collaging & me…

Some of my favorite things to do are collaging and gluing things broken things back together again. I’m still working on my theory that these two activities are somehow similar. One has to do with taking things that don’t really go together, and arranging them to make it look like they do. And the other involves putting something back the way it was meant to be, and making it look like the separation never occurred. But as I said, the theory’s still in progress.

Collaging? Collaging what? Well, I make collages of whatever I have available at the time… but usually it involves photos. If I have a picture frame to work with, I cut up numerous pictures, and fit them together for posterity. However, my other favorite “medium” is the bulletin board. Wherever I’ve lived, over the years, I’ve almost always had a bulletin board on hand. In my last house, I had two, and one of them was bigger than I am. Well, just about.

Give me a handful of new photos, let’s say, from a wedding… or a bunch of old favorites, taken of my family, when we were children. Mix them up with recent Christmas cards, baby shower invites, posters, keychains, and shooting targets. Pin them onto the bulletin board in a somewhat random order. Then see how long your friends stand in front of that board, looking at everything.

I find it keeps life interesting, with the pictures and arrangement always changing, unlike in a picture frame. Don’t get me wrong, I love framed photos, but bulletin boards are just plain FUN. In a way, my love of rearrangements on the boards is just like my love of movie calendars. I have some framed movie posters, too, but once framed, always framed. With a movie calendar, you can change the picture whenever you want to. So, my friends refer to my “calendar fetish”, when they’re ragging me about all my Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Narnia, and Star Wars calendars. But like my bulletin boards, the fantasy pictures could all be rearranged to my liking, in my office, whenever I wanted.

But back to the collages… I used to make them after a Seabrook conference. I’d use up all my photos, cutting up random pictures with little people hiding in the background, and look for odd items (like license plates) in the photos, in order to mix them into my finished collage. Eventually, the cost of the pictures, the frustration involved in taking the pictures (do you KNOW how difficult it is to take group pictures, and get people to cooperate, sometimes?), and the time involved got to me. Seabrook collages went by the wayside. I don’t think I’ve framed a photo collage in a while, though I have a possible one in my head, involving my kids.

Just on a side rant, referring to me taking pictures of groups of people. I am only overly social with my friends. I do not like butting in on conversations. And if I feel like I’m unwanted, or in the way, I will not interrupt. So, anyone who thinks that I actually LIKE arguing with table after table of people, is much mistaken. You have to be a much more social person than I am to take group photos regularly, or to talk people into smiling for group shots. It’s physically exhausting to force myself to do it, sometimes. So, if you get after me about not taking many pictures at a certain event or conference, please remember that it’s not easy for me. No matter what you believe, I am NOT an extrovert, though it may look like it, when I’m with friends. Being bouncy and friendly enough to make people smile all the time… it’s not my default setting.

Ok, rant’s over. I no longer have my own house, and my bulletin boards are in a storage unit. I haven’t developed any of my own photos in a year or three. So, my collaging skills have been going by the wayside, though I was still getting plenty of practice, gluing things together, when I was at home still.

But here in Australia, I felt the need to put something together, especially with all that empty space on my closet door staring at me. I remembered that gummy stuff that my cousin used to put pictures on her walls, when he was at college. And then, I discovered blu-tack, the Aussie version of it. This putty-looking stuff allows me to craft a collage of anything I like, though I have no photos to add to it, yet.

However, I have plenty of fun stuff to collage with. And what is a collage to me, at any time? It’s made up of memories, whether it’s a Christmas card, a wedding program, or a funny oven mitt that comes in the mail. So, when I look at my cupboard collage, I see a program from a play, movie tickets, my birthday card from my mom, dried flowers from a certain Sunday, a Tupperware party invite, and my tickets that brought me to Australia. I see some of the history of my life, wrapped into these silly little things. And arranging them (and taking pictures of the non-permanent collages, now and then), allows me to keep those memories with me. For always.

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