November 17, 2014

A Weekend of Wonder: Part 1

Cabinets of wonder, that is.

It started with this act of wonder that Himself made for me on our return from Idaho this summer.

The man is a wizard with a woodburner. I would have set it on fire,which is why I am not allowed to play with his toys.
He based it on a chest we saw in a small rural museum in Idaho, one that I thought would be perfect to store the artifacts that seem to follow us home on our Vandalization of the American West Project. (Its a Project. That means its not petty larceny.)

I figured filling the box would be a good Snow Day project and so I just left it alone. But, in truth, it intimidated me. That's because I wanted it to be more than just a shoebox where memories are stored...or a scrapbook where they are arranged creatively.  I wanted the experience of opening this box to transmit the spirit of adventure, the urge to discover, that pushes the two of us to see and touch What Was.

I had no idea of how to do that. I had no idea of how to even think about how to do that. My usual approach to creating pretty much mirrors Clutch's approach to eating food morsels on the floor:  go to it with gusto and decide afterwards whether it was the right strategy. But the difference between the dog and me is that when it doesn't work, he just throws up. Me? I suffer knots of frustration in my gut and usually just abandon ship in defeat. And THEN I throw up.

This time, Himself stepped in and suggested I prepare...prepare myself. He pointed me to a book:

Its an incredibly photographed look at curio collecting from all possible facets. It even had photographs of a thespian ancestor of Saskia's Old Bird King, dressed for his role as Tinkerbell in a Viking production of Peter Pan:
Somewhere in the paragraphs of fancy art theory I picked up exactly what I needed: the act of experiencing means more than just seeing or touching. First, I needed to call it a collection, I mean Collection. That means I became the curator...and my museum of adventure would be a Cabinet of Wonder.

Second, I needed to imbue the Collection itself with a sense of discovery in how you get to see or touch it.  I still wasn't sure how this would happen but somehow, I just believed that it would. From Saturday afternoon through Saturday evening, I sorted every object...touching, grouping, getting to know.

And then I reached for all the old boxes,the cloth scraps, the handmade paper, the strings--everything I could get my hands on that I had collected for years and years without ever knowing why.
You never know when you'll need a troll doll, apparently.
 Sunday began in the early morning and ended when the Hungry Woodburner showed up for dinner. I don't have words to explain what happened but I hope the pictures of my work in its  very early stages do it for me.

First, you open the lid and slide the tray...

And here's what you will find.
Each bears a decorated label, archiving its former home. And,for the most part, you need to do something to access what lies within.
This holds bits of hardware and glass in bag made from one of the first cloths I made for What If Diaries

Holds bits of rocks taken from bottom of hot springs, with rolled up map of how to get there.

Cloth from site sewed into a wrapping...

...that houses a jar found at Deadhorse Bay, which houses glass shards from Idaho. Screw still moves up and down!
I am master of the hot glue gun but Himself still won't let me use the woodburner.

But wait! There's more!


  1. will be back later for a proper comment as I'm late for work! for now this post and the next OMG I LOVE THEM, everything and all that's written and shown and not shown.....see you later

  2. oh Wow Oh Wow oh Wow Julie! love that there are openings and secrets and words and labels this is so brilliant!

  3. Wish you could sit on the floor and play with it.

  4. have come back for more: those bags you've sewn! the box with the tiny shelves, the bottle with movable screw....I'm drinking it all, salivating in fact...I've come home

    the photo of the bird-with-wings, are those dragonfly wings? I must show GhostBird this picture, although he keeps himself very busy with Emily these days, they are in love you see.

  5. it is all alive, isn't it. a quote from Kandinsky: " everything that's dead, quivers" i think
    off and on about your love of these artifacts but seeing this post, i will think ON about it.
    What it makes me feel like to read your words and see these quivering things....
    the BOX well, the BOX is Magnificant and oh so FINE. Brilliant Him!!!!!

    1. It must have been like this once, in those towns: "I need a box...a chair...a shelf...." And he would tear through the scrap pile and there it became. He has discovered Wood this year, like Cloth.