Awareness: Shoe Boxes & Found-Objects

Ephemera with Cross

I’m pulling this one out of the archive closet. It really speaks to this newly purposed blog format for the Messy Room. And it also speaks to journaling the journey!

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Original Entry: April 5, 2007

Those of you who signed up for our manifestation series will know what I mean when I say I am working on the first part of the formula. Got to walk the talk, right? So, I want to share a fun awareness that very quietly slipped into view last week – between the waxing moon and full moon.

Something interesting – or should I say someone interesting – has reappeared. My artist self. It took two layovers in Atlanta, a week apart, in one particular bookstore – wandering the aisles and killing time between Feng Shui appointments – to finally notice her presence. (I live a good ways from Atlanta so I consider these kind of layovers a real treat.)

Anyway, back to wandering the aisles, sipping coffee, and scanning the usual shelves. (Self help. Interior design. Philosophy. Metaphysical.) On my second visit, I found an angel card deck by Doreen Virtue that was not sealed and treated myself to a mini-reading. That must have been where my artist self saw her opportunity to sneak in because immediately afterward I landed in the art section, specifically the craft section, pouring through pages and pages of how to’s. Papermaking, hand-bound journals, altered books, collages, artist trading cards. Art decorated with found objects given a new purpose. Bits and pieces of God knows what from God knows where. The funkier the better.

Guess I got a little tipsy because the next thing I knew I was in the checkout line with a book on art dolls. That is when my artist self tapped me on the shoulder and posed an interesting question, one that I have not been able to shake:

What kind of artist would you be today if you stepped back into your art, Bernadette?

Stepped back into my art? I wasn’t aware that I had ever stepped out.

Vertical EphemeraSince then, she has gently led me past my formal training in two-dimensional art and design to the little girl who drew paper dolls, designed their wardrobe, cut them out, and played with them. To the mixed media child who covered shoe boxes (inside and out) with aluminum foil and colored tissue paper and then glued bits of ribbon, broken pieces of jewelry, scraps of netting, plastic flowers (Yep. I’m a survivor of the tacky plastic flower era), rocks, seashells, and any other fair-game-found-objects into her little shadow box world. A world that was often integrated with religious themes; her favorite being those that incorporated a statue of the Virgin Mary from her mother’s dresser in a grotto-like setting. (As grotto-like as you can get in a box covered with aluminum foil.) She especially liked to attach little handmade cards with a poem or verse – or better yet, the promise of a novena and gift her creations “To Mom.” Creations that only a mother could love – and a blessed mother at that!

Viewing my intrigue for funky, mixed-media expressions of art these last couple of years as an anomaly, her reappearance assures me with a sense of continuity and leaves me with a distinct feeling that, when my life supports a little more time for creative expression of the visual kind, she will be the artist that gets to play.

Why? Because what she finds enthusiasm for is symbolic and rather plentiful in my life right now. Collage-like days that reflect bits and pieces of experiences combined not so much for the purpose of an obviously finished masterpiece but for the pleasure of an obviously unfinished process. Snippets of inspiration. Of this and that pulled together. Magical creations. Mixed-media expressions of a multi-dimensional spirit. Past. Present. Future. Revealed in the spontaneity of the moment. Clip it. Paste it. Throw a little glitter on it. What a wonderful meditative practice her art form could be. I find myself thinking about the kind of workshops she would want to give. Messy ones that tap into and somehow express sanctuary, spirituality, and the goddess – a la Mary and the grotto; prayers included.

So, my awareness in this first cycle? My artistic urges to gather fair-game-found-objects and hide them in shoe boxes in the back of my closet are, in fact, not an anomaly or a childish phase, but a clue. An answer. My artist self was there in the beginning with a purpose and has reappeared with a purpose – and I’m quite curious to see what we will be creating together.

Anybody else want to play? Pull out your shoe boxes and jump right in!

If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy: My Life as Ephemera

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20 thoughts on “Awareness: Shoe Boxes & Found-Objects

  • May 11, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Love this. I used to build entire doll houses out of cardboard boxes, make furniture out of 2 x 4’s, thanks, in large part, to my father’s generous gift of his workshop. I still like to play with cardboard! Thanks for the memories … I loved plastic flowers, too ~

    Martha Garvey, author “My Fat Cat: Ten Simple Steps to Help Your Pet Lose Weight for a Long and Happy Life.”

  • February 10, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Ephemera, found objects, bits of this and scraps of that. That is who we are and what we are becoming and what we create. My art room is ready now after the move. Each day I walk past the messy room and long to hang out in there for awhile. But each day is filled with obligations from the other side of my life. So I give it a nod and of to the orderly part of the house and the more hectic side of my life. Uh, some day there will be time.

    • February 11, 2011 at 8:08 am

      I can hardly wait to see your new messy room, girl … and I have a box of really cool glass jars that you can re-purpose … so clear a shelf for them!

