Lots of people ask me how I got started in paper and book arts, so I thought I’d share with you some of the fascinating details. ☺
I began my venture into paper arts by recycling my Christmas cards. I thought, “There must be a way to turn these lovely cards into something new.” Little did I know that an altered artist had been born.
As I looked for guidance on card-making, I found a Somerset Studio magazine. I inhaled it, reading every article even though I hardly understood any of them. I had no idea what a rubber stamp was and no experience with the many types of inks, paints and other materials used by the artists. But when I came upon an article showing an altered book, I stopped. “I want to do that,” I said, even though I didn’t know what “that” was exactly.
Eventually, I found a manual on how to make an altered book. I read it from cover to cover, but was so overwhelmed by the materials and the whole idea of painting in a book that it took months before I was able to get started.
I was too frightened to create anything on my own, so decided to just copy what I saw in the manual. That lasted around five minutes. As soon as I got going, there was no stopping me. Somehow, I knew how to do it. And I haven’t stopped since.
My artwork has evolved over the years, from simple greeting cards to intricately stamped, layered and collaged books made from scratch. I rekindled my love for fabric, adding sewing, beads and buttons into my work. And ribbon! I never met a ribbon I didn’t need and am happiest when ribbons spring out of my work at all angles. Lately, I have delved into the wonders of paint, often spending hours in my studio playing with paint as if I were in kindergarten again.
I believe that it took my life’s experience to prepare me for the artwork that I love today:
- My background as a dancer informs the collage work—layers, textures and elements of design—that comes so easily to me.
- My experience as a school teacher allows me to share my knowledge and skills with others. I teach book and paper arts classes in California, Colorado and Idaho.
- My career as a journalist leads me to include words in nearly every project and gives me the ability to share my ideas with others. Over the last few years, it has been particularly rewarding to have my artwork and stories published in various Stampington magazines.
For years I put off making my artwork into a business, because I worked full time as an editor at the Los Angeles Times. But at this point in my life, I feel that it’s time to Jess Create It.