Early in the summer, I thought I was ready to have some daily studio time. I had completed some unfinished projects, and weeded my book cases. I decided to play a bit, and see what I could do with three materials I have in abundance.
During the winter, the neighbor’s palm trees are constantly dropping in my yard, what I call “bark-cloth”, and I can’t resist picking it up. I have boxes of this dark brown material that is thin, light weight, and flexible like cloth, but is also tough. It has openings, strings, and ripples in pieces large and small.
In 2005, when I was newly retired from my full-time position at the VA, I spent a week or so making handmade paper on my patio. I used junk mail as my base and added onion skins, asparagus, and other similar ingredients to the pulp. I used old embroidery hoops with screen cloth to drain the pulp. Thirteen years later, I still have most of these circular paper sheets.
My father, a ham radio operator, started building radios, televisions, and other rigs before there were transistors. When I moved my parents to California in 1996, he could no longer do this work, but had a large selection of copper wire which I added to my growing stash of art materials.
So I set out a small supply of these three on my work table.
My first action was to tear one of the paper circles in half, and slice one half into strips with my paper cutter. I plaited them together diagonally with some strips of painted paper I had left over from a basketry project. I tied a small, unruly piece of bark-cloth to the plaiting with some wire. Now what? It sat on my table for a few days before I mounted it to a small, five-inch canvass with a mottled, neutral color.
That left me with a half circle of handmade paper, to which I secured a larger piece of bark-cloth with some wire. This sat on my table for several months until the week before my San Diego trip. This had now become another unfinished project.
A few weeks ago at my local art meeting we tried making cut-outs in paintings we had made earlier in the year. I used a small mixed media sample from earlier experiments. This was also now sitting on the work table. I decided to merge these two items and mount them on black cardboard.
I added a piece of aluminum foil with a wheelchair tire imprint which I found in the garage, and a leaf I had picked up last fall.
It’s not great art, but at least I’m doing something, which hopefully will continue. More on this playing with materials next week.