New Trails to Fantasy,

                                  The image above was a free photo that i took to the Paint program on my computer.  Its rough ill grant you,  but luckily the background is just busy enough to overpower those rough edges . The  globe in the center is very rough  i used the shape tool for the last one in the foreground ,, no more free handing it.   No Photo shop, not even Gimp, the Free equivalent to Photo Shop. I have Gimp  on my computer, and use it for( Photo dissection only )when were looking for beasties in photos over at the Midnight-observer ,     I never use it to add anything but various lighting to find details by.

The point of this article though is to get you to look into this sort of Artist practice,   its one that doesn’t cost a penny, you don’t even need internet service to do it.    I have to admit Ive been very skeptical about computer Art,   Its cool, very cool, but being a traditional artist i felt it was too easy, i was wrong.

Its a different kind of hard, its the use of a mouse instead of a pencil or a brush, or a variety of the programs tools .  All this is old news i know ,  but i thought paint by itself would be too elementary, too limiting, but like many things its all about your heart being in it, then suddenly you find innovative ways to use the program., and blend them with the atmosphere of the base image, or create your own from scratch.

Its still more than half what you can in-vision before you ever turn the computer on.   At first i cussed the mouse but with repetition of certain strokes and manipulations  the mouse and my hand  eventually got friendly, and control of line-work improved. You get into a state of mind finally where you can concentrate more on the creating and less on the frustration .  I was going to say this should be limited to comic type illustration, but that’s wrong,, with further experimentation and practice, there’s no reason portraits , and more detailed illustration shouldn’t be possible.

All with little ole (Windows Paint) alone,,, i emphasize this because many of us (as badly as we’d like them,)don’t have the big bucks necessary for an expensive paint program,, but still want to use one for various purposes.
Go to one of the many sites that has images you can use for your own personal; enjoyment, Morgue File, is one of these, find a background or persons image you,d like to work with  make sure  the file is coded CC- or a number of others that allow usage with certain rules.   Do preliminary sketches, or just wade in and have fun, there’s something about blending reality into a new form that’s challenging , and very satisfying .  Many of us have the time on our hands to  explore this, I hope you do.

Richard Carter,

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From Flea Market Finds….to Fantasy Bust

Craft work is fun and especially sculptural projects. The choice of materials, though, should never be limited to a single medium. In most clay sculpture, or that using flexible or fragile mediums, there is the need for an armature of some kind; the skeleton or support of the project that keeps it from being fragile. So, understand that nearly anything with form and material substance can be transformed to sculpture. .                                                                                                                   

Some amazing sculptural pieces are wooden boxes or crates on their  side with little mini vignettes or dioramas glued in place, inside,  though they can be set up in a number of ways, using furniture, mirrors, or candles  in room settings (this is just one example). They can also serve as a form of diorama.

But, the type of sculpture we’re talking about need be neither.  On P.B.S. ‘s Roadside Attractions show, they travel about finding art of all kinds that I believe fall into the category of folk art. Sometimes it’s architectural, sometimes whimsical  made from bottles, old tires, and welded scrap metals. It goes on and on. In the article about Barbi sculptures earlier, we looked at a few toys drawn together with spooky paint jobs , hot glue and odds and ends.   

Today we’re looking  at another project made from materials of the reclaimed and those scavenged.  It is made up of a wig head with a semi sculpted face and a bag full of fake flowers that had taken a beating in their previous life.    Before we look closer at it, I’d like to say, if you get interested in this form of art, you may find it quite affordable and the acquisition of materials a fun process.

Going to thrift stores, flea markets, road side markets etc. you can find nearly anything you’ll need. Let your tastes lead you. In this case I had read a Tolkien book and was inspired to create a woodland spirit. This guided my eye at a flea market in Nevada, Missouri.

We found a rubber wig head; one with a simple face and no hair. It’s facial features were altered slightly with a buildup in certain places using polymer clay, additions to the features. These were glued on and the edge of the appliance was blended in with watered down, clear caulking. Brushing and smoothing to get a natural appearance.

Some of the leaves were removed from the wire and plastic stems, and I found I strayed from the original drawing by quite a bit.  I glued leaves into adjoining positions until it looked as though she had a head piece of some kind on, and then attached the leafy portions, still on the stems. A few real twigs were added, all of this after the initial painting of the head in multiple layers of a green I liked.   When it was nearly finished I thought it needed a addition of color so I took some plastic berries in clusters and added them, hot gluing each piece into place.

