Assemblage Art: Part 6

I’ve been having the best time creating mixed media art this year. Dedicating most of my time to assemblage work since January 1, I’ve experimented with so many different supplies, tools and techniques learning many lessons along the way. I’m really glad that you’re along for the creative ride. Here are my most current pieces to date and a few details about each.

“To Town”

etsy-cathe-holden-assemblage-to-townThe 1932 license plate was the start of the theme for this assemblage. I googled sedans of that year and lucky me, I had a little Japanese tin toy car of just the right model year that I’d recovered in a grungy barn dig a few months back. I added only vintage decals to modify it.

etsy-cathe-holden-assemblage-to-town-sidesThe box was a very old container for tool dies. I lined the edges with vintage cigar box paper strips and propped up the wire hinged lid from the back with small brackets made from erector set pieces to create a sort of building facade. etsy-cathe-holden-assemblage-to-town-detail-2The orange label inside the lid was a great start to for collage including a vintage trade card clipping of birds stamps.etsy-cathe-holden-assemblage-to-town-detail-1I lined the back of the box with vintage wallpaper stenciled with modeling paste using one of my custom stencil designs. I placed an old real-photo postcard from around the same era as the license plate to give the illusion of the car driving toward a building with people coming and going. I added a couple of patina’d antique brass embellishments to create more relief.

 “Good Luck”

blog-cathe-holden-assemblage-good-luckblog-cathe-holden-assemblage-good-luck-detail-2This may be one of my favorite assemblages so far. The yellow wood background piece was the lid of an broken jewelry box with the most fantastic crackled decal. The little lead cowboy is affixed atop an old cotter pin tin. I created the stencil by knocking out sections from a typed and outlined word in Adobe Illustrator then sent to my Silhouette Cameo to cut from little aluminum Good Luck token screwed into drawer handle backplates and attached to lengths of a metal folding ruler made a fun prize ribbon rosette. blog-cathe-holden-assemblage-good-luck-canThe cap gun is wired into and old metal food can that my neighbor found while back-roading in California Gold Country. I rolled the lid back and sprayed it with clear enamel to seal the rust. I lined the can with a section of printed metal from a flattened vintage coffee


blog-cathe-holden-assemblage-ascend-chMy oldest daughter, Jamie, asked me to create an assemblage just for her. To me, there is no greater flattery. This is that piece reflecting my hopes for her to travel far in love, career, and trimmed the old cigar sample box with custom-designed paper tape that reads “Ascend”. Once again I stenciled the background with one of my designs. The balloon was crafted from a vintage French rolling toy I found on eBay. blog-cathe-holden-assemblage-ascend-toyblog-cathe-holden-assemblage-ascend-sidesUsing the scrap from the same vintage coffee can mentioned in the “Good Luck” piece above, I formed a hillside structure to sit in front of the sweet vintage wallpaper illustration.blogcathe-holden-assemblage-ascend-detail The little tin roof is made from the same biscuit tin as used in the the “Charm & Charity” assemblage below. The trees were crafted from grungy, old paint brushes sawed at the


blog-cathe-holden-assemblage-untitledA more fragile piece, this assemblage includes a tree branch from my back yard which protrudes through a hole in the old wood box holding a nest found in my late father-in-law’s vineyard made mostly of horse little British man’s wheelbarrow is filled with tiny blue eggs to match the larger faux ones in the nest. blog-cathe-holden-assemblage-untitled-detail1The background is vintage wallpaper stenciled with one of my designs and rubber stamped.

“Charm & Charity”

blog-cathe-holden-assemblage-charm-charityThe background panel of this piece is a dove-tailed panel from a disassembled old blasting lid of a vintage candy tin made the perfect frame for this assemblage. I cut the oval hole, attached glass from behind, and lined with vintage used stencil paste, and again, one of my stencils on a section of an old book cover trimmed to fit inside a cruddy cigar box as a background piece for the candy tin inset pedestal/background piece was cut from a large, damaged biscuit tin trimmed out and folded to line a small Tim Holtz idea-ology Vignette The little lead woman figure was repainted to coordinate with the floral frame and secured into the little tin-lined box. Side note: When I posted this particular image to Instagram during the process of painting, one follower commented that it looked as though she was using a selfie stick. Ha! It does!!

“Special Prize”

blog-cathe-holden-assemblage-special-prizeThe box frame for this assemblage was an old, narrow drawer lined with vintage wallpaper, a stenciled word, and small paper prize certificate from a pet exhibit. I left the little drawer pull knobs in tact (at the top). Inset is a vintage candy tin of which I cut an oval window from the designed and printed paper cigar box trim that reads meilleur ami, French for best the tin I made a metal platform covered in a book to center the small vintage lead dog in the window, and background from a vintage trade card graphic, and faux Petaluma postal rubber window is trimmed with distressed Dresden foil.

blog-cathe-holden-assemblage-special-prize-detail2I love to complete each dog themed assemblage with a vintage dog tag.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my latest work. My assemblage art is available for purchase in my Etsy shop.


