Superman Mini-Shrine

This is a pocket shrine to Superman. It’s in the lid of a Pringle’s potato chip canister. You know, those clear-plastic snap-on lids.

sman

My vision was a dimensional night scene of Superman flying over Metropolis, with a reference to Clark Kent’s day job at The Daily Planet.

How to make a pocket art shrine like this

I nicked the lid in a V shape at the sides, so the lid will fold.

I punched four holes with my Fiskars 1/16″ punch, two on each side, and “sewed” embroidery floss through them to hold the lid at a right-angle fold.

(For a close-up and more details to make this, see Superman Shrine – Pringles Lid.)

The background of the top and bottom are watercolors on plain art paper (Dr. Ph. Martin’s concentrated watercolors).

Both the stars and the streetlights are dotted with acrylic paints.

I used a very fine waterproof pen to draw the black, ruled lines on the bottom/flat half of the shrine, indicating streets.

The Superman image is from the comics, digitally altered to fit.

Yes, there are two Superman images: One is glued directly to the background. The second one hovers over him, on double-stick foam tape, to give a 3D effect.

The Daily Planet building is actually cut out of a Superman comic book and glued (with Rollataq–a specialized glue) to the background.

I also applied a small NYC skyline to the background. I found it online, printed it and cut it out.  However, it could be reduced from any NYC tourist brochure.

The buildings in the foreground are from old images of New York City, which I digitally reduced and colored. The tallest one is the Empire State Building. (Do a Lycos Image Search using those words, to locate a graphic you like.)

They’re mounted on and supported with cardboard, and pushed through slits in the street graphic, so they stand up. The street graphic was glued into the Pringle’s lid after adding these buildings.

The colors are brilliant, and this little shrine could sit nicely on a nightstand or desk.

Backstory:

During my previous marriage, we had a full-sized Superman shrine in our house. Superman was one of my ex-husband’s idols.

The big shrine filled an entire bookcase shelf in our dining room. It contained statues, figurines, first-edition novels, comics, and other collectible ephemera related to Superman.

My idea for a Superman pocket shrine emerged, in living color, at 3 o’clock in the morning. I was already tweaking graphics with my computer, when the sun came up.

I was thrilled with this pocket shrine, and it was a present for my ex-husband.

He got custody of it in the divorce.
*Superman and all related characters and names are the trademarks of DC Comics, (c)1996. All rights reserved.

The art on this page represents fan art.  It is not offered for sale or trade.

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Prosperity Pocket Shrine

This is a workshop sample that I created, showing a pocket shrine in an embellished matchbox. The photo on the left shows the outside of the shrine, and the right photo shows the matchbox, opened.

top of shrine inside prosperity shrine

For this shrine, I used a plain matchbox that I covered with some Chinese newspaper. I glued a hare (rabbit) sticker (from a swap) to the outside of the box, and the word Prosperity. (I was born in the year of the hare/rabbit.)

I cut the outside (the cardboard case) of the matchbox so that it would serve as a “door” to the shrine… it opens and closes. That part of the shrine is tacked in place with hot glue, at the back of the shrine.

Inside the shrine, I used decorated origami papers. Inside the matchbox, I used:

  • a gold paper notary seal
  • the Chinese symbol/word “prosperity” from a rubber stamp (no company name on stamp)
  • a yin/yang symbol on Chinese newspaper (no name on stamp), and
  • a small replica of a Chinese coin.

The coin is held in place with hot glue.

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Art and Alchemy Pendant Shrine

I created this pendant shrine for a friend. The symbols in it are specific to her interests.

When I started this project, I knew that I wanted to make a pendant/shrine using a matchbox, a Premo-covered book, and strung with hemp and glass beads. The results are fabulous!

Here’s how it looks:

the Ishtar shrine/pendant

the cover opens to a small book


the inside of the matchbox slides out

Inside the shrine, there is a figure of a goddess, plus two tiny, actual candles.

The pendant is made from a matchbox covered with Premo (polymer clay) & gold leaf. The images on clay were applied from laser prints, with gin.

The book was printed on paper, folded & bound with muslin, and glued inside the covers, then bound with hemp twine, also used for beaded strands.

Inside the matchbox, the shrine is on plush black velvet with a photo image of an ancient Ishtar figure.

I used birthday candles (burned) in Premo candleholders, glued into the shrine.

The beads are glass, or made from Premo and gold leaf.