It was made from:

  • A head that cost-  $5 dollars
  • A bag of fake flowers, second hand – $1 dollar
  • Craft paints and one pack of hot glue -$6 dollars

These sort of projects can be as intricate or simple as you’d like. Each will have a bit of you in them, showing a portion of you that even your family may have missed. This makes many pieces, not just pretty craft work, but  keepsakes.  To the next guy it may be strange, but then again we’re not making it for the next guy are we?

This is for you  enjoy yourself and bring something to your home that is a one of a kind.   Have fun.

Rich (I want to apologize for the quality of the pictures. They were taken on my old cell phone.)

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Costuming and wall Decoration part -1

I hope I don’t insult anyone in the beginning of this article in the over simplified warnings about glue guns.   I’ve worked with them in a number of different ways over the last 20 years.  I can tell you, with all sincerity and little exaggeration that you will never be cautious enough not to be burned. How badly you are will be in measure to your haste or carelessness.

I  love to see the end result of my work, projects that are in their very nature time-consuming and meticulous, because of that inability at times to work slowly I get burned.   Your skin heals, of course. Glue that quickly bonds deep in your skin wears away finally with picking and irritated wear. So, the importance of tips I give you along the way in using the glue gun should be taken seriously.

First always keep the word gravity in mind. This will be an aid in protecting your lap, knees and feet,and also in achieving certain creative effects with it.   Here are two projects  where it was used.

The Helmet

The base of the Cavaliers helmet was a batting helmet of blue plastic, very worn; a thrift shop find. The brim over the eyes gave me the idea, and I took a sheet of typing paper and drew a few different designs before choosing a look I liked.  I took a pair of utility snips and cut some plastic for additional cheek guards.  I trimmed these into a shape

I’d found in a book of museum quality armaments.  These I glued to each existing ear guard. I placed the hot glue on the area to bond with the helmet lying on its side, the surface to glue flat. This aids in controlling the flow of the glue while it is still cooling and semi liquified. Sometimes a pair of gloves may be necessary to hold thin surfaces together while gluing as a protection from heat that quickly radiates through plastic, metal and other surfaces.

The Spine along the top of the helmet that the plume is attached to was made from thick cardboard.  Okay, I know what your thinking, that won’t be very strong. Well if we left it in that condition alone no, you’d be right. Once the cardboard is bent into a long or tent like shape, then you carefully trim away small curved slices from it until it is in a shape that rests evenly on the curved top of the helm.  Once this is shaped properly, you can glue it in place. Now before going any further set the helmet upright on your working surface . Begin coating the whole cardboard piece on the crown of the helmet with hot glue.

So you don’t have runs and unsightly globs of it, take the tip of the glue gun and as you apply more glue use the hot tip to spread it almost in a painting like fashion. When this is completely coated with a thin layer of glue, leave it for a few minutes or until you can touch that area without feeling heat. When it cools, you can begin building up decoration on the surface of other areas.  Go to the brim and other areas.

Check out examples of such helmets in museum collections if you want a reference that will allow you to decorate it in a traditional, historically accurate way, or just go wild with it. Your intention for it can lead you in your artist decisions. If this is to be a decoration for a shelf, a lining my not be important, but if you want to wear it as a costume piece then carefully hot gluing material or padding inside may be in order.

Now your ready to paint it. I usually use a black primer coat of spray paint.   Then once it’s fully dry, maybe even the next day,  you can take latex craft paints and enamel model paints and begin. I prefer enamel  paint for the metallic colors only.  I personally used latex for the rest. I took a brown, a dark chocolate-brown and a centimeter wide brush head to apply a splotchy sort of consistent weaving, very loose and imperfect, but consistent. Once this had dried I took a lighter shade, and put dots and small spots of this color inside the other shapes, again imperfect but a consistent look all over the surface.

I took antiqued gold and oddly highlighted it with copper on the raised hot glue decorative areas. This should be done neatly to make the illusion more effective; the illusion that this mass of plastic  cardboard and hot glue are instead metal. Once this is finished and dried overnight, then you can coat it with a clear sealant, either flat or gloss your choice. The final step is to hot glue your plume along the top. In this case it was a snip off of an old red BOA. It was held tight and carefully brought down on top of the layer of hot glue with only the most gentlest of pressures, so as not to compress too many of the feathers in the glue, ruining the effect you’re after.   A decorative drape tassel along the inside with a cord length just long enough to drape and look interesting.

The second project is a Shield. It was a child’s sled; blue again. It was painted after symbols and shapes in hot glue were added.  The base of an old lamp was the center Boss.   I was lucky at the time and I had some incredible stuff on hand that they seal bar tops with in drinking establishments. This fine stuff sealed it. It almost looks liquid in places. That was the a learning experience. There are lots of what you may consider failures in learning to use this medium, and you may be a natural. Who knows?

