Creativity Compulsion

Isn’t creativity a weird thing?  Sometimes it’s borne out of necessity: “I must find a way to feed the cats where the dog won’t eat their food.”  Sometimes its out of a desire to beautify: “Those pet food bags are ugly, but necessary to the survival of these fuzzbutts I love.”  (Can you tell what I’ve been working on?)  But sometimes with me, its subtly suggested– by the universe, the forces that be, God, whatever it is– over and over, that I must do some something until I have done it.  Does this happen with any of you?  It’s inspiration, yeah, but sort of a pushy inspiration.

Conversing Kids

Conversing Kids

My Supplies With Damaged Page

My Supplies With Damaged Page

Take, for example, this project.  There are no gaping holes in my wall displays that have called for specific art.  I don’t need to practice my decoupaging, and I didn’t wake up one day and think, “Today I will find an old, injured, print I find beautiful and try to make it useable again.”

In fact, when I first spotted this image of four children conversing under one umbrella, I felt loss.  Almost shame.  I literally tucked it back where I had found it, and tried to forget what I had done….

Explainey time– When my son was a toddler, we moved him from the tiny, isolated nook/ nursery attached to our master to a proper bedroom, and in doing so I changed over his decor thematically from a woodland crittery thing to vintage circus.  When I began, I announced these changes to my chums on flickr, and as I was working on it, I started to receive some cute contributions to his space from like-minded friends around the country.  Included in these adorbs additions was a couple of framed pieces from my friend “Rosy”/Kaycee– which got immediately hung on his wall and enjoyed up until the moment that his room changed to a retro space theme.  I don’t know where Kaycee had acquired these pieces, but as she is one of the thrift-smartest gals I know, I think the approved assumption was that she’d gotten them on one of her hunts.

**They are tagged with notes in the photo to show you the two she sent, but the one I’m referring to specifically in the rest of this post is the juggling clown on the left– www.flickr.com/photos/amberwalker/3636869114/in/set-72157601338104907/

Obviously, as his room is still spacey, we no longer have need for cute prints of juggling clowns, so it had made its way to the ‘good frames’ stack, where it was to be repurposed into another home decor project.  And– ah-ha!  It’s moment had come, and I had taken the frame apart with the intention of painting it grey (done, it looks great), cleaning the glass, and replacing the artwork with something fresher.  The clown print had been taped to the card backing with a couple of loops of masking tape, and I– not realizing that it was actually a page trimmed from a vintage book– coarsely pried off of that cardboard without a second thought about it.  It wasn’t until I flipped it over while pulling off the tape loops that I had that tragic sinking feeling in the pit of my belly.  There was beauty on the backside, and I had killed it.  I mean, it wasn’t ripped or anything, but in the middle of the big, black umbrella I had left a big, nasty white mark.  I’d also completely removed one kid’s feet.  In my moment of frustration, I slipped it back into the frame and put it aside.

A few real-rainy days pass, and I wake one morning from a dream involving young love, and sharing an umbrella.  It felt like a movie, as I was not one of the characters sharing said umbrella.  Odd, but sort of magical, in an everyday romantic sort of way.  At the time, I chalk it up to hearing the sound of the storm in my sleep….

Later that same day, I am bouncing around Pinterest, as I am wont to do when I have a spare moment or two.  My friends have pinned an amazing assortment of beauty that afternoon, and I am nabbing one useful pin after another.  About halfway down my mainpage, I stumble upon this–
pinterest.com/pin/29906784998613590/
It literally gave me shivers.  I had gone from having no inkling that the print was even there, in the frame, in my home; to discovering it and having no information about it whatsoever, and no real knowledge as to its origin; to having all the information in front of me all at once.  The page, I found, is from a book called A Kiss Is Round, copyright 1954, illustrated by Vladimir Bobri.  (Some googling has shown me that I *need* this book for our collection!  There is an illo of a city block in there that I NEED in my life!)

My Board Thingies

My Board Thingies

I couldn’t deny it anymore, I was supposed to help that forlorn little page.  I was to figure out a way to display it again, and because it was damaged, I was no longer held to any *traditional* rules about how I was to best honor it.  As far as I was concerned, that clown backside was art that was determined to be in my life, and I could do anything I desired to make that an attractive reality.

I went straight to it and retrieved it, pulling it from the frame and placing it somewhere (above my sewing machine) where it could be safe but looked at and pondered for a few days.  Shortly afterward I began digging through my paper bin for other crafty purposes, and I found this black scrapbook paper with the colored scribble-loop-lines.  The fact that it was black, and had a hand-drawn quality immediately suggested use for the project, and once I got started, it just came together.

I have a stack of these strange board things, they are made of like a composite wood that has been laminated with a cheaply printed image.  They’re about the size of a standard piece of paper.  I got about 8 of them at the dollar store a looong while ago, and I have been slowly turning them into more suitable art things, I now wish I’d gotten more.  Anyway.

