I named my latest mixed media piece Either Or. For those moments when things seem so black and white, when we feel the world will collapse if we don’t get what our heart desires, when the world either has colour or it hasn’t.
Either Or was built inside an old cigarette box, with the bottom half of it an unfurling cluster of different kinds of blacknesses. Surely that’s one way to describe it. Watch the video to see the piece fully opened, and view more detailed photos below.
Finishing Vastness suddenly must have burst some creative dams – on Friday I finished the first full draft of my poetry book as if everything just tumbled in place. It had been in the making ever since my first book came out two years ago, and these past two years I worked at a snail’s pace until a week or two ago. Of course after this first draft there will be rounds and rounds of revisions and lots of time spent waiting for comments from my editor(s), but it’s still a big accomplishment to reach a massive goal quite unexpectedly.
Working intensely with my text and suddenly being done with it (for a while) left me a bit overwhelmed by all this creative emotion and energy. So, I try to bury myself into mixed media art while it lasts – god knows it won’t last for long… Today I don’t have anything finished to show you, just snippets of things I’m currently working on. The above photo is of a personal magnetism course book I’m planning to chop to pieces – it’s fantastic stuff, really! Straight out manipulation combined with physical exercise instructions at the back of the booklet. You know the type of exercise fit for women: neck rolls and arm raises. But if you do all that hard work, in the end you’ll become a master of men… Actually I have no idea what to do with any of it anymore. There was an idea, but it flew away. Now the book is on my desk waiting for the idea to return. The eye is a test image transfer onto antique linen. It, too, will become something, eventually.
There’s a reason why I share all these not sure what’s going to happen bits with you today. The personal magnetism book raving on and on about how we can control pretty much the whole world with sheer will power reminded me of something I’ve thought all through the process of writing my own book: the control we have over ourselves and, more particularly, over our memories. Ideas come and go, that’s perfectly natural and unremarkable. What’s remarkable how we hold on to some memories no matter how seemingly unimportant, yet we can eventually fail to remember the people who are closest to us. How you forget you are forgetting. How you have forgotten you should even remember. Also, how difficult it can be to forget if you’re trying to do it on purpose – how you forget you should be forgetting instead of remembering.
At first I thought this memory piece was going to be just a one off piece made with silk and mica, but the more I thought about it the wider it began to grow. I guess it’s going to be a series, then.
This is what my desk looks like when I have too many ideas at once. The clay pipe stem project and the cube thing have to wait, but I have yet to find a moment to clear off everything extra. Now it’s all just about pulling out potential materials, putting together prototypes, jotting down ideas and notes, doing a tiny bit of yoga twice a day, and listening to great songs. One would think creating a piece about forgetting would be somehow quiet and gentle – so far it’s been loud and energetic (that’s why I need that twice-a-day yoga). I even have a 17th C. articulate trumpet on my desk… (no, I have no idea what articulate trumpets are, and the illustrations on that book-plate aren’t helping me understand – I just found the idea quite charming!)
Now I’m off to the library before my editor comes to pick off my draft. It’s a beautiful day here, so I’m going to soak in the sun, and get to work with forgetting things. I hope you all have a lovely week!
Vastness suddenly in all its glory. It’s an artists’ book I made for the Pushpin & Poetry publication series in a limited edition of 10 copies. It’s a monocular-like cylindrical object with text inside and out. It can be read by rotating the cylinder or by peering through it. You ask: how is this supposed to be a book? Artists’ books can take many shapes and formats, but if you’re stubborn and demand a book has to have pages in order to be a book, just think of the transparent sheets with words on them as the pages of this book.
As I mentioned in Monday’s blog post this artists’ book is also my entry for the #AreYouBookEnough Instagram bookbinding challenge. The challenge has a changing monthly theme, and this month the theme is ‘peace’. After hearing the theme I instantly knew I wasn’t going to go with the more concrete, opposite-of-war kind of peace, but with the feeling of peace. I don’t remember a time without depression. I’m not exaggerating, I literally don’t remember a time without depression. It’s something that has been a part of my life from a time before I had even heard the word for it, ebbing and flowing as years pass. That being said, I do know peace. Lately there seems to be more and more of it. Life is mostly good. And suddenly: sudden vastness suddenly less vast / water less restless.
I didn’t expect to experience the kind of joy creating Vastness suddenly gave me. I haven’t really known that feeling since making some crazy strangely shaped boxes over 12 years ago while still in school studying bookbinding. There’s just something so special about making a thing with no instructions whatsoever. A part of me truly enjoys all the problem solving and math that goes into engineering an idea into reality. Had I wrapped the cardstock core for the cylinders once more round the mold I used, the finished piece wouldn’t have come out of the container. It would’ve gone in, but getting it out intact would’ve required more dexterity and patience than I can expect from most people. I also could’ve used just clear plastic for the see-through part, but it would’ve been too bright, crisp, and clear. Adding in disks of mica made the experience of peering through the cylinder like looking into water – more deep, more organic, and ever so slightly muddy. All these little details add up, and from out of nowhere appears the perfect balance between artistic creativity and practical product design.
If you want to see some behind the scenes photos of the creative process of this piece, take a look at my previous blog post.