The Real Decision Tree

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The Real Decision Tree

For years I have been using a printed and laminated list to stimulate creativity,  helping people decide what to make, who to make it for, and how to make it. Finally, I have had the time and head space to find a free stock-photo tree with good sturdy roots to print and label as a true Decision Tree. And I recently lucked into some beautifully colored card stock on which to print it.

First I explored the mathematical and scientific decision trees, like the ones used on ancestry sites. That diagram didn’t work for me aesthetically, so I decided to use a natural tree.

I have a label maker that I adore, and use almost daily for all kinds of organizational tasks, or for making greeting cards. Fortunately, I had various kinds of tapes to use, so that each part of the tree – the roots, trunk and the branches could have a different color and style of font. I also had another unique one for the title.

My other well-loved gadgets came in handy as well – my paper cutter, and my laminating machine. So now I have a fairly indestructible tool to use when explaining to folks what FLOOF Collage pARTy! is all about. I especially love it when kindergarten or 1st grade kids get excited about sight-reading the words while I am explaining how the process will go in our maker space.

When I have a party, it’s often hard to corral all 10 excited kids and get their attention before sending them off with a basket to start their treasure hunt for materials. This tree solves that problem in a fun way. And I love it when I can combine my backgrounds as a teacher, a designer, and an artist in one fell swoop. Joy all around!

 

 

 

Why I Save Found Objects

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Why I Save Found Objects

 I have a little “secret” gift closet under the stairs. I love to shop, so I buy adorable things when I see them on sale, and then I always have something without having to run around at the last minute. It’s a sublimation of my pack-rat (read: “hoarding”) tendencies that are Itkoff and Reingold family traits.

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My Dad would pick up smooshed jewelry off the street and keep a little box of them in the kitchen “miscellaneous” drawer. Then, whenever one of our little chatchkes needed fixing, he’d always have the part. He loved to “potchke”. It would drive my Mom crazy, to hear her tell it, but I think she really found it endearing (and very handy).

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Mom filled the dining room table with bags of bargain clothing which never fit anyone, and no one ever wore. She just bought them because she liked the colors or the style, or because they were 90% off. Now I do that with the ulterior motive that my clients are cutting them up with fancy scissors, punching them with fancy punches, and gluing, nailing or tying them to my “blanks” (wood, metal, cardboard, construction paper, foamboard, boxes, coat hangers, single socks)  for FCp!. It’s the most creative way to recycle.

And the funniest thing is that I used to have a small business called The Ordered Castle, where I helped people organize their work or home environments. I closed the business when I started making art, but I still get about one call a year from people who hear about what I used to do, so I keep my hand in it anyhow as backup income for this starving artist.

 

Three Types of Visitors

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Three Types of Visitors

My art studio has been in business for 7 years now. Over and over when there is a group of kids making art with me, I have noticed three types of people who come to my studio: The Maker, The Accumulator, and the Observer.

My studio is a 500 square foot space with three walls of bins mostly sorted by color. 80% of my material offerings are recycled objects – metal, wood, ribbon, rope, yarn, string, rubber, leather, buttons, fabric, paper, hardware, plastics, dismantled shoes, computers and kitchen appliances, all rescued from potentially being sent to the landfill.

When people come to my studio, I review the options for what they can make using the above Decision Tree (some day I will draw an actual tree) to help with the overwhelm of looking at so many possibilities. Then I give each one a basket and let the materials speak for themselves. Often the undecided artist will be motivated by a certain object to build a sculpture, puppet, mobile or diorama based solely on the materials they have fallen in love with, despite their original idea.

I make it clear that they do not have to use everything in their basket. That explains the many “miscellaneous” baskets that exist, when I don’t have time to sort each individual bit by color after a session.

The Maker focuses on a project which may be something they had decided on before they came, or arrived at based on my Cheat Sheet. Over an average of an hour-and-a-half, the Maker usually completes it to their satisfaction.

The Accumulator will usually try to select a project involving a container (I call them my Blanks) so they can fill it up with as much “stuff” as possible, under the auspices of making a treasure box. I sell FLOOF Maker Kits (formerly called “Take-Home Paks”) by the ounce, so the option of taking home extra materials to start a new project always exists. The materials involved in their project while in the studio are included in the cost.

