From last year's January 30 Days of Creative Practice challenge with Wendy Brightbill. The prompt on that day was "repeat one shape." I chose to collage freecut hearts. 16 x 8
From last year's January 30 Days of Creative Practice challenge with Wendy Brightbill. The prompt on that day was "repeat one shape." I chose to collage freecut hearts. 16 x 8
[Woke up with a strong intention to collage a valentine to a tiny lake inside the Adirondack Park blue line. Beloved to my husband and I since the summer we were both 23 and discovered it together. Then something in my deeper creative mind jacknifed the plan. I guess you never forget your first love/sense of idyllic human completion.]
Although you've had millions of devoted admirers over the centuries I can only hope that all their sweetest memories of your charms remain as vivid and alluring as my own. I shall never forget the first evening I spent in your embrace made fragrant by night blooming flowers. I first caught sight of your beauty from a rooftop dining space alight with the day's Golden Hour as I'd never experienced it. Seeing a sea of similarly incandescent terra cotta rooftops awash in the same glow my soul felt itself reach for your hand. You seduced me simply and completely.
Unable to sleep from the sheer excitement of being newly 18 and thousands of miles removed from anything that would stop me from making decisions purely my own - I went with my two mid-70's EuroTour roomates to discover you as a threesome of young americans determined not to be ugly in our tourism and unafraid to venture forth in search of a city's true soul. We wished to know you, Florence, as our jammed-packed tour itinerary would never reveal.
We literally stapled our passports to the inside of our underwear and then moved empty-handed into the night of a place we'd never been and were unafraid to explore. We simply followed the sound of voices and lights. We'd been in Italy for about a week after traveling on an Italian ship for eight days to reach Naples. The experience had taught us where we'd see, learn and laugh the most - voices & lights were our password to Truth for that magical 6 week window's worth of time. It never once steered us to a bad or frightening place. Not even when we followed an increasingly massive roaring sound to the piazza surrounding your jewel of architectural renown.
We'd unwittingly followed the sound of rage and resounding large-scale mobilization straight into some type of political rally that packed humans tight. The air shimmered with the sound of their collective voice raised as one united by uncompromising dissent. We turned as a single whirl of legs and arms. Your night air caressing us. Knowing not to run outright and draw attention to ourselves. We walked brisking without a clue of what we were doing. Only one of us, after some panic-stricken hissing, was able to recall the name of our hotel. But she didn't know where it was located.
Directly in front of us were three stylishly dressed dark and handsome men three or four years older then we. They at first were speaking ugently, all at once, in obvious group encouragement to arrive at the rally we were fleeing. Then one of them saw us doing that and grabbed the arm of an another. Without even a twitch of eye-contact consultation they pivoted towards us.
We must not be frightened. It was only a communist rally. They themselves were communists but clearly reasonable and nothing to fear. Said in three languages before I picked up enough friench, and another girl leaned into some rusty german translating abilities to get from one end of the thought to the other. They were the handsomest, suavest, most self-assured young men I'd ever met let alone spent time with. Only these many years later do I realize how rare it is to want to spend time with men that fit such description.
Florence - you gave me the most romantic safely madcap night of my life then and one of its sweetest fleeting memories now. All held within your embrace. Under a sky I'd paint with a base of cobalt blue and then find union with a host of specially mixed indanthrone blue and purple-grey tones. I don't know if there were stars and a moon. I do know there was a long luxurious stroll across an ancient bridge that held the imprint of your centuries' human foot traffic.
For a while we six stood in a silent line and gazed at the far more famous bridge that crosses your Arno river. It was a lovely moment in a timeless place. At some point the spell broke and I remember us talking in two somewhat urgent groups of belated consultation. Where were we going? It appeared neither group knew.
The gentlemen (for that's what they were...) weren't from this city but another they kept assuring us was of no importance. Not in a forget you saw us way but simply reassuring us they lived nowhere we were obliged to visit as diligent tourists. We laughed with a tentative willingness to proceed as a group intent on sharing the evening.
(because of this long ago gift you bestowed, my most magical Florence, I never ever question unlikely paradise instead of disaster within movies showing us make-believe lives practically nobody actually lives.)
