Paper

I have made several collages this winter, some of which I have posted here. My friend Nelly has given me a lot of old documents which are often hand written with beautiful calligraphy and I collect collage materials from other sources as well. I especially like antique papers and maps.

One of my clean up projects in early January was to take my large collection of decorative papers and separate them into categories. Maps in one basket, documents in another, music and colored papers in their own piles. I used to have them all together in a huge heap and I would spend more time trying to find something than in making.

Lately I have gone onto ebay.fr to find some papers to replenish my collection. It is possible to get something quite special for very little money. It seems that old documents, maps, stamps, postcards and letters exist in great profusion in this country. I was especially thrilled to find this document for sale for 1€. It is from 1792, which was actually during the years of the French revolution! When it arrived in the mail I discovered how well preserved it is and also how gorgeous the paper is. I suppose I will have to find something very special to make with it, if I can bear to use it at all.

Other papers I acquired aren’t quite so old, but I was able to find some attractive invoices with nice stamps. I like to use columns of numbers and signatures in my collages as well. They can be quite effective.

Knowing my fondness for old materials, my son-in-law in California found me an antique stamp collection book and some great old tags. He had no idea that I have an enormous collection of stamps, and this little book has made it much easier to see.

Several years ago when my friends Gail and Nelly were visiting, I found this stash of antique gummed labels in a brocante (antique store). The owner was asking a small fortune for them and wouldn’t negotiate. Gail was kind enough to split the lot with me. I find them so attractive. I have used them sparingly since.

Our week at the Maison has been exceptionally mild. This time of year I enjoy both the sunrise and sunset. During the summer the sun comes up very early and sets very late, but this time of year the daylight and darkness are in balance. It won’t be long until the vernal equinox.

Collections

One of the projects I began in October when my friend Gail Rieke gave a workshop here was a little collage piece made by pasting bits of marbleized paper on a black background. When we have workshops everyone brings something to share, and there were many scraps of these bright papers to choose from. I find them so attractive.

At another workshop some years ago, I brought a stack of pastel portraits to play with. I explained to Gail that there were parts of each that I liked but that in general not many of the faces satisfied me completely. She suggested that I cut them up and work only with the parts that pleased me, so I created a little book.

Once I had sliced up all the portraits I had lots of little abstract blocks left on the cutting room floor. I began to play with those and came up with a grid that I liked a lot. I pasted them onto the black paper and framed it. It still hangs in our house and I still enjoy looking at it

Since then I have enjoyed the idea of making collage pieces in a grid pattern. Something about the geometric layout made with brightly colored forms and abstract imagery appeals to me. Working with black paper has its challenges. Although I do like the way it makes colors pop, it’s not a very friendly surface. It’s difficult to draw on to make a framework to follow for pasting, and any extra glue is very visible. My grids therefore are a little wonky, but that doesn’t bother me. I accept the handmade quality.

I have a big cupboard with several baskets of collage materials all nicely organized and ready to be used. Old papers and stamps are readily available at vide greniers (garage sales) or brocantes (junk shops). I have a large collection, so I like to find ways to incorporate them into projects. After a couple of tries I was able to get the marbleized paper glued down neatly enough, so I decided to make a little book of similar bits, paste them down in little grids and call the book Collections.

Quite an array of random faces in various colors from several countries, from the past and near present. The famous and infamous included.

I completed eight pages with various arrangements of stamps and papers and then put them into my drawer. I have a big stack of pages from several projects which are waiting to be put together into little books.

Perhaps in the dead of winter I will find the time and space to finish them.