15 @ 40 // day eight
Of all the creating I’ve been doing lately (mostly as part of my Fifteen At Forty project; it appears to have taken over my entire brain), my favourite pieces, the ones that inspire and motivate me the most are the multi-modal pieces that pull in different aspects of my creative history. From traditional mixed media, to over engineered digital art, to stitched paintings, and works where the photo of the pieces works just as well as the finished swatch for that day’s entry, I’m finding each day I’m being pushed to explore beyond the original list I had, noting “yarn” or “clay” or “printmaking”. It’s bringing a sense of play and reinvigoration to my creative practice that I’ve let fall away the last few years, and I’m loving it.
I also love the little stroll down memory lane, into my blog archives I find my blog posts are driving. A project will start as something, morph into something else, and even once it’s done, photographed, and being blogged, I’ll be reminded of something different yet again. Each post takes me twice as long to write as I find myself revisiting 2012 me, or 2009 me, or 2019 me. It’s been fun.
Sometimes, one project will inspire another, in unexpected ways. When I was doodling ideas for my Lino print projects, I had picked a snapdragon for an idea for a different project (which didn’t end up working out), and it was laying on the table beside me. I picked it up and sketched it, wondering what it would be like as a Lino print. I carved it, and it looked quite cute, but I could not for the life of me get to print nicely. It promptly got filed in the printmaking box, waiting for a time I could spread out and pull out guides for inking and larger pressing equipment than my simple 1.5″ baren that I was trying to not run too far off the edge for fear of creating creases in the paper.
As I moved on and carved the more versatile, semi-tessellating designs that ended up forming the final piece, I kept coming back to that sweet little flower sketch. It was too cute to just crumple up and throw into the fire starting pile, even if it was just on a bit of scratch paper with half of last years budget printed on it. Around this point, my mojo starting whispering the idea of a long dormant craft.
Back in 2015, I participated in an instagram swap called #thecreativeexchange. Sadly, I have no photos of what I made, as I was rushing to the end, and the person I was making for has switched her insta to private so the embed no longer works. What I received, however, was an amazing parcel of goodies that I couldn’t wait to dive into.
I loved the calm simplicity of paper cut art, and spent some time practising and refining my skills, even making a fun little sign for the butlers pantry in our old house. But like anything else I was pottering around with in 2015, it got put away in favour of the next flavour of the month.
I still follow Laura on instagram, and remain thankful we crossed paths in this swap, as her photos and works are a continual source of inspiration. Something new she’s working on will pop up, and I’ll think to myself “I really should get that out again”. When this little flower sketch needed to, if you’ll pardon the pun, bloom, I recalled that sweet package she sent me, and thought it might actually make the perfect base for a paper cut project as part of 15@40.
Originally, it was planned to exist on its own, mounted and photographed in a frame, maybe some shadow play, but mostly itself. Then I found myself scrolling instagram, and came across a reel of handmade seed paper, and the remainder of the project fell into place. A quick trip to Bunnings, a dive in the container for the children’s deckle & mold, and the swift rescue of some brown paper from the fire pile, and I had the makings of stage two.
I’d forgotten, until I was diving my hands into cold pulpy water, how much I love paper making. As a child, our annual craft stash boost at Christmas included a paper making kit, and we made page after page after page of brightly coloured paper from catalogues. It’s a process that was clearly formative – in “The Time Travellers Wife”, a favourite comfort read I have revisited so many times the spine is broken and the pages are falling out, one of my favourite scenes is Claire making paper. Even if someone else makes it, I love working with handmade paper as part of a bigger project. It seems serendipitous that I was coming back to a childhood favourite, mixing in a newer craft, with a twist of something, or in fact, someone, else.
I’m not really a gardener. I enjoy the picking of the bounty, I enjoy the taste of the harvest, so much richer than store bought, but the actual process? I’m rather meh on that. Too much dirt, too little craft and cups of tea. Mr Barefoot is the gardener of the family, and it’s his happy place. When he plants out a new season’s garden, he is always sure to reserve the first row, and instead of practical fruits and veggies, he plants it full of flowers. He’s not a flower person, but he knows I love cut flowers in the house, and so there is a rotating roster of my favourites available for as long as he can push the flower seasons. To have a little homegrown snapdragon immortalised in a cut, and future snapdragons waiting patiently in seed paper to one day grace my table, it was a fun little nod to the overlap in how he uses the garden, and how I do.
Today’s post is part of my “FIFTEEN AT FORTY” project, a fifteen day, fifteen project, celebration of creative exploration, to mark my fortieth year and my blog fifteenth. The journey so far has been amazing. The creation of the pieces I plan to share with you over the next fifteen days has been a revelation. I am brimming with inspiration and motivation for what is still to come.