Since I last posted I have been very busy working on my shadow box. I’ve been gratified that a number of people have been really interested in what I’m doing, even to the point of offering to send me things. It’s not easy as that, sadly – the box is really difficult to work with in some areas. The smallest and most narrow cells are of course the hardest to fill and so they’re the ones I most need objects for. Often my heart leaps when I see something lovely in a charity shop or somebody shows me a pic and suggests popping it in the post – then I realise it’s just that little bit too wide.
Another problem is that the tray is very shallow so a lot of items I’d like to use (some of them on top of tray ATM) are simply too deep, again often by that frustrating millimetre or two. I’ll need a glass front so Tom has suggested we consult a glazier about having one that’s just a few millimetres in front of the edge of the tray itself. This would make all the difference and maybe some of the items currently sitting on the top of the tray could make it in there!
Anyway, I chose to work within the structure and limitations of the box, and that means being patient in sourcing things for it. Over the past week I’ve put a lot of effort into choosing paper items and ephemera to make “wallpapers” for each cubbyhole, whilst at the same time collecting things to fill them. Here’s where I’ve got to.
I was very pleased that after quite a bit of searching I found my treasure box, which is essentially what is left of my “little collection”. Among other things I rediscovered the broken doll, the lacquer eggs, the slice of agate, the miniature bottles, the dark wooden horse that looks like something out of an illustration for a Chaucer story, and my grandmother’s clip on earrings. A particular favourite is the hammer and sickle badge which came from a beret I bought at Checkpoint Charlie about eight months after the Berlin Wall fell (I was 16).
There are still lots of other things still in the treasure box but, true to the recurring theme, they are all too big. Never mind, because having travelled the length and breadth of west London (I can only think of two or three more High Streets I can easily access) I have some gorgeous charity shop finds and I am sure there will be more.
Look out in the “travel section” for the moon gazing down benevolently on the little wooden boat, Lord Ganesha, wallpapers made from maps of the arctic sea and the former Eastern Bloc, 100 year old sheet music, and the tiny teeny elephant. The coins are Swiss Francs and Argentinian Pesos. Still to be used in this area (somehow) are a Ukrainian bank note, a 1925 book on the cities of Umbrian (Italy) and some Iranian stamps.
Moving across to the left, at the top I have what I think of as the “celestial” section. More use here of the old atlas and the paper puppet theatre, buttons, a marble, jewellery and anything else I felt looked a bit like the moon or moonlight. This includes a vintage pendant I bought in Oxfam years ago and almost wore when I got married last year, a choker that I chose when shopping in the US with my ex, and a pearly ring brooch that come from my grandmother’s jewellery box. The mirrored crescent moon was in my treasure box, it would fit on one of the bigger cubbyholes but I think it’s a bit much… I’ll give it some more thought.
Underneath all the moon stuff there’s the pharmacy theme. Like Cornell, I’ve filled my little bottles with things which aren’t quite medicines. I also used the broken china doll I dug up at the bottom of the garden because she’s in need of treatment. The pocket watch is probably my favourite charity shop find, it’s not antique (which is how I could afford it!) so I may do something to “age” it a bit. I love that it actually works. There is something here about vital signs and about ageing I think.
At the bottom are the animals. Nowhere near there yet with this section.
And the last section. Thinking about nature here… I snipped out a number of portraits from a book on Victorian gardeners and gave them a bit of a tint with a mixture of strong instant coffee and PVA glue, because the paper was too shiny and new looking. I think they look a bit Darwinian, and clearly they had a great interest in plants (and beards), so I’m playing around with how I can use natural things. More combing the park for interesting bits and pieces. I overcame the fear of looking like The Mad Lady Who Picks Things Off Pavements a long time ago 🙂 There are severn gentlemen in the book and seven cubbyholes along the top left row which is pleasing. I’ll be making papier mache and cardboard frames for each of them this week so they will fit into the cells without being pushed all the way to the back where you can’t really see them. Earlier this week I bought a set of acrylic paints in gold, silver, bronze and copper and I’m really looking forward to using them.
Other than that, all I have right now is…
So that’s the progress as of Sunday 17th January!
I’ll post some more next week 🙂