Daily Archives: January 21, 2016

Timeout for Art: Using Up



I have always loved to make something out of nothing.

Give me twelve skeins of new yarn, all from the same dye lot, and I am uninspired. A bag of bits and balls of mismatched yarn, though, and I’llĀ  create patterns for gnomish hats or gypsy slippers, and crochet all night. It’s the same with fabric, papers or any other raw materials. I’m drawn to collage for the chance to create from things that are trash, but beautiful for the character and patina provided by their history.

In my studio right now, I have one hundred and eighty squares cut from painted papers and patterned with the little shapes that are cut from packages, so that the package can hang on a hook. I’ll assemble the squares in a grid formation on a large board, then finish the piece with a series of glazes. It’s working title is “Going Nowhere.” A companion piece is made up of horizontal ribbons of painted papers topped with little cutout triangles. Like arrows pointing, they zip to the left in one row, and rush to the right in the next. I named that one “Fast.”

In shadow boxes, I am assembling row upon row of little rectangles of handmade paper of varying thickness. I like the subtle shadow play and color changes.

My plan this winter is to use stuff up though, to make room for new work and new ideas. It seems that everything I do creates more, not less.

For instance, I have several small paintings underway. One technique I use quite a bit is to apply paint to the canvas, lay a sheet of paper over it and rub, then lay that paper onto another canvas to deposit the excess paint on it. Though I use the same sheets of paper over and over, it still generates quite a stack of painted papers. To use them up, I’ve been contemplating some kind of weaving. I imagine a large, closed basket form, made of painted papers and old drawings. Yesterday I did a little internet search of woven papers. It turns out, there’s quite a movement out there, for making baskets and other items out of paper. There are hundreds of videos on it!

My first thought was one of discouragement: Are there no original ideas yet to discover? Still, I was intrigued. Papers are rolled into tubes, which can then be woven into bowls or boxes or baskets. “Make about a million, to start,” was the suggestion of one crafter. Well, I did have a big mound of painted papers. Maybe, if I made a bunch of tubes, an idea would present itself as to how to proceed.

I made about fifty. They are pretty simple, and quite pretty, I think. Where to go from here, though, I don’t know. Maybe if I’d made a million of them…