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Miniature Garden Ornament Trinket Box

Last week Tim Holtz sent me a pack of his new idea-ology Decorative Deer, just one of the exciting new products in his 2016 Christmas product release. These tiny, adorable resin figures, in two sizes, have a million and one applications, holiday or any day!cathe-holden-garden-deer-08To transform the deer, I utilized products from the studio I use in my assemblage art  to turn items from plastic to metal or concrete in appearance. And in this case, turning a little resin deer into one resembling a vintage garden ornament.cathe-holden-garden-deer-10Project ingredients include: Tim Holtz idea-ology Decorative Deer, J-B Weld KwikWeld, Sophisticated Finishes Rust Antiquing Set, a wee bit of moss, and a few tiny pebbles from the ground outside my studio.cathe-holden-garden-deer-09J-B Kwik is a fast setting, two-part epoxy cold weld system that I use frequently for connecting metalwork in my art, but can also coat small objects or areas quite nicely to give them a metal surface. cathe-holden-garden-deer-07Once mixed the J-B Kwik becomes solid and hard in 6 minutes, so one needs to work fast keeping projects or project sections small.cathe-holden-garden-deer-06Using a flat wooden sandwich pick (which I also use to stir the two-part epoxy) I coated one of the smaller of the two deer, set it atop the tin lid of a 1-ounce metal favor tin and added more epoxy to secure it, creating a textured surface to simulate the ground.cathe-holden-garden-deer-05Within minutes the surface was dry and hard and ready for smoothing with a narrow Crafty-Cat sanding needle for any areas that needed it.cathe-holden-garden-deer-04I then coated the entire deer and lid with the instant iron base coating, and once dry followed with a few coats of the rust finish. A good amount of detail in the deer is lost when coating with the J-B Kwik, so if you are going for a less rounded look, that step can be skipped and the following step used directly on the resin deer figure.cathe-holden-garden-deer-03I attached a small bit of moss and some tiny pebbles.cathe-holden-garden-deer-01Now I have a sweet little container for notes, what-nots, money gift, or party favor.cathe-holden-garden-deer-02

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CaNibble for Art, Craft and DIY: Nibbler Tool Giveaway

At a recent racing and automotive event I saw for the very first time a nibbler cutting tool being used and sold in the exhibition center. Thinking this might be a good gadget for cutting vintage metal tins and other found objects for my assemblage art projects, I spent a bit of time researching nibbler tools.  The best reviews I found were for the CaNibble Professional Nibbler. It’s a fascinating piece of equipment, used by engineers, builders, plumbers and other construction professionals, but also a fantastic tool for art, craft and DIY enthusiasts. This tool can cut through flat or corrugated material, mild steel, stainless steel, brass, aluminum, Formica, chicken wire, cardboard, leather, and plastic. The CaNibble is best demonstrated in the full-length informational video below.

I contacted the good folks at CaNibble Tools and they sent me their Bundle to use and review. The Bundle includes:

  • CaNibble-Professional Nibbler
  • Two spare punches
  • Set of two bench mounting clamps
  • Spare Die
  • Straight and Circle Cutting Attachment

Cathe-Holden-CaNibble-BUNDLETo utilizie the CaNibble tool you will need electric or air drill with a 9mm chuck capacity and a speed range of 1,500 to 2,500 RPM. Though you can use the CaNibble freehand, for accuracy and small projects I prefer it mounted to my workbench allowing my hands to guide the material. The CaNibble drive shaft inserts into the drill the same as a drill bit. When using the mounting clamps, the collar of your drill needs to measure 43mm in diameter. It was necessary for me to take one of my clamps shopping with me to Lowe’s to find a drill with that exact collar size. I ended up with the Hitachi D10VH 6-Amp 3/8-in Corded Drill, which is now a permanent fixture on my workbench. Cathe-Holden-CaNibble-01When in use the drill and tool cutting sounds can be quite loud, so some may prefer ear protection when using. Keep a bin or box below your work to catch the millions of tiny, sharp pieces (who’s shapes remind me of baby fingernail clippings) that will fall from the project you are cutting. And ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION when using this tool! With metal cutting it is important to apply a lubricant such as WD40 or light oil along the path of cut. Please visit the FAQ page of the CaNibble website for many more details and specifications for setting up and using.

One of my first projects using the CaNibble included cutting out the printed design from a vintage can that probably once held popcorn or potato chips. It worked GREAT!Cathe-Holden-CaNibble-02Cutting from the outer edge of your material is pretty straight forward, but if you need to cut a window from your piece you will need to use the CaNibble sheet drill attachment, or 1/2″ or larger drill bit to drill a hole within the window area in order to place the material over the top of the CaNibble tool for cutting.Cathe-Holden-CaNibble-03Here is a window cut through the lid of a vintage candy tin using the CaNibble. As I am getting the hang of using the CaNibble I have been guiding my work slowly while cutting small shapes, therefor my finished edges have been slightly ragged. In those instances I simply smoothed out the edges by sanding or with a small rotary tool with a grinding attachment. For the project below I inset the framework of a vintage metal automotive gauge into the window for a nice finished look.Cathe-Holden-CaNibble-04There are so many uses for the CaNibble in art, craft, and DIY projects and I’m excited to have it as a tool in my studio allowing me so many more options for creating assemblage art. There are still features I’ve yet to try, including the circle cutting attachment. Keep an eye on my Instagram feed for updates as I hone my CaNibble skills here in the studio! You can also check out the CaNibble LIVE next month at the Maker Faire in San Diego! CaNibble is currently offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $100. Follow them on Facebook to keep up to date with all things CaNibble and the many uses and creations by others!

The CaNibble Bundle Giveaway

A $188.85 Value!

CaNibble Tools is giving away a complete CaNibble Bundle (full contents shown above) to one Just Something I Made reader! The lucky winner will receive a CaNibble, Spare Punches, Spare Die, Clamps, and a Straight and Circle Cutting Attachment.


  • Entry open to US residents only.
  • One Entry per person and household.
  • Please leave a kind, relevant comment below.


  • Enter by noon (PST) Friday, September 9, 2016. EXTENDED DEADLINE: Noon (PST)Monday, September 12, 2015.
  • The winner will be randomly chosen, notified and posted her shortly thereafter.
  • The CaNibble Bundle will be shipped to winner direct from CaNibble Tools

Congratulations to #95 – Marsha Wigren


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