We ate watermelon. And they taught us a regional dialect word from their grandparent's generation for this sweet delicious fruit that I still remember. We climbed a seeming eternity of stairs and years into the future I'd return here and literally facepalm to see how close we'd been to the Uffizi Gardens. Climbing and climbing it seemed like time out of space until something very real and big crashed directly in front of us. It was a stag; close enough to rear back at the rank odor of his scent. Coming from where to reach what destination? It was impossible to know. All of us were amazed in a way that left us gasping with laughter. Kissing occurred. And then the night sky erupted with dazzling white light. Music familiar to our shared generation - no matter where we lived - followed only seconds later.
We climbed the final distance to the edge of Piazzale Michelangelo. It was ablaze with a glare of strung lights. Internationally popular music pulsed from the back of open cars ringing the outer curve of the wide Piazzale. We ladies jumped and clapped and spun to grab whoever we'd been kissing. The young men laughed as a single voice of triumphant youth about to have a good time. The evening - although retrospectively chaste - had spun us all in a web of delighted willingness to say Yes to you and ourselves and each other We danced for several hours. Stopping to drink water and eat more watermelon. Strolling the very edge of the curve - shouting out greetings to people in our age-tribe dressed all manner of ways with all manner of accents and languages. To kiss while wordlessly conveying in an entirely mutual way that was all that would happen.
The walk back down the innumerable stairs didn't occur until daybreak. Shoes in hands sticky with watermelon juice we marveled at all the terraced natural beauty we'd walked through with no awareness of how lovely and magical the night had actually been as it pulsed all around us. Excitement erupted when the Stag's crashing after-trail was discovered. We all stood still to stare at the proof of what we'd witnessed. Just us and the stag. Each of us turned slowly to search the landscape. It was still impossible to guess where the stag had come from and where it was going.
And Florence. I've never before told anyone ever about this night. It was just too perfect to contain with mere words.
It still is. That's why I added tiny hints of what it felt like using beautiful papers inspired by your own forever-beauty. ..
Not sure I would have had the guts to make either the collage or the post that follows if I hadn't been so moved and inspired by Joanne's collage right here.
Originally I didn't plan to engage with this prompt because I figured I'd evoked all the Empress of Everything energy I could reasonably expect myself to express during the Care Package prompt. But then I realized I was also avoiding something really important that I didn't want to deal with in an active way until after this challenge was complete. Felt it wasn't "necessary" or "proper" for me to include what I wound up creating as part of my personal responses to the prompts. Nonetheless here we are.
My collage for today is in large part a delayed reaction follow-up to the real-life results of a collage I made the summer before last as part of year-long art journaling project. Within that context the image spoke to my ongoing experience(s) being silenced by white culture in general and within my specific family of origin. I allowed myself to visually specify what this felt like for the first time: to be enmeshed within a solely white upbringing in a 90% white town (all Others neatly collected in slim enclaves with protestations that the Others wanted it that way ....) while being bi-racial and utterly estranged from my other half.
The latter fact was routinely dismissed as a mere detail which shouldn't be encouraged "to fester" because my inherently insufficient* environment was supposed to render me too grateful by my good fortune to be able to "pass" if I just applied myself to the goal with true will to succeed at it.
*I'm defining insufficiency in terms of knowing who I really was at a basic genetic level since it was glaringly apparent to me I was indeed half Other. And consistently feeling myself as lacking any viable guidance towards developing life skills that were relational to my ongoing experience both at home and in the larger world.
As a direct result of making that collage I subsequently ripped the metaphorical tape away from my very literal mouth and began expressing what felt the safest within an inherently troublesome aspect of my life : the white-centric way in which my small but mighty family has lived since we moved away from a diverse urban hub of great meaning and empowerment to me. And what that experience has led me to conclude without a shade of doubt:
Hypocrisy is a crippling by-product of all human nature, no doubt. But the specifically white version of it insures nobody anywhere ever really gets very far with race relations.
entirely true for me without doubt. But I went about expressing it in the dogmatic emotionally charged manner of somebody who's been honing their rage as well as their ability to sit quietly with a thing I cannot fix by myself or by summoning my own white mojo intent to have it be otherwise. And I regret that very much. THAT isn't just something I can fix - it's something I must fix because nobody else can do it for me.
