Category: Androidography


So, today the Kid and I saddled up our bags and headed up to town (Perth, Western Australia), to abandon some Art.

This is my very 1st foray, by the way.  I chose today as this week and the next, during the school holidays, Perth has an outdoor ice skating rink and a snow dome, and there will be plenty of people around. All the better Not to notice 2 people leaving Art behind here and there.

I’d put the canvasses and cards in IKEA Ziploc bags, in case they weren’t picked up immediately and had to be protected from the elements. It has been very rainy lately, but luckily today was a cool but sunny day. Perfect weather!

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We left one on a bench in Murray Street.
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Hardly a minute later, this guy came along, picked it up, looked around him surreptitiously, read the Art Abandonment tag on the artwork, pocketed it and casually strolled off into a menswear shop.

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Another we left literally at the feet of a sculpture near the museum.

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A woman came along soon after and again, the surreptitious look around, followed by a careful read of the tag, (just making sure it was kosher!), then off she went with it.

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I passed by a really happy looking woman, we exchanged “Good Mornings”, and I explained what Art Abandonment was and gave her one of the artworks. And off she went on her happy way. Another I discretely placed in a baby stroller while no one was looking.

Here are other spots where we abandoned my Art today:

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And, talk about serendipity, we were down to the last artwork and walking up the road to Chinatown, when who should I meet but my own Uncle and Aunt! So, as the Heavens had decreed, I gifted that last piece to them with my blessings. I only see them once a year, so this meeting was not by accident but destined to be.

How did it feel to be abandoning art? My son summed it up very well, by saying it was “Like shoplifting or pickpocketing in reverse”. Yes, it was rather thrilling, wondering if anyone would notice or question our motives. But no one did, so we gleefully scampered away.

Here are some pics from the outdoor ice skating rink:

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Onwards to Art Abandonment Project #2!

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Following on from my post yesterday, here’s what’s developed between then and now. (I try to get ahead of myself by a number of posts, so I don’t always write in sequence, and even if you read 2 posts one after the other, they may have been written a week or more apart, as is the case with this).

I had some stamps that I wanted to use on my cards, however as I’d spray varnished the surface of the artwork already, my stamping inks simply slid off. Ok…now what? I decided to try washi taping the borders of the cards instead, to give them a more handcrafted look.

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Ok, those look good enough to go. I’ve adhered a printed tag on the backs and also on the envelopes, explaining what the Art Abandonment Project is about.

Now all I need is a kick in the proverbial to get out there and start leaving them at random places for people to find!

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Once in a while, I feel the urge to conduct some sort of retrospective look at my Art. It’s a way of looking back to the past at what I’ve done, looking at the present at what I’m doing, and hopefully getting an idea of the direction I should be heading next.

By looking at the past, we learn what worked and what didn’t, and if we can learn from our mistakes, then we will know what to do and what not to do in the future. This applies to Life as much as it does to Art.

By looking at the past, I also find new inspiration. Something that I might have tried but didn’t turn out as expected the last time might be more successful this time, now that I have a little, or a lot, more experience and/or technology has advanced enough for my original idea to work. Or, something that Did work but got sideswiped in my rush to try new things might get resurrected for Round Two.

I sometimes look at a favourite piece of mine and marvel at how I managed to create that look or effect. Wow, was I that good? Ha ha ha…I haven’t a clue now how I did it. 😆 Seriously, I don’t!

Anyway, here are some of my own personal favourites, from back when I first started in iPhoneography at the end of 2010, right up to this year, 2014. You may notice that after 2013 I dropped the year from my digital signature, as I felt it dated the artwork…that pun was intentional, by the way ;).

