When I retired from my full time Creative Arts Therapy job at the beginning of 2005, I spent that year resting and recharging by playing with my art supplies.
I made small baskets out of daylily leaves from my yard. I spent two weeks during the summer making handmade paper on the patio.
I had been in a workshop learning to make paper some years before, and one of the Recreation Therapists from Palo Alto VA came to Livermore and we made paper with the veterans at the nursing home. That was a lot of messy fun, but when you are facilitating an activity it is not the same as making it yourself.
If you have never made paper, it can be an easy and fun outdoor activity. I shred junk mail and old financial papers to make the base pulp. The shredded paper is placed in a blender – get a used one at a thrift store – add water and blend. Pour the pulp onto a screen with a frame around it to drain off the water. Turn the residue onto a wad of newspaper to dry.
You can add colored paper before blending, and you may get a paper with speckles depending on how much you add to it. Add glitter. Color the whole batch by adding a small amount of liquid poster or acrylic paint in the blender.
The screen is called a mould and deckle, and is usually a rectangle shape. You can see demos of this on the internet. I didn’t want to bother to make a deckle, so I put screen cloth into an embroidery hoop, both of which I had. Of course, this resulted in round sheets of paper.
I also experimented with adding vegetable fibers to the mix. I went to the grocery and bagged up loose onion skins to add to one batch of pulp. After the two weeks of playing, I had a huge stack of paper circles. Then the challenge became what should I do with them? I’m still working on the answer to that.
I made some fragile baskets by stitching several sheets together. The director of the Art League gallery would not accept them, because she was afraid they might get damaged. The item at the left has faded from a lovely turquoise color.
I had some eight-inch brass rings I had acquired somewhere, so I stitched a sheet of my paper to one of them, and added some beads and cutouts from a magazine page that was popular that year. I was quite taken with it, because it reminded me of how I felt as a child and teen.
“Don’t cry” “Don’t play” “Don’t eat” “Don’t stand” “Don’t work” “Don’t kiss” “Don’t live”
We’ve all heard them: Stop crying or I will give you something to cry about. Don’t play with your food. Don’t eat anything before dinner. Don’t stand there, help me with . . . No you can’t get a job, because I don’t want to have to haul you there and back. Don’t you dare kiss anyone, you’ll get pregnant. So, buy the time we are teens, we hear “Don’t live.”
This is the first of five circles I made to represent stages of my life.