To illustrate my re-considered intentions moving forward - I began with a healthy dose of self-accountability that focused on an ability I actively hold here in the everyday world that I can apply within experiences involving my linear human landscape - starting with a photocopy of the lede collage. I pasted in a dedicated journal I'll probably wind up sharing a bit on this blog once this challenge is in the past tense long enough to have reclaimed one or two planned winter learning projects first.
I also photocopied two other elements of the same art journal where I made the original collage - tracings of my left and right hand decorated with off-world tatoos what have been re-configured so they might attend to my silenced past-tense self. In this collage they embody the wise and seasoned touch of my highest self and all her cumulative experiences and observations. Thus the hands work slowly and with gentle patience to loosen the powerful adhesive that's kept me 95% quiet about this pivotal aspects of my ongoing life experience for more than half a century.
- notice they are using flower medicine to loosen the adhesive and heal the wounds it caused -
My right hand takes command of the evolved objective - to liberate by way of accrued finesse and empathy. My other - receptive and empathetic - hand cradles my forehead to steady me for the shock and abrupt shift that will come when the tape's finally removed and I now hold sole responsibility for whatever I elect to say or not. In acknowledgement of this - through the process of making the collage - I've given myself a sovereign power - the power of gentleness - I already had without knowing how to claim or implement it.
This collage that I almost didn't think it was 'necessary' to let myself make at this time and in this specific venue is probably the most personally meaningful and healing response I've had in the process. It's a visual pact with myself as a writer and activist.
far more importantly - from now on making the commitment to deliver myself from the idea there's only one way to get a thing done. Or that there's a BEST way and for some reason I'm the one who knows it. And that if I'm not heard or remotely 'accepted' in that one-way's cadence and tone then I have failed The Cause and myself.
failed to grow, maybe.
but I'm pretty much done with that too.
(tomorrow begins the final third of the challenge. We'll be downshifting the intensity of the prompts' self-exploration curve in order to discover what might want to grow in all the fresh inner space we've made through better understanding who we are creatively and what we're making of and for ourSelves through making art of whatever form.)
When historian and organizing rabble-rouser Howard Zinn died I was both shocked and devastated. Like so many others I felt the loss to be irreplacable. To this day I think of him frequently in the specific context of wishing he was around to explainify the far from fine Mess in which we find ourselves embroiled. Loved this guy as a human being, teacher, and massive inspiration for how to live an actively deliberate life.
My coping instincts had me reaching for my art journal. I quickly devised and then feverishly worked to execute a triptych of spreads. In the first I paid tribute to the man I feel authentically blessed to have known; writing down a wealth of personal memories shaped around washi taped initials and one of his last official portraits very slightly and poignantly embellished on a fast whim (photo credit: Robin Holland).
In the third spread of the triptych I expressed my sense of his legacy as well as the disembodied collective grief I perceived from so many writers and long-time personal friends of mine.
in between these two HZ-oriented spreads I tucked a sprawling uncensored collage-ode to the period of my life when I knew Zinn and first became aware of his activism as well as his writing catalogue.
This cumulative endeavor helped me gain perspective on my young adulthood as well as facilitating a tangible level of grief clarification and resolution.
... and a word narrative about them. The examples in this post, which I teased the other day, come from my Alchemical Rituals art journal. You can read more about that project by clicking on the so-named category in the sidebar. In the month of April our focal expressive technique was collage. I was determined to collage EVERYTHING including the elemental symbols and the month/theme title bars.
Above is the heart of the month's solar spread. For its expressive frame we were asked to create our idealized secret garden and how we'd feel to spend time there. Having just given myself permission to speak freely - I resisted the idea and precisely how it was expressed in the videos but then I did what I'd been doing since the very first video - I actively pushed aside my resistance by diving directly into the part of the lesson that evoked the strongest feeling of no I'm not doing that. And when I look back on it the thing that consistently made this year long endeavor compelling to me was my ongoing and ultimately unwavering commitment to making the class material compelling to myself rather than relying on the instructor to take me to the same level of personalized satisfaction without much effort on my part. I realize that's not an inspirational model for successfully unleashing a lot of specific creative motivations but it's the way I got something inherently challenging and twice as meaningful fully manifested so that the challenge-meaning ratio was more than sufficiently satisfying to me.