  • February 11, 2011 at 7:37 am

    “What kind of artist would you be today if you stepped back into your art, Bernadette?” – As ACIM would say, each of us has a very highly individualized curriculum. When opportunities come at us and they are converted to lessons because we are not ready to accept their gifts, the universe holds these things in trust for us, waiting for the moment when we are ready. It sounds like that your artist moment has arrived :). Now, can you help me get ready for mine???!!! 🙂

    • February 11, 2011 at 8:07 am

      We’re in this together, my dear. I “treasure” the ephemeral thought to share your discoveries. 🙂

      “holds these things in trust for us, waiting for the moment when we are ready. ” Thanks for the affirmation!

  • February 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    “Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.” Tina Turner. Tina Turner?..who knew..?

    And my fav quote on creativity..“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Albert Einstein

    What a creative and inventive group your friends are. I really enjoy this blog. Sing your song…

    • February 12, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      YES, Joseph! You all are! I count myself very fortunate to share this blogging time with so many great folks. Thanks for the quotes, though I might want to discuss Albert’s quote … perhaps I don’t understand what he meant. (I take it as the secret to ‘appearing’ creative …) I consider myself creative but don’t think in terms of hiding my sources to appear more so. My life and messy room are open books. Thus this blog. So, if YOU are here that makes YOU a SOURCE and NOT a secret. Though I do find you to be mysterious! 🙂

      • February 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

        Ha! I thought you would question that one! Good eye! Remember, Albert was a commercial inventor..probably had patent concerns when he wrote that! I took it to mean if you wake up after your New Year’s Eve party with a ribbon on your head, don’t tell anyone how you came about that new hat style! 🙂 But true creativity is in the sharing of thoughts and ideas that stimulate us to express our own unique flair and imagination IMO! Now what do you think of THIS quote? “The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.”
        Julia Cameron

  • February 16, 2011 at 12:08 am

    “The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” hmmm … Do I smell a set up here, Joseph? I can hear the angels laughing, “You know he’s got you pegged on this one, B.” 🙂 Is there such a thing as controlled surrender?

    Lets just say, the more I can surrender the sweeter the creative process is and my ‘best’ ideas come when I least expect them … perhaps moments of absolute surrender? I think the control challenge as it relates to creativity for me is still one of time. And THAT process of surrender is not so sweet. I paint and write freely in my mind and in my dreams … however in the world of physical bodies I wrestle … so, thank God it’s a process. That means I’m not finished and there is still hope. So, what do you think? Have I wriggled off the peg, J?

    • February 18, 2011 at 11:27 am

      I’m no expert, but IMO the challenges you speak of are the very essence of the creative process. In my mind (?) all creation begins with…mind. You write and paint freely in there because that’s where Bernadette IS. Those feelings then become our thoughts and visualizations; followed by the nasty details we all deal with in manifesting any kind of actions. We frame the concept of time, evaluate our talent, worry about our results and constantly deal with the physical limitations of our reality. But have heart…I think it’s supposed to be this way. Don’t fight it, surrender to it. What you create is you, what gets out is out, and in the end no matter how good or well received it is…it is what it is. Or, you can create like I do…copy and paste! Your messy room teaches this lesson very well. Something created and discarded so very long ago fills a repurpose many years later. I think it is our basic creative nature to wriggle off the peg we planted. That’s how we survive..:)

      • February 19, 2011 at 10:34 am

        Well said. 🙂 Thank you for that ‘breathing space’ Joseph!

  • February 18, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Reading this took me back again to my artsy crafty mother who glittered and gilted anything she could get her hands on (not that crafting is a “bad” thing… I made my contribution to the household funds from crafting for several years). And, I also remembered how when we lived at the beach I loved to collect little shells and decorate items – sometimes little boxes – other times little mirrors – with them. BUT, I had glass jars to keep my shells in and that along with my Elmer’s glue could be kept out of the way so that everything remained “neat”.

    I realize that while I enjoy being creative I can only do that if I can put things away when I’m finished. Even though I had a sewing room, at one point, I could never do a project that I couldn’t complete in a couple of hours because I couldn’t stand the mess. It’s didn’t take me long to give up sewing. I was very controlled in what I did and how I did it. I finally gave up doing floral arranging, & other crafts, at home, at one point because it was just too much of a hassle to take things out and put them back. I don’t think much is different, now. I have quite a bit of “stuff” but, everything has its place (except for the hubby’s closet & drawers – so, our agreement is that I don’t look in them). Everything is in alignment and balanced. I’m glad to say that I’ve “grown” over the years to the point that I have no problem with going to bed with dishes in the sink (as long as they’ve been stacked : D) And, often during weekends home is just a stopping off point, so clutter accumulates – but, by Sunday evening I have to start putting things where they go. I have a need for order. I know where the need comes from – I’ve “explored” it at length & depth – and am comfortable with it. I’m so loose in other areas, it probably helps me to maintain a sense of balance : D There are times that I wished I could just lose myself in the creativity – letting go of the need for order, just for a little while…but, now I’m content to write songs/music as my creative expression… where the only mess is the mess of thoughts/lyrics/melodies in my mind…

    I read, with interest, the Julia Cameron quote. For the past week the book “The Vein of Gold” has been calling me… I bought it when it first came out (following The Artist’s Way) and read a little and never got around to finishing (as is the case with a lot of books).

