Altered Book Project

So you may be be wondering where I’ve been for the last month. Well, I’d like to say that I have been working on an altered book project but that’s not true, it only seems like I’ve been working on it for a month!

Late in the summer, two of my longtime twitter friends Cat and Roisin suggested that all of us participate in a round robin altered book project. I was excited because I had already done one for a friend as a birthday gift several years ago and even took an all day altered book workshop with Gayle Pritchard.

This new project would require each of to start our own altered book by prepping the pages, creating a spread or two, and then sending it off to the next person to complete a few spreads and then pass along. By the end of the project we will each end up with our own book and mine will be filled with not only my art, but also Cat’s and Roisin’s art, which makes it even more exciting.

It took me awhile to find my book and to come up with the concept. I tried looking through my own selection of books, went to a used book store but ultimately found my book at a library book sale. The size was perfect – smaller than a typical hardcover fiction book and the cover was the right shade of purple. The title, The Looking Glass, set the tone for my  theme.

Then I began looking through all of my supplies to select possible materials that matched that theme. I set aside a slew of  items in pale tones that felt right for the book. My most challenging and lessons learned part was next: prepping the book.

To prep my book, I needed to create a thicker surface on which to create spreads by gluing large blocks of pages together. With my previous book, this process was tedious but doable. For some reason the type of glue I used this time made the process unbearable! It took me about 3 weeks of gluing to complete one and half blocks before I gave up. The glue was not drying and so everything was still sticky.

After a brilliant idea popped into my head, I switched directions, gave up the glue and pulled out my stash of purple duck tape to seal the pages together in blocks. While all the days of gluing taught me immense patience, the spontaneous switch to the tape showed me just how unpredictable the creative process is. That one simple idea appeared at just the right time when I needed it!

30 Days of Creativity

In my last post, I mentioned that I had just begun the 30 Days of Creativity challenge, where I was required to make one thing a day for the entire month of June.

Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it, when I started. I am notorious for leaving projects and ideas abandoned. So I this time I made a conscious choice to follow through with this challenge.

And, guess what? I am halfway through it, and I am glad I pushed myself to stick with it. Working on a small project (5 minutes max) a day has been so beneficial to my development as an everyday creator.

Here are some of things I have learned:

1. Use what you have. Often my projects are inspired by my day. This beach glass sun catcher was the end of result of a day at the beach. I picked up the glass while there.

2. Set a timer when creating. I have found the 5 minute increment to be just enough time to get me into my creative flow, which I then take with me to other projects.

3. Experiment with techniques and materials. So far, I have used paper clips to create a bracelet and a dollar bill to create an origami heart.

Lessons From a Creative Genius

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear a real creative genius speak. Ann Hamilton has been one of my art heroes, since I attended graduate school and studied public art in the same city Ann had moved back to only years before.

Her large scale installations, with an amazing attention to detail, have fascinated me, so when I saw she would be speaking at the Cleveland Museum of Art, I cleared my schedule and made an intention to be there.

The trip and the experience were definitely worth the wait. Ann delighted the audience with a historical trajectory of her work and infused it with inspiring tidbits that I was able to capture in my small notebook. Here are a few of them, along with my interpretations:

“Work is created through acts of (our) attention.”
This pretty much sums up not only her work, but any work that we do as creators. It is truly the focus that we put into art that makes it come to life.

“Making (work) is falling open to possibilities.”
Another accurate assessment of the creative process. If it were not for the possibilities we would not be able to create anything. A nice reminder for all creatives.

“(You) need to be uncomfortable to make work.”
How many times have you waited for the right time to create or the perfect idea to fall from the sky? Probably always. And how often has it happened? Probably never. Work is hard and you need to be uncomfortable to find the friction to create.

“Follow your questions and trust the things you don’t know.”
None of us has all the answers and that is why questions are so important to the creative process. Start with your questions and see where they lead. You may be surprised by the result.

  • What lessons have you learned from a creative genius?

Image Source: the-colossus

Ingenuityfest: A Study in Contrasts

After almost 5 years of trying, I finally made it to the Ingenuity Festival, a three-day long extravaganza of technology and art held each year here in Cleveland.

I say, “trying,” because I really have had good intentions of going to the fest the last several years.  Arriving back in Cleveland, shortly before the second year of Ingenuity, I signed up to be a volunteer, thinking it would be a cool and easy way to get a free ticket. Of course, I never actually ended up volunteering and for the next several years life seemed to get in the way during the annual weekend of Ingenuity.

This year seemed to be no different, with a planned trip to Pittsburgh falling on the same weekend as Ingenuity. When one of my instructors mentioned that we could receive 5 extra credit points for going and writing about what we saw, I knew that was the motivation I needed!

I arrived early on Sunday, the third and final day, and was instantly greeted with the contrast of the location: a bridge. Yes, that’s right, a bridge. Actually, the fesitval is located on the obsolete trolley level of the bridge, while cars sped along the upper span. The bridge connects the east and west sides of the city above the Cuyahoga River. Yet, more contrast.

Entering into the cavernous space created such a different experience than if the event had been held in an open lot or even in an enclosed area. I started walking toward the span of the bridge, where there were a hodge podge of displays, everything from local political endorsements to non-profits to the odd assortment of vendors selling taffy, jewelry, etc. Interspersed among this were small exhibitions and random musical performers.

Passing by the man-made waterfall, I approached the east side of the bridge and headed  toward the blaring sounds of a youthful rock band. Bypassing that in favor of the Art Gallery area, I began to be slightly impressed with the installation art pieces that thoroughly used the bridge’s architecture as inspiration.

Walking back to the other side of the bridge, I contemplated how much better the curation of the art could have been. Several mixed media pieces were interesting but didn’t really fit into the scope of the festival and/ or use the space that well.

On the west side of the bridge, in another cavernous space, more art installations filled the area. Some were fascinating and others just trite and almost art-schoolish. The entire puppet show concept was overdone on the East Coast 10 years ago. Finally, the soothing sounds of Angelin Chang, a local professor and Grammy-award winning musician made the my time there worth it.

In my opinion, if the Ingenuity festival could bring in more quality artists like her, then then maybe it would have been a worthwhile experience for me. As it is it appears, it is currently a very amateurish Spoletto Festival. With better curation and more “real” artists, Ingenuityfest could really be a noteworthy arts festival. Sadly, now the best thing it has going is the space and the location.

  • Did you go? What did you think?

Join a Collective Art Project

One of the biggest myths surrounding creativity is that of the solitary genius. In Group Genius: the Creative Power of Collaboration by Keith Sawyer, small sparks in the creative process, usually from outside sources and sometimes happening over time, are explained as the true nature of creativity.

Similarly, the Internet is now making this type of creativity the norm. A recent online article declared: “Strangers gather on Web to make collective art.” People are connecting virtually to create everything from an Opera for London’s Royal Opera House to an animated film. These types of collective art projects aren’t for artists only but encourage everyone to participate in the creative process, which is why I think they are such great ideas.