Because I chose to Say No to NO itself - I wound up concluding the assignment, just as it was, held its own weight in the fun and self-introspection departments once I got out of my own way. I liked where I was going as soon as that happened but things really got cooking for me once I happened upon a large scale statue fragment that fit perfectly into the blank space within a different fragment of espalier examples. Hades was in the house just like that (I had been worried for almost two months about where I might find a place to "put" him within the journal's over-arching narrative) and shaking the tree even if Persephone - radiant in her full flowering as mythological Queen of the Flowers - is not yet aware. She is simply full of her own ripe agency and its blissful harmony with her array of petal'd subjects. All the same there He is and there are the fateful pomegranate seeds - some falling as tears from his stony eye. I consciously softened the seeds' message by adding a magical protective number of fat pink lotus seeds scattered throughout the spread. Various protective words and symbols are drawn upon their undersides.
Loved the way a clipped luxurious ornament so strongly resembled the outline shape of a pomegranate. And just the faint foreshadowing of marigolds that will proliferate on the Lunar Spread.
For the lunar spread we were asked to depict what happens when we "neglect" to weed our sacred garden. For me that would probably be the idealized condition I set out to foster out in our little field so I went with that along the bottom of the entire spread. The next thing to develop allowed me to address the interest said field attracts. Once people caught on that I/we were up to something deliberate rather than neglectful nearly everyone involved swung from reproving and DISapproving to naked curiosity and more unsolicited shouted-out questions than I was initially comfortable managing.
This was somewhere in the back of my mind but it leapt right into the foreground when I looked at the underside of scraps left over from the enormous ancient looking gate at an Italian vineyard. In the original image the open gates frame the proud vinter's family marching out to invite the townspeople into the property for a yearly ceremonial grape stomping event. The slivers of beaming onlookers wielding all manner of image recording devices served as an accurate model of how I felt as if I'd been under forms of scrutiny so beyond what I was actually experiencing (some of this, too, was an admittedly toxic reaction to my two month Instagram foray) that I couldn't help smiling at the way I was overplaying it. I decided to stop deciding things and simply play, period. The Invasion of the Looky Loos became the official title of my lunar spread depicting unexpected perils of Failure to Weed.
Following this clarification of my expressive intentions I "suddenly" warmed to including an element that had insisted on my attention from the jump I just kept thinking Why?? NO. WHY!! But then once I chose to symbolically deal with my angst to the point of feeling actively ready to make fun of it I didn't think no or why anymore. Especially after I'd I looked up mystical/healing correspondences for both alligators and crocodiles since I wasn't sure which one this was. Then it made complete and total sense, either way.
I posted about this specific representation of Persephone at the gates of the Underworld, ready to return to her role as its queen, in a more general introductory post about this particular art journal.
As we all move closer to a new calendar year I've decided to start broadcasting some creative seeds. Maybe something I share will find fertile ground in a way that compliments your own creative/ceremonial activities. Please note that the featured project for this post was conceived and taught by Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd. Her method for making and filling a pair of wheels to mark ongoing experiences throughout a calendar year served as a free introductory lesson for her year-long Rituals art journaling class. You can learn more about my creative immersion in this project via an introductory post I wrote for my main blog or by clicking on the alchemical rituals category link in the sidebar here. Have recently decided to make a similar pair of wheels for the year 2020. I'm going to use the same size and brand of journal so it will be a literal as well as intentional companion volume to EarthStar Alchemical Rituals.
The teaching video for my 2018 endeavor featured Vanessa creating two 12-spoked wheels with rapid inky brush strokes. My wheel on the left, above, embodies her specific guidance generously layered with my own notions and instincts focused on actively building an energetic year-long plan for myself BOOM all within a single art-date at my work desk. Before that, however, I thought about the project both actively and in a more passive "this is also happening" sort of way for about a week.
note: participants were further encouraged to pick a word for the upcoming year based on individual intuition/introspective wisdom. I'd already been chosen by this word for 2018 a few weeks before I impulsively decided Rituals would be a positive and grounding experience for me. STRONGHOLD. I really liked the way the word held space as a caption below the wheel on the left. Next I created a phrase to caption the wheel on the right so the overall page design looked more balanced. My plan was to collage free-cut branches, leaves and flowers from paper scraps. In my mind's eye I envisioned the barest whisper of wreath-like suggestions encircling each wheel. Something simple, to allow the wheels themselves to do most of the talking.
