By now, I’m sure everyone has heard of Little Fat Books or Chunky Books. These started on various paper arts lists as a way for artists to exchange their artwork, and have spawned at least two lists dedicated to this type of swapping. Most of the projects on both lists have been formatted something like this:
- Sign up to participate with 59 other artists.
- Make one 4 x 4 original, and from it, 60 copies. Embellish the copies with some fibers and charms.
- Mail all 60 embellished copies to the hostess, along with a check to cover postage and binding.
- Eventually, receive a coil bound book with 60 pieces of artwork in it.
Now, as much as I adore this whole concept, I have a serious problem with projects set up like this. It’s my destiny to send in my 60 pieces in a timely manner, wait for an eternity, and eventually receive a book with 38 pieces of artwork in it, plus 12 of my own extras back because a dozen people lost their minds, missed the deadline, or just fell of the face of the Earth. It just never fails—it’s my personal art cross to bear. Two years ago, I swore off like-for-like collection projects, and have steadfastly refused to participate in them ever since, no matter how interesting the project sounds, or how well similar projects have gone. I’m the proverbial kiss of death when it comes to collection projects.
However, I’m an art swapping kinda girl, so I’ve been in love with the theory of this little books, if not the process of creating one. I’ve been trying to weasel a way to get a project going on one of my lists that offers an alternative to the current project formats:
- I’d like to sign up an unlimited number of artists, but not ask them to make an ulimited number of pieces. I’d also like to be flexible—while 20 may be reasonable for one person, 5 may reasonable to another. I’d like to accomodate both.
- I’d like to swap original artwork. Call me an art snob, but I truly loathe swapping copies of dimensional pieces. I’d like the real, honest to god collage to hold in my hands, not a picture of it, no matter how artfully embellished.
- I’d like the artwork to be mailed directly from artist to artist, because it’s more personal that way, and also less of a pain in the butt for whoever puts the project together (and we’re assuming for the moment that person is me).
- I’d like everybody to bind their own books when they’re ready. I might swap 20 pieces of work, and decide that my book is finished today. Tomorrow, I might swap 5 pieces, and then a month from now, another 5—gee, that second book might not be ready to bind for six months or so.
So one night, I’m wandering around my completely trashed computer room, making excuses not to clean it, when I find this. Somebody gave me this little book for Christmas three years ago. It’s just a little dollar store photo album with plastic pages, and a fabric cover. I didn’t toss it because it has a sort of charm—but I also have no intention of using it as a photo album. It’s just hanging around, bare and lonely. Hmm, maybe I should turn it into a little collage journal…
Over on the Gluebooks group, we’ve branched out a bit. We started just gluing things into journals and spiral notebooks. Then, Swap Goddess Kathleen threw the idea of doing glued artist trading cards out there, and we started swapping GTCs (glued trading cards). When Kathleen suggested swapping gluey postcards for Valentine’s Day, they were all for it. The glue monkeys are up for gluing anything that doesn’t move—now that we’ve started cutting and pasting, you can’t stop us.
(Are you seeing where this is heading?)
One night, while emailing back and forth with Kathleen, I put together this idea:
- Sign up in groups of five. If you want to do more collages, sign up in a second (or third, or fourth) group. This way, those who think five is reasonable can play, and those who like to swap in multiples of 20 can also feel satisfied.
- Make an original 4 x 6 glued collage for each person in your group(s). No copies. Go find a pack of large index cards (which are conveniently already cut to 4 x 6) or some cardstock, and get to gluing.
- Mail your collages directly to each person in your group(s).
- Bind your book whenever you feel it’s full and ready. If you want to mount your collages into an existing book or journal, great. If you want to go to the dollar store and get a little album like I have, that’s great too. Declare your book finished at 20, or at 60, or 100 collages. Like all things gluish, it’s up to each artist to decide when her book is done.
So now I have this little book started, with collages that I’m posting in the gallery. Some of these collages may go to new homes, and some are staying here—and eventually, I hope I’ll end up with dozens of collages from other crazy people who think this is a good idea. What could be better than that?