Handmade Mixed Media Tree ‘Specimen’ Book

Handmade Mixed Media Tree ‘Specimen’ Book

I have been continuing to slowly add bits and pieces to my tree ‘specimen’ book. You can see most of the ‘blank’ pages of the book in this post and some pages that have had ‘specimens’ added to them here.

This is definitely a ‘slow’ project that I am working on very intermittently. It’s been fun to pick it up again and just add a few things here and there without pressure to finish it or make it look perfect.

Mixed media book, front page painted watercolor background, machine stitched moss glued to background and definition of mossy torn paper glued down.

I added some more machine stitched moss to the first page and a definition of mossy.

Mixed media book open to left page painted cracked plaster on the left and torn sketchbook page with 'pine needles' on the right.

On this page spread on the left, I had one of my plaster coated pages but it had cracked significantly. I need to get some gesso to paint over these pages but since I haven’t ordered it yet, I decided to try something different. I layered different colors of paint on the cracked surface. You can click on the photo to enlarge it. The page on the right is a torn piece from one of my small sketchbooks. It kind of reminds me of pine needles. It was originally screen printed and I added colored pencil to enhance the look of the pine needles. Torn and messy is the point of this book so I ripped the sketchbook page and glued it down to a lightly painted background page. You can see the dark edges of the next page which is next up.

Mixed media book open to a page spread with an eco print of leaves and buds on the right hand side.

The page on the right is an eco print on paper that my friend Paula created. She has a big stash of these papers and kindly let me use a few.

Mixed media book open to page spread with blank plaster coated page on the right and back of eco print with cut out frame of painted paper and tea bag machine stitched skeleton leaf on the left.

This is the back side of the eco print above. I cut a window out of the painted background so you could see more of the backside of the eco print. I added a machine stitched tea bag leaf as well. The right side is another plaster coated canvas pages that needs to be gessoed and then drawn or painted on.

Mixed media book open to page spread with blank plaster coated page on the left and green painted paper background and stenciled/painted brown pine cone on the right.

This pine cone on the right was stenciled ages ago. I pushed some kind of thicker medium through the stencil to give a relief effect. It didn’t work all that well and got a bunch of bubbles in it. I painted it green at some point but didn’t like that either. I got it out of my paper stash and decided I needed to finish it. I added walnut ink, sepia marker and matte medium to get it to a point that I was satisfied with it looking like a pine cone. It also needed more strategic cutting out than I had done previously. I glued it down to the painted background letting a little bit of the pine cone stick out over the edge of the page. This is a testament to never giving up on a piece of artwork!

Mixed media book open to page spread with orange feathers woven into a gridded hand made paper on the left and an eco print glued to a dictionary page on the right.

Next to the feathers that I had shown you in my last post, I glued another one of Paula’s eco prints down on to the dictionary page. I can’t decide if this page needs something else but I will just leave it for now. I do want to leave more simplified areas where the eye can rest.

Mixed media book open to page spread, blank plaster coated page on the left and painted skeleton leaf on the right.

This one on the right is the last page that I worked on this time. It was originally a deconstructed screen print on paper all in the brighter green. When I was looking through the book, this page caught my eye as I saw a leaf in the middle of the page. I used Inktense pencils and then water on a brush to make the darker leaf appear more strongly on the page. I hope you can tell I am having fun with this. It is a very freeing process not worrying about the final outcome.


17 thoughts on “Handmade Mixed Media Tree ‘Specimen’ Book

  1. It’s great seeing how the book is growing. I must have missed your post in October 22, so it’s been great to have a double read – loved the aspen tree sketch.
    I like the result of the painted cracked plaster page and the “pine needles”. The tea bag leaf and the back of the eco print look good too, and I really love that pine cone.
    The more I see of your book the more I am shedding my initial “yes but why?” reaction to the book. You have definitely made a convert. Can’t wait for the next excerpt.

    1. Thanks Ann! I am planning on doing more sketches but I need to get some gesso to paint the page first to give it a bit smoother surface for drawing. I’m glad I have converted you to the messy throw it all in there type of sketchbook!

  2. It’s a book that anyone would definitely want to look through! Still loving those teabag leaves. The leaf on the last page looks as if it’s always been there and that it’s not an accidental find.

    1. Thanks! That leaf on the last page was just hiding a bit. I made it jump into a better contrast with the background but it was always there.

  3. What a fabulous project this is turning out to be. Each page is unique & interesting yet they come together to make a fascinating whole. It’s lovely that you’re just adding as the mood takes you and not rushing to complete it. Looking forward to the next instalment.

    1. Thanks Lindsay, I am loving the pace for this one. I don’t feel at all stressed about it not being finished which usually I am rushing at the end to finish up a project.

  4. This is a book that needs to be seen close up and handled! I particularly like the cracked plaster page, the colours and textures are lovely. Paula’s eco prints a are a bit special too, she’s achieved fabulous definition in those. Thank goodness you didn’t give up on that pine cone….the additional texture has worked well and brings it to life.
    Have fun adding to it!

    1. Thanks Karen, I totally agree that this book is very tactile. The cracked plaster page was really fun and turned out better than expected. I love the mix of colors you can achieve this way. Paula has some fabulous eco prints which should be seen. She keeps them in folders in her file cabinet. I almost threw that pine cone out a number of times. I am glad I didn’t.

  5. A feast for the eyes Ruth. I have spent the most enjoyable half hour just gazing, the more I gaze the more I am seeing. It’s beautiful!

    1. Thanks Helene! I’m glad I could give you some enjoyment today. It is definitely a piece that you see new things each time you look at it. I wish I could bring it over so you could see it in person!

  6. Great progress Ruth. Slow can be very enjoyable. I really like the cracked mud and the pine cone that almost wasn’t there. How big is the book? And how big is the teabag? I have seen on U.S. sites people talk about family size teabags. We only have one size and they look smaller than your leaf.

    1. Thanks Ann, slow is enjoyable. No pressure 😜

      The book is about 5″ x 7″ or perhaps a bit bigger. It’s probably 3″ thick.

      The tea bags are the regular kind but when you open them up they are much bigger than they seem. Let it dry, then carefully take out the string and open the layers carefully to lay out flat in one piece.

  7. Very interesting experiments with loads of different mediums! I love that you are having such fun with it, Ruth.

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