Sunday, August 31, 2014

Garden Variety

I find it fascinating to look over years of my work and see the path where my various artistic endeavors and choices have led me. Of course, it all started with handmade paper. I was happily making paper by hand for a number of years and enjoying that process fully. Gradually, I started branching in new directions as I mastered various aspects of papermaking. I started to add “inclusions” to my handmade paper to give it texture and interest. “Inclusions” is a fancy word for “all kinds of odds and ends laying around my studio that I can’t throw away.” It began with bits of threads, and old herbs and spices that had lost their punch, then I branched into adding hops (as in the foundation of beer) and patchouli leaves. I once got my hands on a bunch of shredded money discarded from the US Treasury - loved that experiment! I added all these interesting textures, colors and smells to my handmade paper and never tired of how they changed the paper. (And during another branch of experimentation, I add wildflower seeds, which led to my plantable papers.)

Eventually, I found some potpourri that excited me, and in it went into the vat of paper pulp. Those bits of dried flowers pressed into the completed sheets of paper intrigued me enough to start pressing my own flowers and adding them. Somewhere along the way, I had some flowers that were too pretty to crunch up and add to the slurry of pulp so I glued them on top of the paper. Just a few simple experiments and curiousities and I had a new line of cards. They were an instant success. I spent several years exclusively making them, called Garden Variety, and sold thousands of them. Here are examples of them:

I still adore those cards, although I haven’t made them in a long time. But they were a precursor to my Petal People (see posts below). Whenever I find a successful art form, I always wonder if that will be it. Will a new idea ever come again? But there always seems to be something more, quietly sleeping just beneath the surface. I wonder what the next thing will be...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The elusive fly

I don't know why I make art. I don't have a political agenda or important world view that I need to state. I don't do it to because I have a quota that I have to reach on a production line. I don't even do it for the praise I get, although I do love the compliments! I just need to do it. I need to create. As a matter of fact, the very reason that I began selling my artwork was to make money to buy more supplies, and to get some of it cleaned out when it was started to take up too much room in my life. SO I guess I just create for the satisfaction of it. Today was one of those really satisfying days, though I almost feel silly being so excited over something I made. (I feel akin to a proud kindergartener showing her scribblings to her parents!)

Regardless, today I created something that really tickled me. I found a really interesting pressed flower in the stash I got from a stranger (see the post below for more info about that). It looked exactly like a house fly to me. So I created a Petal Person holding a fly swatter, with the fly buzzing behind her where she can't see it, her swatter aloft and ready to attack. I like it because it is a moment in life that everyone can identify with - trying to hunt down an elusive insect - but expressed with all the delicate beauty of pressed flowers and leaves. I hope it makes you smile.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A gift from a stranger

I received an amazing gift from a stranger this week. A woman named Debbie was helping her parents clean out the many years of accumulated items that everyone has piled up in closets and cupboards. During her cleaning, she found phone books full of pressed flowers and leaves. Among the pressed flowers were some of my Petal People cards that her mother had purchased from me. Debbie emailed me to see if I might like "some pressed flowers" since it seemed a shame to throw them away. I happily accepted since it was such a kind offer and she was local. Truthfully, I thought I would do something nice for a stranger by taking them, and I would meet her mother and say thanks for being a customer (turns out she had bought many of my cards over the years). I didn't expect to walk in and see boxes and boxes of pressed flowers and leaves, literally thousands of blooms. Debbie and her sister had carefully removed them from the phone books and sorted them into boxes so that everything was separated into categories. (This picture is only part of the collection of the items they gave me!) I have spent the better part of two rainy days "leafing" through them (pun intended!) and getting inspiration. I am so excited to have new items that I haven't pressed before, like sassafras and gingko leaves, and expand my line of Petal People. What could have been tossed away without a thought will give me many days of creative satisfaction and expression. Thanks Debbie and Rosy! Good karma is headed your way!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

For mature eyes only!

OK, here is one more of my Petal People, a tongue-in-cheek one that I made of a naked stick person, embarrassed to be caught without an outfit of flowers and leaves, and is trying to cover herself up. Her breasts are little Bridal Wreath blossoms and her, ahem, hair is Queen Anne's Lace. Cracks me up!!

'Tis the season

My business of selling handmade paper goes through seasons, and ebbs and flows (as does my mood to make handmade paper!). Right now I am in a quiet season for selling my seeded papers but my other business of selling my framed Petal People is in full swing, which suits me just fine as I welcome the creative break from making paper full time. (I don't sell my original framed Petal People online but you can find them at Valley Artisans Market, an artisans cooperative in upstate New York where I am a member. I make greeting card prints out of some of my selected designs, which can be purchased in my Etsy shop.)

Right now, I am pressing flowers and leaves just as fast as my garden will produce them and opening flower presses from what I pressed earlier in the spring. Here are a few of my latest creations.

I love this girl with her flowing skirt because the entire body, including arms and legs, were made from one single flower:

The body of this figure was made from a potato vine from my flower box. I love how it looks like it has shoulder pads because of the shape of the leaf:

OH NO! My balloon got away!

Can you picture how this girl is walking, arms outstretched and slowly prancing so as to show off her new outfit? I imagine it is made out of feathers and she doesn't want to put her arms down so as not to crush the feathers.

If you would like to know more about pressing flowers and making Petal People for yourself, I have created a new tutorial in my Etsy shop, 8 pages long with plenty of photos, that you can purchase here:

Thanks for looking!