This year Mother’s Day necessitated a lot of invention. I have a young friend who very much wanted to make something super, duper special for his Mum, he knew she had been feeling under appreciated. He came to me a few weeks before the day to seek my help. Beyond painting a few flowers he just didn’t know what to do, he was suffering from the tyranny of the blank page!
After much brainstorming on the studio floor we came up with the idea for a pirate’s map that lead to Mom, the treasure of all treasures. BUT first, before we sketched out a map, which was his job, we needed to make paper look like parchment. In other words, we needed a patina, one of my specialties. By the way, this is easy, you can do it too, that is, if you have a need to stain paper.
In this case all I needed was tea. Well, rather, a mix of teas, some of them entirely undrinkable. And coffee, I needed coffee. And a bathtub, needed that too, and it was all on hand. Here are the simple facts, leaves leave stains, so do nuts, flowers, berries, peels, and grounds.
I boiled up the best witches brew you have ever seen with oak leaves and acorns, oolong tea, lemon rinds, and coffee grounds. The acorns I figured would add the extra tannins to help the paper to stain. The paper was a special water color paper, thick, and slightly resistant to staining. I chose it because it was clear it could take a beating, which I gave it over the next two days while it soaked in the tub.
Then I set it on fire. My young friend and I both agreed that this map had been through a sword fight or two, and had possibly been used to light cannons, as well as having been pulled from burning wreckage. In the name of increasing the maps battered appearance we did in fact engage in sword play, I was armed with the map, he had a zweihänder in the form of a pool noodle. Who said making patinas couldn’t be a blast?
I also smashed some pansies into the edges. They gave a lovely purple splotches and their random stains added mystery.
I had our budding, young pirate make a master drawing of the map from our rough sketches, and then I had him scale it. By the time he started making marks on faux parchment he had already drawn it a few times. I felt this was important, I wanted him to understand two things:First, making plans, testing and editing, help you to know what you are doing and where to avoid mistakes. Secondly, I wanted him to know how many hours all that work can take. It was very much worth it though, for us both.
In the end we rolled it up tight, tied it with a bow, sealed it in the old fashioned way, with wax and an “M” for Mom. Contained within this map was a rich tale of a certain boy captain who had to brave forests of money eating flowers, mountains of chores, the whirlpools of filthy laundry, thunderstorms of dirty dishes, defeat sea monsters AND escape the Castle of Oozy Smells, in order to get to Mom Island where there was a Palace of Peace, in the City of Love, near the Lagoon of Laughter, next to the Garden of Goodness. Sounds like treasure to me.
Tune in next time for ‘Inspiration Can be Sexy!’.