Crafting My Life with Paper

comments (5) June 19th, 2008     

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Jeff_Rudell Jeffery Rudell, contributor
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A quick look around my studio reveals a lifelong fascination with scraps, misfits, and things most people would call trash. A floral frog (the spiky kind) is a perfect way to organize paper scraps for later use.
I keep boxes of my mistakes (and I make a lot of them), my extras, and experiments that didnt quite work. On countless occasions, these misfits have saved me when I was short on ideas or on a tight deadline.
I always have a stack of origami paper (or colorful Post-It notes) lying around. Whenever Im doing something that leaves my hands free, I fold forms. After all, Christmas is only a few months away, and there are ornaments to be made.
Floral Frogs (wonderful contraptions designed to sit in the bottom of vases and hold flowers stems in place) make a handy addition to any desktop; mine hold paint brushes and paper scraps.
A quick look around my studio reveals a lifelong fascination with scraps, misfits, and things most people would call trash. A floral frog (the spiky kind) is a perfect way to organize paper scraps for later use.

A quick look around my studio reveals a lifelong fascination with scraps, misfits, and things most people would call "trash." A floral frog (the spiky kind) is a perfect way to organize paper scraps for later use.

Photo: Jeffery Rudell

My father was a foreman in a paper mill. He spent his life transforming trees, straw, and cotton into product labels, cardboard boxes, and reams of crisp white paper. He oversaw quality at the mill, so for him, paper was flawless, bright, and strong, or it was worthless. As a consequence, my childhood was populated by mountains of misfit paper; rolls of bright silver foil meant for wrapping cigarettes; sheets of cardboard emblazoned with product logos, and cases of uncut labels—all of which suffered from some slightly inaccurate color match or irregularly cut edge.

My mother, a resourceful quilter and crafter, put these items to good use. One year, she wrapped all of our presents in sheets of Campbell Soup labels (our so-called “Warhol Christmas”). She papered one wall of my bedroom with red and black playing cards, making me the envy of all my friends in the neighborhood. And once, she covered a large appliance crate with yellow and green Argo brand cornstarch boxes and christened the vessel, "the great ship Argo; pride of the Greeks.” I enjoyed hours of play in that box, sailing through a green and purple sea of wild clover before a late afternoon thunderstorm did its worst and the Argo wilted into a heap of wet and buckling cardboard.

Paper was my first playmate, my constant companion, my catechism in graphic design, and fuel for my imagination. Like most crafters, I have the-many-who-came-before-me to thank for generously sharing their ideas and techniques and now I’m thrilled to have a chance here, to continue the tradition and pass along some of my own ideas. I hope you enjoy them.

The skills required to do any of the projects I'll be writing about are the usual ones for crafters—a willingness to make mistakes, patience with yourself, and some creativity. Beyond that, all you really need to do is exercise care when using sharp tools.

I will begin with the strictly two-dimensional and move on from there. Some of the projects I'll present are very simple; some are a bit more complex. None of them are too difficult, though, so I hope you'll try your hand at them. You are welcome to modify my designs to better fit your tastes, skills, or the amount of time you're willing to commit to doing them. I've tried to keep my directions clear and concise, but if you find that you need clarification on any point, just post a query below, and I'll do my best to post an answer for you. And finally, after the first few posts, I'll share with you some of the work I’ve done for clients, so you can see the ends to which I’m (sometimes) willing to go for the sake of paper.

Let me know what you think of this blog, and please add any tips of your own you’d like to share.

ADDENDUM

Per the request of "artlikebread" I've added a picture of the "spiky kind" of floral frog I use to keep my paper scraps organized. Other types of floral frogs come in handy for organizing pencils and paint brushes. Thanks for the request.

 

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Comments (5)

debera writes: Hi Jeff,
you mentioned that you would like a challenge - well here's one for you...can you design home decor items made out of paper that a person with only one functioning hand can complete?
It's me, of course, that needs the projects and I can't find anything on the web other than mobiles and framing photographs that come under home decorating. I too love paper, I have lots and lots of designs saved in email folders, my favourites, downloads etc and I want to print them off and make pretty things for my house with them, but I can't seem to find some patterns/templates/ideas I can use - and manage one handed. I'm pretty good with one hand, so please see if you can find anyting for me.

Kind regards
Deb

Posted: 11:51 pm on March 6th
artlikebread writes: Now I get it! Thanks for posting the picture!! :o)
Posted: 6:35 pm on July 29th
Jeff_Rudell writes: Dear artlikebread: Thank you for your kind comment. I've added a picture of floral frogs, per your request. You can find these items at your local florist (and often at your local flea market, too.) Craft on!
Posted: 8:11 am on June 23rd
Laurel_Tuohy writes: Your storytelling skills are as wonderful and colorful as your paper creations - I can just picture the Warholian presents, playing-card accent wall and Argo ship...Thanks!
Posted: 9:00 pm on June 20th
artlikebread writes: Hello Jeffrey! I love the title of this blog post. I also have a great love for paper and paper crafts. Lucky you for having such a cool and creative mom. :o) I am wondering if you can post a link or a picture of the kind of floral frog you've mentioned above for organizing scraps. Thanks!! -Cami
Posted: 3:31 am on June 20th
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