Tuesday, January 11, 2011

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Scrapbook Project

If you know me at all artistically, you know I have a thing for stickers and embellishments. I use them everywhere I can in my art to make cards, bookmarks, and framed pictures. I love to wander aimlessly through the scrapbook section of the art store, too. I love the butterflies and birds, the flowers and the trees. Ladybugs marching across a page make me very happy. I’ve written copiously on the artistic freedom and immediate gratification I feel using embellishments in my collage work, and I appreciate the difference between the commitment to a large pen and ink piece and this. Still, I haven’t done an actual scrapbook since my daughter was two, and that was over 10 years ago.

Recently, a friend of mine returned from a road scholar’s hiking trip in Death Valley with some wonderful photographs and loads of enthusiasm. This is a woman who finds her balance and serenity in nature and seems to have limitless energy for the pursuit of such endeavors. Her birthday was shortly thereafter, and I wanted to give her something she’d appreciate, something that looks and feels natural and reflects her adventurous spirit. What better gift than a commemorative scrapbook!

I started with the right paper, and the inside pages were handmade from India and oversized at a perfect 9 by 13 inches. I loved the feel of it in my hands. The rough edges appealed to me enormously, even as an allegory for life. After all, there is nothing smooth about living. I used my friend’s photos, both large and small, and standard photo corners to give it an authentic look. I decorated pages with all sorts of flower and butterfly stickers, and other elements of nature, but each page seemed to ask for more. So, using a silver ink pen, I drew swirls, stars, hearts, and dots, at times surrounding quotations about nature by people like John Muir, more on some pages than others, but always embedding friendship and love into each word and symbol with the movement of my pen. This pulled it all together.

Now, how would I bind this piece of art without damaging the beautifully uneven pages? I didn’t want the binding to restrict page turning and I didn’t want to use a boring coil or GBC comb. I found a set of rods in the bookmaking section of my favorite art store, and they required only two holes in each sheet. The result was terrific! I covered the scrapbook’s front and back using another beautiful handmade paper, and then at the last moment added flower appliqués and faux-crystal butterflies. The appliqués were very appropriate because my friend loves to sew.
I have to admit that wrapping the scrapbook was as much fun as making it. Gift wrapping is a passion, and I try to make each package an adventure without taking away from the gift itself. I’m convinced I was a Macy’s gift wrapper in a former life. Continuing the natural theme, I used a box that was covered with lavender flowers (the color of friendship), and friendship affirmations, and I topped it with bright green ribbons. When it was done, the package felt like a flower.

Gift-giving is a wonderful thing. When a gift is thought out and made with our own hands it carries so much more meaning than something store bought. When our gift of creativity inspires the recipient to creative endeavors, a circle of inspiration is formed. Your intent has come full circle and a sort of circuit is created. To me, that is an amazing thing occurring spontaneously between two people.

This specific project was a lot of fun, but more, it provided me with a focus when I needed one outside of other demanding issues in my life. My friend was absolutely thrilled with her gift, but I received a gift in the making of it, too.

How could I ask for more?

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