It was a successful gift for a good friend.

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Otherworld Shrine

Otherworld Shrine by Aisling D'ArtThis is a pocket shrine, created for a shrine exchange hosted by Patty Harrison in the UK, September 2000.

Artist’s statement:

This box represents the “other” world. It’s the fantasy land of the faeries. In legends, it’s a world similar to ours but also different.

The black sky represents the darkness people travel through to reach this land. The flowers (painted, and dried, natural flowers) are part of the dazzling beauty of this fairy world.

The dangling opalescent star is what gives the shrine movement and life. The small bit of quartz crystal in each box represents “magic” in everyday life, which we add in our own, unique ways.

How each one was created

Preparing the container

I started with small wooden boxes, purchased at the local fabric store, JoAnn Fabrics. They’re each about four inches tall and have a removable lid with a star cut in it.

I stained the outside of each box to a light oak color, and added color stains using a stencil that I cut in a five-pointed star shape.

The inside of the lid is painted with gold. Inside the box, I used a moss green shade of Lumiere paint. The back of the box is lined with black plush velvet, which I glued to and wrapped around a cardboard base, before gluing it in place with Aleene’s Tacky Glue.

Then I drilled holes in the sides of the box, inserted part of a bamboo skewer (from barbecue supplies) and painted it matte black, so it’s sort of like a rod in a closet.

The shrine elements

In the very back, I have a moon-and-black-bird image that I created for one of my websites. The bird represents the Morrighan, of Irish mythological history. She is one of the Tuatha De Danann, also called fairies.

Next, I drew a dolmen, and painted it with watercolor. Both this and the moon/bird images were scanned a printed on shiny photographic paper, which I trimmed neatly before gluing the images in place on the velvet.

The flowers and elements of the green world were drawn with a zero point Rapidograph, and painted with Dr. Ph. Martin’s concentrated watercolors. These were scanned and printed on a heavy matte paper.

These pieces (two per shrine) were glued, diorama-style, using tabs I left on the sides of the art, when I trimmed it.

Next, I trimmed and glued bits of moss and dried natural flowers in the shrines. I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue for this.

Then, I added one small quartz crystal in each shrine, slightly hidden in the greenery.

Finally, I suspended an opalescent star bead from the “closet rod” in the box, using black thread. I glued one opalescent glitter star to the “closet rod”, and one directly to the black velvet background.

(The black rod conceals the topmost edge of the moon, in this scan. The rod is visible in the real shrines, but does not generally obscure any of the images.)

Completing the shrines

The outside of the box was highlighted with gold, and varished using a glossy polyurethane finish.

Each of the four shrines sent to this exchange contained a small plastic bag. In it, there was a quartz stone with a hole in it, strung on a purple satin ribbon. In fairy lore, if you look through a stone with a hole in it, you may be able to view the faerie world.

I made a total of eleven of these shrines.

Four went to the exchange, three are kept in our family, three were sent to “four creative somethings*” subscribers who requested them.

The remaining one was sold to a collector at Artfest 2001.

*”Four creative somethings” was a four-part subscription to small pieces of art, sent at random to people who signed up. That art subscription is no longer available.

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Superman Shrine – Pringles Lid

You can make a small shrine using a Pringle’s potato chip lid. Here are some general instructions to create the base for the shrine.

My Superman shrine is illustrated at left.

It was created using very small artwork–some of it original–and a Pringle’s potato chip lid. You know, one of those clear plastic snap-on lids that allows you to reseal the container.

First, I washed it with dishwashing liquid to remove all grease from it. Then, I cut a notch in each side, so it could fold.

But, even if I scored it along the fold line, the lid wouldn’t stay folded at a right angle.

side of shrine

Plastic–such as this potato chip lid–has a “memory,” which means that it likes to return to the same shape it was made into at the factory. In this case, the Pringle’s lid wants to snap back into a flat position. It’s necessary to fasten it at a right angle, for the shrine to look right.

My solution was to use my Fiskars 1/16″ punch. I put a total of four holes in the rim of the Pringle’s lid: Two on the upright part of the shrine (one hole on each side) and two on the flat part of the shrine (also in the rim, one hole on each side, right & left).

Then I used embroidery floss and an embroidery needle. I knotted the thread as if I was sewing, and pushed the needle and thread through the hole on the bottom/flat side of the shrine. (The hole is actually in the rim, but it’s on the half of the lid/shrine that’s rests on the table.)