As the words of that famous song go – “These are a few of my favourite things”:

image This is of a bird sitting amongst the branches of a Coral Tree (Erythrina Lysistemon). I love those trees and every year I will cycle around my area looking for their brilliant, scarlet flowers to fuel my next photographic project. The best time to photography Coral trees, in Western Australia anyway, is in July-September. This image reminds of of an Hermès scarf, perhaps it’s the vibrant colours against the white background.

image Gardenia. I love how this turned out looking like the flower at the top has been highlighted. The colours are romantic, the light is soft, and the fact that the flower at the bottom has flaws only makes it more real to life. This image went over to New Zealand for the MINA photography exhibition in 2011.

image I found a stand of huge sunflowers outside a neighbour’s garden in the Summer of 2012, and took over 200 photos of them. At the time, I was experimenting with Macro photography, using my iPhone 4’s native camera, and also some Olloclip-type lenses (I couldn’t afford the real thing so mine was from China on eBay), and my own homemade “Noodle Macro”, which was very simply the lens off a cheap plastic Twin Reflex camera, fixed into a slice of a swimming “noodle” float. I love this photo for its bright, saturated colours, and the fact that it looks like I’ve caught the sunflower in mid-furl.

image These “Hen and Chicks” Sempervivum were in a pot in my garden. I don’t recall which App or filter I used to process the photo on my iPhone 4, but the colours somehow changed and became varied, giving me this almost-floral image. I still have the original plant, only it’s been divided and replanted into several different pots now.

image At the time of creating this image, I was experimenting with combining DSLR photography with mobile photography, using an Olympus E-PM1, my Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone, and my iPad2. Between the three devices, I managed to produce this image of fallen frangipanis around a turquoise floral teacup and saucer. I liked how the teacup and saucer came out in the photo…which subsequently led me to experiment with using just teacups and saucers sans flowers, and stacking them…which in turn led to an entire series of images in a project I called “The Madhatter’s Teaparty”.

image I can’t remember the name of these purple trumpet flowers. They are quite small, about an inch long each, growing in clusters off a medium-sized tree. By the time I took this photo, the leaves were quite wilted. I like the old-fashioned, romantic, grunged-up look, and the contrast between the turquoise glass and the purple flowers.

image This was an experiment in 2013, again using my Olympus E-PM1 DSLR camera, my Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPad2. Somehow, the petals at the end of the lefthand-side stems appear to have mysteriously disappeared into the ether. I like the bokeh, colours and textures in this.

image This is one of my favourites…the blue colour of the glass vase really pops. The 3 Chrysanthemums – pink, purple and yellow – contrast well with the blue and turquoise tones of the vase and the background. I love the grunged up textures here too. The title of this one is “A Beautiful Mess”.

image I love the simplicity of this image. Just a few tweaks of colour saturation and contrast, the addition of a multi-coloured background, and a “rainy day” effect filter.

image This one I mistakenly called “Red Poppy” before I did some research and realised those were Anemones, not Poppies. (I’m terrible at identifying plants, just so you know. I once went around telling everyone I had photos of Peonies when in actual fact they were of Parrot Tulips). I wrote a tutorial about how I created this particular image – here.

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Feeling creative or artistic but can’t draw to save your life? Join the club! Fear not, though. Here is an App that will entertain as well as educate you at the same time.

It’s called Kinetica. Put simply, it’s an app that plays with shapes and elements of different artists’ techniques and produces random configurations of it that can be saved and used on your mobile device as backgrounds, to create your own arty cards, share with friends etc.

The 12 different styles highlighted by Kinetica are:

(Shapes)
Circles
Spirals
Florals
Glyphs
Science
Palettes
Bulbs
Triangles

(Artists)
Mondrian
Miro
Kandinsky
Calder

Here’s the educational part. While exploring each individual artist’s style, (see above), tapping on the “i” button on the bottom right corner of the page brings you to the Wikipedia page dedicated to that particular artist.

The App developer, Alex Lamb, says this of Kinetica: (screenshot taken from within the App itself)

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Using Kinetica is really easy and intuitive. Across the top and bottom of the page are icons that control various aspects, such as background colour, dots that can be used to rearrange your configuration, a randomization button, a freeze/unfreeze frame icon, a button to change from one style or colourpath to another, a > button to Play or put your configuration in motion.

Here are a few screenshots to show you what playing with Kinetica can result in:

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Now go have fun!

