Hacking the Studio: Vol. 1

A new post series begins today called "Hacking the Studio," a series of teeny-tiny tips on organization and supplies from my studio to yours. 

Boxed Alphabet Soup:
I love using clipped letters to create a "ransom note" look in my journals. When I'm not feeling up to anything that requires a lot of energy or focus, I sit quietly and cut up old magazines, harvesting any usable letters for future projects. When I have a satisfying pile of letters, I store them in a large index card file box that holds one envelope for every letter of the alphabet. When I want to spell something out, I just dig through the necessary envelopes; this makes the process a lot faster and I can see at a glance what I have available. Other artists organize their clipped letters in clear plastic tackle boxes. Do whatever works best for you. (I must admit here that I have a series of organizational envelopes for clipped words as well, sorting those by parts of speech but that might be a bit too obsessive for most people...it works though and makes found word poetry a snap! (In browsing my archives, I discovered I wrote about this process way back in 2009. Click this link for more info!)

Hair-Raising Book Tamers:
We all know that feeling of accomplishment when we complete a journal or book project, its pages bursting with artsy goodness, the covers bulging wildly with accumulated creativity. Rubber "book bands" are available at craft stores but they can be pricey and eventually, the rubber breaks down and the closure fails. As an alternative, purchase a multi-pack of sturdy, colorful hairbands at the dollar store. There's usually a wide selection of styles and colors to choose from and they work wonderfully to keep your overflowing journals in check. I find that hairbands last longer than simple loops of rubber and if they do break, they are inexpensive to replace.

Poster Fever:
My very favorite substrate for creating serendipity papers are posters and flyers I've scavenged from local bulletin boards. The text and imagery ultimately peeks through the subsequent layers of paint and marks, providing visual depth and interest. I try hard to only pull "expired" flyers advertising events that have already happened; it is not unusual for me to take note of posters I want and to revisit the board on the day the event is held just so I can snag the poster. I've even had stores hold posters for me when they clean off their bulletin boards. Sometimes I do see something I want badly - a poster with especially cool graphics, colors, or text - and I just might...possibly...manage to get said poster in my hands before its advertised activity takes place. I soothe my conscience by acknowledging that there are typically multiple copies posted throughout my town, sometimes even on a nearby telephone pole. I've noticed that the super fabulous posters often disappear quickly anyway so I suspect there may be others around town with the same idea. So if there's something that really catches my eye, it's "first come, first serve."


I really enjoyed this post! Thanks. And I too am fond of taking posters off walls......on a recent trip to Spain I had a great time tearing them down...while my husband pretended he didn't know me! They are so wonderful for collage too. And next time I go to the Dollar Store i will get some of those hair bands. But the letters in envelopes? I don't think I have the patience for that -- a great idea tho.
Loulou in Texas said…
Maybe we can get a double room when those men in the white coats come to get us! :) Hope I'll have time to grab my stash of alphabet soup letters that are in my clear plastic bead box.

Good tip about buying the head (book) bands at the dollar store. And I just came across a stack of old posters this morning that I forgot I had. Time for me to start slapping some more images or paint on those things.

"Hacking the Studio" is a great idea for a series of blog posts! With all your experience you'll probably never run out of helpful tips to share. Thanks!