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Ugh….newspaper. A lesson in following the rules (or not)

January 8, 2010

Well, I thought I was going to be all excited about newspaper.  Actually, I WAS all excited about newspaper.  I thought about it a lot.  I thought, and I thought, and I thought.  I came up with an idea I really wanted to try out, and then I thought about it some more.  Did I make something?  Not for weeks.  I’ll admit that the two weeks of kids’ winter vacation severely hampered my ability to focus on the project at hand.  I’ll admit that the snow storm was quite distracting and beautiful.  But when it comes right down to it, I was procrastinating like crazy.

Cut half-sheet

When I finally got around to trying to realize my plan, it felt as though it failed miserably.  I will admit that I only took it a short way down the path, but I soon realized that the idea was far more exciting than the piece.  And newspaper really got on my nerves.  It’s too thin and rips too easily.  And it gets your hands dirty and dries them out.  And it smells a bit strange. And the closer I got to January, the more I wanted to start playing with pie tins and ditch the whole newspaper idea.

Small version, half done

Still, here are some photos of my idea, vaguely realized.  I tried to meet my own challenge of using one full sheet, still intact.  I cut it in diagonal strips with a spine and tried to weave it together to make a two-sided cone-like structure.  I thought I would enjoy the fact that the proportions are a bit askew (neither a square nor a rectangle with one side twice as long as the other).  Maybe that would make the piece twist?  It turned out that I wasn’t really interested in solving the problem.

Completed smaller form, no way to connect ends...

Also, I realized that I was trying to make newspaper do something it didn’t really want to do.  It was a bit too flimsy to accomplish the structural goal, but because I had started with the presumption that I had to use newspaper, I was cramping the work.  Some other flat material would work much better.  Be true to your materials – right? I was happier with a smaller first attempt I made, since it held its form more easily (less floppy paper surface to support) and did twist a bit.  The second attempt with a full-sized sheet didn’t work as well and, once again, I was restricted by my own rules.

Completed larger form

What did I learn?  I learned that I don’t really like newspaper.  But more importantly, I was relieved to have tried it out.  So often, I set out to make something with a purpose – a response to a call for entry or a commissioned piece – and get in a bind trying to realize a predetermined goal. How freeing to literally throw it out and leave it behind!   I learned some interesting process and materials tidbits to store in the back of my mind. For instance, I came up with a nifty way to attach the woven ends with another cut strap, all part of the same sheet, and

Connected strap solution and color interplay

connected. That could come in handy again some day.  I played with distorting surfaces and mused about how the text wove in and out of itself in the pattern – very useful some day, I’m sure.

And writing this post was useful, too.  I hadn’t realized how much I’d learned until I had to describe the process and what I thought were failures.  Onward!  And thanks for listening.

Hmmmm. Words....

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