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I’ve been working on “100 Butterflies” for about a month now. I first started this project using PicsArt on my Samsung Galaxy S4 to blend several images together to create the background for my butterfly. Then I discovered the App “Blend Collage” and utilised a different kind of blending. “Blend Collage” sadly went kaput as soon as I updated my mobile phone to Android KitKat 4.4.2. Then I found the App “Photo Tangler” to replace “Blend Collage”, but after just a week it too stopped working and was consigned to my App Cemetery as well.

Fortunately, after testing out and rejecting dozens of wannabe replacement Apps, I discovered I that the answer to my prayers had been under my nose all this time. A favourite App of mine, “AThumb Cut”, which I had previously only been using for cutting out my butterfly images, also has a collage function offering that feathered edges look I require. Happy days again!

So, we are back in business. I never really stopped, even with the App catastrophes I mentioned. I’ve been busy creating my “100 Butterflies” digital mixed media collages, and here are a few of my newest ones, I hope you like them!

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Alas, alack! Now that I am on Android KitKat 4.4.2 (ominous drum roll, please), 2 of my must-have Apps for “harmonious blending”, namely Blend Collage and Photo Tangler, have stopped saving my work, rendering themselves essentially useless. I have contacted both App developers, and to date have not gotten any acknowledgement or response. So, all day yesterday and today I have been searching on Android’s Google Play Store for alternatives.

One after another, I discarded all potential replacement Apps for my beloved, newly departed Blend Collage and Photo Tangler. What I wanted was an App with that feathered edges look, so I could collage different backgrounds together seamlessly without any hard edges.

I do have a back-up, thankfully. My Samsung Note 10.1 2014 edition has not been updated to KitKat 4.4.2, so both Blend Collage and Photo Tangler still work on it. Problem is, I don’t tend to carry the Note around with me, and all my photos are on my S4. I have transferred the bulk of my background images over to the Note now, so, if I have no other alternative, I will process my background collages on the Note, then transfer them back to the S4 for further processing. Pain in the proverbial, though!

As I tried and discarded App after App today, something at the back of my mind niggled me. At the last hour, literally, just before midnight last night, I decided to test out my theory…

…which was to utilise an App that I’ve only ever used for one thing – cutting out images. I figured if that App could cut out images for me, it MUST have a collage function somewhere to paste all those cutouts.

Yes!!! My hunch was correct. Face palm I have been so silly to have ignored that little niggling voice in my head all day…The App is my beloved AThumb Cut. And it gives me the all-important feathering of the edges. Hurrah!

Some screenshots to show you the pathway on AThumb Cut. And just so I remember the steps myself. Remember: the key is the Jigsaw icon.

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With AThumb Cut’s “Jigsaw” collage function, I am able to manipulate each component image individually. I am not limited as to how many images I want to cobble together. I can resize, twist or distort up to a complete 360° rotation, freeze/unfreeze in place, I can tweak the opacity or transparency of each individual component image, and most importantly, use the “Edge Transparency” and “Edge Colour” sliders to create the feathering of the edges.

Here are a few more “collaged backgrounds” I’ve created:

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So, who’s a happy bunny again? I shook my fist at the sky and yelled “I’ll never give up!”…and my efforts were rewarded.

This famous Anonymous poem sums it up perfectly:

Everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When they might have won, had they stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit!

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My newest artistic project is called “100 Butterflies”. It’s a series of digital mixed media photography art, (quite a mouthful, I know) around the main theme of butterflies. No, not 100 butterflies all at once, but rather 1 single butterfly on every piece I create, until I have done 100 in total.

At around the same time as my interest was piqued by butterflies, I also happened upon a collage App on the Google Play Store, called “Blend Collage”. I was impressed enough to blog about that App, here: http://wp.me/p3JNYN-1qT

However, my Samsung Galaxy S4 (my weapon of choice) was on Android 4.3 back then, but I very recently upgraded it to Android 4.4.2 KitKat…and now I’m disappointed to report that I can no longer use “Blend Collage”, as it just won’t save my work anymore :-(. I have written to the App developers, but not received a response. Probably a lost cause, SIGH.

However, being the resourceful girl that I am, I soon found a replacement App that offers more or less the same type of harmonious collaging that “Blend Collage” did. It’s a little different, but in some ways it offers more scope and freedom of expression, and it’s called “Photo Tangler”.

