Saturday, May 12, 2007

Second Chance

"Totem." Click here for a larger view.

For Sunday Scribblings. The entry below is a free-write done on the spot during a Writers' Circle group meeting, in which our prompt was, "Trash or Treasure." More on the group is in this entry....

"Trash provides" is one of Mary's stock sayings, and the trash in Boston was indeed a windfall. The furniture left on the curb had outfitted our Dorchester apartment, such that when we moved down here -- to a house outfitted with 50-year-old furnishings, trash to some but treasures of my childhood -- our found furniture made its way to Goodwill in our quest to add as little as possible to the landfill.

When I had neither the time nor space nor presence of mind for fiction, trash saved my sanity. Late the night before garbage day I patrolled the blocks of our neighborhood, gathering up discarded wood, tiles, cabinets, whatever caught my fancy to become mixed media art. Some of it sold. Talk about low overhead.

Cabinet Rehabilitation: Acrylic on Wood
A rehabilitated cabinet rescued from the curb. This post tells more.

To date my most ambitious project was a 7-foot-tall sculpture called "Totem," which now lives with our friend Mea up in Boston. One night, near midnight, Mary and I loaded onto our four-wheelie a plethora of trash from a single house. Included were panels, 7 feet high and 11 inches wide, that had formed bifold closet doors. Most had holes kicked into them.

Two of those bifold panels, still attached, serve as light barriers at our bedroom door down here. But I had taken one, cleaned it, and painted it brown. I turned it upside-down and filled the kicked-in hole with pigeon feather fluff I'd collected at the subway station. Into the fluff I placed baby birds, their mouths wide open, that I had sculpted from discarded office paper that I had pulped, mixed with gesso, and painted.

Mama bird was more sculpted paper pulp, resplendent with collected pigeon feathers. She guarded the chicks.

The equivalent of a ream of discarded office paper formed trailing bark and branches on the board. I'd used a sculpting knife to give the bark its texture. I sculpted leaves, a face looking out beneath the birds and a sun/moon combination above them inlaid with pieces of a broken mirror I'd found on the street. Finally, amidst the leaves and bark I had sculpted an orange lizard, guided in my shaping by pictures of lizards in Mary's issue of Scientific American.

Before we left for Florida I gave "Totem" to Mea because her son Tobias loved the lizard. When "Totem" was on display at our local cafe, A Strong Cup of Coffee (named after one of its owners, Daniel Strong), the lizard was the perfect height for a toddler. Every time Mea and Tobias were in Strong Cup, she told me, her little boy toddled over to the sculpture and planted a kiss on the lizard.

That prompted me to make him his own lizard. But when Mary and I prepared for our move I wanted Mea to have the entire sculpture. The trash had become creative treasure for me, and then an emotional treasure for a little boy and his mom.

"Organism." More about this piece is here.

My Flickr post "Crone Goddess" includes a description of my sculpting process. Other examples include "Conjuring Goddess", "Amazon", "Necklace", and "Spring" (one of my first mixed-media pieces after my move to Florida). My entry "Demeter or Bust" describes the challenge of paper pulp sculpting in a tropical climate.


Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

Brilliant! I love trash to treasure and you've done some great things here!

8:17 AM  

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