But seriously, every once in a while I HAVE TO CLEAN my studio. If you are generous with the definition of "stored in my studio" you could say that slithering heaps of paper on every flat surface count as "stored," but really, I have reached a point where I have no more working surface. It's all storage. That means it's time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
|Random Acts of Paper Experimentation|
If I have a stack of gel prints of mostly one color, or pages I was trying out a new stencil or stamp on with a particular inkpad or paint tube, I can then go to my real storage (organized by color, more on this later) and find assorted ephemera or scraps of other work, and create a stack of more or less harmonious papers. This is exactly that kind of stack.
The next thing to do is take a hard look at each piece of paper. Is the entire piece of paper a masterpiece that must remain in my life forever? No. No. A thousand times no. So out comes the trusty paper trimmer to reduce this unruly stack into manageable pieces of just NICE BITS. And then here comes the hardest part: if what's left is Not Nice, you must throw it away. Trust me on this. You will never actually run out of paper, so you can take the risk and throw out the less than really nice pieces, the ugly color, the messy blob that got under the stencil, the gel print that didn't turn out at all like you imagined it would after the video you watched on YouTube. Bring a little Marie Kondo (Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) to your paper stash and ask does this "spark joy?" If not, toss it.
|Preliminary Layout (before gluing - then it changed!)|
Now I have a collage made up of Nice Bits, but it looks rather patchwork and a little disjointed, despite the fact that it's all very similar in color. In order to make this new piece of paper cohesive, I want to take some of the design elements from the bits, and reuse them. This will give the new sheet of paper some uniformity of design. You could certainly use paint, but again, I urge you to keep this layer thin. I use Stay-zon inks. I studied my nice bits to identify the stencils I had used, and pulled those out of my storage rack (more on that in a little while, like I said...)
so I ended up adding black for more contrast. I like how the Antennas look like rows of stitching or haphazardly stapled seams, which I thought was a nice nod to the Frankenstein project. The goal here is to add your new layer of stenciling across the underlying collage, thus unifying the paper. I've now managed to reduce a slithering pile of papers into one new sheet that is all my own. I can use it as is, I can cut it into smaller pieces (making more Nice Bits!), I can isolate some sections with white gesso in order to feature the vintage photo transfer in the middle - you name it, whatever you might want to do with patterned paper, you can do with this.
But wait! There's more! Do you also keep the Little Bits? Sometimes we cannot help ourselves - we just can't throw out those precious darlings. You can use them the same way and make your own patterned paper tape. Get some wide painters tape and tear off a long strip. Put it on your surface sticky side up and start sticking down the Little Bits! Once you've collaged all the tape with Little Bits, stencil (ideally with small shapes or patterns) across the whole thing and bring cohesiveness to your Frankentape. It no longer has a sticky side, but you know how to handle that. You can use it to add borders, frames, cut thinner strips, you get the idea.
|S271 Angel Circle|
And now, it's time to go tidy up the studio. If all goes well, I will have fewer piles of messy paper, and a few more sheets with only Nice Bits!