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artist date 1a & 1b

February 9, 2013

After several postponements, Friday was the day I set aside to make valentines. I photographed my studio table before I gathered my supplies, and after they were assembled. I was ready to go!

The first thing I attempted was to re-create a picture I had in my head: a paper circle, pleated. I’d already decided that my valentines should be 3-D, not flat, so this would fit in nicely.

I chose to work with pale pink art paper, embedded with leaves, with a nice heft. My first attempts didn’t work at all, and I did not record them.

Next, I cut strips of paper, and pleated them. Then I cut a triangle, and pleated it. A circle, I cut along one radius, then pleated triangularly.

I put vignettes together with these pieces. I quickly realized doing this was way more fun than valentines would be (that day, anyway), so I decided to explore this idea as far as I could take it. I also started taking a lot of pictures.

Then I cut out a rectangle of white art paper, embedded with squares from newspapers, with slightly less body than the pink paper. Instead of strips or triangles, I cut a sinuous meandering line into the body of it. Then I started pleating.

Now my previous pleated strips (of pink paper) seemed boring. I took one strip, bisected half of it the long way, and repleated each of the half-lengths, using different numbers of pleats (so they didn’t match any more). I also bent the legs away from each other, so that overall, the strip was now a Y-shape.

Then I started stacking pieces together. The irregularity of the white paper allowed me to intertwine it with other pieces.

Then I added some of my metal pieces. Many of them are light enough to not topple the paper, if I can find the right place to balance them.

Later, I added pieces of dried flowers to the metal pieces.

I took lots of photographs of everything I tried.

But yesterday, I had a terrible headache that worsened during this time, so I reluctantly stopped after an hour.

Today I did the second hour (hence 1a & 1b). I began by cutting out a rectangle of blue art paper. I drew various shapes on it with oil pastels in clusters of related colors. Then I cut the rectangle into several strips, around the perimeter.

Because of the way the paper had been folded (almost rolled), the strips and smaller remaining rectangle wanted to bow up in the middle, forming natural arches. I added them to the pleated pieces, trying to come up with the most unlikely ways to balance them on each other. Then I tried adding metal pieces. Mostly, they slid off. But every once in a while, it worked!

Again I took lots of photographs.


Both sessions were a lot of fun. And they also stretched my bodymind’s awareness of stuff in new directions.

I’ve been “working (to improve) my balance” for the last several years, which normally takes the form of me walking on curbs, trying not to fall off. Me walking on curbs on an incline, sometimes walking backwards, trying not to fall off. Me coming up with strange poses, then trying them on 1 foot, then the other. Now that we have a mini trampoline, sometimes I jump on 1 foot.

I have ideas about other physical activities I can do that will help me stretch my comfort zone of movements.

But before yesterday, it never occurred to me that tangible art I created could incorporate physical balancing as an element. I’m captivated by this idea.


I’ve been struggling with finding ways to explore being tactile and kinesthetic. A week ago, I spent several hours on the web, looking for toys to interact with. I hardly found any that seemed engaging.

I wanted something I could build with, but not a kit. I want to explore, not re-create something already known.

Spouse suggested Legos, but they didn’t seem quite right, although I couldn’t put my finger on why. Now I know why. Legos connect either vertically or horizontally, but not on an angle. I like angles. I like irregularity. I like organic shapes. Most of all, I like stuff that’s not predictable.

A month or so ago, through Twitter I found a video by a male artist who creates large-scale geometric fields with paper, Matthew Shlian. He’s become something of a celebrity, with his works being bought by large corporations. He loves his job, messing around with paper.

I liked the idea of his job, too, but I didn’t really like his stuff. Or, it was another case where it’s very technically proficient, which is admirable and impressive. But there was nothing . . . organic, or messy, or weird about it. From the particular examples I remember, there’s probably some way to use a computer to generate the forms he created.

I don’t want that. I want 3-D art that’s like real life: complex and surprising and unpredictable. And I also don’t care if my stuff is permanent; in fact, I like ephemerality. That’s partly why I take so many pictures: I know my stuff is temporary. Even forms I love can be destroyed to create something new.

It’s odd and unsettling how often these days different facets of my life converge. But I like it. I think it might mean I’m doing something right.

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