I have been to the mountain and I have been redeemed.
Really. The mountains of New Hampshire to be concise. This past weekend was my introduction to paste paper and box making. Serious stuff, not at all a “krafty with a K” kind of thing. I was not only lucky enough to have Polly Allen as an instructor, but also as hostess – I drove up with her sister and we stayed in her stunningly beautiful mountain side home. It was a simple matter of walking down the hall from my beautiful guest room to the most thoroughly tricked-up, decked-out studio I’d ever seen in my life. The class was challenging, overwhelming, scary and exhilarating – all at the same time.
Day one was spent learning the fundamentals and techniques used in making paste paper. By the end of the day I had three large sheets of my very own creation. The class ended at 4PM but if left to my own devices I would have been neck-deep in paint until about 3AM. We were presented with a seemingly endless supply of inks, stamps, custom rollers, altered squeegees, combs and other tools to use to swirl the paint around and make all kinds of different designs. The sponge paintbrush (AKA the “do-over” brush) would immediately smooth out and erase any bad decisions and enable endless second chances. The release from the “you are stuck with this” law enabled me to try things I never would have attempted (without good drugs). While that layer of paint dried you grabbed an earlier sheet and put the next layer on top of that – and the process continued.
Day two was box making day. After varnishing our chosen paper, we went on to cut out different sized areas to adhere to a (mercifully) pre-cut series of bookboard templates. The process was lengthy but let me sum it up in a few words: WE USED A SCALPEL. Not a fakie one, or a less lethal Exacto knife, but a real thow-it-down, hand- me-the -number- 3- scalpel- yes -Dr. -Kildaire- scalpel. It was kind of like cutting up a very intricate snowflake and unfolding it to see what you made – but on steroids. I look at my finished box and I can’t believe I made it – any of it. The paper, the box, the whole enchilada. Choosing the button combination for the lid was another experience unto itself. Among her many other talents Polly is a button whisperer. She came up with a combo that said, “oh SNAP!” and I just nodded in wordless assent. Here is my finished creation:
Tres fabu, huh. Those little flecks of gold metallic paint really pop! (Oh – that little beauty in the middle was a celebratory pear martini at the Simon Pearce restaurant in Quechee, Vermont. MMmmmmmmmmm.)
So the grade school 4H project has been permanently vanquished from my hall of shame. Back then, contact paper was the new Jerusalem – the kewelest thing ever and no surface in the home was safe from being permanently altered by a sheet of faux wood grain vinyl adhesive crap. I survived that to experience the most creative thing I’ve ever done in my life. IT ROCKED.
Classes are out there. Start by contacting your area league of craftsmen – if you live in New England, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen is a great place to start. This can be applied to anything you are interested in, but it is best if you do something totally outside your comfort zone. I can’t tell you what this has done for me, both creatively and spiritually. My approach to fabric and quilting has also been changed for the better. I urge you to try something way out of your usual scope and jump-start your creative spirit and soul.
EDIT: I’m not sure why WordPress is sticking my title wordle in the gallery with the pictures of the box. I’m not going to worry about it. I’ve learned to let go and let the universe take you places!