We've all seen it: the tissue paper carnage that results from Christmas mornings, birthdays, baby showers and wedding showers. Giant clouds of tissue paper get stuffed into big garbage bags to be put on the curb, bound for the landfill.
Tissue paper is one of those grey area products when it comes to recycling. Some municipalities won't recycle tissue paper because it often contains additives - like wax, glitter or foil - that are problematic in the recycling process. We can, of course, reuse tissue paper in our own gift wrapping and packaging, but in doing so, we can't be certain that it won't get thrown away.
Lucky for us, we don't need to throw away tissue paper or recycle it because there are so many marvelous household and creative uses for the stuff. I'll focus on some creative uses in this post.
Tissue paper is marvelous stuff to use in art because you can manipulate it and layer it in so many ways to create really cool effects. I'll show you some examples from my own work. I created these art cards using tissue paper:
You can also use tissue paper to make something called "crystalline paper". All you need is some gloss medium and some freezer paper to use as a work surface. To learn how to make it, check out this easy tutorial about how to make crystalline paper, or watch this video about how to make crystalline paper. Look how super fun it is:
This just scratches the surface of all the marvelous creative things you can do with tissue paper. And the great thing is, it's no problem to store because you can smush it into whatever space you have available!
Sometimes while working in my studio, I listen to podcasts from CBC Radio. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has some excellent radio programs: Q with Jian Ghomeshi is one I check in on regularly because it features an array of people working in arts and culture - often on the fringes of the mainstream.
A recent February episode of Q - guest hosted by Canadian singer-songwriter Jann Arden (whose wit I have always appreciated) - featured an interview with Phoebe Baker Hyde who wrote the book, The Beauty Experiment. The gist of the book - and the interview - is that Baker Hyde spent a year living outside the beauty conventions that society promotes for women through media, advertising and various industries. The book explains her personal experience through the experiment, explores beauty conventions from other cultures and explains practical tips for women to use in simplifying and challenging their own beauty routines.
To me, Baker Hyde's most interesting suggestion during the interview was the simple act of leaving a store before making a decision to buy something. How many times do we buy something on impulse only to have it sit untouched in our closets or makeup drawers? Though I've worked on it over the years, I'm still guilty of making pointless purchases. Baker Hyde suggests that, when you find something you want to buy, have a good look at it, and then leave the store. If it still seems like a good purchase after you've had some time to mull it over, and maybe had a look at other options, go back to the store and make the purchase. Of course, this isn't always practical or efficient, but I think the principle is a good one.
As I've pondered Baker Hyde's suggestion over the last while, I've begun to realize some of the dumb reasons I walk out of a store with a purchase:
This past weekend - armed with all these ponderings - I managed to leave two stores with nothing in my hands. One was even an art supply store, so that's a huge accomplishment for me. I was looking for a very specific storage solution for my studio, and almost gave in to buying something "close enough" when I couldn't find what I really wanted. In the end, my forbearance payed off when I found exactly what I wanted after doing some research online.
So from now on, each time I leave a store, I'm going to picture a big red stop sign on the door that says: "Do you really need to buy that?" Hopefully I'll have a little more money in my pocket and a little less crap around the house.
Valentine's Day is next week, and people who are much nicer and more romantic than I am will give gifts to their significant others. So this is as good a time as any to talk gift wrap.
I'm ambivalent about wrapping paper, gift bags and other gift wrapping stuff. It's so nice and spirit-lifting to get a package beautifully and thoughtfully wrapped. The moment ends, however, as soon as you tear apart the wrapping paper or yank the tufts of tissue paper out of the gift bag. All too often, the lovely packaging ends up in the garbage. Some conscientious gift-receivers carefully unwrap their presents, being extra careful to pull the tape off without tearing the paper, and then neatly fold it for another use. But let's face it: lots of people don't.
I have a few gift wrap ideas that are cost-effective and perhaps more eco-friendly.
If none of the above mentioned ideas strike your fancy, you could try any of these: reusable shopping bags, tote bags, newspaper or comics pages (recyclable), teacups, mugs or photo boxes. There are lots of ways to make your presents look pretty without spending much money or creating much waste.
Sometimes when I work in my studio, I like to work in quiet with only a subtle soundtrack of outdoor sounds of birds, kids playing, or garbage trucks rumbling by. Quite often, though, my work soundtrack is Radio Paradise, an internet radio station run by Bill and Rebecca Goldsmith from Paradise, California.
Bill is the voice of Radio Paradise. In a radio universe dominated by obnoxious voices, crude and disrespectful banter, and noise, Bill's soft-spoken and infrequent interjections are refreshing. He comes on air maybe twice an hour, just to let you know what songs you're hearing, and his commentary is limited if any. The focus is completely on the music. He takes thought and care in organizing the playlist, as it evolves sonically and thematically from one song to the next.
Rebecca manages the content of the playlist, combing through multitudes of albums and listener suggestions to bring interesting selections to the listeners. I absolutely love the variety and uniqueness that Radio Paradise offers. This is what I'll hear in a given day of listening: my favourite acts like U2, REM, Van Morrison, Arcade Fire and the Avett Brothers; classic artists from Duke Ellington and Al Green to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and David Bowie; the good stuff to come out the '80s, like Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, The Smiths and The Cure; folk, reggae, rock, classical, jazz and blues from all over the world; an array atmospheric and sonic experimentation music, like Sigur Ros, Hooverphonic and Thievery Corporation; and countless lesser-known but incredible artists who never get regular radio play. In fact Radio Paradise pretty much steers clear of the usual Top 40.
When I describe to people what kind of music Radio Paradise plays, I usually say that the unifying characteristic of their playlist is good and true songwriting. So, if you think of any great song writer (or even composer), Radio Paradise probably plays their music. I've been introduced to some wonderful artists by listening to Radio Paradise: Madeleine Peyroux, Elbow, Gomez, Anna Ternheim, Snow Patrol, Ray Lamontagne, and Antje Duvekot to name just a few. It has also helped me rediscover some of my forgotten favourites . . . too many to list. Some of these artists are well-known, but many I wouldn't likely have encountered (or re-encountered) had I not listened to Radio Paradise.
So if you need a break from the auto tuned, over-processed and hectic world of regular radio, give RP a listen.
p.s. My many hours of enjoying Radio Paradise are thanks to my friends Jonathan and Julie Hunse who introduced me to it.
In any studio, organization is a continuous process. I constantly tweak my workspace to make it more efficient, comfortable and navigable.
On my desk is a flower pot in which I keep all my paper cutting tools, and it has always been a mess. One day, I was Googling around, and I stumbled on some posts and photos about organizing stuff with empty toilet paper rolls. Aha! This would be the perfect solution! So I dumped out all my tangled tools, and put four empty toilet rolls inside the pot, and voila!, it was divided into nice neat sections. Now I have easy-to-find sections for (going clockwise) scissors, my fancy cutting contraptions, punches, and x-acto knives. And there's still room left to hang more punches on the side of the pot. I love this so much: I never have trouble finding my tools. Now I'm going to find some other stuff I can organize with toilet paper rolls.
Jane Hogeterp Koopman
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