“Photo Tangler” is available on both Android and iOS.

On Android’s Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.solideightstudios.phototangler

On the iOS iTunes App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/phototangler-collage-maker/id458169750?mt=8

Now, it may not be the App of choice for iOS users, as there are many other Collage Apps like it available on the App Store. For my own intent and purpose though, it does what it says on the tin, and, there being not many Collage Apps offering “harmonious” blending on the Android platform, I’m very happy with this App.

And so, back to Project “100 Butterflies”. I started this Project by simply blending 2 or more background images using Pics Art, then juxtaposing my butterflies on the resulting image. Then, with the short-lived arrival of “Blend Collage”, I started digitally collaging my backgrounds together, before adding my butterflies. When “Blend Collage” went kaput, I started using “Photo Tangler” instead. And yes, the butterflies are derived from photos of real butterflies that I meticulously turned into clipart on my S4.

Here are some examples from the Project. The ones with the more varied backgrounds are the ones I did using “Blend Collage” or “Photo Tangler”. Some of these images you will soon be able to purchase on my Society 6 page as throw pillows, shower curtains, iPhone/Samsung mobile cases, t-shirts, prints, cards etc : http://society6.com/alyzenmoonshadow

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UPDATE 5th June 2014:
Now I can’t get this App to save my work, either :-(. I have emailed the developers about this problem and if I ever get a response, or if the App gets fixed, I will let you folks know.

The silver lining for me is that I did not update my Galaxy Note, and both Blend Collage and Photo Tangler still work on it. So I guess I will have to transfer my backgrounds to the Note, process my collaging on that, and then transfer the results back to my S4 for further processing. A pain in the proverbial, but needs must, right?!

Posted from WordPress for Android.

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…continuing from yesterday’s new trick learnt, I went exploring further. I knew I wanted an App that does blending of images, collage-style, but with a “harmonious” feel. By this I mean the feathering and softening of edges where the blended images meet, rather than solid, straight grid lines between images. Now, I know some of you already collage your holiday/wedding/birthday etc snapshots likewise, and this is old news…but it’s new to this old dog, so bear with me ;-).

My Samsung Galaxy S4’s native camera’s in-roll editor gives me a rudimentary “harmonious” collage, as you would have read in my previous post. And that was what started me on my quest. Now I needed to find an App that satisfied the following criteria:

1. The ability to blend as many images as I want, at the same time, without having to save and reload.

2. The ability to move, rotate and resize images on the screen easily.

3. The ability to sort the layers of photos, to bring one above or below another.

4. The ability to add backgrounds or textures to the overall image, as a unifying factor.

5. The ability to change the ratio of the resulting collaged image, i.e 1:1 for square format, to vertical or horizontal rectangles, etc.

I know. Tall order, right? It would be an additional Plus if I could find an App that does all the above And More.

Guess what? I did! It’s on the Google Play Store, and it’s called “Blend Collage“. There’s a Free and a Paid version, I tested out the free version first and was impressed enough to purchase the full version, I believe it cost me AU$2.25. The full version lets you save at maximum resolution. The free version would be fine if you’re just doing collages for fun or for your own photo albums, but for my purposes, I need my images to be at the highest resolutions possible.

Screenshots showing the in-app how-to tutorial (self-explanatory, really):

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I had a good play with the App and found it intuitive to use, with no indecipherable icons. There is no Undo button as such. However, until you actually click on the “Save” button, you may go back to each individual image in your collage and change their position, size, orientation, amount of blurring or feathering, even delete images or add new ones.

Blend Collage certainly ticks all the boxes outlined above, and then some. The bonuses I found were that you can add Text and Clipart from within the App itself, without having to export your work into another App. There’s also the choice of numerous backgrounds and textures to add to your work, without having to go outside the App. It’s quite a comprehensive App and I’m glad I found it.

The masking lasso (the icon labelled “Mask”) is particularly useful, as it can be used to mask each image individually. You can adjust the amount of blurring around the edges of each image to your heart’s content; as long as you haven’t clicked on “Save”, you will be able to go back and tweak the effects. To toggle between one function or filter and another, just click on the button at the top left corner. It functions somewhat like a Back button.

