Sometimes I just don’t get the time to spend on making art, It is a fact of my life that there are times when other things take priority. For the past two weeks this has been the case but that does not mean that art isn’t on my mind almost all the time, or that I am not receptive to creativity and inspiration. Quite the opposite infact.
Ideas and thoughts will pop up whilst I’m washing up or doing the school run. Sometimes they are quiet little thoughts but more often they are noisy and hyperactive – shouting and waving at me for attention. I might see a post on Facebook about an intriguing artist or topic of emotive inspiration that calls to be addressed via visual expression. But the baby needs feeding, the house is a tip and one of the cats has decided that actually they didn’t really want to be outside after all and is scrabbling away at the door- for the third time in half an hour. I must put my thoughts and ideas away until I have the time and energy to give them.
When I am unable to create, I am still collecting tea bags and flower petals for a future batch of paper and storing beetroot vinegar in a jar because I’ve not finished drawing with it yet. I must be a nightmare to live with because surfaces and drawers are covered and filled with things that might be useful. One day. My son tells me that I am a nightmare to live with, but only sometimes.
I would like to invite you – not just ‘creative’ people but anyone who can draw a comparison, to share in the comments bellow your experiences of being unable to spend time doing something you feel passionate about. How do you cope with this? Do you make it a priority to fit it in to your life or are you able to give up – temporarily or indefinitely, without too much bother when needs must? Do please tell.
My attempts at paper-making in the past have involved thick clumpy bits of shredded paper that have taken what has seemed like forever to dry. The sunshine this weekend however was perfect for drying this little lot of paper.
I have a long way to go before I am happy with the paper I produce but I am getting there and having fun along the way. I have been interested in the craft of paper making for a long time partly because it fits in with my ideals in art – to use recycled materials where I can but also as I see it as an exciting challenge. The way I make paper at the moment means I end up with a fragile medium which drastically effects what can be used on it. I have found with some of the batches I have made that ink tends to bleed into the material and that drawing with any ‘weight’ just breaks up the paper.
This lot of paper was only made from a couple of handfuls of torn up envelopes and the contents of some party poppers – the source of the paper has helped me decide what I might do with these pieces but that has yet to be completed and is for another blog post at a later date. (Keep following!) I left the paper in a sealed container for a couple of days before getting the old mold and deckle out and am happy with the result. It reminds me of crazy paving.
I have had a couple of questions put to me about my paper making the first of which was from a lecturer whilst I was at University. The question was some thing along the lines of this…
Why don’t you try using a blender to make a more efficient pulp – it would probably mean a finer (and less ugly) result?
My answer to this is that I don’t want to! You can get really lovely delicate papers and this partly depends on the material that has gone into making the paper. I believe that blending or essentially cutting the paper material into finer pieces can also have a more satisfying result. If that is what you want. Of course I don’t make things that easy for myself though. With a philosophy of trying to consume less and recycle whilst making work I don’t want to use the electric to power a blender either . At the moment this often means I finish with a chunky paper but I’m working on different methods and materials to create various results. Any suggestions would be most welcome!
The other more recent question I had was from my partner who was getting a bit fed up with having to move a container of paper pulp out of the way to get to things in the kitchen. Yes, I am a messy human being. His question was this…
But aren’t you just using paper to make more paper?
And yes I am. Sometimes. Often, when I first started paper making I used paper from my shredder. I only shred documents with personal details on, as again, I don’t like to use electric unless I have to. I had been told by someone – I can’t remember who and correct me if I’m wrong but apparently we are not supposed to put shredded paper into our recycling bins. Well, of course this annoys me – I want there to be away of recycling everything and for us not to be the most wasteful creatures on the planet. I live in hope, and in the meantime create my own waste. I digress. I might be just using paper to make paper but the fact is – it is recycled paper that might otherwise be thrown away. The envelopes I used for this paper had my name and address on them so would have likely ended up in the shredder if I hadn’t torn them by hand to make a pulp. There is also the prospect of using various other materials – I have used tea bags to make paper before and want to try this again at some point. I have also used a torn up old table cloth. With my new focus being on plant pigments and the possibility of combining this with paper making I could use all sorts of natural ingredients including grass, petals, seeds and other organic matter to make material. I know that denim paper, banana paper and elephant dung paper already exist so this seemingly basic craft can be experimented with and the possibilities are endless.
Okay so, the title for this post is a little hyperbolic . It is complete exaggeration in fact. I am not a pyromaniac – but I did use fire to make this work and I may have just got your attention.
I’ve dated this piece so you can see when I found out the news. I had been for an interview that involved facing some old demons the day before. When I found out that I was unsuccessful I felt a mixture of relief but also frustration, sadness and inadequacy. Within the hour I made this little snippet of work. It is not supposed to be overly negative but was slightly cathartic in it’s making. I was confronting the basic fact and in my mind as I made the piece, the next question was ‘So what now?’
In an age where it is so easy to share these aspects of of our lives in a public domain – often in the form of social media, I was aware that I could have written much more. This could have been my Facebook status where I probably would have elaborated and got a response . Instead, I have just written a simple fact and shared it here. I have always been intrigued by art that leaves the viewer asking questions and believe this can be a good way to promote discussion and change. This is a personal piece made public.
Where do the plants come in to this piece?
This was another spontaneous work. I have been in two minds whether or not to post it on my blog because it doesn’t quite seem to fit in with my other work and themes. I decided, however that variety can be refreshing and I have used recycled materials- in this case an old piece of table cloth.I have used pigment from some peonies and hand made charcoal from some twigs and a candle flame. Therefore there are some of my initial aims that are realized in this experiment.
A couple of weeks ago I met some friends for lunch and we sat in the shade of a cherry tree by the ferry. (I don’t think it was actually a cherry blossom tree but that seemed to come naturally as I wrote.) When it was time to go I stood up and laughed at the cherry stains all over my leg, then it dawned on me that this was calling to be tried out as another pigment.
I was able to get some strong purple tones by squeezing the juice straight on to paper and managed to get enough colour to write a short sentence from a very small handful of cherries.
I mixed some of the left over cherries with some boiling water and had a try at some different mark making using grass as a paintbrush. Initially I was able to get a lovely rich purple hue from the cherries and water. After being left in a jar over night however, it seemed the colour was starting to brown.