I chose one of these for my base for decoupage, but this time, rather than paper the whole surface– like I had for some of the guest room art– I decided to simply spray paint that printed side a nice, cool grey.  Beautiful.

I decided to trace the shape of the umbrella, and I carefully cut an identically shaped one out of my chosen black squiggle paper.  After playing around with the cut piece for a while, I decided to offset it upwards just about a quarter of an inch, so that the original black curves of the bottom edge on the print would look more like the interior of the open umbrella and maybe add some dimension.  To heighten the modern look of the thing a little (and because I no longer needed to worry about that ‘underneath’ umbrella on the page, I cropped the top of the page a  bit.

Trying Stuff Without Glue

Trying Stuff Without Glue

I positioned my print and my trimmed-out umbrella on the board, and I was repeatedly struck by how it looked like asphalt.  I hadn’t selected that color with that intention, I had just done it because grey is my favorite neutral.  But once my brain saw it, it couldn’t unsee it, so I just decided to roll with it.  I dug through my bin of scrapbook paper scraps (redundant, much?) and I found a rectangle of a mottled green, a similar mottled blue, and oddly, a speech bubble sticker in the exact same blue that said, “I like you.”  Um, yeah, I’ll have to use that.

I rounded up my supplies– my print, my prepped board, paper scraps, sticker, scissors, paper cutter (for nice straight edges), brush, mod podge, casserole dish of water, fine point sharpie, hot glue gun, large (green) paper clips.

Once I knew that everything was trimmed to size and I had memorized their final locations, I began gluing everything down with the mod podge.  I’m just going to pretend that you haven’t done this a million times (you savvy thing, you) and tell you how I did that:
*I coat a large area with mod podge where my very bottom layer will be– in this case my green rectangle of ‘grass’.
*When I have put a pretty thick layer on there, I dip my paper into the water in the casserole dish, trying to kind of wet it all at once.  What you don’t want to do is soak 3/5s of a sheet , flip it around, soak the ‘other’ 3/5s, and have your paper split down the middle where it has been weakened by being double-soaked, if that makes any sense at all.  Plus, be extra careful with vintage paper, it is almost always trickier.  Oddly, this page is kind of an exception, it was pretty stiff, and sooo dry that it sort of hissed when it hit the water and started absorbing it, no joke.
*Anyway, back to the green piece.  You then place your wet paper on your slathered mod podge, and this is important– you want to place it down on your hard surface as closely to its final location as you can, and you want to try and keep it as smooth as possible.
*This stage is sort of a combo of pressing with your (gluey) fingertips, painting on a coat of more podge, and trying to even out all the wrinkles as possible.   You want to use a brush as much as you can, coating smoothly as you go.  You can blot a little bit with a paper towel if your smoothing squeezes out a lot of glue (remember its sort of getting diluted with the water on the page), but I find that the watered-down mod podge as well as having the page already saturated really, really helps get a really smooth and wrinkle-free finished project.   At this point, I can get my podge hella smooth, but it sort of takes practice and patience.  You also want to be careful to not go over the same area too many times, as you can begin to lift the dyes on your pages and make a real mess.
*When you have completed the lower layer, (and hopefully you are working quickly enough that your mod podge will still be wet in the areas you will have overlap) continue to build up, coating, dipping your paper, placing, smoothing, coating again, until you’re done with your composition.
*At this point, you’ll want to make sure your mod podge goes all the way to the edges and has a smooth finish.  (It may be easier to do this if you quickly dip your gluey brush in some water to dilute if your surface has started to get gummy.)
*Allow to fully dry!

Once mine was dry, I went in with the fine-point sharpie and filled in the poor dude’s shoes, just really sketchy-like, so it didn’t look obvious that they’d been ripped off the page.  Once I did that, I had the idea of continuing some of the lines of rain, and I think that helps integrate the whole look a little more.

On The Wall

On The Wall

I added hangers by simply hot gluing large paperclips to the upper corners on the back– so simple, and it looks neat.   I used simple thumbtacks to hang ours up, and it looks great!  I didn’t know that the composition was missing something until I added it!  (Please keep in mind that this wall has been spackled but not painted, soooo that part looks horrible, and I know it too.)

What do you think, did I save it?  It’s off of my conscience that I’d damaged it, that’s for sure!

My Finished Piece

My Finished Piece

 


 

2 Responses to “Creativity Compulsion”

  1. I so incredibly love this so much. So so so much. I have a box of really old Old Maid cards. I see them as artwork everywhere. WHEN I am ready to deal with them, YOU must help. help. help.
    AND, yes. I get the whole gotta do this right now thing. Molly has some very interesting dresses that my husband finds apalling (HOW DO YOU SPELL THAT??) and I just love, love, love. love.
    This is beautiful.

    • Amber

      Aw! Thank you so much, dear friend! It just would NOT let me stop thinking about it!

      I’d be glad to help, yes yes yay! You just let me know the whens and wheres. <3


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