Author’s note:  This is the fifth in a series of posts about “The Detritus Project”, an interactive library art work that I’m creating in conjunction with the Fond du Lac Public Library in Fond du Lac, WI.  For Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here.  For part 3, click here.  For part 4, click here.

When I last wrote, I had just made the “fabric paper” with the due date slips from the big bag o’ detritus.  Well, what I didn’t count on was the print completely disappearing from the slips!  I guess that heat blackens the slips, while moisture removes it completely.  The only printing that remained was some handwriting on some of the slips, which is okay with me!

Now we’re at the moment of truth – the transfer.  Now I can let you in on my original idea – to collage the background with the due date slips (I wanted the printing intact, but oh well) and then use transfer paper (such as Saral) to trace an outline of our beautiful library onto the paper from a photo my husband Brian took.  Here goes….

Success!  Sort of.  The transfer paper did its job a little TOO well – looks like I’ll have to clean up the smudges a little:

Success again!  Okay. WHEW.  This took a while but it worked fairly well, so onto the next part of the project – the needlework!

As I had mentioned in the previous installment, I had recently made a clock with fusible webbing and had stitched a flower onto it.  For this project, my idea was to stitch the “landscaping” in the library buildingscape, like this:

As you can see, I’m making “bushes’ with my green overdyed flax thread (there are many things that I’ve discovered about my own process through this project; one of them is how much I’ve missed stitching, which I used to do exclusively.).  Again, this is a drawn-out step in the project, but one that I feel will add to the overall look.

Hooray!  The stitching is completed!  But I still felt like there was something missing.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, exactly, so I began to play.

One of the (many!) unexpected things to arise from this project was the look and feel to the canvas; after the transfer was applied, it looks very “batik-y” to me, because the transfer ink had made its way into the creases of the paper.  I decided to leave it as is.  It was probably because of this “batikyness” that I got the idea to use crayons to liven it up a bit.

I colored the canvas with the crayons, then used my small iron to set the wax.  While the canvas was still warm, I colored over it again – this time, the crayon melted on contact and created a wonderfully “creamy” look.

YAY!!!  The piece is finally coming together in a way that I can quantify!!  Here is the “finished” canvas with the encaustic process completed:

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “This is all well and good, but what about the rest of the huge bag of stuff?  Surely this can’t be it?”

You’d be correct in your thinking.  Tune in on the May 22, when I FINALLY get around to doing something with the rest of the detritus!

Documenting the Detritus Project is a guest blog series written by a dear friend of the Library as Incubator Project, Melissa Kolstad. Melissa is a collagist/ephemeralist who works in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She is a member of the Fond du Lac Visual Arts collective, which has a close partnership with the Fond du Lac Public Library. The Detritus Project is a new project that Mel is working on, which seeks to document and examine what people leave – parts of their everyday lives and activities – when they return library books. Mel will document her progress on the Detritus Project twice a month until June.

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