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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Resisting the urge to buy more stuff


I’ve shown you a bit of the journal I’m making in a class exercise led by Mary Ann Moss called Remains of the Day.  I have enjoyed this experience and I’ve had lots of fun making the cover and the pages and thinking about how I’ll use the technique to make lots more books. I really like making and using books and journals that focus on art and life and I intend to continue until my hands won’t hold a pen or scissors.

As I understand the idea of a Remains of the Day journal it’s to use the waste paper that comes to me during the normal course of daily living to create something else that’s useful and beautiful. There sure is plenty of that!  Bills, flyers, notices, ads, notes and lists, semi-personal letters, and so on… mostly mail that is skimmed and quickly tossed into the round file.  Yet with every video where Mary Ann shows a piece of ledger paper, or Hambly overlay, a huge spool of red thread that won’t run out, or decorative label, or vintage something or another I find myself wanting something just like it for my own journal, even when it’s not the remains of MY day. It’s related to how a friend and I laugh about our shared urge to buy yet another art supply when our studios are already crammed.  Purely greed!  When will it end?  It won’t until I intentionally end it and begin a new process.

Again at the beginning of this new year, as I did last year, I remind myself to use what I already have in a creative way and stop buying more stuff.  That’s why this class appealed to me in the first place.

Here's what I keep reminding myself: this process is about using today's ephemera that would otherwise get tossed into the trash, things like credit card offers, junk paper, printed emails, paper that clutters my file drawers that is no longer useful, 10 year old bank statement (with the account numbers and names cut off), fabric scraps, kids homework, a church bulletin, etc.  Instead of throwing it all into the recycle bin cut it into page sized pieces and sew it into a book in which I write about my day and into which I glue or stitch some pictures taken that day.

This junk paper that’s generated in my daily life can take on an importance that someday will seem as interesting as the vintage ephemera that seems exotic to me now. I can use it in an artful, thoughtful way to reflect through art-making and journaling about what I’m doing with my life and what I am leaving behind, by making beautiful and interesting books out of the remains of my own day.

One of my treasures is a bundle of papers left by a great, great grandfather. It’s not a book and it’s not very personal but it does represent the remains of his work day and what was important to him back in 1827 – 1865 … a bundle of IOU receipts and a few letters, tucked into a handmade case of linen pockets. Maybe my books will be valued in a similar way in future generations if I’ll make sure to include bits and pieces of my current life, write about my beliefs and activities, and include other notes about what is important to me today… letters to the future instead of notes from the past of strangers.


17 comments:

  1. I love the idea of using the "stuff" that we come across each day to fashion a book or journal! I am going to give it a try! Thanks! By the way, I found your blog by reading a friend's blog.

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  2. Jo, I love what you wrote here. I don't usually journal everyday about my day, but this is a good way to use this journal. Especially since we are using the "junk" of our everyday lives in them.

    Wishing you a blessed New Year!!!

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  3. This is so well said!!! AHA!!!!!!

    xoxo,
    ja

    P.S. Happy TwentyTen!!!!

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  4. Jo!!! Paint my room red!! Yes!!
    What a great idea!!! Now to find the perfect shade!!! :)

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  5. This is a great post. I am taking this class and I have used some of my old and some new ephemera. I have included some of my own photos and digital collages. I am like you I have so much "stuff" it is hard to justify buying more. At what point to we say no. Last year and I plan to this year is use what I have.

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  6. Thanks. I'm glad to know there are a few others like me who have reached a place where buying more stuff doesn't cut it. For years my studio expenses have far out-weighed my art income and I MUST put a stop to it. I have a post-it on my computer "Buy NO art supplies. Use what I have. Be creative." I'm keeping that sticky note to remind me again that enough is enough. And I plan to have a really good time figuring out how to have fun doing it.

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  7. maryefreeman@hotmail.com

    Thanks!

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  8. Interesting concept. It's the best of reduce, REUSE and RECYCLE!! Nicely done!

    Thanks for visiting at The Apron Goddesses!!!

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  9. Hi, Jo!
    Delighted to find you here. Isn't Mary Ann a hoot? Just starting my book today, hoping to get as much accomplished as possible before I go back to school tomorrow. My foot is in the door, however, as I try to complte more artmaking in my One Red Chair Studio...where there is always one of the cats. I'm adding your blog to my blogroll and will visit often. You have summarized my feelings well. And there's always that 40% coupon every week. Jeesh! more stuff.

    Diane Moline

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  10. Diane! It's so good to see your name here. How long has it been since we sat together at Art Asylum at Teesha's old studio? I'm busily working on my ROD journal and no matter what I say I still get the urge to buy that next tool which I'll probably do this week with my Michael's 40% coupon. I "need" a big hole punch, don't I?

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  11. Hi Jo, I'm Diane. I just started my blog about a month or so ago. I'm amazed at all the artists I'm finding like yourself, and I loved this post. I think this is a problem most of us artists have, especially the mixed media ones. The Remains of the Day workshop is a fantastic concept, and your journal page and cover that you've shown are wonderful! I also have a problem of just letting go with my art and loosening up--looking forw ard to how you progress.

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  12. Yep, it's a porch swing!! :)
    And you can come sit a spell any ole time you want!!

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  13. Thank you for visiting my blog....wow, we were in the same wavelength! You're my hero too :)

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  14. your collages are looking very good-- I think using bits and pieces from past lives, and your present life adds personal meaning-- especially if the past lives are part of your family history. you can never have too much...

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  15. Thanks Donna, using bits from my life or that represent my life is all that makes sense to me any more. There's such richness to be found in personal history, my own and my ancestors... and on down the generations to my grandkids. It's a barely tapped gold mine.

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  16. Jo, I had to laugh when you said what your husband said about cat bones in a tree!! My husband says the same darn thing!!!!!! And my question back is, how do you know, you don't look!!!!!! :)

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  17. This is an interesting idea. I would like to use this basis to make family history books using sayings or descriptions of my children. Keep up the good work.

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