The tips I mentioned; these rules you really should make mandatory every time you work.

  • 1- Use the metal stand that comes on all glue guns. If it doesn’t have one, place it on an old plate to protect tables and other work areas from damage while its hot and will still be in use.
  • 2- Unplugging it may be wise if you are going to have extended periods of holding parts in place as glue dries. The high temp glue sticks and gun can become incredibly hot and make drying/cooling  periods longer and accidents much more painful.
  • 3- If you’re in a hurry or pressed for time, choose something else to do less hazardous. I once dropped a stream of hot glue down on my knee while wearing shorts.  The burn took what seemed like months to heal.  It was because I waiting for a visitor, trying to squeeze a little work in while I waited.  I wish I had been more intelligent and  put it off till the next day.
  • 4- Always work on top a surface like a table or work bench. Standing up next to the table  if you are stable on your feet is preferable.  Sitting its just too easy to get careless and wind up with leg injuries. You can imagine the possibilities.
  • 5- Don’t use a glue gun while you’re talking with friends or your girlfriend or boyfriend. Try to make it a solitary activity you can give all your attention to.
  • 6- Remember, while hot, this sort of glue is liquid.  If your building metal studs on a shield with drops of it,  if you surface of application is curved it probably will run in one direction ruining the shape your after. Make sure the surface is as level as possible until its dry.
  • 7- You can, with the right application of paint and the proper final appearance of your hot glue application, imitate almost any sort of surface, any material, wood, plastic, or metal.

Objects you make may be feather light but have the faux appearance of something heavy. You can make fairly realistic armor, use it on clothing like sweats and jersey gloves to make monster hands and full body costuming .  I’ve made full suits of armor and a full body costume very close to the appearance of the creature from the black lagoon.  I was able to, 5 years in a row, win the city costume contest at Halloween, each year with a different outfit. The limitations are only in the materials you have access to, the amount of time you want to invest in the project and the amount of hot glue sticks you have on hand. You can take bottles and turn them into treasures. The possibilities are near endless.

Later on we’ll make a head-piece from scratch from aluminum wire, duct tape and, of course, hot glue.  I’ll show, in photos covering each step, how its done.  For now I hope your able to enjoy dreaming up ideas of your own. Be  responsible and careful .


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Part 2- of What are They Doing to Barbie

This is really just the gallery portion of the article on my week spent using the old dilapidated  dolls  some of them  imitations of the classic.                  

This one was in really in sorry shape, so I removed the head and cut a semi -circular chunk out of the right side where it meets the neck. This allowed for a disjointed look, and the head cocked sideways was scarier  to me.

The wrapping was medical bandages shredded into long strips, and aged further.  They were held in place by a drop or two of hot glue, every third wrap.  The exposed flesh was in planned areas, and pre-painted there only.  The eyes are really a dull orange. The brightness was added for the article.

The next is the forest spirit, Sprite, Fairy, Elf, whatever you want to call her.   A full sized figure was used. No structural alterations were necessary. This was fun, because the outfit for the figure came together largely from a bag of old fake flowers. Stripping the leaves from the stems, and then experimenting to find out how they wrapped around   the figure allowed for the basic cover.  Then, small cord and leather like strap, and green florists wire helped me create a shield and a stake like weapon for the figure.  An axe was also made that hangs on the back.  The headpiece has the similar shape to the tall Pharaoh’s helms of ancient Egypt. The portions visible were pre-painted before glueing began, and touched up afterwards.     This is the figure to the  right. It’s base was a rounded lid and wires were attached to the legs beneath their wrapping and the feet to the ankles were inserted in holes cut in the lid. This was possible because I knew the depth of the foliage at the figures feet would be deep enough to conceal this.  They were anchored with hot glue below and above and fake flowers were added to finish it.

There were other pieces  finished that week but I think the next is a good representative for them all. It started out an image of an alien birth;  just a crazy addition to a list of already wild stuff.

And it was more gruesome than some of the others,  but at the same time oddly beautiful to me.  The only way I can explain it is that the artists eye sometimes sees beyond the reality, Whether it beautiful,  poignant, or ugly, we see  the structure, color, and power of the scene.  I realized doing portraits for over a decade, that no matter how rough or tragic the face, there was always the  beauty of the person between the lines.

It is by no means pretty, or a scene I’d ever wish to come upon,  but the world  is unfortunately wallpapered with tragedy and many of these are unknown to us, and remain so .