This was ... fun to begin constructing but I could see if I kept going with a doggedly simple evenly spaced ring of decoration it wasn't going to feel or look nearly quirky/authentically self-expressive enough. Didn't have to think about that at all but simply decided on the spot I'd go for broke in foreshadowing Persephone in Queen of the Flowers mode. Having quite a plentitude of flower/gardening magazines and scads of seed catalogs available for cutting and pasting, I sensed I'd have no problem randomly collaging flower images throughout the year. Given Ritual's over-arching theme of promoting high quality ceremony infused self-relationship I further decided to save these specific mini collage sessions for moments when what I needed most was a 15 minute time-out in which to revitalize and flow my way back to a stabilized center of personal gravity. The few remaining blank spaces will be filled in such a way - when and as
The lunar spread for the month of August was thematically paired with an exploration of what our life's more difficult harvests of the year were/had been teaching us. For me this was one of those BAM instantaneous creative prompts in which everything fell into place quickly and without hesitation on any level.
The catchphrase I selected to Say It All really started to sing when I thought to make collage additions from an experimental watercolor class I took via Wendy Brightbill.
The August solar and lunar spreads in my Alchemical Rituals art journal were two of my most favorites to create. This post focuses on the solar pages. The technique of the month was botanical printing and, first, creating a rust mordant. Never did that before. Given how (to me) unpleasant and skin-crawly the prep process was I'm unlikely to do it again. Never say never, for sure - especially where creativity is concerned - but all the same I'm unlikely to pursue further investigation.
Be all that as it may last week I impulsively sent a couple of the prints I made to Grace thinking she might like to draw on them. She asked about their significance and what I told her was accurate but not nearly as significant as this post and its not-yet-written companion focused on the lunar spread.
The month's thematic focus was Harvest. And that worked really well for my autobiographical experiences of the time. After a few years of non-activity flower essence preparation had reasserted itself as a primary seasonal activity. I was also able to prepare several medicinal tinctures for the first time after patiently building up relationships with the specific plants and trees involved. But the biggest harvest of all was good health. During the month of August I learned I was well enough to stop taking an unpleasant immunosuppressant drug that controls the runaway symptoms of Graves Disease. Trouble is the drug, in the process of doing its job, wreaks a lot of corollary havoc on my ability to feel mentally/emotionally balanced and in a good flow with ongoing physical process. Quite fortunately, unlike many other pharmaceutical detox procedures, this one feels wonderful. And so the crowning personal achievement of the season related to a 'harvest' of returning to myself on all sorts of physically intimate levels. Spent a lot of that month, and ever since, internally yelling in exuberation I'm back, baby!!!
The background of these pages has a few layers of leaf prints from plants that are very prominent emissaries in our little field. The thin green leaves are Evening Primrose. The large metallic leaves are a mixture of Burdock and Comfrey. I also included two gold foil lions to represent the unseen (but strongly felt) big cat energy that's been in the mix since we moved from Boston to mid-state exurbia. My (likely impossible) dream is to somehow locate a large yet affordable stone lion that can be positioned as if it was just emerging from the woods we leave untouched and untraveled by us so that All The Others may have a little corner of private sanctuary. Good thing I'm a bird watcher and not a birder, though. The tantalizing variety of warbler songs from the swampy no-fly zone is an ongoing temptation to get in there and Identify. But of course identifying on a whole other level is much more our speed and so this is how we do.
In the beginning I had no plan of including foil lions or op-art wonky stars or anything else beyond the prints and something simple and more or less not-there for the background. It somewhat horrified me when the archangel figure lurking at the edge of my work table loudly insisted on being included. But then I saw the image could be re-classified. I could give it a gender and an occupation. She could become, just like that, the Mugwort Queen. And the page spread could therefore become a scene from her coronation.
