A few years ago, my parents were getting ready to move to a smaller place. Worried about space and storage, my mom said, “You don’t need to give us gifts any more.” Well, you know that didn’t fly. But then she said, “Well, how about only things that would fit in the palm of my hand?” That request has been a wonderful inspiration to me. I make her jewelry. She wears it out and about. People comment. It starts conversations. And it doesn’t have to be dusted. Perfect.
(Mom, if you’re reading this, stop now or be prepared to develop another case of gift amnesia.)
Very often I use gifts I make to work out ideas for classes or to sample new techniques. So for Mother’s Day, I’m planning to make Mom a pin based on a collage exercise I’m developing. I’ll share the exercise in this post, and show how to make the pin next week.
Picture the Dukes of Hazard racing down a country road with a trunk full of hooch: That’s the speed I’m shooting for with this exercise in abstracting and distilling an object — in this case, a flower. Here’s what you need for this exercise:
- A magazine from the recycle bin
- Glue Stick
- White paper
- 15 minutes
Quickly find a page in the magazine that has a lot of color. (Actually, I used part of a page left over from doing the Farmville Collage Exercise I wrote about on Compost And Creativity this week.)
Cut out a circle for the center of the flower and glue it to the white paper. Now stop for a moment to think about a flower — say, a chrysanthemum (sticking with the Mother’s Day theme). Think about mums and peonies and other flowers with lots of petals. Petals. That’s what we’re going for here.
Working out from that center circle, start cutting petals freehand with the scissors (no drawing first) and placing them so that there’s white space showing between them. (Don’t glue them down just yet.) Work quickly and don’t try to make the petals perfectly shaped or all the same size. Stay loose and keep adding petals.
Stop when you have a few rounds of petals or your 15 minutes is up, and glue down the petals. If you like, cut a couple of leaves and glue those down, or throw down some scraps to suggest other flowers.
At least half the class, at this point, would be looking at their neighbor’s work and thinking, “Wow, theirs is great and mine doesn’t look like a flower at all.” So humor me here. Prop up your collage, walk across the room, and look at it again. Now take the collage into the bathroom, hold it up to the mirror, and look not at the collage but at the reflection of the collage. Better?
At this point, you might be thinking, “Hmmm, what else can I distill by this method?” Pretty intoxicating, isn’t it?
Next week, I’ll show you how to turn your flower collage into a simple gift that will fit in the palm of your mother’s hand.
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