I sewed this from the inside so the knot is hidden under the rim of the lid.

Then I put the needle and thread through the corresponding hole on the top/upright side of the shrine. It’s less important whether or not you go from the inside out, or vice versa.

Either way, I went through the hole twice, knotted the thread, and left a good tail on it when I cut it.

Then I put a dab of glue (Perfect Paper Adhesive, but white glue will work fine) on the tail of the thread, and tucked it inside the rim of the lid/shrine.

I repeated this process on the other side of the shrine.

I know… this may be impossible to understand without a bazillion diagrams.

If none of this makes sense to you, experiment. You’ll probably come up with an even better design!

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Art and Science of Pocket Shrines

superman shrine by aisling d'art First you start with an idea.

Well, maybe.

It’s where most people begin. You know, “Oh, I MUST make a shrine to chocolate!” Or Elvis, or Russell Crowe, or Barbie, the Banana Splits, or the Planet Melmac.

But where you should start–and of course, we never do what we should–is with the container.

The container should be small, of course. I mean, where will it go?

Select the container

A dashboard shrine may fit nicely in a small candle sconce, or a matchbox.

Something for your pocket might go better in a matchbook, a film canister, or slide out of a gutted dental floss dispenser.

The point is, the container determines everything. Unless you want to collect images and then scan them (or color photocopy them) down to size, start with the container.

The Three Cs:
Cheap,
Clean
and
Compact

Containers should meet the “three Cs” requirements: Cheap, Clean, and Compact. Charming is optional, kitschy is a plus.

So anyway, find your container. I highly recommend glancing in your trash right now, to see what you’ve thrown out recently.

One of my favorite shrines is shown above, the Superman shrine built in a Pringles potato chip lid.

But anyway, let’s assume you have a few containers gathered.

Next, choose a theme

Your theme can be absolutely anything. Select a person, place, idea, event or holiday. I’ve already listed a few, but don’t stop there! Movie idols, personal obsessions, fetishes, and weird/quirky stuff is what we’re looking for.

Serious topics? Why not? Draw on your spirituality, or history, or your dreams.

But find a theme anyway. Maybe it starts with a toy you bought at random from the 25-cent dispensers at the door of the grocery store. Or the fortune card you received at the penny arcade.

Maybe it’s about spike heels, condoms, bubble bath, the Trix rabbit, or Elmo… or a scary combination of some of these!

The thing is, you need a fairly clear vision/theme. You can adjust it as you find trinkets and images for your shrine, so don’t get totally locked into one idea.

Gather shrine elements

It’s time to collect bits and pieces to go into your shrine. You already know the size you’ll need…something which will fit inside your container.

There are several elements to consider when constructing a shrine. Color… either lots of color, or a single theme, such as Elvis and the color blue, as in My Blue Heaven, Blue Suede Shoes, and, “…a blue Christmas without you.”

Also, think in terms of dimension. Flat shrines are fine. No problem.

But, you can raise some elements above others, with foam tape or little blocks or something.

Think about texture, too. You can improve interest in the shrine by using fabric to cover it, or to line it. Satin is an obvious choice. Tacky red satin with mini-fringe or pom-poms for trim…excellent! (Dollhouse supply shops offer some wonderful trims.)

Images are best if they’re the right size. With a scanner or photocopy machine, you can reduce any image to the right size.

The library may have some fabulous books for inspiration.

(But, keep in mind that there are copyright issues, especially if you plan to sell your shrines using copyrighted images.)

So, once you have your bits & pieces, you’ve reached the assembling phase.

Complete your shrine

The first issue is glue: Even “permanent” glue sticks dry in high heat and/or low humidity. The pieces fall off. Yep, done that.

Another poor choice is rubber cement. It can yellow and/or turn paper translucent as the years progress. One brand claims to be archival, sort of. Read the label, and decide for yourself.

I favor hot glue, and Rollataq, or whatever you like for collage/assemblage work. (Rollataq is a glueing system which involves a special rolling dispenser filled with the Rollataq glue. Yes, it’s still messy, but it keeps glued paper smooth.)

Be prepared to change your mind about what goes where. Spontaneous art is the best art!

All done? Congratulations! It’s time to display your work. Dashboards are good. So are office desks, copy machine tables, and so on. Put a pinback on it, and wear it.

Oh sure, you can tuck your shrine in your pocket or purse, but you must promise to take it out regularly, and enjoy it.

