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All Things Ampersand

Project: Forest Friends

Once upon a time there lived two sisters named Tracy and Allison, AKA the Artgirlz. They created and sold amazing things like rubber stamps, wool felt, and fabulous pewter charms – faces, crowns and hats, arms and legs and hands and shoes, and more. (They were into mixed media long before the craft industry had a clue what it was about.)

I was their fan and their friend and their customer. I collected the charms and kept them in a safe place for many years, figuring that I’d use them someday, but ‘someday’ can be elusive and I’m no longer young, so I decided that tucking special things into a box is silly. Time for the charms to be out there in the world, made into something whimsical and colorful!

I envisioned Allison and Tracy and me taking a walk in the woods somewhere in Rhode Island where we’d meet up with a wise little owl, and so the project began.

Cue the birds (or put on some music).

Imagine yourself on a hike with friends.

Now let’s get started!

  1. Arrange and connect three 4 x 4 Artist Panels from Ampersand Art Supply to create a vertical triptych. Paint the sides or leave them white, as I did. Glue the Panels together offset so they are not perfectly aligned, as shown. Option: Drill holes and connect them with hardware.

  1. With permanent inks or acrylic paints in shades of blue and green, create hillsides and sky mixing together one, two or all of the following: Rubber stamps; stencils; Magic Stamp blocks that have been heated and pressed against lace, rubber stamps, found objects, leaves and plant matter, or other textures as you choose. (I used only permanent inks and Magic Stamp blocks.)

  1. Create as many small figures as you want to take on your walk. Cut simple shapes from wool felt for the heads and bodies, use felt, yarn or cord for the hair. Sew on the charms for faces, arms, legs, feet, and as an embellishment for the bodies.

Note: Artgirlz charms are still available online, but feel free to go in a different direction! Substitute other charms or use embroidery, fabrics, twigs, found objects, and other mixed media elements to create your low relief dolls.


  1. Glue the figures in place. Optional: Keep going! Add to the landscape: Paint around the dolls, glue on additional collage materials (pebbles, flowers, dried moss, and such). Continue the collage onto the sides of the triptych.

SUPPLIES:

  • Three 4” x 4” cradled Ampersand Artist Panels Primed Smooth
  • Glue
  • Wool felt
  • Artgirlz charms
  • Stamps, stencils, Magic Stamp blocks
  • Heat tool (if using Magic Stamp blocks)
  • Permanent inks and/or acrylic paints

This is part of our on-going series of projects with artist Judi Kauffman. Judi is a nationally known designer, teacher, writer and product developer whose expertise includes collage, stenciling, paper crafting, stamp arts, embroidery, needlepoint, knitting, crochet, weaving and fabric piecing. She has written and produced three videos and is the author of five books. Judi developed and taught college-level studio art and graphic design courses for over 40 years, as well as art programs in public and private schools (elementary through high school levels). Judi earned a BFA in printmaking from Cornell University and an MFA in fibers from Antioch University. She credits her parents (both artists) and her grandfathers (a tailor and a blacksmith) for encouraging her to pursue art and for being among her favorite teachers.

 



Ampersand’s The Artist Panel Primed Smooth is on sale at for as much as 50% off for Winter Back-to-School! Gessobord, Encausticbord and Unprimed Basswood too! Check here for participating retailers

4 comments on “Project: Forest Friends”

  1. Avatar jean marmo says:

    So creative! Love the story and the gorgeous background! The dolls are such fun!Thanks for making me smile!

    1. judi kauffman judi kauffman says:

      My pleasure, Jean. Glad I could give you a grin!

  2. Avatar Helen Midge Mattesi Baudouin says:

    Hi Judi. This is Midge, Allison’s partner/wife and Tracy’s friend/SIL. This blog post captures the essence of Artgirlz of which you are one. They leave a beautiful artful legacy and it is best served out in the world as you are doing. I have my own little collection/inheritance of charms that I dole out tenderly with my art as well. We had Our own special Camelot. Thank you for lovely tribute. Very fun pieces!!

    1. judi kauffman judi kauffman says:

      Midge, your comment means the world to me! How wonderful to hear from you. Yes, that was such a unique
      time and you said it so well ‘Our own special Camelot’. I look at two of the felt cones every day – they sit on the shelf next to my computer. One is a clown, the other is a chicken. Many smiles and good vibes having all of you here with me all the time. I can’t believe I spelled it ArtGirlz – after all these years you’d think I’d remember that it’s Artgirlz! Will have to ask the guy who formats the blog to fix it…sorry ’bout that.

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