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Secrets of Rusty Things: Transforming Found Objects into Art Paperback – May 30, 2007

94 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Assemblage artist Michael de Meng teaches mixed-media workshops around the world and regularly contributes to such publications as Somerset Studio and Expressions. His work frequently appears in galleries and exhibits. www.michaeldemeng.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books (May 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158180928X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581809282
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Kelly L. Livesay on May 30, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As most mixed media artists who've "come of age" in the post-scrapbooking/craft/art revolution, I've been a fan of Michael deMengs work for some time. I was delighted to catch an episode of DIY's Craft Lab in which he showed some of his rusting techniques (basically paint is what he uses to get that effect but with other surprises like spray insulation foam).

This book is just beautiful, from the matt fold out covers to the unique presentations inside. Based in myths from around the world, each piece represented is beautiful and a step-by-step process is shown. But not clearly. Don't get me wrong-the photos are clear but the process isn't necessarily clearly outlined. I haven't minded at all bc the book is so awesome but I doubt I'll be combing any scrap yards anytime soon. Still it's wonderful to see his work in detail, watch it come together.

Don't expect a true "how to" book but more of a beautiful insight to how a true mixed media assemblage artist works. I'm not at all sorry I bought it! And I'm proud to be the first to review it.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. Jennings on June 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is not a book about how to transform found objects into art. It does give good ideas of course, but that's not what it's about. It's about de Meng's creative process, which I think is much more interesting.

It's about the story behind several compelling pieces of assemblage art in his typically arresting style, starting with the mythology that gave the idea shape, followed by a narrative about how the piece evolved, accompanied by a running sidebar about how he acquires his elements.

The text is breezy and droll, complex without getting too pretentious, honest without being tediously self-deprecating. He's not putting himself on any pedestals, he's simply explaining the logic behind the decisions he makes (or are made for him) as he works on the piece, comments like "I decided to put a grate in front of her eyes. There, now she's exiled."

It's sprinkled throughout with tips ranging from his favorite paints to use for achieving certain effects to the dangers of open flame around freshly-applied Liquid Nails ("can cause some excitement"). It reveals how he overcomes the frustrations every artist experiences when work on a piece just isn't flowing.

In contrast to the text, the photos are not particularly illustrative, though prettily shot. The whole book is rich and dramatic, not easy to dismiss after riffling through it.

The sidebar steals the scene in a lot of cases, reading like a funny and well-written blog, and it changes the way you look at estate sales, junkyards, construction recycling facilities, and bits of mechanical detritus from an earlier age.

It's a dangerous book in this regard.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jean Baldridge Yates VINE VOICE on August 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a child, I spent many hours reading fairy tales and myths. The myths I read and studied were ancient. I loved them and they came from all over the world. I related to each one of them intuitively. I couldn't help it! Many readers, like me, begin as children, loving myths.
Possibly you agree that the human condition, our joys, trials, everything, is distilled myth, be it Inuit, Hindu, Greek.

Myths can seem grand and off-putting. However, when you pair them with the writing of the often humorous, occasionally mystical (I am thinking of his walk in the woods where he found some stove pieces, way away from any house, and wrote a lovely and visually elegant vignette about it) and frequently charming style of assemblage artist/teacher Michael de Meng, they are lively, full of energy and fun to view as potential subjects for artworks!

Read this book and you are reading two books side by side: de Meng recounts the myth he is concerned with, then begins to discuss the process he goes through when he creates an art piece representing that myth. Simultaneously, he comments in journalling script form on the side of each page about what is going on in his real life with a different sort of emotional immediacy, as he is making the art piece, or recalling something to do with it.

Both segments of the book intersect and cross over in certain ways...but the main segment essentially deals with the original myth and his work on creating the piece he makes inspired by it, using bathroom scales he alters, or funky "Brady Bunch '70's clocks", the insides of irons, and things he likes. You read a vaiety of discussions and tales of the processes he goes through in order to do create his art pieces.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Meyer on August 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
I checked this book out from the library, fully expecting to enjoy and order my own copy. Boy - am I glad I did. It will NOT go into my shopping cart. The subtitle is "Transforming Found Objects in Art", which to me implies an instructional book. There MAY be some instruction here, but this book is simply too much of a chore to read.

Sure, the author may be talented. Sure - he may have some useful techniques to share. Trouble is, he apparently decided not to share them in this book. Photos are small, dark, and each is oh-so-cleverly bordered with artzy margins that take up way too much space on the page. There MAY be some interesting comments in the side bar on the right margin but it's hard to tell, as the chosen handwriting font makes them difficult to read. If you had a magnifying glass, you MAY be able to see what he's doing with the objects in the photos, but I've no patience for that and by now - I'm irritated.

It's just one more book that gets just too carried away with self-embellishment, cluttered layout, distracting backgrounds and frilly fonts to be a truly instructive source. Eye candy - that's all.
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