Category Archives: Art

Maker idea: Glass jar collage


This summer I showed the Woodburn teens an interesting technique used by many artists to incorporate collages in their paintings or drawings and that photographers have used to mount their images on different materials like glass or wood called an image lift/transfer using acrylic medium. The image and ink are suspended in the acrylic medium enabling the removal of the paper backing and transferring of the image to other material backings.

In our maker session we created luminescent glass jars with collage images printed from the laser printer or cut out from magazines. The process took the full two hours we had planned which allowed them to spend some time on the computers printing out images they wanted to use.

 Here are the steps and materials needed for this project.


  • Preserving jars (usually easily found on sale during the summer months)
  • Acrylic gel medium (matte or glossy, I used matte for this project)
  • synthetic bristle brushes
  • Hair Dryer
  • Tray, plate, or shallow tub for soaking the paper
  • Scissors
  • Magazine pictures or printed images from laser or inkjet printer

Distribute small amount in paper cups of acrylic medium, brushes and shallow dishes of water to each teen. Begin by brushing a thin coat of acrylic medium evenly across the image in one direction, then again in the other direction. The image should be coated with two coats then blow dried on the cool setting until the image is dry. Repeat the coating and drying before moving onto soaking the paper.

 Make sure to trim the image to the exact size wanted on the glass before soaking the image.

After trimming lay photos image side down in shallow trays of warm water. The warm water will help soften the paper and removal will be easier. Soak the image between one and five minutes before rubbing the paper backing.

Once the image has soaked, leave print in the water and start gently rubbing the paper side removing the backing. This will take time and patience. The gel film that remains will be fragile and if torn can be pieced back together when placing on the glass jar.

Once all the paper backing has been removed, brush a thin coat of matte medium on the glass jar. Carefully remove film from water and blot excess water off. Then place image side up on the coated area of the glass jar. At this time you can carefully piece tears together and move until in the correct spot.

Continue to add more images to the jar until it is filled and they can also place images on top of each other in a collage form. Once completed, a thin coat of matte medium can be varnished on top of the images, this is optional. Then let the jars dry.

The completed jars can be used as a lamp with candles or with a LED light. Variations on the candle holder include punching holes in the lid to create a starlight pattern, the center can be removed for the flame, or adding a thin bendable wire wrapped around the jar lip create a handle on top for hanging.


Sample of teens finished collages.
Sample of teens finished collages.

Maker idea: Book planters

TeenBookGarden-4A creative way to use old books heading to sights unknown is to create a decorative garden planter out of them. I was inspired by garden projects found on Pintrest and found some great instructions at

Supplies you will need: books (the older the better. If the paper is already brittle and yellow, it cuts much easier than newer books), potting soil (small bag), succulent plants (about 1-2 per teen), glue, wax paper or plastic bags, x-acto knives, rulers, pencils.

The plants are the costliest part of the project, but you may be able to get a deal from a nursery or even buying them at a mainstream home improvement place will run you about $1 a plant. You can save by having each teen use only one to two succulents.

Please caution the teens to be careful working with x-acto knives for cutting the holes out. Keeping this in mind, here are some tips for creating successful book planters without the sight of blood.

  1.  First place a generous amount of glue on the spines and edges of the book. Using glue  bottles works great with a sponge or regular brush to spread the glue.
  2. Next, let them dry or use a hair dryer to speed the drying process.
  3. A good solution to keeping the limbs on your teens is to make them score a fairly small square and check them. Teens are very ambitious and like to try and cut out the largest square possible, not realizing this will make their project take longer and create a weaker container for their plants.
  4. Then have them cut the holes using a ruler as a guide while standing. You will get lots of moans from this instruction, because they feel it’s harder and they love to sit. Having them stand they can see what they are doing better, exert even pressure in cutting and the using the ruler prevents slippage of the knife while creating a barrier between said edge and their fingers.
  5. After the dangerous part is done and they have pulled all the inside sheets out of the book, have them line the hole with wax paper or a small plastic bag.
  6. Once lined, add the plants and then fill the space with extra potting soil. Trim the wax paper and spray with a little bit of water.

If you have a beautifully crafted title page, I suggest cutting the title page out and gluing to the garden facing page. Remember, smaller is better and safer. The teens will accomplish the garden in the time allotted and with all fingers in tact.BookPlantersCollage1

Something new, we like (artist librarian, part 2)

Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin (1902-1980), Washington, D.C., artist and illustrator.