Mugwort is an enormous presence in the field - all springing from the same tiny three stemmed transplant a friend contributed when I first arrived in this Place. Now its original clump has formed a central presence that serves as home to countless ladybugs and also facilitates an exuberant grasshopper nursery. A virtual wall of mugwort, all of which sprang forth in the third summer we were here, fully formed into a privacy hedge along the southern side of the garden which would otherwise be subject to ongoing scrutiny from the road. Pronouncing this plant medicine spirit Queen was a big step in solidifying my sense of what the landscape wished to express as it continued to teach me. This was a powerful enough experience to stop worrying about using the botanical prints "incorrectly" meaning: with more of a mixed media flourish than I'd planned in advance. To that end, when I felt The Queen really needed a scepter, I nipped out to the field to pick a leaf. Once I'd made a scepter print I decided to press the printing leaf, and then include it, for extra embellishment. I mean, why not. My impressions of this planet and what I experience here are always going to have a layer of shine and sparkle.
Another personalized rebellion against my own ideas of how things should or should not "be" in the creative sense relates to the fact that I have an ongoing block about the proper alchemical glyphs for the four classic elements. I nearly always automatically make the air glyph for the element of fire because my brain feels pretty strongly that the same glyph that denotes the sun ought to apply to its primary element. By the time I realized I'd been doing this straight along with this project it seemed a lot more authentic and true to myself to keep going with the mistake rather than going back and correcting it throughout the journal. So that doesn't bother me. It did, however, bother me tremendously that I had to cut parts of a print apart in order to make it sit comfortably in the book while closed. Even after enough time to be used to it, I still felt myself cringe to see the gap when I first loaded the above picture into this post. And, being me, that prompted me to not delete it like I kinda-sorta wanted to, but instead include the image where the gap is most noticeable specifically so I could talk about it.
[p.s. although it's probably always going to be noticeable only to me - I worked at (highly enjoyable) length on shading certain elements of the leaf prints with j. herbin perle noir drawing ink and a yellow pencil just a shade or so less orange than the tumeric tracings I used to amplify the plant alkaloids' natural printing process.]
Next time I post I'll share the lunar spread companion to this coronation scene. It's my favorite spread in the book.
This very much unfinished fabric art journal project's been in the mix for about a dozen years. It lives in a largish tote box full of sewing/fiber arts supplies I keep close to hand for spontaneous stitching sessions. It's a comprehensive cloth and thread based cache I'd feel myself lucky to salvage in a state of emergency. That said, I'm thinking it might be time to drop that ride or die criteria as the underlying structure of what I post here.
I first started this project in the mid-aughts. Back then I had both my former/undamaged brain and a lot more fluidity in my fingers' joints and tendons. In part this means I didn't consider ease of stitching in my cloth choices nearly as much as I'm obliged to consider it now. All the same I'd like to think, if I dedicate myself, I can have this project fully complete by this same time next year. At the moment every single page is in progress. So is my tenuous understanding of how it will ultimately be sewn together. My old brain had a plan. I found mention of that in a fiber arts idea log book but not a word about the plan itself. The inside cover features a yukata sample that was stitched to the back of the third-hand army jacket I wore in the woods for a dozen or more years. This spread offers tribute to the paper bookmaking detail of a gauze/parchment overlay that flips to reveal the book's title page. Eventually every page will house an embroidered word or two. Each detail of pattern, specific cloths and threads, and how they came to be assembled as a final project holds layers of personal meaning for me. This is something I make with my future in mind: at some point maybe I will no longer remember Enough but I might still remember some things I can look at and touch such as this soft and extremely tactile vessel of meaning and memory. Now that I know what it feels like to be missing parts of established mind patterns I also know what it's like to encounter ballast through self-recognition at unlikely moments. Thus I've returned to this project with a sense it holds personal meaning and value that merits showing up to work on it in a regular [timeframe] way.
