I have always loved Smash Books. Those books that you take forever to fill with art and poetry and lists and color and texture and which help you to do your own self therapy; art self therapy. I've always thought it would be good and so cathartic to work out an issue through art to learn something about yourself through brushes and pencils and markers and so on...
My beloved and ultra creative and talented sister, Janet, offered to teach me and some of our other sisters about making smash books so that we could explore this intentional creative therapy for ourselves. I jumped right in and rapidly discovered that working outside of your preferred medium can be a right bastard of a struggle.
I decided I would like to work on a project to learn to "speak my truth". This means something different to each person but I mean to open my throat chakra and allow myself to speak up and be heard instead of just sighing a lot and feeling trapped and hurt when I am not understood or heard. Your intention could be anything from wanting to learn to eat to live and not reward yourself with food to letting go of old hurts or addressing how you feel about abuse you suffered or letting go of anger.
I began my book like this:
I started with a book of my choosing (it was suggested that an inexpensive book like a composition book would be fine and perhaps preferred so that's what I chose.)
I glued two pages back to back through out the book to make the pages more sturdy with a glue stick successfully. (So, I've got that going for me.)
I gilded the edges of the pages blue using an acrylic paint because I had it on hand and because blue seemed the right color for the project. The color of the throat chakra is blue.
I was supposed to put a book mark or ribbon in after every 8 pages. I didn't like that idea and I was struggling to find a way to accomplish it in a way that was comfortable for me. I guess I didn't see the purpose and there probably was a good reason for them but I didn't ask because I am an incredibly stubborn person. Really, really stubborn. Trust me.
I decided to skip the ribbons for now and work on a page. I was just looking and looking at that book day after day and nothing was coming to me. I decided to gesso a couple of pages to make them good surfaces to paint on and I even tinted some gesso with acrylic paint. Still nothing.
I wanted to include this super cool quote I found on Facebook so I glued it in the book and stared at it for a while. Nothing. Just crickets, man. Zip. Zilch. I was starting to get angry with the book.
This didn't seem right so I just walked away from the book for a day or two. Then, I talked to Janet. Did I mention how super awesome she is? Not even kidding.
Sometimes what you really need to do is explain the issue out loud to someone else to come up with the solution. That's what I did.
Paper is not my medium, I realized. That's why I've been getting rid of all my decorative paper and scrapbooking stuff. I had so much and it never got used. HOWEVER, it's pretty clear I love fabric. I have drawer after drawer and bin after bin full of fabric. I love to dye it and sew it and stitch things to it and glue things to it and paint it and embroider it... FABRIC IS MY MEDIUM. It's how I express myself.
So, how do I do a Smash Book type project with fabric? That's the project I'm going to share with you; my "Squish Book". I've already started.
I'm going to need 16 squares of fabric of the same size (I picked squares of 12.5 inches but I don't think it matters if they are all the same or if they are the same shape even. That was just my choice.) and I'm going with all cotton fabrics because I like working with cotton fibers. I didn't choose the same weaves or weight or density for all of them. They are all a bit different. Some are just plain undyed and unbleached muslin. Some are fabrics I tie dyed. Some are quilt fabric I really liked.
I picked 16 squares because it makes a 4 by 4 layout and I can make that into a wall hanging easily. It would be just over 4 feet by 4 feet square once all the piecing and finishing is done. Not 100% that's the way I'll go but it's why I figured the sizes and numbers. I could also sew them all in a banner like prayer flags. That might be cool too.
The same way I glued pages together to make them sturdier, I overlocked the edges of my fabric on my sewing machine with just whatever thread I had in the machine. Turns out it was just an off white general purpose thread which worked fine.
Some of the fabrics are more flimsy so I might iron some interfacing to the back of them. More on that later.
Next time, I'll talk about how I tackle the "gilding" of my "pages" and a few other things. I'll try to post some pictures too.