Planning for "Found Art" Objects

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the remaining stragglers of colorful red, gold, and brown leaves are finally falling from the long branches of the tress from where they once hung onto. And yet, instead of rushing outside to collect the last remaining bits of color that provide contrast to a world filled with grey skies and green grounds, I sit inside my house, frantically finishing the opening words to my NaNoWriMo novel. If I had thought about it, I’d have spent my last remaining days before November outside, collecting leaves and other found objects to use in my collages and art projects. Alas, it’s now too wet and I am bound to my chair to write and write and write until I complete my novel. I wanted to give you all a creative way to collect your own found ephemera (simply defined as objects that we collect that we can use to remake into something else) and store it in homemade planner envelopes so that it can be used in your artistic endeavors later on when the weather gets too bad for playing outside.

First you’ll need some sort of envelope or way of safely holding your found objects. There’s 3 ways you can do this. First, you can store normal letter style envelopes in your planners. Which is great, if you have access to envelopes and a planner large enough to hold said envelopes. Failing this, you can make your own envies by taking SusanBeth’s idea and taping three sides of two index cards or two notes forms from you planner together to form a simple and easy envelope. Then, after you’ve placed your leaves or feathers or ephemera in, you can tape the open side closed so you don’t lose what’s inside. Or, you can do the ubar D*I*Y Planner way and print out one of Doug’s Receipts envelope templates found in the Official Templates package for Classic.

Doug’s template goes above and beyond the traditional envelope by including an itemized and dated list for what’s inside the envelope as well as a space for notes. While Doug probably didn’t think the template would provide usefulness outside of managers and expense reports, I think this template is perfect for an artist’s use. Now artists can record exactly what’s inside each of their envelopes and where and when they discovered the object. But the space for notes on the card is also good perfect for writing a personal journal entry about how the item(s) were found. It’s like journalling your life through finding Nature.

Now armed with whichever type of envelope you have and a pen, go out into the “natural” world. Away from your computer, piles of paperwork and coworkers. This won't take too long, just a few minutes. We’re going on a nature hunt. Once you get outside, see what small leaves, feathers or weird scraps of paper are laying out on the ground. Collect anything and everything you see that you think may spark usefulness in an college or painting or for your kid’s next school art project. Write down the date and the name of each object you find and drop it into the envelope. See how many different types of autumn leaves you can find in five minutes. Or feathers. And when you’re done, you’ll have a small inventory of items to use in your art or to catalog the passing of time and change in the seasons.

When I used to work on a large campus, I’d find all sorts of feathers laying around on the ground. Feathers I’d take home to use in my art projects. Before I discovered the use of envelopes I’d transport the prized possessions home using napkins or my hands. Many things got lost or broken. I had found a dead dragonfly skeleton once, but it was too delicate for transportation and eventually broke. Which was a shame because I had wanted to affix it into a book I was making. However, if I had used an envelope, the skeleton may have survived to be used in my art.

I don’t recommend that you use this method for anything that might decompose or end up forgotten, only to stink up your planner or some deep, dark corner of your office with it’s obscurity. Instead, using the envelopes as a transportation method works great when all you want to do is save scraps like fortune cookie sayings or transporting leaves or flowers home to use in art or your next home decoration project. Or add a “touch of reality” to your daily journal entries by pasting in a folder with items found that day locked inside for when you go back and read through your journals on a rainy day down the road.

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How do you recommend preserving leaves etc.? I live in Northern Ontario where in the fall there are so many beautiful red, orange and yellow maple leaves that I would love to be able to retain their color. Any suggestions? Would you be able to respond at my email? Thanks


Responding at your e-mail does not permit others to share my response.

Digital photography preserves color nicely.
Laminate them - "hot" or "cold" lamination should work.
Press them, stick them to a page and put them in a sheet protector.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)