Putting Up Paper Preserves

At a collage PLAYshop, paper is everywhere. Large sheets are displayed on laundry racks, rolls on window sills, trays of coordinated colours – old wrapping paper, candy wrappers, envelope linings, you name it. Some of the paper is textured, some translucent, some brilliant and many hued, some flecked with gold, some shiny, some thin as tissue. The people who come to a PLAYshop already love paper. I ask them to begin by picking the paper that calls their name, the paper that brings their hand to their heart, the paper that won’t leave them alone…IMG_2110Sometimes people come with a plan but a piece of paper takes them in another direction. Occasionally, two pieces of paper lying in a particular suggest idea. Magical scrap baskets which contains yesterday’s rejected bits of paper are somebody else’s inspiration.Image 4IMG_1141
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Tania started with transluscent paper but found she could not stay away from bold and brilliant colours. As she created whimsical jars of preserves to keep her spirit strong  over winter, she asked us all “What would you preserve?” A prairie fall day, the hope of a rainbow, saskatoon berries, the buzzing of bees on sunshine… sometimes just a brilliant colour (the new green of spring) or a piece of paper that simply could not be resisted.

Tania's jars of preserves - in process

Tania’s jars of preserves – in process

I have enjoyed thinking about what we preserve and what we let go. Just today, I dug carrots – some will go in the cold room and we will enjoy this delicious root vegetable in another season. Maybe I will think of the smell of rotting apples and freshly turned over soil which I enjoyed as I dug them. Some of the carrots, I ate raw today, with a little dirt clinging to them, the freshness of their taste mouthwatering, their crunch loud!!

Preserves are meant to be tasted and enjoyed at some point. They are not meant to stay in their jars forever. Jellies and relishes, jams and salsas…. their colours, tastes, smells take us back to the warmth and abundance of late August.

Much of the paper collage art I create will not endure – the paper will fade, disintegrate, get torn. What matters most to me is the completely absorbed and happy world I inhabit while creating. Added benefit: Maybe for a few days or a few years, the piece will give someone pleasure.

Sometimes the art we hang becomes so familiar that we no longer really see it.  The rice paper pieces are often in flux –  they catch our attention as the light changes during the day, as the colours outside our windows change from green to oranges and yellows, browns and finally dazzling whites and purples and blues. The translucence of the rice paper sends shadows to our walls as the sun moves across the sky. They look completely different at night, especially from the outside of your home. The art itself is ephemeral, a glimmer, a sheen, always shifting.

Rice Paper Birds on a winter's day

Rice Paper Birds on a winter’s day

In a sense each of us who created something at the PLAYshop were “putting up preserves” for a winter day. For Janet, the vision of dragonflies on a summer day.

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Janet's  dragonfly panels. First time playing with paper!

dragonfly panels. First time playing with paper!










For Liz and Karen, a flower garden that can offer light and colour on winter’s coldest day.

Liz's flower panel

Liz’s flower panel


Karen, the speed demon,  with her first try at a rice paper panel

Karen, the speed demon, with her first try at a rice paper panel


For Darlene, the elegance of a tiny perfect golden flower and birds in flight.

Darlene holding her bird panel and her exquisite miniature cards

Darlene holding her bird panel and her exquisite miniature cards

Darlene's rice paper bird panel

Darlene’s rice paper bird panel

For Jocelyn, a fanciful hummingbird.

Jocelyn and Liz with their birds

Jocelyn and Liz with their birds

For Tania, the abundance of her own amazing imagination – taking form in jars of preserves., some of the jars unable to contain all their contents, bursting with possibility, and sometimes even with flight…

Tania's jars of preserves - almost complete

Tania’s jars of preserves – almost complete.