Pocket shrines are made to display, show off, and flaunt.

Pocket shrines are FUN! Enjoy!

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Elvis Matchbook Shrine

You can never have too many Elvises!

elvis matchbook shrine - outside elvis matchbook shrine - inside

I made this shrine from images I scanned from a deck of Elvis playing cards, plus some glittery wrapping paper, a plain matchbook, and a few phrases related to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The “matches” are three layers deep. I folded a couple of them over, so you can see the layers. They’re held in place with a thin bead of hot glue at the bottom.

(The glue is inside where the matchbook folds over to hold them. That’s where the striking area is on some matchbooks. On my matchbook shrine, there is no staple.)

Instructions

Although you can make an Elvis shrine, there are many other themes suited to matchbook shrines. For example, you could create a shrine to orchids, or to sunglasses, or to Godzilla.

These how-to tips apply to any kind of matchbook shrine.

Making original graphics

When you plan your “match” images, ¼ inch wide is good. Allow lots of white space beneath. Distorting the image can look a little weird. If your matchbook shrine is humorous like my Elvis shrine, you can stretch the image to fit a pretend match.

Desaturating the image (in a graphics program) allows the graphics to match (so to speak) the widest possible range of background/collage colors.

Cutting

Cut the collage elements bigger than you need, then trim carefully when you’re working with teensy stuff.

Scallop the “match heads” first, then cut between the matches almost to the bottom of the set of matches. Leave about ¼ to ½ inch at the bottom, where the matches will be covered by the fold-up part of the matchbook. The matches will be hot glued in place, inside that fold.

Also, when you trim them, leave a bit of “breathing space” around the top of each match.

Assembling

If you’re covering a matchbook, put the adhesive on the matchbook, then stick a too-large piece of paper/fabric to it.

After the adhesive dries, trim it.

Optional: After the first side has been trimmed, you can cover the other side.

The matches are best held in place by a thin bead of hot glue along the bottom edge. It will blob up, so use just a little.

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‘Create’ Pocket Shrine (winged)

Tags can combine with other elements to support wonderful, pocket-sized shrines.  In this shrine, I wanted to use familiar elements such as a matchbox, but make it a little quirky.

I’d already worked with many traditional matchbox shrines.  This time, I wanted to deconstruct one.

create matchbox shrine

This shrine was made with the cut-up-and-reconstructed inside of a matchbox. I lined it with origami paper, attached a miniature Tarot card and a small irridescent bead like a crystal ball.

On the outside of the matchbox, I glued a bit of gold ribbon, some more origami paper, and I added my “signature” antennae with gold wire and beads.  (I’d been using wings and ornate antennae starting in the late 1990s.)

I glued the matchbox to a pair of stamped wings that were reinforced with wire so they bend like real wings.

(I use this wing stamp often. It’s from Stampers Anonymous.)

Then I attached this whole thing to a small tag, stamped with the word “CREATE” (Antique Alphabet Set by Personal Stamp Exchange).

I added beads to the tag string, and glued a miniature Artfest 2001 logo to the back of the tag.

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Creativity Pocket Shrine

This is my pocket shrine to creativity, in a matchbox

pocket shrine - create!

photo of pocket shrine

This pocket shrine started as a small, plain matchbox that I covered with plush black velvet and glittery purple silk ribbon.

The background image inside the box is a scan of a goddess figure, plus scans of my tubes of oil paint, reduced to fit the box. I added the word, “Create!” to the image, printed it and glued it in place. I also glued a small clear-ish piece of mica onto the image, for a bit of nature and depth.

Then I glued the same goddess figure I’d scanned for the background, into the box. Because she was designed as a charm or bead, I put a small jewel in the opening between her hands.

Also inside the box, I suspended an iridescent star on a thread. It swings freely when the shrine is displayed.

Outside the matchbox, I have a small dollhouse key, suggesting the “key” to creativity.

I also suspended a second goddess figure on a teal blue silk ribbon. She’s held in place with hot glue. The glue is very visible where it smooshed out onto the purple silk ribbon, but I don’t think it distracts enough from the shrine to try to remove it.

Closed, the matchbox measures two inches tall.

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Layering Paint and Polyurethane for Rich Depth

After draping your art shrine or assemblage with plaster and gauze, you can achieve astonishing results by layering paint and polyurethane.

These photos show just a few of my experiments with this technique.

