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...

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