Category Archives: Collage

Losing things and finding them

Are you a person who loses things a lot of the time or just now and then? A recent New Yorker article by Kathryn Schulz takes a beautiful wander through the topic. Subtitled, Reflections on Two Seasons of Loss, Schulz examines not just the business of losing things, but also what it means to lose our minds and loved ones.

Things go missing so much in this house that I have categories for lost objects, not unlike the childhood game of calling out ‘warm’, ‘cold’ or ‘HOT HOT HOT’. I usually can tell that I’m going to retrieve a lost object before I find it and often sense its general vicinity. Lest you think that gives me some sort of advantage, know this: even a ‘hot’ lost item with a felt sense of place can take DAYS to find.

In my early twenties, my checkbook went missing so often that the bank tellers on North Street rolled their eyes to see me coming. I’ve gotten somewhat better. Medication helps.

In spite of my incapacity, family members are right to ask me where things are, since in addition to being an over-the-top loser of things, I’m a good finder. Is that uncommon? My mother used to call me “old eagle eyes” and ask me to round up her scissors.

When the “where’s my” question is posed to me, it feels like more of an imposition that it might otherwise, because I’m kinetic. Being kinetic means I have to take notes to remember anything and that to find a lost object, I have to move my body. When both boys were home over Christmas, I really enjoyed cooking for them and felt neutral about loaning the car and picking up. But the “where’s my?” routine was annoying.

“Where’s my jacket?” “Where’d I leave the fob?” “Did you move my paycheck?”

I was asked to find things I hadn’t used, touched or seen. Being winter, I’d have to unearth myself from a blanket, heating pad and lap top (that’s two cords and a lot of fabric). My joints hurt sometimes. I’d groan. Then I’d wander around the house, maybe finding their lost thing, maybe not.

Objects can move from one category of lost to another. ‘Fucking vanished’ is a category, but believe it or not, a mutable one. Some things that I could swear after a vigorous, multi-day hunt have been taken by leprechauns do in fact show up. (‘taken by leprechauns’ is a whimsical name for ‘fucking vanished’). It is especially hard when something that feels retrievable shifts into the ‘permanently gone’ category.

Frequently losing things teaches you about attachment, sharpens intuition, and inspires resourcefulness in coming up with substitutes. Humility is involved. But those are topics for another time.

Let’s instead descend into my studio, which is really messy (also a topic for another time). Yesterday when I went downstairs to find some xerox color copies I’d gone to some trouble to make a few months back, I wasn’t sure how readily I would find them. That they were pretty much right where I’d thought they’d be felt like a gift.

There are about forty-five collages ready to be mounted to card stock. Then, at last, they will be SoulCollage cards.

Because I hate to measure and really suck at it, it took a good long while to mount just five of the collages. At five a day, I’ll need eight days to get through the pile. But guess what? After an especially demoralizing day of writing, the task actually satisfied. I took my time. I enjoyed working toward a goal with manageable and discrete steps — so unlike finishing a novel (am I finishing? is it a novel?)


Off to walk Finny, then back to my laptop (wish me a more productive day!)

  • (thank you for posting on FB Michelle ! Even though we get The New Yorker, I might have missed it)

Midnight collage

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Last week on a night when I couldn’t sleep, I padded down to the cool refuge of my basement studio and assembled two rows of collage. I can’t say that making the collages meaningfully improved my mood, which seems to be tanking with abysmal frequency these days, but the intense focus did provide momentary relief. Minutes slid into hours. Collage has always had that kind of power for me.

The images can be read left to right, like a story. They overlapped as I laid them out, but obviously to photograph, I had to make selections about where to end one image and begin the next. When the collages get converted to SoulCollage cards, the edges will become permanent. A color xerox machine will be involved.

Feel free to offer your sense of what the story is about. I’d be curious.
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Some of the collages have changed since these pictures — tidied up or supplemented.

This is not a story, but here are some fairly random notes prompted by the pictures:

What do I chose to reveal and how and to whom? Where are my sources of strength? What haunts me and what haunts the ones I love? Where is succor? Love matters. Where do I run when things turn backwards? Will she jump? Is that your mask or mine? Can the old terrors keep getting at me? What will I trade for peace? She reclines in front of a young man in possession of himself. They are so far away! What does their future hold? Will they ever connect? Why is my bowl so frequently empty? Who is he? Who is she? Will the angel really bring pink roses in the final hour? What about now?

 

Collages paired with Camera Shots

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“Corruption”

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“Heart Center”

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“Intelligence”

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“Ways to Fall”

I wondered if there were four recent pictures on my phone that could stand in for the same titles. These are the four I picked.