I made the bold morning glory leaf print years ago at my former home. Wisteria has been a major healing and illumination touchstone/ally for me since early childhood. The page on the right is a very well worn fragment of a homemade pillowcase. The equally worn batik strip running across comes from a comforter that was originally a wedding gift. In the later 90's I recovered it by hand, one handsewn piece at a time. Each page is constructed from personally meaningful cloth that has multiple layers of significance for me. This spread contains another paper-based bookmaking feature. The "page" on the right is actually a tip-in. Its substrate used to be one of my all time favorite gardening shirts. This bit contains the shirt's buttonhole placket to hold the tip-in securely in place. The book's centerfold is already fully complete in my head. Had been saving it for the very last thing to be finished before binding but now am thinking I'll give myself the treat of working on it the next time I pick up a needle. The inside back cover is one part of the book that's close to completion. The back cover is not.
This is an art journal in progress that's usually so close to wherever I am that I'd probably grab it before I grabbed the go bag itself. Simply as a structural object it represents a culminated inner vision of making a special book dedicated to cataloging and exploring personal symbols. I went into the active bookmaking process knowing that I wished to use an assortment of original surface design papers as well as unadorned paper/mailing bags with a texture I felt to be crying out for drawing & painting. Most of these papers pre-existed anything but the basic notion as described above. For 4 or maybe even 5 years they held space in a roughly gathered heap on my paper shelf. I knew what I wanted but I didn't know why. Consequently nothing really came together until I filled in that blank space.
This is a book filled with all manner of symbolic glyphs and images that mean something important to me. I started gathering an inner download file of such things as a young girl and have also collected both objects and information related to this lifelong interest. Thus I created three signatures that have 12-14 folios. It was interesting to set up a design for the page order (and then physically put it together) with more than twice as many folios as I've used in all the other books I've made. But the paper is much thinner. Above is part of a mailing envelope. I wanted the title page to be sturdy specifically because I tend to prefer something lighter and looser and have often regretted it from a construction level straight through to matters of ultimate durability as both substrate and the page that's going to be handled and turned more than any other.
I assigned one of the three classic female stages of life to each signature. Most of the hand decorated papers are 70# printer's bond or 40# drafting vellum. The vellum is spray painted/stencilled with a variety of water-based and walnut inks. Once I had the signatures sewn into place I began working in collage and calligraphy as a way of familiarizing myself with the feel of the physical book.
Both Maiden and Mother substrates are less than stellar papers I made during a day-long and deeply cherished paste paper workshop here in town. The dark green smudges on the page above are my finger-tip prints. I consider the Mother phase of life to be about output and outpouring. Some of us also have children and, through them, we have an Identity that's about as fraught and deep and wide and love-soaked as a thing can be. I find it challenging to parse all that within the confines of sentences made of words. As I add symbolic glyphs and visual representations I work in a deliberative yet relaxed and fairly playful way. I decide what to add based on whatever crosses my path there in the studio. Any time I open the book for this kind of quality alone time I sense myself giving form to invisible smoke signals I've been sending myself all along.
This pastepaper above is not a disappointment to me. It wasn't made at the workshop, either. It was made a few weeks earlier at a studio open house. There, working in the amazing creative space of a woman I knew through the library book club, I created two sheets of paper that came out so well I knew I was hooked enough to create a broader range of self-made art paper. My favorite of the pair is featured above. What's interesting to me is that I 'mistakenly' put this on the third rather than the second page in the signature as I'd done with the other two. I guess because this phase of life is still in progress I felt the need to add an extra gate to open before this leap into brilliant sunset rose over ripe peach orange.
The cover page of the Mother signature is St. Theresa curling her toes in esctasy level of gorgeous - thickly crinkled light pistachio colored Momi paper embedded with tiny mica chips. They sparkle as mothers do and must. The cover paper for the Crone section is equally worthy of delirium for me. It's packing paper of a crisp-snapping nature that's pretty much my idea of the perfect lake beach sand brown. One side is very lightly waxed. The other has just the right icing of texture to catch pencil work nicely.
You can see the spine has a gap between these two signatures. It isn't really noticeable in the book's structure because there are so many pages in each group. But that exposed spine has caused the sads from time to time when I come upon it. I've felt in these moments that something belonged there and I didn't know what it was. Today something arrived and literally fell right into the space pictured above. Sympathetic magic at its finest. I don't know if this is a permanent inclusion or what but for now I'm going to take it as a sign that I know how to keep myself tall and strong within my own truth and its many symbols.
This is how a new (r)evolution of healing is born ...