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"Portraits of Place" Mixed Media Collage

Cathy Aten attaches volcanic rocks, feathers, shells, black-eyed peas and soil in her "Portraits of Place" art collage.

Cathy Aten thought it would be interesting to create pictures that expressed her love of the beautiful landscapes she so often hiked through, and what better way to do that than to incorporate the soil, rocks, shells, leaves, feathers and other things found in the landscape itself? Thus was the genesis for her "Portraits of Place".

Materials and Tools:

22" x 22" x 3/4" thick plywood board
paintbrush
black gesso
sandpaper
white glue
4 colors of soil (earth)
volcanic rocks, feathers, shells, black-eyed peas
polymer clay
aluminum foil
baking sheet and oven
ground mica (ceramic supply store)
piece of mica
stir stick, latex gloves, plastic mixing container, water
nails
power drill
epoxy #1-PC#7 hardener (ceramic supply store)
epoxy #2 - for attaching nails to objects
cardboard
craft knife
straight edge
pencil

Steps:

1. Sand the edges of the plywood board.

2. Prime the board with black gesso. Let dry.

3. Make a glue solution with a ratio of 2/3-white glue: 1/3-water. Mix the glue solution with terra cotta colored earth until the mixture resembles pancake batter.

4. Spread the mixture on the board using your glove-covered hands.

5. Sprinkle the terra cotta colored earth on the outer edge and pat it down.

6. Cut a cardboard template with a square opening in the center. Place it on the board. Sprinkle yellow earth inside the square. Remove the template.

7. Paint the glue mixture on the outer 1-inch border of the board using a straight piece of cardboard as a guide. Sprinkle ground mica around the edge over the glue. Let dry overnight. Shake off any extra earth.

8. Sculpt polymer clay into small nests by flattening a ball of clay in your hand and tearing the edges. Make nine polymer clay nests.

9. Mold aluminum foil into small round cup shapes.

10. Place these aluminum cups holding the clay nests on a baking sheet.

11. Bake at 245-degrees for 15 minutes to harden.

12. Mix four different colors of earth with the glue mixture.

13. Drop a teaspoon full into each nest. Sprinkle dry earth on top. Let dry overnight. Remove the clay nests from the aluminum foil cups.

14. Mix epoxy and hardener together. Pinch off small balls and push them into the back of each rock and shell. Push a nail into the epoxy and mold the epoxy around it. Let dry overnight.

15. Carefully glue small pieces of sandpaper to the back of each feather using as little glue as possible. Let dry.

16. Pinch off a small epoxy ball and attach it to the sandpaper. Push a nail into the epoxy. Form the epoxy around the nail. Let dry overnight.

17. Place a piece of mica into the center of the board and glue it down.

18. Using a straight edge and pencil, measure off the board into four sections. Hammer four nails into the board at the center of each side. Tie gold thread onto the nails on opposite sides of the board dividing it into quadrants.

19. Going clockwise around the board, lay out the clay nests in one quadrant, the feathers in the next, the shells in the next quadrant and the rocks in the fourth quadrant.

20. Drill holes in the board for each object.

21. Place a drop of glue in each hole and place the nail in the hole.

22. Glue the earth-nests flat on the board. Let all dry overnight.

23. Glue black-eyed peas randomly around the terra cotta colored earth border.

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