Thursday, January 31, 2013

Valentine's Day: Take Heart

Oh, I love this time of year. Just when I finally get all the Christmas stuff put away, and life is starting to feel organized again, it's time to break out a fresh round of art supplies and get busy making Valentines.

I have strong feelings about Valentine's Day. It's a day to celebrate love in all its forms, and I make it a priority to send handmade cards to my loved ones. They may be heart-shaped, or perhaps mail-ready as postcards, but always, they come from my own two hands and grateful heart.

Here's what I'm working on this year.

I started a few days ago with a big pile of tissue paper in Valentine-y colors, a long piece of plastic wrap, and a concoction of equal parts white glue and water. 

I laid out the plastic wrap on the table in front of me, spread it with a layer of the glue mixture, and laid down some ripped sections of the tissue paper. See?

First, the bad news:
  • The plastic wrap will not lay flat. It gets all wrinkly and bunched up on the table.
  • The glue mixture does not spread well on the plastic. It beads up and runs together in a frustrating fashion.
  • Tissue paper is delicate, hard to handle when wet, and often rips in places you don't want it to rip. Annoying. 

Now for the good news:

None of that matters. Actually, these imperfections make for a more interesting finished effect. So have confidence, take heart, and carry on as if everything was going perfectly.

Once I covered the plastic wrap in a single layer of tissue paper, I added a second. And then a third.

And then it was really hard to tell how many layers I'd added, so I just kept going till the end of that episode of LOST. 

Then I set the whole soggy mess aside for a day, and when I came back, it had miraculously transformed into a single layer of colorful, textured, beautiful, DRY paper.

My heart overflowed. And I immediately made another batch. This time I sprinkled glitter on top.

Today, I grabbed my two sheets of homemade paper, as well as a heart-shaped cookie cutter, pencil, and scissors.

Oh wait. Back up. Before that, I went to the craft store and found these cute little square envelopes and then searched through my heart-shaped cookie cutters to find one that would produce a properly sized Valentine to fit into the envelope. 

Measure twice, cut once.
Live and learn.
Always be prepared. 
The devil is in the details.

Now I was ready to trace some hearts and cut them out. 

Not gonna lie; I was super excited at this stage. Because here is the thing.

Somewhere in the middle, every good project seems doomed to fail.

I don't know why that has to be true. But it is. Whenever I do any kind of creative work, I start out strong, and oftentimes, I'm pleased with my final result. But there is always a time in the middle of the process when I am filled with doubts and ominous forebodings. I often think my grand ideas are destined to fail. I am sorely tempted to give up.

But I have learned that this dry spell in the middle of the project is natural, normal and healthy. From what I've read, it's a common if not universal experience in the world of creativity. These doldrums are a necessary part of the artistic process, and I've learned to expect them.

The trick is to not panic. 
The trick is to have faith. 
The trick is to keep going and see what happens next.

So honestly, I was a tiny bit disappointed in how the paper looked after it had dried. Gone was the glossy shine of the wet glue, gone was the transparent quality of the paper, and going quickly was the glitter. It was falling off the paper like needles off a month-old Christmas tree. Sigh. 

But. I knew that this was my time of doldrums. So I was eager to push on.

Ta-da!! I'm so happy with how these hearts turned out! When trimmed down to heart size, the colors and textures of the paper are much more pleasing to me than they were in the large sheets. And while I liked the idea of glitter, I don't miss it now that it's gone. I'm super happy with these hearts and so glad I pushed on past my doubting doldrums.

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More sweet whisperings of Valentine love:

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