Crafting Long Distancecomments (2) August 15th, 2008
Shannon Lowry came up with a story of two little girls named Ruby and Esme, long-distance friends who like to trade creative projects back and forth through the mail. She enlisted the help of her friend Kathie Sever to illustrate the story. And the two of them decided to share the whole process of their collaboration on this children's book, so they started a blog, called Back and Forth project.
Says Shannon, "I really liked the idea of sharing the good AND hard parts of the process, in the same way that two people would approach an art project, installation, or show. This is a book that is trying to convey not only the back-and-forth relationship between Ruby and Esme, but [also] between the two friends that made the book."
To that end, the Back and Forth Project blog has dealt with early design concepts, story revisions, and even the occasional creative block. Readers have become as involved in the project's progress as Shannon and Kathie are, posting encouraging comments and suggestions.
"I was actually caught quite off-guard by the (almost entirely positive) energy generated by getting so many other people 'in' on the infancy of my process," says Kathie. "Even though the support and enthusiasm was so fantastic, it led to some good, old-fashioned, need-to-please anxiety that was causing me to constrict around the project a bit. So I shared this on the blog, was able to articulate it, and then move it on through! Blog therapy, you might call it."
As they got to know their blog readers a bit, Shannon and Kathie came to realize that back-and-forth creativity is going on between friends all over, and they decided to celebrate it on their blog. Friend Friday was born.
Crafters and artists of all stripes are invited to create a project for Friend Friday. All you need is a friend with whom you'll mail the project back and forth, each of you adding a little bit at a time. Each Friday, Shannon and Kathie share one of these back-and-forth projects on their blog.
The Friend Friday projects are very inspiring. Al Pagano of Tulsa, OK, and Kristine Youngblood of Chicago are working on a diorama together. Deborah Bean and her friend Maggie are passing a journal and quilt squares back and forth. Shelley Jones and her best friend Leslie are collaborating long-distance on a memory book..
How is this kind of back-and-forth creating different from keeping up with a friend by phone or email?
"Email seems to me like a conversation at a cerebral level, where co-creation seems more like a conversation at an energetic level," says Kathie. And Shannon adds: "It's like a long-distance friendship has a special purpose, because you have to go the extra mile to keep it strong. And that can be dreamy and fantastic if you can create the habit of inspiring new ways to stay connected."
Meanwhile, the two are staying connected with each other through their Ruby and Esme project. You can keep up on their progress at Back and Forth project. And if you're inspired to start a long-distance collaboration with a friend, be sure to submit it to Friend Friday!