It’s best to read this entire page before shopping for paint, polyurethane, and related supplies. You may get some great, unique ideas as you read…

Start with a surface that you’ve prepared by adding texture with plaster and gauze.The surface should be painted with at least one coat of gesso so that it doesn’t absorb so much paint.

You’ll also need a paintbrush of some kind (foam is okay) and paint.

I’m using mostly Brera acrylic paints, an Italian line from Maimeri (pronounced “my-MERR-y”), in my art.

You’ll also need polyurethane with a glossy finish.

1. If you need to paint a dark background, do that first, avoiding the raised areas that will be covered with gold. You can mask the areas that will remain unpainted, by covering them with easily-removed masking tape, if you like. I rarely use this, and prefer to apply the background paint carefully.Generally, I mix two or three colors on the brush as I paint, to give the surface a greater sense of depth. If I want the shrine to be very dark and mysterious looking, as in the three illustrations above, I’ll paint the raised areas as well as the background.

In this demo, I’m using Brera Violet #443, Brera Phthalo Blue #378, and Winsor & Newton Finity in Permanent Rose. I’m leaving the raised areas white, so the gold will be especially light, too.

2. When the background is fully dry, paint gold onto the raised areas. It’s okay to be a little sloppy. You can use one regular layer or a couple of thin layers of paint, depending upon what works best for you. In humid climates, two thin layers are usually best, allowing them to dry fully between coats.In this demonstration, I’m painting with Brera #142, Luster Gold acrylic paint. You can use any brand of interference-type gold for this, or even gold ink or a gold leaf type of paint.

When wet, the paint will look whitish and opaque. The white vanishes as it dries, leaving the surface translucent gold. If you painted the raised areas with a dark color first, you will definitely need two coats of the gold paint over it, to get a “real” gold look.

3. When the gold has dried, apply a very moist layer of paint in the color of your choice. Generally, you’ll use the same colors as your background. Press the paint into the holes in the gauze and the depressed areas in the texturing.If you’re covering a large area, paint some of it and wipe off the paint (see step 4), then paint another area of the surface, and wipe the paint off, and so on. In the photo, the lower left corner has been painted, the upper right has been painted & wiped, the and rest is still gold, waiting for paint.

If you were sloppy with your gold, also paint over the areas that were highlighted. Let the paint dry for just a minute or two. (I used Cobalt Blue for this layer.)

4. Using a paper towel or soft rag, gently wipe some of the fresh paint off, leaving some of it behind, especially in the depressed areas. Then, let the paint dry fully.In this photo, you can see how the paint remains in the tiny holes of the gauze, and in the depressed areas of the shrine.
5. Paint with a high-gloss polyurethane. Acrylic polyurethane is not as shiny, but it dries faster and without toxic fumes. Regular polyurethane must be used with good ventilation, takes at least four hours to dry, requires turpentine or paint thinner for cleanup, and can yellow slightly with time.I use the paint-on kind of polyurethane, with a foam brush. However, you can use spray polyurethane in a well-ventilated area. Several light layers are better than one thicker layer.

Important: Let each side dry flat before turning the shrine to polyurethane another side of it.

6. When the polyurethane has dried, repeat steps 3 and 4, using another color of paint in the same and/or different areas on the surface.(Don’t cover the whole thing again. I like to paint areas no larger than one inch squares, and sometimes just 1/2 inch streaks.)

Add up to four layers of paint (use polyurethane after adding two colors, for maximum depth). If you add more than four layers of additional colors, it can look gaudy or muddy. (But, if you make a mistake, you can generally scrub down to the last polyurethane layer, and try again.)

If you want a “golder” look–and I usually do–highlight just the peaks of the texturing with gold. Press small pieces of gold or other leafing into the almost-dry paint, if you like.

Add one or two coats of polyurethane after the final layer of paint. Additional layers can add to the ‘dichroic glass’ illusion.

Optional: When you paint the raised areas with gold, you might try painting the entire surface of the piece with a thin coat of Luster Gold or an interference gold. This paint is generally translucent.

In the photo on the left, the light is shining directly on the box. To the right, I’ve tilted the box slightly so that light penetrates the gold paint, and you can see the color beneath it.

Remember that, although these effects look like metal, they’re still based on plaster and gauze. So, the surface can be brittle if dropped or chipped.

The more you coat it with polyurethane, the better your protection.

However, it’s best to treat these objects as fragile.

They’re lovely to look at!

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