    There is a reason this is coming up. I know whenever something gets repeated several times, in a short period, it is a divine message coming through others… I’ll keep you posted… <3

    • February 19, 2011 at 10:29 am

      Yes! I believe things ‘repeat’ for reasons and knowing how creative you are, Michele, I am excited to hear of your discoveries! 🙂

      Like you, I need a sense of order in my home. (Don’t always accomplish it but do try to strive for it.) I have my little sacred places that center me before I go out into the world. In working with people in their homes, I have to be centered or I am of no use to them as we sort through THEIR “shoe boxes & found objects.” I often find myself time-traveling with them as they process though the feelings their stuff brings up as we release or re-purpose – so a sense of self and Source is important.

      I like to make a distinction between creative clutter and out of control clutter. I have no trouble making a mess while I am working but have to clean up when I’m done. Finding what we need when we need it not only helps in the day-to-day living stuff but it is a must when the creativity bug bites. Nothing will throw a creative plan in the dumper faster than not being able to find one’s tools because the critic’s voice (that so many creatives fight) has time to gather forces while we are looking.

      You brought up a good point about the hassle of not having a place to freely explore our creative urges. It reminded me of the movie, “Field of “Dreams.” Build it and they will come. I like to say “purpose it” and it will happen. Or in some cases, RE-purpose it. Think out of the box … or glass jar. 🙂

      Who says a dining room has to remain a dining room if we really don’t eat in it but twice a year? Ray knows an artist whose whole living room is her studio. You walk into her home and her beautiful mess is there to greet you! She has a den in the back of the house where she and her husband can hang out. Some might say it should be the opposite – studio in the back – but that is not who she is and as a result of her non-traditional dedication of a major portion of her home she is supported in her endeavors as an accomplished portrait artist who stays very busy!

      So, my challenge, in our little mill house, is to RE-purpose a place. Right now it is a corner of Ray’s studio. But I have a feeling, once I get going (and stop stacking and re-stacking my shoe boxes) I will be outgrowing it and having to think out of the box! Right now, I am eyeing the 2′ space between the top of the closet that Ray and my Dad built into the room (these old houses didn’t ‘do’ closets) and ceiling where we keep his canvases and our old artwork … I’ll keep YOU posted as well! 🙂

      • February 20, 2011 at 12:11 am

        I understand about the repurposing or combining to serve 2 or more purposes. I gave up having a 2nd guest room – where the hand-carved French Provincial furniture that I grew up with – and, became mine when I moved out – would be in order to have a room that would serve as a combination office & music room/recording studio. I’m really fine with not having a space to do other artsy-crafty things…at least for now. I’ve spent most of my life drawing, painting, doing needle-arts, stained glass, dried & silk arrangements, and much more. On the rare occassion I feel like I want to arrange something or paint something I have no qualms about clearing off either the dining room or kitchen table (by the way – we eat in the kitchen at lunch time and eat in the dining room every night, that we’re home… I don’t believe in having unused space or things…if it’s in the house it gets used). This is the time to focus on music though…singing…drumming…etc… Trust me – if at some point I have a desire to do anyting differently and find or rearrange space, it’s not a problem.

        You might remember I posted the quote “Creative clutter is better than idle neatness”. They are distinctly diff to me, too. Although possibly not in the same way. Creative clutter is how I decorate. It’s in how I group “things”, the colors I use, the serene, homey, comfy feeling I create. A place that invites people to come in and just exhale…

        I bless you for helping others do what they can’t do alone… I’ve moved somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 times as an adult so weeding out, sorting, discarding, redoing, etc… is something that I can’t imagine doing for others as “work”. If someone is moving, I will help pack someone’s kitchen and then arrange it, or their china cabinet or linen closet..and, hang stuff on the walls ..I’ll even help pick out paint and wall paper and help with that part of the process…those are the “fun” things to me… but, no more weeding, etc… <3

  • February 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I don’t know about where y’all are, but it is much too nice outside where I am to even worry about messy rooms right now 🙂 I want to play around with the ephemera found in what Mother Nature has left outdoors and in the warm soil! Of course, alas, it will not last……darn February. Happy Friday.

    • February 19, 2011 at 10:53 am

      It’s the garden fairy!!! How many trees and bushes have you planted, today, my dear?

      AND am I sensing a sub-text here? Am I busted? Should I say “ouch” dear friend? 🙂

      Okay … I am backing away from the computer now and going out into the world to play. The sky is blue and I have a 40% off coupon from Hobby Lobby that expires today! I’m outa here! xoxo

      • February 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm

        waxing philosophically should never stand in the way of a 40% off coupon! Now THAT’S a sub-text! 🙂

    • February 26, 2011 at 11:09 pm

      What fun!! You have inspired my muse to share your link as a post. Awesome shots!

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