We all can use a little inspiration now and then. All those creative ideas ricocheting around in our heads can make it difficult to just choose one. Sometimes, we can’t overcome the entropy that has temporarily taken over our thought process. Occasionally, deliberating for even a few minutes, about whether or not to put some beauty in the world, feels like a herculean task. April was a project taken on to encourage daily handwork and creativity in my routine and to bring a little unexpected delight to the people I care about.
Each day for the month of April 2016, I made a small piece of art measuring 2 x 3 inches. They varied in complexity and included drawings, a stencil, a stamp, sayings, handmade paper, a recipe, dried flowers, miniature books and paintings. Materials included wax, paper, watercolor, drawing fluid, ink, colored pencil, crayon, hand dyed fabric, paste cloth, polymer clay, seeds and photographs. I made three versions; each individualized for it’s intended recipient (all creative people with limited time and so much going on in their lives).
I put all the cards, willy nilly, in an altered cigar box. I thought about maintaining more order with the pieces, but in the end, the joy of discovery, and sorting through unknown treasures, exceeded my need for structure.
It is my hope that when my people are in want of creative stimulation, they can pull this box off the shelf, sift through its contents, and kick-start a brainstorm of their own.
It so happens that one friend has re purposed the project to entertain her almost two year old. Most of the cards now live in a wallet that travels with them. When he get impatient, the wallet comes out and he plays with the cards. How’s that for creative reuse?
Because at some point, we all need to take a leap of faith.
I love graphic t-shirts. I don’t wear a lot of them anymore, but I did when I was in my teens and twenties. My favorite was a shirt I ordered from Mad Magazine with many incarnations of Alfred E. Newman printed on it. I remember a long sleeved black t with a vampire sleeping in her coffin, purchased at a New Jersey horror convention. I got a lot of wear out of a vintage converse shirt I found thrifting. The t-shirt is long gone, but I cut out the graphic because I couldn’t bear to part with it.
Which leads me to this post. I don’t think of myself as sentimental, but I hate to throw out a good print. It does not seem prudent to hold on to unwearable t-shirts. How often are you going to look at them? Where are you going to put them? And yet, I find myself keeping them anyway.
I finally found a solution. I turn them into book cloth (a subject for another day). It gives me the opportunity to appreciate the graphic one more time and create one of a kind books for others to enjoy.
I can also tell you where they all came from, in case anyone wants a story with their book. The jackalopes were a memento of a free burlesque show hosted by Indiana University. The show ended with a sparkler in a queen’s behind. Very patriotic. Everything is fine and the bananas came from the Northern Sun catalog. The koi was from my father- something he picked up at a pond trade show. The glowing red eye is part of a Sepultura (or within same genre) shirt that belonged to an ex. Sheep Unite? Something I screen printed in high school. There were Dead Kennedys lyrics on the back. I am not sure where the dino came from, but I do remember I wore it with duct tape (solid fashion choice) in high school.
Thanks for indulging me.
This book is untitled and was spawned from an ongoing Space Paste and Spring Leaf Press collaboration beginning in 2012. This exercise is from March to August of 2014 and the parameters included a miniature book constructed in a day using materials immediately available in the studio. I managed to successfully adhere to two out of the three and I’m good with that.
The book depicts the contents of my csa share from GroundWork Farms for August 6, 2014. I used watercolor for the vegetable images. A piece of my favorite (but broken) hat, a hemp shoe string and a paste cloth spine became the cover. Other materials included Rives BFK (so predictable- who doesn’t have this in their studio?), archival ink and linen thread.
It was a fun exercise. I had a chance to play around with a material I don’t normally use- hat- and it was successful in creating a farmy feel. I also had an opportunity to incorporate my vegetable images into another venue. They are being used this September as a marketing tool for the Duveneck Dinner, a fundraising event held by Hidden Villa, a nonprofit educational farm that provides a structure for learning about the environment and social justice in Los Altos Hills, California. Cool, yeah?
In June to August of 2015 I participated in the Ideation Experience exhibit at The Abecedarian Gallery. The project was based on the Ideation Deck by Barbara Tetenbaum and Julie Chen. Within the deck are Category and Adjective cards representing aspects of design and bookmaking structure. The deck acts as a catalyst in the creative process. The player of this game picks twelve cards-seven in Category and five in Adjective- and that determines the technical attitude of the book. It does not however, create the theme.
In the category deck I blindly drew abstract (image), hand drawn/painted (technique), stream of consciousness/free write/rant (text), pre-treated (paper), grid (layout), highly colorful (color) and innovative (structure). Adjectives included poetic, soft, textured, whimsical and impressionistic.
I wasn’t sure how to make it work. The only way I thought I could incorporate all of my cards was to draw from the subconscious (but not my subconscious, ahem) and use the fears, desires, epiphanies and general absurdities that come from dreaming. In the end, I had a box that housed five dice and unfolded into a circle when opened.
I imagine there could be a lot of dialogue over whether or not a folded box is innovative, but there it is. The paper was pre-treated with a water color wash in light colors (soft, impressionistic), illustrated with dream imagery (whimsical, hand painted) and then over painted with a broken grid.
I used an awl to punch holes along the grid lines. I used gold pigment and sandpaper to create pattern and texture.
The dice are numbered. When rolled and put together in numerical order they form a sentence that can hopefully be interpreted as poetic and following a stream of consciousness. There are 7776 possible sentence combinations. The chances of rolling the original sentences are slim to none.
They are as follows (in case you were wondering):
1. Winged nightmare threatens vulnerable eyeballs
2. Pornographic lagomorph enthralls into orgasm
3. Living tree reaches throughout existence
4. Impassioned lover acquiesces individual consciousness
5. Perceived labyrinth confuses existential reality
6. (The wild card and resulting title of this piece) This dream intentionally left blank
I promise, the more you roll, the more ridiculous it gets.
Winged dream acquiesces into reality
Impassioned nightmare confuses existential blank
This labyrinth threatens individual existence
(I think I might be ready for open mic night)
Incidentally, I made a small book with the scraps of this project. The pages are contained in a wrap around cover. There is no text, only abstraction, color and a little bit of thread. I am surprisingly pleased with the results. Perceived dream enthralls throughout existence!
December marked the end of my year of monthly collaboration with Mary at Spring Leaf Press. Our final project emphasized communication without text, or representational images. Oddly enough, we both chose a similar technique to set the mood of our books.
I was reading about batik techniques and came across a process where one dropped wax on black velvet to protect the color and bleached out the remaining material. I decided to try the same technique with paper. I wanted my book to feel intimate, so I sized it to fit in the hand. I dipped the edges of each sheet in wax in order to maintain the original color and texture of the paper. Next, I saturated each sheet with black fiber reactive dye and while the paper was still wet applied a bleach solution. Although I directed the initial flow of bleach, the end result was unpredictable and each page was a surprise. I bound the pages with a chain stitch and made a wrap around case for it. When I flipped through the finished product, the pages gave me a sense of nostalgia and brought to mind polaroids with processing mishaps.
Mary and I are doing a second collaboration, with a new set of parameters for 2012.