Sunday, July 19, 2009

Recycling Clutter

acrylic on paper
9" x 12"

I've not been creating as much as I’ve been destroying! After cleaning up my desk at work, de-cluttering has continued at home.

Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we accumulate? For a reader, it is magazines and books, for the mixed-media artist it is interesting items, for the archivist it is newspaper or magazine articles. Since I am a little of all the above, I am amazed at things I’ve hung on to for years.

Do any of you remember old scrapbooks? Those large books from the dime store with dull gray or brown paper, held together with either screw posts or heavy thread? You could get refills and make very thick books. They were pretty ugly specimens. Unfortunately, it was long before the current scrapbooking craze introduced acid-free materials.

I still have some of these dinosaurs, including my first one started 40 years ago celebrating the historic 1969 moon landing. I continued the format, making other scrapbooks—current events, favorite television shows, the space program, etc.

Being in that saving and preserving mentality, I continued clipping interesting articles. But as I got older and busier, I never put them into anything but large folders.

Other forgotten folders held chapter drafts of my first novel. Why did I keep so many drafts, I wonder? Fear of losing the originals or to prove my ideas? I excavated first drafts written in longhand, second drafts typewritten, third drafts from my dedicated word processor, and succeeding drafts from my first computer. Historically, it shows how long I’ve worked on the still-unfinished novel and how technology has changed; even electronic back-ups range from 3.5 floppy discs to a USB drive.

Having a reverence for paper made me think it is too precious to part with. Yet, so much I saved was never looked at again. It ceased to be precious and became clutter. Now, if I decide to clip something it is going into my current journal or other book project.

To that end, bags of shredded drafts will help mulch a few gardens this fall. Old catalogs and magazines are being recycled with some images re-birthed in two book forms. One is an altered book of Irish photos with collage and cuttings. The other is the black page album, where collage mixes with drawings and affirmations.


  1. Dear Gina,

    You can use your shredded papers as garden mulch? How cool!! I need to learn more as we have gardening to work on at our home as well as decluttering... What a find your blog is!! Thank you for sharing all you do!

    My best wishes to you,

  2. Hello and Welcome PoetNessa,
    I’m so glad you found my blog and are enjoying it!
    Yes, I think even newspaper makes good mulch and you can also recycle it to make paper pulp and sheets of paper. Do a Google search and see what you find. I recall both Elis of “Into the Blystic” and Rhonda’s “My Handbound Books-Bookbinding Blog” have posts on paper pulp-making (both are listed and linked on my blog under “Inspirational Blogs”).
    Have fun,