Monday, December 21, 2009

Botanica Box

It's 5:35 a.m. and I am still awake, packing up those tires-squealing, last second, do-I-maybe-still-stand-a-chance-to-get-these-things-somewhere-on-time gifts. Most of these are, of course, the ones I made by hand, so it's not just putting paper around a box, it's also making adjustments, putting this together with that, and I'll admit it, actually making a few of the items from scratch today. I'm relieved, at least, that my craftsiness only extends to side order gifts because if I had to come up with stuff worthy of being the main course, I would never get to sleep all year.
Well, that's not entirely true. This year Scott wanted his gift to his mom to be a floral arrangement I made. He picked the colors and I even managed to drag him slowly through the faux flora section of AC Moore to get him to pick out all of the flowers (or at least pick from amongst several I picked that weren't too absurd--I had to waft him away from the ginormous globular hydrangia puffs he kept picking out since two of them would have overflowed the container he wanted) so in my opinion, he genuinely deserves credit for the gift despite my assembly. And I did that assembly between 3:30 and now. And here I thought this kind of last minute frantic cramming ended when I graduated. I think it came out pretty well, though looking at it from here I see two flowers that are out of place. It's making me nuts to see those two flowers sticking out, but not quite nuts enough to make me get up and fix it just now, I'm so tired.

On to the photos. The pics I've uploaded depict a project I made for the Alphastamps matchbox shrine swap. Alphastamps is a fantastic store full of all sorts of beautiful trinkets, stamps, and collage supplies, quite possibly my favorite out there. The people in the swap group make the most amazing things. They're all quite talented to the point where I feel almost unworthy of being included. Every swap is a great learning experience, and I highly encourage anyone interested in honing their crafting skills to join.

The matchboxes in this swap are approximately 1.5x2.5 or thereabouts. Think of the kind of matchboxes you used to (and maybe still sometimes do, somewhere) find in gigantic fishbowls on the way out of restaurants. In this case, I ordered mine guessed it...Alpha Stamps, where I also picked up the beautiful floral dresden, the momento mori scrap, and the nifty skull and rose (not shown, but used in some of the boxes I swapped away) cubichon that went into collaging this little "shrine").
Some of my readers may not be familiar with dresden and, oh my, you should be because it's one of my favorite things in the world. These are bits of german paper "scrap", generally dry embossed, often metallic, that were popular in the 1800's to embellish family albums, decorate greeting cards, etc. The other item that might not be immediately recognized is the momento mori scrap. A momento mori is any type of personal trinket intended to keep one's dead a little closer in one's memory. Some that are popular among collectors include hair jewelry (though it's not exclusively made from the hair of the dead, it often is considered funerary jewelry). Check it out online. While I'm hair-phobic (Hair is creepy once it's detached from its human. Seriously.) I have to admit, it is quite beautiful. In this case, however, our momento mori is a sheet of photos of taken after the death of a loved one. Because it wasn't common for families to have their own cameras until fairly recently, and because having one's picture made was both an expensive and tedious production (involving standing very still--this is why people's eye often look weird or blurry in old photos. Their eyes moved during the long exposure process), many people didn't have photos of their loved ones around. So, when someone died, more often than not, if the family wanted to ever see their lost one's face again, would need to have a picture made. To contemporary Americans, who don't really have much contact with their dead anymore, but in the past this was not unusal at all. I know if I lost someone and had no photos, I'd have it done rather than have no reminder of their appearance.
I was playing with the idea of the different ways we encounter flowers, how pretty, innocent, and lovely scented they can be, but also how they can be sad or even sinister. I wanted to have it be a bit of a surprise when you open it, like "eyeew" almost. Like once on the playground in elementary school, one of the girls thought she caught a hummingbird and was completely charmed...until the teacher told her what she was cradling in her hands was the biggest locust she'd ever seen. She shrieked and threw it down. It was interesting how fast her reaction changed, though it was the same thing she had been holding so dearly a second ago.
So, check out Alpha Stamps and give matchbox shrines a try. If you do, please send me a link to your photos. I'd love to see them!

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