Also, in the Settings (cogwheel icon at the top right corner), my S4 had images saving at 9/10 quality, presumably to save on storage space. You can easily set this to save at 10/10 i.e 100%. This may well make saving your work take a tad longer, but it will be worth it if high resolutions are a must, like they are for my own work.

I’m still playing with Blend Collage, figuring out how I’m going to incorporate it with my projects. But so far, it’s exceeded my expectations. Here is a collage I threw together the first time I tried the App out. As you can tell, it’s only a rough estimate. I haven’t found the ideal amount of blurring/feathering/fogging around the edges of my mask yet, but that will come with practice, I’m sure.

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And here is another example, only this time I’ve not done any blurring of the edges, but instead have chosen to play around with the layers of butterflies and I also added a background taken from within the App itself. The butterflies came out blurry, I enlarged them too much…however, I like how easy it is to simply lay one image over another and alter the order of the layers. Hmmm…I think this is worth exploring further.

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Here are some more images which I have run through other Apps after forming the initial collage in Blend Collage.

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And these two, where I think I’m finally getting the hang of the blurring-of-the-edges look.

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UPDATE 3rd June 2014:
Sad to report that, after updating my Samsung Galaxy S4 to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, Blend Collage can no longer save my work. At all. I have written to the developers but it’s been a week now and I’ve had no response. If your Android device is not yet on 4.4.2, you will probably still be able to use this App.

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…can still learn new tricks, it seems. I mean myself, not my poor faithful old terrier, Scruffy. Bless his little paws, Scruffy is the most loyal dog I know, however he’s not the sharpest tool in the box. In the last year, he’s taken to barking at anything and everything that passes by our house, and he was becoming a nuisance. So we tried an anti-bark collar, one that zaps his throat if he barks. It’s progressive, the zaps sting harder and harder if the dog continues to bark.

The idea is that the dog associates barking with pain, and learns to shut up. But, like I said, Scruffy isn’t the smartest dog. We’ve had the collar on him before and he seemed to have learnt his lesson, but when we leave the collar off, he just goes back to his old ways. Just this morning, I heard Scruffy bark twice in succession, then once more…followed by a couple of yelps as his throat got zapped. I was just thinking to myself that he’s cottoned on to the idea now, when he barked again. Followed by more yelps, more barks, even more yelps, yet more barks, yet more yelps…all around the house as the silly old dog tried to get away from that invisible monster around his neck.

I went looking for him and found him hiding in the doghouse, tail between his legs and looking very sorry for himself. He’s been very quiet all day now after the incident. But tomorrow is another day, so we shall see if Scruffy has learnt his lesson for good. No bets, please.

Anyway, back to THIS old dog. Last night I was processing some images on my Samsung Galaxy S4, it was late, and I somehow managed to make a mistake and merge 2 images together in a most interesting way. It saved itself under a folder named “Collage”. This morning I found the image and liked how it merged 2 images vertically side by side, but somehow managed to feather the edges in such a way that the joins were seamless.

This is the image.
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Ok it’s not perfect, but it has definite possibilities, and I remember telling myself last night when I created the image, to go back today and explore this further.

But, just like with old Scruffs, today is a new day. And could I remember how and which App was used to create this image? Um…nope.

I knew it must be an App that allowed me to select more than 1 image. I knew it couldn’t be any of the Apps that saved images to folders under their own names. I knew it would be an App that I would have used to create my current Butterfly series.

But which App?

I tried and tried to jog my own memory. I tried visualising myself creating the image. I even tried using the 2 butterfly images that made the image, in different Collage Apps, to recreate that seamless, feathered join. All in vain.

In the end, Google came to the rescue. I typed in “collage on Samsung S4″ and sifted through a few results. Then wham bang, thank you, Maam God Google. There is was. As plain as anything, and probably a very well known function of the Galaxy S4 that everyone already knows. Everyone, that is, except me. Face palm.