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“Corruption”

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“Heart Center” (this crow is for Wendy’s children)

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Intelligence

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Ways to Fall — 1702 Quaker Cemetery, Salem, MA

Impulse

"lost objects" ?!!

“lost objects” ?!!

Just signed up for:  THE 2014 SKETCHBOOK PROJECT. You can sign up too until midnight tonight. This wasn’t really a planned action. But there you have it.

The last time I participated, I really loved it. Including the part about having a deadline.  Posted about making it: here. A flickr set with some pages archived: here.  The last theme I chose was “Jackets, Blankets and Sheets”.  Working around a theme can be as productive as having a deadline.

‘Course the second time I signed up I did not do anything. Even with a deadline. Even with a theme. Does that cancel out what I said above?!

Here are the 2014 THEMES:

Strange Neighbors / Borders and lines / A simple place / Accidents / Found! / Dudes and latitudes / To the last page! / First aid kit / Say words out loud / Paper airplanes / This list… / Atlas of… / Greetings from… / 32 Days / This is not about you / This is not about me / Undecided

Hmmm… so many intriguing ones.  I like “This is not about me” and “First aid kit”… although, yesterday in writing class a prompt about finding a lost object was weirdly productive, so maybe “Found!” would be good.

I will have to START to find out the direction.

poppy comin’ along

poppy comin' along by dee at clothcompany

This is hanging off the tablecloth in the dining room. A new way to view.

But the real experiment here is ‘sharing’. Keeping it simple… can I find a better way?!!

Shared this photo directly from PSE11 gallery into flickr and now blogging directly from flickr….

Normally, would open PSE organizer, edit, (mostly to re-size) and then save compressed image to a folder (that I now have to triple click and scroll to get to (thank you update!)), THEN go to wordpress and upload image twice (thank you update there, too!! because wordpress recently added an additional step to insert image).

So, does this work?!! Even with a quick edit from wordpress, this is a boatload easier!

Something lightens

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“River House”

This house was built in preparation for the class I’m teaching this Saturday at the Boston Center for the Arts.*  While probably not apparent to a viewer, this quilt pulls together many elements of recent learning.

How so? For one, it’s lighter than I usually work (exploring white online with Jude Hill).  It has a less defined horizon line. The house sinks into its surroundings better and displays a little perspective (the two barn pieces taught much!!! here and here).  And, the attachment techniques are more refined (and yes, that is the same green plaid I used to roof the two big Barns).

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component building

Off-top building” —

By that I mean connecting small elements with stitch prior to trying to connect them with the background (the “top”).  In this case, I HAD to stitch these teeny house elements together, because I couldn’t keep lifting and shifting the background fabrics without going nuts if I hadn’t. Once stitched, I could easily lift the entire component and rearrange the background fabrics.

Note to self: when constructing a component, use pieces of fabric that are already part of the background!

Reducing the number of pins required for when the piece is in your lap is always a good thing. And, this component-building has the additional virtue of reducing stress about shifting windows and doors, some of which are smaller than a standard-sized postage stamp.

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‘sky’ fabrics dyed in backyard last summer using chemical indigo (I know! I know! – haven’t gotten to the plants, yet)

Again, because of the work with white over at Spirit Cloth, I laid some gauze over rectangles on the surface. They are staying. For a while, I shifted the house lower down (photo above) and exposed a piece of the underlying linen napkin (just above the roof). I liked wondering what it might be like to leave an unadorned white section, there, right in the center of the quilt. What matters? The house? Or the empty space above?

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‘shadow’ of house is an overlay of polyester from a shirt

It is not something I have committed to yet. In the photo above, I have shifted the house back to center, covering not only the white linen, but that mauve rectangle (another goodie from Sandy Meegan, by the way!!).  I like knowing that that empty rectangle is still there, even if I’ve covered it.

Of course, the entire underlying linen napkin is THERE.

The pale blue water fabric came from a fabulous skirt depicting scenes of a European city on a river. I normally eschew ‘cheater’ fabrics (the name says everything, doesn’t it?), but here I am happy to employ.

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Back in 1980, I lived in SF and worked in a copy shop.  The best part of the job was access to a color copier, which was BRAND NEW technology then!  The house image came from a photo of a duplex I occupied during the last two years of college.

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isabella-street-greenAnd here’s a more recent picture (photoshopped church from Newtonville):

newtonville-churchLastly, a collaged card using a cut out photo of a quilt and an Inkydinkydoo moon stamp:

moon-and-katy-poster-edgeAdios!

* Class is at Boston Center for the ArtsSat. June 1, 10:00 to 1:00
Free! (but contact the Center, it might be full).
617-426-5000