Libraries are changing. This change is driven by new technologies that are changing the materials and resources libraries offer, the methods of access by which we offer them, and all in relation to how these technologies are becoming more affordable and prevalent in mainstream society. In the academic world, adaptation in the libraries has been more experimental as they try to stay in the forefront of the latest resources offering their faculty and students the best possible advantages in the research world. These changes have included the digitization of parts of collections, such as thesis, archival materials, and special collections. Others have been creating digital depositories, checking out e-readers, and offering online reference sessions. Continue reading Something new, we like (artist librarian, part 2)

Omeka Update

I have been remiss on updating my Omeka account lately. This could be my lack of excitement of working on my extremely out of date computer that keeps asking to update my browsers, even though I am as far as I can go with OS 10.4.11. This means I am behind on my Omeka version and need to do some upgrades. The unfortunate part is that the CVS import plugin has decided to not work, though it was working fine the last time I uploaded. So my next update may be a bit, while I sort out the config files for the plugin. In the mean time, here’s a few of the images from my next batch upload of 8×10 cyanotype and platinum/palladium prints taken in 1997. Continue reading Omeka Update

How being an artist has helped me become a better librarian

The life that leads a person to become a librarian is as varied as the sea. I have heard it referred to the 10 Step Job Recovery program of liberal art majors, due to the high percentage of librarians with these types of degrees. Though the truth is that the path to becoming a librarian is unique to each person joining the profession. For myself, I started by focusing on becoming a stage and lighting designer for theater, followed a love for photography into graduate school at an art college, finding a new found joy at working with images in a slide library, which the profession was slowly moving to requiring a library degree if I kept in this field and so I looked into getting my degree in library and information science. I wanted to try to combine the background knowledge I had acquired from my years in school with the love of photography and so I focused my classes on both archives and digital libraries.

While working in the profession in this recession where jobs are scarce,  I have been on many interviews for positions where one is constantly asked what makes you different from all the other perfectly qualified people in this profession. And I have slowly discovered that my art background is a pretty good fit for the library world. I will explore some of the ways I feel being an artist has made me a better librarian over a few posts. Continue reading How being an artist has helped me become a better librarian

Yearning for the Bohemian

I recently saw Midnight in Paris and was pleasantly surprised by my enjoyment, considering I am not a big fan of Woody Allen movies. The idea of moving to Paris and trying to live a life filled with art and creativity is a dream for many people. Watching Owen Wilson’s character get the fantastical opportunity to meet writers, artists, and creative types from the 1920’s living in Paris is a real treat. Though his main dilemma of not being able to move to Paris and write novels, instead of screenplays for movies is a bit weak.  Considering you are informed, by his father-in-law to be, that he makes pretty good money writing mediocre screenplays.  Why, oh, why can’t he save money and take off a year to indulge his fantasy to write a novel is beyond me. The character isn’t married yet, has no kids, and probably no student loans; so, run off and indulge. I suppose Hollywood, the land of dreamers, just doesn’t believe that middle class people would find this a huge barrier.

I have had these dreams and still have them now and then. I dream of moving to far off destinations and changing my life. And then I have to remember, oh, yeah, I already did that. I guess the huge debt of student loans hovering over me like a behemoth, not having any retirement money saved, or maybe it’s just my age that keeps me from throwing everything aside to live the dream. Then again it could just be my not wanting to give up my feline pair.

Then again, I do have to remember that there was a moment, when me and my husband’s life, we decided that we needed a change in careers and location. One by one, we went to library school, then we chose a date and decided to pick up and move from the East coast to the West coast. It may not have been as romantic as packing off for Berlin, Paris, or even London; but Portland, Oregon held much of the same allure for us in contrast with Georgia. We are now struggling to gain a footing into the library profession here, each of us trying to work on our creative endeavors, writing for him and photography for me, while endlessly applying for library jobs. So in our own, way we are living a modern bohemian life with student loans larger than a house, trying to balance responsibilities and creativity at the same time.

Where’s the art?

The Portland Art Museum has an ongoing installation called Object Stories which takes the same concept of NPR’s StoryCorps but focusing on stories based on an “object.” The purpose for the project is to engage the broad public and diversify museum audiences. The site offers a few snapshots of people sometimes holding an object, sometimes not, a few not about an object at all, and a rare few that actually refer to art objects in the museum. The majority of objects are stuffed animals, dolls, and toys, not art.

Object Stories offers new possibilities to shift the relationship people make with museums, reshaping the institution as an organic, ever-growing repository made collectively by us of our stories and objects, mundane and exalted, personal and subjective.

The project is like something more apt to be done by the Oregon Historical Society or a  museum whose mission statement is the preservation of history and culture rather than the education and preservation of art.

The project does shift the relationship of an art museum somewhat away from art. Even though the site says they have objects on display that have been selected and talked about by the public,  so far the recordings only show about 7 objects, a pretty small installation. A better focus may have been to ask the public to preserve stories about works in the museum, stories about the museum as a place, or maybe a show on design of objects then ask the public to select some common objects and talk about what they like, dislike, or find interesting about them.

As for this project, there are a few interesting stories and if you get bored with that, you can always play a game of memory matching similar objects.