Monday, January 17, 2005

Shall We Blather at the Riiiiiver . . .

Ahem. Sorry about that. I'll have to plead blood sugar imbalances from this weekend.

We just celebrated Adverb, with the traditional Adverb feast and opening of presents . . . lots and lots of presents. So today tastes like chocolate and hot sauce, chiles, and ginger. Very much excitement, and luxurious. Yum.

On one of the lists I'm on, someone asked after paper arts, and I've been promising to drop some info on that here. I've also been promising to be longer. Isn't it nice when you can keep multiple promises all in one blogpost?

So, without further adieu, here's the paper arts post--and then some!!

I don’t make paper as in “get hold of pulp and dry it” papermaking—that’s a bit too labor intensive for my tastes. I find I enjoy decorating existing paper using various methods, then binding the sheets into notebooks.

See, it all started when I’d collected about 20 Post-Its of various sizes with cool ideas that I just couldn’t get to right that minute (I was at work, and the muse was busy tapping me on the shoulder that day). When I went to lunch, I took one look at the rattlesnakes’ nest of ink and paper, and knew that they would inevitably get into the life cycle of a Post-It—beginning in their sessile form as pads, then separated and stuck to an object, then drifting away to end up in the garbage can where they find a mate and create new pads. Unfortunately, nowhere in that cycle is there a spot for “Human looks at the Post-It and retrieves the information she noted on it.”

I started carrying a notepad with me, and that helped some, but I always ended up ripping out the pages and then they sort of drifted off into the nowhere. Ditto spiral notebooks, ‘cause they’re just big enough to make it hard to find the bit you want. Plus, they’re so impersonal. One notebook is just like the next unless you do stuff to it. I wanted something that was cool and me from the git-go; as a cat might say, something that smelled like me.

I also started traveling and keeping a traveling journal about this time. While looking through a book on travel wardrobes (my preferred suitcase is a backpack) I found a project involving a stab-bound book with a crazy quilt cover used as a travel journal. Zing!!!! Stab-bound books looked much much easier than anything I’d seen regarding bookbinding (no frames, tapes, minimal sewing, blah blah blah.)
But I didn’t wannado a crazy quilt cover. So I hunted up stab-bound books, which led me to Japanese bound books, and the comment that the Japanese used paper that had been folded to double thickness so the ink wouldn’t soak through the fine rice paper . . .

Hmmm, sez I. I work in an office where we dump craptons of paper with one perfectly good side. If I glued the pages together somewise, I could have a book of notepapers (I was already recycling by cutting pages in half every so often and using the half-sheets for grocery lists).

So I found out about paste . . . and that led to paste papers, and the wonderful effects you can get there. (Curse you, Internet! Curse you in all your linky goodness!) Many of the patterns are combed paste (too fiddly for me) but I found out about pulled paste, and that’s a lot of abstract fun. -- Paste is easy. You make library paste on the stove, color it with acrylic paint, then brush it on and pattern the paste. Places where the colored paste is thick come up darker than where the paste is thin. So you can comb patterns through the paste with various implements, you can use it like fingerpaints, or you can do pulled paste, where you brush it onto a flat surface (such as another piece of paper, or a cookie sheet, or a sheet of plexiglass) and then press another sheet of paper down, then pull the two apart. This forms a feathery design.-- Paste is one of those techniques I think I’ll have fun exploring for some time.

And then I began exploring other ways to decorate paper. I wanted abstract shapes with movement and color, not recognizable figures. I’m going to be writing on this, after all. I found bubbling, which is really cool in metallic paints—really, you just combine water, liquid dish soap, and color in a shallowish dish, then using a straw, you blow bubbles (remember being a kid and doing this in your milk, until you were forcibly stopped?) Catch the bubbles on paper, and they make fun random designs.

Then there's salt painting, where you lay down a wash and then sprinkle salt for the little stars; batik where you brush or stamp white on white, then wash over that, and plastic wrap where you lay down a wash, cover it with Saran Wrap and manipulate the color into forms. Also big fun. I'm looking forward to summer when I can get these things to dry in a reasonable length of time instead of 48 hours.

The other weekend, I checked out a boatload of books on watercolor . . . if you don’t hear from me for a while, send someone over to check the garage. One of the books talked about creating underpaintings, with drippy bits and runnels where the paints mixed themselves on the page for goodies you couldn't get with a brush. OmiGhod, those were some pretty photos in the book, even without a painting on top of the underpainting. Layer on layer of color and motion. Yum.

So I figured out that I could just do the underpainting and leave it be for to write upon--not that THAT took a whole lot of thought. When I started with the Saran and salt, I had picked up a sheet of styrofoam so as to have a big flat surface to fasten the paper to so it could be stretched and dried flat. Well . . . this works well with watercolor as well. When I had to leave and get cleaned up I had laid in some batik work and overpainted with watercolor . . . this looks really promising.

Pictures later, if there's anything worth showing.

1 comment:

Terry L. Tyson said...

Spike,
Get yourself to Penland School in North Carolina. Your interests in fiber, paper and book arts will be served beyond your imagination by this place. I try to go each summer for at least a week, sometimes two weeks and consider it essential to my well being. The one year I missed going I began to search for a clock tower and sales on high-powered rifles outfitted with scopes. An alternative art workshop served as an adequate intervention, but I did pine for the mountains of North Carolina, regardless.

Check it out: www.penland.org

Summer session sign-ups are happening real soon.

Cheers.