I often hear the question, “How did you start doing this?” I like the recognition that Paper Tapestry is different. Believe it or not, this technique was created by accident, the result of play.
In 2007 a small group of artists (a writer, photographer, weaver, poet) and I started working through Julia Cameron’s book “Artist Way”. When we completed the work of the book we started devising creative exercises for each other. The one I created asked us to list five things (person, place, idea, thing, other) that just made us sing, feel good. Then to create a list of five things that made our skin crawl, made us feel awful. Then we had to put one pair of items together (one good, one bad) in an art piece. Until this point I had been doing a lot of paper boxes and art books. I chose to create some quick paper collages to create my images.
I took papers that I used for boxes to create an image of my garden I had just designed and planted and an image of devastation in the refuge camps of Darfur. My mom was a weaver so I decided to weave the pieces together, but instead of cutting the warp and weft as straight lines, I cut them in contours. When I think back on this choice, I don’t remember a “why?”. I was just playing, exploring, doing things differently on purpose. When I wove them together, the image of Darfur disappeared and my garden remained. The thought that went through my head that I only see the world through what I know. Will I ever really understand the horrors of Darfur?
A week later I went to Santa Barbara with my husband for a get away. We walked the weekly Saturday art fair. After we had enjoyed it, we sat on a bench and my husband asked me what did all of the pieces I was struck by have in common. It took me a while, but then I said, “They were big!” It was interesting. I have always worked small. Maybe I should work big. But at what?
I went home and looked at my experiment and again saw the revelation of my garden, but then I saw more. I saw landscapes in those contours. Maybe the mountains of Santa Barbara triggered that. Who knows! I was soon on my way of creating my first Paper Tapestry piece with a seascape from Santa Barbara. It would be a long time before I coined the phrase Paper Tapestry, and longer before I thought I might sell them. But that is another story.