The following is a message straight from The Artist:
(we don’t let her off her leash that often. Let us know if she breaks anything.)
Whee! What does this button do?
OW. Okay, fine. I’ll just type. You can stop biting my toes now.
You folks probably know by now that I’m a bit of a supplies purist.
I really like making things with just what’s here. With, y’know, supplies. I don’t mind buying printed papers (though I do like making my own), or the occasional rubber stamp (which I also like carving myself), or with all those raw-type supplies like paints and glues and bits of ephemera I’ve found here and there. For me, making things should be more about getting creative with the materials, rather than letting the materials be creative for you.
This is why, most of the time, I’m really kind of anti-packaged-stuff. Those cello bags full of pre-printed “ephemera”, or tiny (and expensive!) bags of bottle caps that you could just as easily find on the ground, or, like some of you might remember from a few years back when the altered books were so big, those “alterable books” you could buy for $10 a pop when you could pick up a whole bag of them for $10 at the local Goodwill. It makes my brain go all screamy and YOU DON’T NEED THATish, and while I fully understand that there’s a convenience factor involved, it just seems a little, well, false when you buy it in a big box store rather than use what you can find.
Which is why, when I first saw SmashBooks, I kind of cringed a little.
Okay, let’s be honest. I cringed a lot. I may have even ranted a bit to the monsters, who were a little frightened by my passion on the subject.
I mean, really here. These are GLUEBOOKS. They’ve been around for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been doing this whole Art Thing for very nearly a couple of decades now. I’ve been keeping art journals since before I’d ever heard the term “art journal”. (All my teenaged diaries were multimedia. Smashbooky at first, then more regimented and illustrated in college and beyond, and then a crazy mash-up of them both from my late 20′s onward.)
And the one thing I knew for sure is that you didn’t need some fancypants $15 notebook to keep an art journal in. You need paper, glue, and a pen. Everything else is kind of secondary. And the glue is even optional if you want to draw.
But in the typical Pride Goeth Before A Fall kind of way, things changed.
We don’t have any big-box stores here, really. Nothing that has Smash stuff, at least. So after hearing some of my friends talk about their books and seeing a few pictures (and getting a 50% off Michael’s coupon unexpectedly), we just happened to be over in a city that had a Michael’s. Smashbooks were on sale. And I had half off. And this came home with me.
Michael’s only had a few styles in stock, but after taking a look at the combination pen and glue-stick thing? I couldn’t spend my coupon faster on this Eco Green Folio.
::sigh:: See what I get for opening my big yapper?
There are some really neat things about this Smash thing.
First of all, whoever designs them is kind of awesome. They’ve got some really neat images on each page already (which gets you past any blank page fear you might have), and places for lists and such…all with a cute sense of humor and a good design-eye.
Also, the paper’s not paper, per se. It’s thicker, like cardstock, so it holds up to all the gluing and craziness that you can throw at it. I’ve used paint, spray ink, glue, gel medium, and gesso in mine so far, and it’s taken it all like a champ.
The binding is an enclosed hardback spiral, which means it looks like a hardbound book on the outside, but is spiral on the inside, which means it lays flat while you’re working. I like the flatness, I have to say. I’m not as fond of having to break up two-page spreads because of that same spiral, but I can deal with it.
In the back of the book, there’s a giant pocket, too, for things that you may not have had a chance to get to yet. All those bits and pieces of life that you want to stick down somewhere, but haven’t yet — they can be tucked in and wait patiently until you’re ready. Between that and the paper and the glue-pen, it’s kind of a one-stop shop for portable journaling on the go, which is really nice.
But the best part is the freedom.
It’s the philosophy of gluebooks (or SMASH, if you’re brand-loyal) that I like. Generally speaking, when I’m art journalling all properlike, I do a spread one at a time. I start a page, work on it, and finish it. It’s an entry. A snippet of one point in time, rather than a bit of artwork, per se. It’s more scrapbooky than gluebooky, in that I sit down, decide what the spread’s about (or let it decide), make some art, do some writing, date the thing, and it’s done. I rarely go back and change anything later, because it’s a journal, finite.
But a gluebook is different. You CAN work that way in one if you want to, but with mine, I’ve been using it more as a capricious catch-all for the stuff I want to save for various reasons. I’ve glued down receipts and pieces of brochures. Things from magazines that caught my eye that I’d like to make someday. Quotes or ingenious turns of the phrase in headlines. Seed packets and candy wrappers and images that just, for one reason or another, called me to glue it down. Sometimes, it doesn’t make much sense. And sometimes, it makes sense later, when I go to write on that page, or when I think that page is finished.
It’s almost like an inspiration board (or pinterest, for the more digitally-minded) than anything. It’s eclectic and fun, and uses up all the small bits of things that would normally just be cluttering up the place.
And it’s coming out kind of cool, even.
Yes, this is the Artist, humbled.
I still think that you don’t need a whole lot of prepackaged stuff to make things. But from here on out, I think I’m going to be a little less stringent on my Do Not Buy Prepackaged Things line. Just because someone has prepackaged stuff they find creative doesn’t mean that you won’t find a way to use it that’s uniquely your own. And sure, you can just use any ol’ book for something like this. It just took a cheap coupon and a spiffy book for me to figure out what’s possible.
And my family of SMASH stuff has grown a bit since that first one, too. I’ve got the Pretty Pink folio now, a bookmark that was on clearance, some tabs that were kind of awesome, and a mini-smashbook from Target that is calling me right now from the shelves. I’ve been eyeing other notebooks for more gluebooking fun, and sometimes even find that getting all gluebook messy for a while helps inspire me to work even more in my “real” art journals.
And inspiration is never a bad thing.
I’m scanning in a few of my Smash pages tonight, as soon as some glue dries, so you can see more of this gluebook style I’m talking about. (And getting some shots of my Soul Restoration II journal while I’m at it — it’s got a similar inspiration board style. We’ll talk about that in a future entry, too.)
Do you SMASH? I’d love to see what you’re doing with them. Feel free to leave a link in the comments so I can come visit.