Sunday, March 16, 2014

- Williamsburg Memoir: Mixed Media Collage

In the thirty-some years that we were in Williamsburg, we lived in four different houses. This mixed-media collage entitled Williamsburg began with a wonderful ramble through the hundreds of (unorganized) pictures we have taken. I created two piles of potential images: exterior shots and pictures that evoked the years we spent in each home.  As I worked, Don would look in from time to time, shaking his head trying to figure out where I was headed. Me, too. But as so often happens when I'm writing, the project began to direct itself.

I began by making the houses using some pretty unorthodox processes. Since I didn't have any "perfect" exteriors to work with, I scanned pictures of the roofs, doors, windows, and siding for each house.

110A Harrison Avenue where we spent our first years as newlyweds

Then I cropped and scaled the various elements until I had fairly compatible images to work with. The end results were printed onto matte photo paper using an inkjet printer, then coated back and front with matte acrylic medium (which is more transparent than Mod Podge).

127 Wilson Circle where we became a family when Meghan and Melissa were born

Next I cut out roofs, windows, doors, and siding with an Exacto knife, inserted the chosen photographs behind each window, and gingerly tacked everything together with small bits of tape.

260 Nina Lane where the girls spent their school years & home to epic Christmas trees

Finally, I machine-sewed each house onto repurposed white cotton quilt pieces (not a real quilt, a store bought, machine-made quilt ... which is why it was in play for repurposing). I trimmed away the excess quilt material, edged the top, sides, and bottom of each house with permanent charcoal gray marker, and sealed each piece with another coat of acrylic matte medium.

303 Hempstead Road where we survived the teen years
and finally wrote GTT (Gone to Texas) on the door after retiring

After which I confronted a very large (16" x 20"), very white piece of foam core board. Talk about a blank page! A new search ensued for imagery to place behind and alongside the houses. Eventually I came up with a map of the Williamsburg area from a Colonial Williamsburg Journal to serve as the base. Because it wasn't quite large enough, I added dictionary pages with the words "Williamsburg" ...

 and "Virginia," a hand-drawn map to our house at Wilson Circle ...

a garden plan and "Home of the Month" sign from Nina Lane with a description written when Meg was in elementary school ...

"You'll know it's my house when you see it
because on the front of my house there is a big garden. It has lots of
flowers and has little and big plants. There are also vegetables and fruits."

and a key from I-don't-know-where with moth wings from our Texas garage (a metaphor for flying away from Virginia?) completed the stash ... most of which was liberally dabbled with thinned-out acrylic paint to unify the background.

In the end, I called it a success when Don said the collage brought tears to his eyes. It's a wonderful life we've led ... with the promise of much more to come.

Postscript: After reading this post Don asked, "Why didn't you include the thing under the Wilson Circle house?" My response was, "The keyhole? I didn't include it since it was one of those craft store things that I kinda regretted adding after the fact."  But then I thought about it and remembered I tucked something behind the keyhole: a tiny picture of the dollhouse made by Don's Dad when the girls were little.

So here it is, with thanks to my favorite editor for saving me from myself ... as always.

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