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.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wild Oats - Pages

I'm having so much fun making pages for my Remains of the Day journal, hunting and gathering ephemera to combine into pages: scraps left from sewing projects, papers... whatever can find around the house. I'm determined not to buy anything but to use what I already have in abundance. I brought 2 Iris boxes, 12x12x4 inches, packed full of stuff for the book, and in one day... maybe 14 hours but who's counting... I made 42 pages. They aren't finished and won't be until I get back to my studio where I can root out more good stuff to use.  I cut full pages, half pages, and strips and sewed them together to make 11 x 7.5" pages. You can see some of them at my Flickr album here.

I told you that I made Christmas gifts for my family and now that they have their gifts I can tell you what I made... pillowcases.  I know, that's not very exciting, but these are special, made from fabrics especially chosen for each person. Our dog loving son got a pillowcase made from a fabric printed all over with puppydogs, trimmed with a narrow band of black lettered in white with doggie words (ruff-ruff- good dog - like that) and edged with black paw prints on white. My husband's is a route 66 fabric that includes Oklahoma with a band/hem of 1956 Chevrolets like the one he once owned.  My gardening daughter got  birdhouses and birds, and her husband got big mouth bass with spawning salmon and trimmed with pink roe eggs.  The oldest grandson loves camo anything and his is a batik print that looks like camo but feels softer with a trim of black helicopters on a camo background. 

I'm guessing you want to make some for yourself.  Here's what you need:
5/6 yard of 42-45" wide fabric - body
3 1/2" of 42-44" fabric.  trim fabric
1/3 yard band/hem fabric

I'll trust that you can figure out how to put these together.  The trim is folded in half lengthwise and sandwiched between the body and band/hem, like you would insert piping.  Sew them together. With right sides together sew around the side and end of the pillowcase. Turn the hem and stitch, and you're done.  Use the scraps in a journal like mine.

The pink batik with flowers is the one I made for myself.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sewing Wild Oats

Titles for my art usually are difficult for me but not for this journal cover; it was a piece of cake because of a label I chose to use, from a company called Wild Oats.  And since the cover is sewn ... well there you have it: Sewing Wild Oats. Yes, I know what that phrase refers to, but I'm using it here because this cover is the first assignment in Remains of the Day class where I'll learn to be loose, both with my journal additions and with my machine stitching.  I'm never very loose. When I learned to sew I was taught to be careful and precise. But now I'm asked to turn loose of that life habit and work without thinking. We'll see about that.

I dug into two of my collections, the Thai silk and the clothing labels and sewed them to the base fabric almost without thinking. The resulting piece is overworked in an interesting way and I think it'll be fun to continue.

One thing I learned many years ago about journaling is that if the cover of the book is attractive then I'll be attracted to pick it up and work in it on a more regular basis. Even when buying simple spiral notebooks I look for a color that's attractive, and if it loses it's appeal I take the time to paint or collage the cover.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Recycling the Bits and Pieces

In the past whenever I finished a sewing project I tossed all the tiny snippets into the trash and bundled the big pieces for possible use in another project but now I find myself saving all the snippets to recyle into the building of journal pages and collages. I spent most of the day sewing some Christmas Eve gifts for my family and I'm really proud of what I accomplished but since some of the recepients may read this I can't tell you what I made.. just that each one of pretty wonderful, if I do say so myself. At least you can see a few of the remains of the day and how I used them on this page. It's 8.5 x 11 inches, done on heavy kraft paper that had a former life as a protective surface on my big work table. This is the paper I clean my brushes on, where I practice mark-making, and after a few months it takes on the character of lovingly worn jeans. I couldn't throw it away so I cut it into pages on which I intend to record my days in some way or another. When I have a big stack of finished pages I'll bind it somehow, either into a 3-ring binder or with a big fat coil.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Remains of the Day

I'm going to have FUN.... yes, I am. I've signed up for Mary Ann Moss's online art journal class, Remains of the Day which is starting soon. Go here to read all about it. Class starts December 15 and all the videos and PDFs are available for a year. I've taken other classes from Mary Ann and I guarantee you the woman knows how to teach and how to structure a class. After all, she teaches second graders in LA so how hard could it be to herd a bunch of adults?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Morning on Discovery Bay

Our family spent Thanksgiving with our daughter's in-laws who live on Discovery Bay in Washington State, right across the bay from Port Townsend, in such a lovely setting, as you can see from my sketch. I cherish my memories of waking up very early when the light was just beginning to separate light from dark, when all the world was in silhouette, and all was quiet. I was told that there's a single loon living there, one who's lifelong mate has died. I've felt sadness in the call of the loon, and especially with this one who's now alone for life.
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