Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Dremel Saves the Day

(Above:  Selfie with a dremel tool and wearing my carbon filtering ventilator mask.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Well over a year ago when I first applied to the Osage Arts Community, I sent a proposal to transform my giant collection of vintage household linens into a soft enclosure called The Cocoon.  I sent the same proposal to the Rensing Center, got the opportunity last summer, and created the installation.  (To view the South Carolina ETV segment covering this project, CLICK HERE.) Then, I got accepted at OAC.  I notified the director that I had already accomplished my proposal.  Thankfully, this didn't matter.  OAC considers an art residency a pure and unrestricted "gift of time".  For these two months, I can do anything ... or nothing ... just relax, think, rejuvenate, dream up new ideas for latter, eat well, and sleep late into the morning. 

 (Above:  The back of my cargo van ... as it was packed for this adventure.)

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I don't "do nothing" very well.  I am trying though!  I'm trying to "slow down", take walks, listen to soothing music, read, write longer stream-of-consciousness journal entries (already a daily practice ... but a relatively short one!), and actually cook pretty meals.  (I don't generally do "food preparation" at home!) I've opted for more hand stitching and less free motion embroidery.  I'm also trying something new.

Because I drive a cargo van, I decided to fill it up with all sorts of things collected in my studio and in other places all over the house.  Most of these boxes are filled with antique books and magazines, decorative paper, handwritten letters dating to the 1920s - 50s, antique scrap books and vintage photo albums.  I love this stuff.  I've always seen "potential" in them, the potential of being transformed into art, the potential for collage, the potential for renewal.  Yet this year marks my sixtieth birthday, a landmark occasion and time to realize that I might never use these precious material ... especially those stored in boxes for years without me even rummaging through them.  It seemed high time to deal with this stash of "potential"; use it or lose it!  This art residency has provided the time to sort through and make decisions about these things.

   (Above:  Four boxes filled with empty cigar boxes.)

Not only did I bring the paper goods, I brought four boxes of empty cigar boxes.  I bought them for less than $40 at Bill Mishoe's auction ... because they had POTENTIAL for collage ... because along with vintage paper, I adore boxes.  It seemed high time to address this idea even though I've never really been much of a collage artist (other than gluing clipped letters in "ransom note" style!)  So I started.

 (Above:  The first thirteen cigar boxes.)

The first few days found me sorting through the boxes, deciding on "what stays", "what is given away", and "what is to be thrown out". I'm happy to report that the cargo van will not be as full on the return trip as it was in getting here.  I gave away "potential" to another artist here.  I respectfully disposed of things I deemed no longer to have "potential".  I am now starting to use the "potential" I kept.  It's been more difficult than I imagined ... trying to figure out how to best approach to the number of sides on these assorted cigar boxes.  It's been hard not to be firmly planted in a larger concept, a solid reason for covering these boxes.  It's been difficult to "just making them pretty" without a good reason why.  Generally, I am driven by a statement not just the desire to engage in a process, a technique.  I'm trying to embrace the exploration, the random selection of materials, the slow pace, and an intuitive way to work. 

Of course, a problem occurred.  The boxes wouldn't close properly when paper and matte medium interferes with the tight fitting lids.  The solution was obvious:  a dremel tool.  Thankfully, Osage Arts Community has one.  I tackled all the boxes I'd started and then sanded away the key areas on all the remaining boxes.  It took almost a full day.  I wore my carbon filtering ventilator mask.  A dust mask would have worked but didn't have one of those!

 (Above:  Detail of the first thirteen collaged boxes.)

A little paint to a few areas without collage and a little wax over the acrylic medium, these will be done.  I'm already feeling much better about how to tackle the other boxes.  I hope some sort of concept comes to me if I just keep moving forward ... something about "containment" but much more likely something about "potential".  If "potential" isn't developed, it is doomed to remain a wasted opportunity.  My entire art residency seems like "potential".  So does the rest of my life.  At sixty, it is likely wise to evaluate the paths I can pursue in the days ahead ... because it is impossible to follow all the potential paths.  Hopefully, time to relax and a slower pace will help me decide what options to choose in my creative future.  As for now ... just the boxes.  Filling them will come later.

In the meantime, the first signs of spring are starting to pop up here in Belle, Missouri!


Els said...

Ahhhhh YES cigar boxes !!! (smoking is VERY BAD but those boxes are great)
Got a lot from a cigar smoking colleague years ago ... and had FUN with them, just like you ;-)
YES here too, Equinox : time for the daffodils !

Meanqueen said...

I know how you feel, I am surrounded by stuff I need to find a use for. ilona

Ann Scott said...

Congratulations on your sixtieth (me too last Oct.) and on receiving this time and place to enjoy yourself! Your boxes are great.