So what is “hand art”? When I was trying to categorize this piece, I came up with the term because it is something you must hold and explore with your hands. Some people might call it an “artist’s book” but it really is different from a book in that it is a collection of small objects.
I also consider my artists books to be hand art as are other small works that can be picked up and fondled such as fetishes, small dolls, all forms of cards, little quilts, and even jewelry. I’m drawn to making these small pieces partly because I like working small and partly because I don’t have a lot of storage space for large sculpture and paintings.
I like pockets a lot. They hold the necessities of life such as a tissues, shopping lists, found treasure such as a feathers, heart shaped stones, bits of rusted metal, and coins. In fact, when I shop for clothing I avoid buying pants and jackets that have no pockets. I especially like to create pockets out of fabric and paper and put surprises in them.
I often find myself picking up stray feathers when I take a walk. Over the years I’ve accumulated many black, grey and white feathers that have survived living in my pockets. So, one day several years ago when I was looking at my feather collection, it occurred to me that it would be fun to make an art piece using feathers and pockets. I started a project box for this idea and have been adding ideas, feathers and other related materials ever since. I dedicated my September art retreat to working with the feathers and pockets.
I decided that since most of my found feathers were black, grey and white, I should create the pockets using papers of similar colors. I started with Sumi ink and Velin Arches, my all-time favorite paper, and made marks that reminded me of feathers. These papers became the raw material for the pockets. For contrast I added black art papers and built a series of seven pockets in assorted sizes. I made bird silhouette stencils to embellish the covers.
Recently I have been using stitching in my projects. So I turned to my sewing machine as the main tool for creating pockets. Somehow glue just didn’t seem to be the proper medium for pocket construction.
I was particularly challenged when it came to inserting the feathers in the pockets. I discovered that they were easily damaged and needed protection so they could be handled. This resulted in the development of yet more pockets to protect and preserve each feather inside its pocket.
Once the pockets were finished and the feathers carefully placed inside I was faced with the challenge of how to make the group of pockets a cohesive art piece. I placed them in a bird shaped basket I had found at a thrift store. It didn’t quite work. So my solution was yet one more pocket made from the sumi paper. I created a large pocket to contain the feathered pockets. When you look inside, you are treated to the surprise – many little pockets to open and explore.
A final note:
I have many more feathers in my “project box” just waiting for pockets. Time for another look at how they can be transformed into more hand art!!!!