me if desired.

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