The doll was painted an ivory color, then highlighted with white, and other shades . The Victorian age nightgown, abundant and billowy, is made of dryer sheets

The Alien was made from Hot glue layered over a thick piece broken off a  stick. This was covered and  arms structured through melting and turning using gravity to form them before it cooled. The strips of dead grass and sticks and rocks were added to the painted base.                                                                                                                       

Using materials like old scraps pf cloth, dryer sheets, hot glue, duct tape, old toys, even the plastic blocks comes  in handy when your trying to create machines or other structures.  You can accomplish a lot. To be honest, just about any old junk you have or find can be cleaned and forced into service one last time before its inevitable trip to the junk yard.

Is the above for everybody? Surely not, but neither are country western, Victorian, and industrial decor everybody’ cup of tea.   That’s the strength and the limitlessness of possibility in creation.  There are billions of different minds with different tastes.  Every creation  has a potential home out there. It’s just a matter of the right person finding it.

Next time well be moving into costuming and the safe use of the glue gun.

The Angle Iron Pencil  is a creative site hoping to show others just how thrifty and economical, and satisfying this form of art can be.  Our projects contain  materials that can be very harmful if used carelessly or incorrectly.  Our projects are personal activities we’ve decided to share. We are not responsible for any injuries or property damage sustained while you are involved in these activities.  A Carpenter understands he will occasionally hit his finger as are  most workers well acquainted with their tools.  Your choice to participate in these practices,are soley your responsibility. We  hope this knowledge can lead to your enjoyment in a rewarding pastime .

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I Want the Old World Back

I want the old world back.  I know I won’t get it, and I’m not sure in many senses, it would  be a healthy change for many.  But I want it none the less. I want Rockwell like scenes and the heroes my parents had.  I have had a throughout my life an  exposure to all sorts of films from all the ages and that period is still my favorite.

When Jimmy Stewart finally stopped stuttering and John Wayne could no longer ride, our world lost something.  Something more important than classic cars and Cowboys and Indians. We lost examples, who showed us how real men carried themselves . Back then the Studios required a certain amount of decency from  their stable of actors.  Each had a role , a type set for them, that few wanted to be limited to it, Im sure.

Oh there  were rebels like James Dean,and Robert Mitchum.   I liked Richard Burton and Lawrence Harvey, but both, as almost all of these were, were dedicated in their free time to self-destruction. Maybe my favorite of the whole bunch was Dean Martin, who was equally following the same path, maybe leading the bunch, but looking cool all the way there.

I guess what bothers me now is that the world hasn’t just got colder; it’s become its own worst enemy.  Where the actors like Mitchum and Martins time had their lives, they still portrayed, for the most part,  heroes, confused, maybe,, bad guys to start, their was a noble act left in most of their characters.

Today, there’s no confusion. The moral of each story is that you better not be the sucker or the nice guy or you may not make it to the end of the film in one piece, while the hood gets the girl and the money and is driving away with her during the credits. Your suposed to shoot for the cash and anybody that gets in your way on the way there.   Ethics, are your dads old clothes,, they’ll never fit,, at least this is what were told.

What the hell happened to us? When did we turn that corner and decide to turn the keys  to the asylum  over to the inmates? When did a bunch of singers and actors who’d be more at home on the set of a porn movie, become our definition of entertainment.  And when did the things allowed in few American homes become all that we now find there.  We took a nap and slept too long,

Not too long ago we bought some box sets of old TV and movie serials,  inexpensive with names I’d never heard of, like the Range rider,the Cisco kid, and the Rifleman etc. We watched them occasionally during dinner as background but started paying more attention.  The plots were simple and you knew the good guy was always going to win, but there was a feeling about them.

You got up from the TV and went to work on the computer and the stars thrown at you on the Yahoo news were such a stark contradiction to what you’d just seen, it was, and this may be a slight exaggeration, like leaving church and heading for the red light district.

I’ know times change. I understand that clothing comes into style and goes out of it, that no political party has an exclusive long term lease on the white house, but we still have a right to regulate, for our own sanity and the quality of our children’s lives, what we’re exposed to.   We might as well be at the table with the menu in hand ready to order. We can get what we ask for, even if its necessary to go to another restaurant to get it.

Hollywood and the music industry doesn’t want to waste money. They wont spend it in the support of anything we don’t want.   If you ever wonder why our families are exposed in the music and much of the film media to such  crap,well the answers simple. When the waiter left with our order,  that’s just what we asked for.

Parents in children’s  most formative years control the purse strings.  If I’m not giving my children money for it and your not and the rest of the parents are of a similar mind, the music industry says “whoa”, the brakes come on and suddenly something else besides the crap we abhorred becomes the flavor of the week.

Its not physical abuse if its barred from the home and no money is allowed to go towards it. Parents are able to not be overlords or dictators, but, parents once again.   Yes Wayne and Stewart are long gone, but the right of every parent is the right to give their child the best, even if that calls for giving them less.

