Monday 8 April 2013

Going Green

Today I am thrilled to welcome Joanna.

Hello!  As spring approaches and I come out of hibernation from the long winter, I often get the idea that I should purge my art studio a bit of all the “stuff” I have collected over the years.  As a mixed media artist who specializes in recycling stuff into art, that is easier said than done.  Sure enough, anytime I get rid of some little treasure I’ve been hoarding with the best intentions of turning it into art, a week later I am wishing I still had it.

One of the things I have a lot of is old CDs.  Fortunately, I have devised an easy way to turn them into functional art and divest my studio of a bit of clutter.  Following is a super quick and easy mixed media project for those of you who have a few old CDs lying around too and wonder what to do with them.

Supplies you will need are:
  • CDs you no longer want
  • Flat backed magnet (see photo below at Step 6 – I recommend the business card sized magnets)
  • Various glues:
      white glue or gel medium
      E-6000 or Goop  (or perhaps Bostik in the UK)
  • Assorted papers you wish to use as the base of your mixed media art
  • All kinds of other materials to use as accents and embellishments

Step 1
Choose a CD you wish to use and decide which side of it is going to have your art created on it and which will be the back (to which the magnet will be adhered).  I generally try to leave the clean side of the CD for the back and use the written side (or label side) on which to create the art since it’s going to be covered up anyway.  Because I sell most of my CD art, I like the back to look as good as it can.  In the image below you’ll see I have two CDs along with the plastic liner that is on the top of the new stack of CDs when you open the package.  Might as well use this too!

Step 2
Choose your paper that will become the base of your artwork.  You can use any kind of paper you like.  For demonstration purposes here I have chosen some mono-printed paper I made recently that had great green, blue and yellow tones for our spring theme here.  There is no restriction on what paper you use.  As you’ll see at the end of this post when I show some other examples of CD art, I’ve used all different kinds of paper. 

Glue the paper to the CD and allow it to dry before carefully trimming the excess paper away from around the edges of the CD.  I like to use either a heavy-bodied white glue (I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue here) or a fairly heavy gel medium.  Don’t use your gluestick.  It won’t have the strong adhesion you’ll want for this application. 

Once cut out, check around the edges of the CD to make sure you have good adhesion to the paper.  Use a toothpick with a small dab of white glue to tack down any spots you might have missed.  Here’s what my two example pieces look once they were cut out.

Step 3
At this point, depending on the paper I am using, I often put a coat or two of Mod Podge or some other water-based sealant on the front of the CD to protect the paper, before I start building my art on top of it.  Allow to dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 4
Now the fun begins!  Here’s where you can create anything you want to make your CD art.  In the examples below, I have made little collaged persons out of a variety of images and surrounded them with some colorful springtime flowers and a matching quote.  I’ve glued these onto the CD with a glue stick (generously applied).   

Step 5
It’s up to you how much you add to your CD or what you add.  The sky is the limit!  I am a firm believer that I will just “know” when a piece is done and I don’t fuss about it too much.  If you aren’t sure if you need to add more stuff to it, set it aside for a day and then come back to it.   In these two examples I have deliberately NOT added too much to them because I wanted the funky background to show well.

Be sure to run some of your added images/stuff off the edges of the CD and then trim away the excess (see the background flowers I’ve used in my examples).  This gives your piece a more natural look, I think. 

When you are all done with adding flat elements to the CD, give it several coats of Mod Podge or gel medium or some other kind of sealant.  Magnets tend to take a bit of wear and tear and although art magnets should not be handled too much, it doesn’t hurt to give them a fighting chance by coating them several times.  I normally put on about five coats in total.

NOTE:  If you choose to add three dimensional bits and pieces, or anything heavy, be sure to use your E-6000 or Goop glue.

Step 6
When everything is dry, flip the CD over and take one of your business-card magnets, peel off the backing paper to reveal the sticky side of the magnet and adhere it to the back of the CD.  I usually position mine centrally to cover the hole of the CD.  Then, I clean up the back side of any paint or glue.  

That’s it, you’re done!  How easy was that?  These art magnets are so much fun to make and they do become quite addictive.  They make great presents for friends and family and who doesn’t have a boring file cabinet at work that needs a bit of artsy pizzazz.

Below are some other examples of CD art magnets and ornaments I have made.  In each case, I have described the process I went through and the materials I used.  You’ll see you are not limited to using just paper as I’ve shown here in this lesson. 

In the next example I had my husband drill two small holes on one side of the CD so that I could make it a hanging art ornament.  I spray painted the CD black and then did some textural painting in gold on it, added a couple of stamped images (sheet music in background and the central characters.  The purple musical notes, wire and beads are all salvaged materials.

The next two examples are similar to our project today, just using a variety of papers and images.  The second one has a loop hanger made of ribbon which I just tucked in behind the magnet as I attached it to the back of the CD for two display options.

The next example really shows you how far you can go if you let your imagination soar.  Again, I had my husband drill two holes in the CD so I could hang it by the salvaged wire with the reclaimed beads.  The CD was spray painted black and then stamped with silver and copper acrylic paints.  I also used old puzzle pieces, a bit of corrugated cardboard and reclaimed dressmaker’s pattern paper in this collage.  The butterfly and face are recycled jewelry bits and I also used an old watch face.

In the next image you’ll see that I did some Zentangle doodling right onto the gold colored CD with a permanent black marker.  I made the central face image out of molded polymer clay and highlighted it with a piece of sparkly scrap fabric around it for some textural interest.

The next two examples are similar to our project today, just using a variety of papers and images. 

The last image is another of those that had holes drilled in it so it could hang.  Again, spray painted black and then stamped with silver ink.  The central piece (the star face) is molded Friendly Plastic, accented with funky fibers for her hair and a bottlecap image on top.

Well, folks, that’s the end of the lesson.  I hope you enjoyed it and that you can see how easy it is to create fun, artsy projects and gifts using your old CDs.  It’s a great feeling to keep stuff out of our landfills.   It’s an even greater feeling to turn that stuff into something to treasure!


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What a fabulous tutorial.  Thank you Joanna. 

Don't forget to add a link to your version of Joanna's recylced CD.