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Staten Island, New York, United States

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Making Collages On a Rainy Day, Gardens On a Sunny One

I had scheduled a full-on garden assault last Saturday. And then the rain came, all day.  I had had a great start on Thursday, reaching my goal of knocking together all the halves of my new raised veggie beds.

my project in the yard, a little soggy on Saturday

old "failed" prints, destined to become collages

So, the rain rearranged my schedule for me.  Hmmm, looked like an artmaking day instead.  I ended up making collages all day. I have a lot of raw materials. I've been opening up my flat files and finding all sorts of old bad prints I'd forgotten about.

It's an interesting process, collaborating with myself from a former point in time. Of course, it's very freeing to no longer be emotionally attached to the beauty of the old work. Even though the print doesn't work, there are parts that I had loved and hadn't been able to bring myself to touch, so I had relegated a LOT of prints to the drawer. Time made the love fade and now they are just interesting raw material.

collage, at wild stage

I made this collage at left and really like areas of the layering, but it's a little wild, especially the hairy purple bits.  I will try to take what I like happening with the overlays of pattern to other work and tame this one a bit more. It's a small piece, only about 8"x11".

This is the kind of thing that could never happen on purpose, but only through playing. I constantly remind myself to play more in the studio, using Rauschenberg as an example.

"Successful" collages can be seen at my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/DeniseMummArt

But, back to the gardening. . .

On a glorious sunny Easter, after a buoyant (literally, with balloons) church service with a satisfying number of allelulias, my sister and I raced home to tackle the garden. What better way to celebrate new beginnings than to work on our garden. Planting seeds is an act of faith.

We had to fully assemble the raised beds, put them in place, and then fill them.

All winter I had been reviewing an article in Organic Gardening on a "lasagna" method of gardening. http://www.plantmeal.com/  Reports of increasing food prices had made me determined to grow my own prolific, efficient veggie garden.
me, trying to look like I know what I'm doing

The lasagna method required some alfalfa hay. I'm sure if I was still in Iowa that finding alfalfa hay would be a breeze, but not so easy here in Staten Island. 

The search led me to Chip Mako. I found him through an ad in my Organic Gardening magazine. His ad mentioned alfalfa meal. Here's his website http://www.plantmeal.com/. The website has some great tips. He learned about organic gardening in the Peace Corps and when I reached him by phone, he was very generous with his advice on how I should proceed. 

yummmm, rhubarb
I re-thought the whole lasagna approach and went more in Chip's direction, lightening up the clay soil I have with peat, enriching with alfalfa meal. I still went with layers, though. I have newspapers on the bottom, then rough material from my compost pile, then peat, plain crappy dirt from my yard, sprinkles of bloodmeal and bonemeal, compost, alfalfa meal, more peat and compost.

I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out.  If nothing else, it's all great exercise and therapy. And it makes my yard look much tidier.

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