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Salvaging with Lori

Author: Lori Carter

Hi, allow me to introduce myself. I am Lori Carter. I will be posting here on “The Angle Iron Pencil” from time to time. I am not an artists like Rich is, but I am frugal.

I don’t believe in wasting resources or items that can be reused, altered into a useful state, or decorated and used for other purposes. I recycle everything that I can that comes into the house. Many people are doing this as their “green thing”, but also to cut back on costs. This economy of ours is a mess. Prices keep going up but paychecks and income do not.

I will be posting about some of the ways I save by reusing items, buying items at rummage sales, thrift stores and yard sales. I will post from time to time projects that I did as special gifts to people using the “stuff” I don’t like to throw away.

Like Rich, I can see potential in almost everything. He sees it with the eyes of an artist, and I see it with the eyes of frugality. I like to decorate around the house, create handmade items, sew, crochet and craft. I will share many of these ideas with you in the future and I’m sure you will find a lot of them work for you.

Just to start with, I want to tell you why I save pickle jars. Now, that might sound like someone who just likes to hoard things, but it isn’t that at all. I do a lot of research on eating healthy and using environmentally safe methods around the house for eliminating pests like ants, insulating windows, and storing food.

I recently did some research on storing food in your cabinets. What I ran across, is the fact that the bags and boxes some things are stored in are temporary storage. Food will go stale quicker, spoil quicker and pests can get in easier when this type of storage is used.

This is where my pickle, olive, spaghetti sauce, and other large jars come in handy. Clean them very well when they are empty. Transfer your macaroni and cheese mixes, pastas, beans and rice to these jars. Not only will they stay fresher, you can easily see what is in each jar and don’t have to pull out a bunch of bags or boxes to see what you have.

You can make them match your kitchen or look “countrified” by using scraps of wall paper, craft paper, pictures and photos from magazines. You cut out pictures of pretty flowers and scenic views and glue them to the front of the jar giving them a very picturesque and country look.

Using smaller jars for spices and adding pictures of the spices on the front lets you know the ingredients in each jar. It is a simple, neat and cute way of storing your dry goods, organizing and making good use of your storage space and making them attractive at the same time.

Until next time, I hope you have a wonderful day, Lori

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Getting Ready to Work

While I’m getting some instructional articles together, I thought I’d show you some of what I do and briefly discuss the materials I use. My efforts in art are really frustrating and fun at the same time; frustrating because I am moving from one platform of base materials to another and fun because the differences keep the creativity fresh for me.

There are an infinite choice of materials that can be used in sculpture; aluminum wire of different gauges, Duct tape (the poor man’s friend) and hot glue are my favorite.  I’ve used these to create monster costumes, suits of costume armor and statues. These are painted with spray paint and the brush work is done using acrylic; this covered with a sealing agent. The limit to its combined use is only as small as your imagination.

You may find you enjoy marker, both permanent and watercolor, colored pencil (the Angel in the first article was done with these) and the judicious use of acrylic. These are my general mediums, though I have wrestled with an airbrush at times to create a base for these types of images.  When I was involved in magazine illustration in the past they were my choice of mediums.

Painting is a wonderful thing once you’re involved in it regularly. To attempt it in a hit and miss fashion makes the skills, you learn along the way, harder to remember to have at hand.   When you approach it in this manner you’re always struggling to have that initial level of ability you rose to.

As silly as it sounds, it is like riding a bike. You may never fully forget how, but the level of techniques you have to draw upon will be equivalent to your regular exposure.   Over a decade ago I had a shop on our town square.  To call it a gallery would be a stretch, but I spent a lot of time with a brush in my hand and that  gradual, consistent  exposure to the medium and its tools seemed to progress  in each piece.

Life obviously isn’t set up to allow us that continual exposure, but the principle, though, bears attention.

Where do the canvas and the bristle board end, and the absence of the ability to create begin? There is no border, no line where it ceases. Existence and all the things in it, the variable of temperature,  the textures of the elements  and each of our very singular positions in which we view it,  all are the catalyst for new and sometimes unconscious reactions , ones that inspire us to move the furniture, or change clothes, or tend our gardens, or to comb and arrange  our hair,. Every reaction that leads to an action good or bad are expressions driven by it.  Even the blind are just as much a part of this perpetual reaction, one that can be sensed just as richly through their ears and their fingertips and fuels a passion for life in their hearts.

Art can be an activity to fill time, but it can also sooth and heal and inspire us. It can even be one of the best of therapies to some. I hope to talk with you again soon.


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