Precious Pages

The little handmade book that Emily made.

Every Sunday, when I was a kid, on his way to work, my father would drop me, my mother, sister and brother at my grandparent’s house in Queens, NY.  And every Sunday we’d walk to Liberty Avenue to shop in the stores with the trains rumbling above us on the El.

We’d always go to the same stores and rarely bought anything.

Sometimes we’d get a slice of pizza and a soda or on special days an Italian ice.  Once we got a whole sugar cane from the fruit and vegetable market.  My mother broke it into pieces and we sucked on it the whole way home.  We’d look at the puppies or kittens in the pet store window and in Woolworths I’d go right to the paper aisle.

There I’d stare at the receipt books, small pads of paper and large stacks of looseleaf,  without touching them,no matter how tempting, or ever believing I might be lucky enough to own one.  And I knew if I ever did, I’d never use it.  I’d be too afraid to ruin it or use it all up.

When I got the small handmade book with the felted cover and smooth blank pages in the mail last week, I had the same feeling.  I texted Emily who sent it to me to thank her and wrote, It’s so precious I may be afraid to use it.  

Remember, she wrote back, it’s just paper. 

My Sunday afternoon video chats with Emily have become a regular part of these coronavirus weeks.

We show each other what we’ve been working on then talk about it. We trade ideas, inspire each other, and are honest about our strengths and weaknesses.   We speak the same language.

Today as I was mulling over Emily’s collage making process, which seems the opposite of my creative process, I decided to use the book she sent to me to try it out.

We’re both additive and intuitive artists.

We start with one small piece or shape of paper for her and fabric for me and add on to it without knowing where it will go.  But while I am drawn to edges and how they fit and come together she layers her work.  Painting over, piling on, scratching and etching.

And as we talked about it, I saw the freedom in her process.

The first layers were almost like a warm-up, I thought.  They don’t have to be “right” because soon they’ll be underneath it all, just peeking through. And all that layering naturally creates texture, builds up dimensions until there’s nothing flat about it.  Which is very appealing to me.

I felt the same way I did when I first saw pictures of the Gees’ Bend quilts.  I thought, that’s something I would like to do. 

So in that moment, I decided to use the book Emily made to experiment with her creative process.  Now I’m excited to fill up those little precious pages instead of afraid.

Emily has a new coloring page for sale on her website papercakescissors called Eat More Veggies it’s just  $3 to download and you can buy it here.

Eat More Veggies By Emily Gold

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