Produced in Jacksonville, Florida
Creation Date – March 2018
Artist – Johanna Lawson
Technique – mixed media collage
A time of reflection and renewal. A time to take a step back, smell the roses, and contemplate what is truly important in life. A time to start something new. The anticipation and excitement of each new leaf on a tree, or each new flower bud, is a new opportunity for change; for hope.
After reflecting on the past year, I realize that hope has been a constant in my life. At this point in 2017, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my sweet baby, consumed by the hope and joy I knew s/he would bring to my life. At the same time, I was also laboring through the creation of a new business. One that I was (and still am) passionate about, and hopeful that it will continue to bring me joy and spread that feeling to others throughout my community.
So this spring, I continue my theme of 2018 – hope. After reading this poem in high school for the first time, I realized that hope and joy come in many different forms. Emily spoke to me in a way no poet or songwriter ever had. Her words continue to perch in my soul, and inspire me to be a thing with feathers that spreads hope in times of worry and strife.
Hope is the Thing with Feathers
by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Along with Emily, my mother has continued to be hopeful constant in my life. She is always pushing me to find the good, the value in others, and the world around me. So this year for her birthday, I created a “hope” journal for her. It is meant to be a place for her to write down her hopes for the future. She and I have been following Nik the Booksmith (find her youtube channel here) for a while and absolutely LOVE her junk journals. Therefore, I decided to design her hope journal in this way. Let me tell you – it was a blast!
Junk journals are exactly how they sound – the are made of “junk.” All the old scraps of your favorite paper, lace, fabric, embellishments, ephemera, etc. that are relatively useless on their own, but too precious to discard. Get them all out and play! I used Emily’s poem as my inspiration and just started experimenting. All the decorative stitches I always wanted to try on my sewing machine, all of my favorite stamps; the end result was pretty beautiful, and it could go without saying, but my mother loved it!
I had so much fun with the process that I decided to design my spring batch similarly to my mother’s junk journal. I used many of the same papers, lace, and stitches; however, I added some of my favorite monoprint papers in as well. There was one special paper that I found along my “junk” journey. This paper has been with me since I started paper arts as a child… I have written about A Small Cleverness before, but looking back through a lifetime of art and crafting supplies really made me realize what a profound impact this magical place has had on my craft and art. Donna, the owner, has guided me through so many different projects and really given my the confidence to find my creative voice. And for that, I am so grateful.
Now, this special paper was created one Saturday over two decades ago. I remember getting in the car and traveling the long trek across the big river to A Small Cleverness. This ride was always an opportunity to have my mother all to myself, and I treasured these moments. We talked and laughed, sang our favorite songs, and discussed all the problems and possibilities of my ‘dramatic’ teenage life. Once in the store, I was surrounded by the love and support of so many women and artists. Each offering their own advice that came with years of practice, patience, and persistence through the trials and errors of crafting and art. Although I spent many Saturdays there, this particular Saturday stood out. It was the first time I ever participated in the process of creating a rubbing – one of the oldest techniques used in printmaking. This was the moment it all started…
Donna had these old, beautiful book covers and we were each taking turns creating our own paper. We rubbed the past right into the present using pencils, paints, anything we could find. I was fascinated by the end result and I have kept this paper as a remind of that magical day. For most of the women, it was an ordinary Saturday making art and crafting with friends. I watched them take their paper and use it as a background for a card or the start of a larger piece of art, but for me, this paper was enchanted. I could not bare to think of covering it or cutting it. I have kept this paper for over 20 years and all these memories came flooding back when I found it on the bottom of a stack looking for paper to start this batch.
This paper represents the beginning of this artful journey, and I decided that this spring was the perfect time to actually use it. So, yes, I cut it up and sewed it into this batch; that paper, that place, and those clever women who have been perched in my soul forever opening my mind in new and interesting ways all included. My hope is that the receivers of my cards will feel the power of inspiration as I have, in whatever form that may be.
Thank you Donna.
I started with a few of my favorite monoprint background papers, this beautiful floral paper from Kaiser Craft, and that special paper, as well as some of the papers left over from the hope journal. These papers had the colors and textures of spring and reminded me of the journal I created for my mother.
Then, I stamped the eggs and embossed using white embossing powder. To make the eggs stand out, I used watercolor to paint around the eggs – sticking with colors that matched the background papers I had chosen.
Then came my favorite part – assembling! Arranging and rearranging that pieces was like putting a puzzle together. I worked to get the right balance in each of the squares. Once they were assembled, I began sewing the pieces into place. I had a great time using all the decorative stitches I don’t normally get to use when I am sewing fabric. I found a few I liked and used those throughout the batch.
After assembling and sewing all the pieces, I decided to mount then directly onto the cards. This batch really reminds me of a nest. I feel like I created a safe place for the little eggs to rest. The cards are truly a representation of the anticipation and hope that each new spring can bring.