It’s so simple. Those of you in the habit of creating collages of your holiday or family adventures will no doubt be rolling your eyes when I tell you what I just found out.

It wasn’t an App after all that had created that “Collage”. It was a function available on my S4 itself. Just go to the Gallery, Select Image, tick 2 or more images that you want to collage, then, using the left soft key, select “Create Collage” from the drop-down menu. You can then zoom in or out of each image, or move them around, but you can’t adjust the size of the grid. For 2 images, it’s split 50/50 left and right. For 3 images, it shows 1 on the left, and 2 on the right, one atop the other. For 4 images, the grid is split into 4 equal parts.

Here are a few more that I’ve done, just as experiments and for practice, lest I forget. :-)

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This definitely has possibilities. I love the way the images seem to melt into each other.

Just goes to show it’s never to late to learn new things.

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So there I was standing in the Salvo’s thrift shop in Subiaco not 2 weeks ago, going through the shelves of books and bric-a-brac. My eyes passed over a stack of old dressmaking patterns lying in a basket on one of the shelves, but my hands stopped. A ludicrous idea popped unannounced into my head. I’m rather prone to these flights of fancy, but this particular one was exemplary.

I opened up one of the printed envelopes containing patterns for a dress. I expected cut pieces to fall out, but instead the pattern was completely intact. Which meant it had never been used. Hooray for me!

Wait, no, I’m not about to dive into dressmaking. I could never make out what was what, and besides, I have a love-hate relationship with my sewing machine. I keep it locked up in the shed. It is so well hidden I can’t remember where I put it.

No, the ludicrous idea that popped into my head then asked these questions:

1) would dressmaking paper take inkjet printing well? It is after all made of tissue paper.
2) would the tissue be strong enough to take the weight of inkjet inks?
3) The pattern designs could make for interesting mixed media art when combined with my own photographic manipulations. Or would they look too weird?
4) would the yellow tint on the aging paper detract from my images?
5) how many A4 and A3 pieces could I possibly cut from one packet of patterns?

Having asked myself these questions, and having filed them away in my internal “Find Out” list, I proceeded to sift through the dressmaking packets. I struck gold with a couple that contained 3 or even 4 folded up designs inside the one envelope. All in all, I bought 5 packets at $1.99 each.

Back home, I spent a few minutes trying to figure out the best way to cut the tissue paper to size. I could use an A4 piece of cardboard as a template and cut around it, or I could fold the paper into roughly A4 shapes and cut along the folds. The former was going to be time-consuming. The latter appealed more to me, as it had elements of surprise and randomness in it. I love random.

imageOne of the cut tissue paper sheets.

imageI taped the cut tissue paper to my A4 canvas carrier sheet. There was quite a lot of overhang, so I taped that down at the back. After printing, I will simply slide a blade along the sides to free the paper from the carrier sheet. (The marks and splodges you see are only on the carrier sheet, from many passes through my printers, which sometimes misbehave and streak, and the wiggly lines down the middle are from the repositionable gluestick I use to tack the tissue paper to the carrier sheet. Incidentally, I use both sides of the carrier sheet interchangeably).

imageOne of the printed sheets and a gessoed wooden cradled board ready to receive it. I will use a combination of gesso and acrylic gel medium to adhere the tissue to the board. (I used to use Mod Podge but it worked out too expensive).

imageHere are 5 that I printed earlier. I sprayed them with workable fixative to prevent the inks from straying off the paper.

imageI had 3 gessoed boards prepared already, so I chose 3 of the printed images to adhere to the boards.

☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆

The following show the digital images followed by their mixed media results on board:

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And, to answer my questions above:
1. Yes, dressmaking pattern tissue paper takes inkjet printing exceptionally well.
2. Yes, the tissue is thin yet robust enough to handle the weight of inks.
3. I love the randomness of the results, the text and diagrams on the tissue paper add heaps of appeal to the mixed media look.
4. The yellowness of the tissue paper is hardly noticeable, apart from imparting a vintage tint to the overall look. I shall compensate by adjusting my processed images to contain brighter colours.
5. I got 16 approximately A4 sized sheets from 1 packet of dressmaking patterns.

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