Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dream Boxes

Last month, two friends were having birthdays. One of them is Nancy, a fabric artist, who works her day job in the same building I do. What could I make? Putting my mind on it, ideas simmered for a while. I thought of Jim Croce’s song, “Time in a Bottle” talking about a box full of wishes and dreams, as well as the Langston Hughes poem I’d loved as a teenager:

The Dream Keeper by Langston Hughes

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

What about painting a sheet of watercolor paper and making a box? Warming to my inspiration, I found a box template I’d made a couple of Yules ago, pulled down watercolor blocks until I found a 12” x 18” size that fit perfectly, reached for my favorite acrylic paints, pulled out some fabric remnants, and revved up my rubber brayer.

First, I played and painted and printed in Nancy’s favorite color purple. Satisfied with that page done, I thought Grace might like one, too, so I created another one using my favorite fabric spiral design. That’s too me, I thought, looking at the results and began a different one. Once the three sheets dried, I traced and cut out and assembled them. Remembering previous boxes that wouldn’t stay together with double stick tape or mounting squares, I realized this box needed stability to be opened and closed a lot. Rummaging around my studio drawers, I found a container having six colors and two sizes of paper brads (paper fasteners), so I matched each color-themed box with a suitable colored brad. A paper punch helped with the thick 140 lb. watercolor paper and my first model took shape.

Don’t you think art is like that? It’s a problem to solve and you try this or that until it begins to work? As we work in our studios, are we really scientists, trying yet another theory or experiment?

Anyway, with left-over painted paper from each box, I punched out squares, stars, circles, hearts, and odd shapes. These could go inside the box, I thought. But they seemed a little lost in there by themselves. Hmm... What about some scraps of that neat float-y fabric embedded with glitter? Looks cool. More? How about cutting strips of gold or silver swatches? Nice. The fabrics would be the “cloud-cloth” the dreams would be wrapped in. Ah-ha; I was on a roll now. Write your dreams on punched paper! The vague idea had blossomed into The Dream Box.

The gifts were a big hit with my friends and I had an extra one. For me? Perhaps. Like other artists (and women?), I often put myself last. But once the birthdays were over, I decided we all need to nurture ourselves, so I made this one mine, filling it with the fabrics and painted stars, squares, circles, hearts.

And recently, becoming frustrated with ever getting online at home, I finally wrote down some dreams. Technical dreams, of getting a computer and creating a blog, showing my art.

And guess what?

Since you are reading this, some of those dreams have come true.


  1. Hey, Artistic Dreamer,

    It's so nice to see your blog, and I'm looking forward to more and more examples of your work. The box you show is beautiful!


  2. What a great story & a great idea. I found a catalog which sells "wish tickets" the other day - a roll of tickets (like the kind you buy at the fair in order to ride the rides) that just say Wish. I'm thinking of buying a roll & using them for something. They would be cool in a box like this. I'm also thinking off putting the roll out at a friend's upcoming wedding & having each guest write a wedding wish for the couple & then giving the wishes to them as a gift later. I'm feeling inspired! Muchas gracias!

  3. love these boxes! Beautiful and great idea behind them.

    I think of art as always asking questions, and seeking answers through the process of creating. I think that's what scientists do too! :)

  4. Oh, Gina, this is so inspirational! I LOVE hearing how your process works! It makes me realize how much I would like to loosen up and just enjoy the problem-solving like you do. And it also makes me think of a word i learned long ago and loved. Here is it's definition:

    Bricolage, pronounced /ˌbriːkoʊˈlɑːʒ/, /ˌbrɪkoʊˈlɑːʒ/[1] is a term used in several disciplines, among them the visual arts and literature, to refer to:
    the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things which happen to be available;
    a work created by such a process.
    It is borrowed from the French word bricolage, from the verb bricoler – equivalent to the English "do-it-yourself", the core meaning in French being, however, "fiddle, tinker" and, by extension, "make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are to hand (regardless of their original purpose)".

    Bricolage as a design approach – in the sense of building by trial and error – is often contrasted to engineering: theory-based construction.
    A person who engages in bricolage is a bricoleur: someone who invents his or her own strategies for using existing materials in a creative, resourceful, and original way.

  5. I love your blog, particularly because you are an artist and I always crave a visual fix. You obviously grew up around the time I did, given your musical references. One of my favorite expressons has always been "Necessity is the mother of invention," because so much of my best inspiration come from needing something, being unable to find (or afford)it, and consequently making it! I too started a blog about 2 months ago to journal my artistic attemps and to communicate with other people with the same creative impulses. I hope you'll come visit me at

    I'll keep checking your space for inspiration!

  6. Thanks for visiting, OldCelt! Your love and encouragement have allowed me to flourish in my art.

    Hello, Smith Kaich Jones. So glad you found my blog. Yes, I can just see those tickets nestled inside a box like this, perhaps smaller and with a little slit in the top to have them come out.

    Welcome, Bridgette! Isn’t it fascinating that science and art aren’t that far apart, as one would suspect? I love your blog and happy to have you visit mine. May I put a link to yours on my site?

    Bricolage is a wonderful word, Mary. It sounds like a baguette you take into the studio to nibble on before, during, and in-between painting! Collage seems to be a part of that word and the process, too. I like the fact that I’m now a bricoleur.

    Greetings, Alberta and Ava. You two are very prolific with three blogs to maintain. I look forward to exploring them all and enjoying your words and pictures. Thanks for visiting me!

    I am so touched that my very young blog has attracted so much attention. This, indeed, is a special community in cyberspace. Thank you all!