Friday, November 21, 2014

The evolution of a project ...

Last September I wrote about the evolution of an idea. Today's post is about how a project grew from seeing something that piqued my creative curiosity to hosting a collaborative project inspired by it and eventually developing a teachable class.







It started with this: London, A Three-Dimensional Expanding City Skyline by Sarah McMenemy. I found this book (surprise!) in London. There was something so lovely about it  - how it folded out so big (over three feet long when extended) and condensed to something so small (just over 4" x 4.5"). And then there's the colours, the sights featured (been there! done that!), the die cut skyline, the extra pop-up bits - yum! Looking this up on Amazon I see she's done other locations as well: Paris, New York, Berlin, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (oh my!).

When I got  home I put it away, as one often does with the little treasures of travel, but it popped into my mind 6 months ago while looking for the next collaborative for the Vancouver Artist Card Group (of which I am the humble organizer). I organize 2-3 collaboratives a year for the group ~ I think it would be shame to have a group of creatives together and not *do* something. So I took out the expanding London and tried to condense it (if you will pardon the pun) into something a group could manage, and something I could create instructions for. Then I created a prototype, which looked like this:


I thought it looked like a fun and do-able group project. I particularly enjoyed creating the backs of the houses with bicycles and recycling bins, as you can see above. So ... I created a set of instructions, a set of templates for possible house shapes and went off to the next ATC group meeting with sign-up sheet in hand. I had a good response from the group, and (as I was hoping) they got creative in a whole bunch of ways ~ from houses with onion-shaped roofs, to cars in the driveway and lots of other little details. Here's the collaborative village ...

One day, I was chatting with Sue Farrant, who hosts the Paper Angels Art Retreat twice a year, and she asked me what I'd been up to and I dug out the Accordion Village collaborative and she got this twinkle in her eye and said: How would you feel about developing this into a class for the next retreat? She told me Stampin' Up had a new set of stamps and dies in house shapes that would be perfect for this. I hesitated a little. It's been awhile since I taught an actual "class". I mean, I teach *all the time* at the ATC group, but it's just chatting with friends, so there's not much pressure. Then she showed me the paper she had in mind for the project and it was so deliciously wintery without being Christmassy (long story) that I pretty much had to go for it. And so I did (how's that for condensing a very long story into a very short one? Lol).

And here's the result ...
I taught the class at the November Paper Angels Retreat, and I'm very pleased to say that all ten students left with something looking very much like the prototype ... each with their own individual twist on decoration, mind you, which is another concern I had ... I'm all about everyone finding their voice and while I knew the important thing was to teach the structure (accordion book), I *really* wanted them to see how flexible this project is when it comes to personal taste. The stamp set itself is *very* flexible. In fact, the weekend before the retreat, on Hallowe'en night (we have zero trick-or-treaters in our neighbourhood, so I was completely undisturbed) I made a Hallowe'en version:
The stamp set not only has wintery and Christmassy things, it also has bats, a ghost and spidery cobweb.  A simple change of paper colours, and the whole thing looks completely different. For the Hallowe'en village I made backs for the houses using what I call my "brayer layers" ~ the leftovers where I clean my brayer on Reader's Digest text pages while playing with my Gelli plate. In my studio nothing goes to waste! And the die cuts made it easy to do ~ no fussy cutting of shapes ~ bonus!

So, there you are ... from inspiration to collaboration to instruction in three steps. And for those of you who're interested ... I created a 12-page full-colour step-by-step instruction book for the project, and I've also got Winter Village kits using the same papers we used in the class (as shown in the Winter Village photos above). The kits have everything pre-stamped and pre-cut, and include all the trimmings so you can make your own winter village. The books by themselves are $10 and the totally ready-to-go kits (including a book) are $25, postage included. Just send me an email and let me know if you're interested.

And that whole teaching thing? Yep ... guess I'll be doing more of that ... there's another Paper Angels retreat coming up in the spring, and if Sue asks me ... I've already got ideas dancing in my head ... you might want to watch this blog for more info ...

5 comments:

George Wright said...

Great explanation of your process and how flexible the design of this project is! Lucky kit buyers - they get them cut out already, LOL. I esp. like the Winter Village photo collage - I pinned it to my Cool Stuff page! Nice work -

Rose

crazy4atc said...

You are one of the most amazingly creative people I have ever met. I have learned so much from you over the past 10 years,you are always a motivating and inspirational force at the Vancouver ATC swap every month. The House project that you organized for the Van swap impacted on many creative souls. With your permission the project was also done by the Pitt Meadows ATC swap and now at the Bellingham group. Everyone has been so pleased with the results of what you started.Thank you again!!!

Bee Manghi said...

FaBuLoUs! i love the backs for the houses on both. i caught a glimpse of a halloween back door. these look like so much fun to make!

Sue C said...

I loved this class at the Paper Angels Retreat! Your instructions were crystal clear and your teaching style is wonderful. And to be able to walk away with such a great instruction booklet as well was a real gift. Thanks for a great class. My two friends who took the class with me have never done this type of paper craft before, and both of them enjoyed it immensely!

Mary said...

Great description of how this idea evolved. It was so much fun making both of the villages. Thanks again for all you do to inspire the creative process for the rest of us. You are an amazing artist and teacher! So sharing of your time and talent. Looking forward to future classes.

Mary