What do you think? Is it still art when it took an assembly line to make 66 similar pieces?
For the last fifteen years my mother has written a poem and sent it to her friends as a gift around the time of the winter solstice. For the last few years I have been involved with the design and production of the card which contains the poem. My knowledge of Photoshop and my patience with fiddly sewing, along with other skills, have come in handy. Last year I did monoprints on paper, then cropped and copied a section to create a background onto which I placed a stylized image from a photo I had taken and, as the last step, embellished each card with three teensy drops of gold paint. At a party for my mother's 80th birthday her friends told her that they had kept all of the cards and that some were on permanent display in their homes.
Each year she waits for a cold snap which brings her muse. In late July I received an email with the poem for this year.
In A Box Labeled "Things To Save"
A dandelion. The first violet.
A January thaw, sun through
the kitchen window in March,
watercolor hillside in bud.
Things homely and tattered,
young beans spreading their wings,
soft beeches of summer and
the cloud mountains of August.
Layers: leaf and flower, a stone,
fireflies, a scribble of bark.
A rainbow. Rich rugged browns
of November, a percussion
of wind and dry leaf.
Days pressed between pages of books,
empty pots, the fragrance of clematis.
A calendar covered with yes and with no.
A capella voices, joys, old hymns.
The old woman singing fair, fair,
fair is the morning.
All this -- spilled ink and scraps
of paper, promises written in the language
of birds, things saved for a day like this,
I unpack the box, find a green crayon
and draw a horizon, green meadow, green trees,
reach as high as I can and hang the dandelion,
hang it high overhead in the sky.
Nancy L. Nielsen, 2012
My mind instantly saw a window card which framed a small piece of fibre art. After a month of fitful experimentation I settled on a design that made me happy and which was amenable to mass production. I am in the throes of that production right now and will be finished in a week or so. Then a friend and I will head off to my mother's place in Maine where we will hand sew the poem (printed on 7 pages) into each card. I'll share a photo of the finished product when we return.