Then there is The Observer. This person is either a reluctant participant who came as a sibling or a guest to a party but is not really interested in making anything. Often they have had a “bad” experience with art in the past, where someone has told them their work wasn’t good enough for one reason or another. Either it did not conform to the viewer’s expectation of what a particular thing should look like, or the viewer’s expectation of what that person was capable of executing. Or the person was someone who had trouble with the social engagement that a group art experience engenders.

Sometimes The Observer will just sit quietly and watch, and sometimes they get motivated enough to suggest materials or ideas to another Maker. They never seem bored. Maybe they just couldn’t figure out what they wanted to make in the time allotted.

Either way, I have a sign now on my shop door that says “NO SMOKING, NO FEAR, NO JUDGEMENT”. I always hope that The Observer will return on an individual basis to work on something of their choosing.

OFFICE / MAKER SPACE / ART STUDIO FOR RENT WHEN NOT BEING USED

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500 sq. ft., gas heat included. Cool in summer ( attached to lower level of split-level home).
Wheelchair accessible, including accessible bathroom.
Lots of natural light, plus track lights and 3 floor lamps.
Oak tables, folding chairs seat 10 for meetings. Many tools available for use.
Desk, desk chair, small refrigerator.
Off-street parking, well lit at night. Snow removal provided.
Plentiful electric outlets. Utilities and wi-fi included.
No storage space. User must transport materials each time, clean up after use.
On quiet residential street, convenient location to bus, colleges, schools, shopping, restaurants.
Beautiful natural surroundings – old-growth trees, 1 acre property, creek. Outdoor seating.
Available whenever resident artist is not using studio for lessons or parties.
Rental is $15/hr. 20% discount for non-profit organizations. Cheaper for long-term use.
No smoking, no pets. See now by appointment.
135 Burleigh Dr. NE Ithaca. Call or text Corinne Stern 607-279-3512, cstern_135@earthlink.net

Catching up

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Catching up

inspirart-ecofun-paksWow, what a busy time I’ve had since June! Birthday parties @ FCp!, including some at other venues (FLOOF-on-the-GO). I can’t believe I haven’t posted since the summer!

A lot of new things have happened since then. I’ve begun to market a new wholesale and retail product out of FCp!: InspirART EcoFun Take-Home Paks. They are 1, 2 and 3 oz. cellophane packages of miscellaneous art-making materials gathered from the umpty-ump bins of supplies sorted by color within my studio. Included are textiles, metals, wood, beads, buttons, fancy papers, plastics, leather, yarn and string, shells, marbles, and fascinating mysterious found objects.

So far I have been selling them in four shops in the Ithaca area – Cat’s Pajamas in DeWitt Mall, Jillian’s Drawers on the Commons, Marmelade Mercantile on N. Meadow St. and Sundrees in Trumansburg.

This week I am involved in three holiday craft fairs – two Monday Holiday Markets at the Alternatives Federal Credit Union, and this Sunday at the Temple Beth El Hanukkah Book and Craft Fair.

I am about to schedule a group of young artists and their parents to create imaginative projects in my studio before the holidays. Join us to make gifts and decorations, greeting cards and ornaments!

What’s new for this summer? A LOT!

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I’m proud to announce that FLOOF Collage pARTy! has just been added to the Inclusive Recreation Database for full wheelchair accessibility. Please see my listing here: https://search.inclusiverec.org/…

I will be traveling down South at the end of the summer and plan to take my 1, 2 and 3-oz. InspirArt EcoFun paks with me to sell wholesale at the Campground Stores where we will be camping. I just bought an adorable little suitcase on wheels so I can cart the paks with me to festivals, too. Who wouldn’t want such awesome supplies for their kids to make fun stuff on a rainy day?

Later this summer I will be providing a crafts table at a wedding at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market to keep the kids busy while their parents dance the night away. I’m so excited about the opportunity, as it will be a first for me.

While June is a busy travel month for me, I will be home all of July and August for art-making. I don’t plan on doing a week-long camp this year like I did last year, but I welcome parties and small groups or individuals to make art with me.

 

Photos by request

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Photos by request

This winter I have begun to sell what I used to call “Take-Home Paks” in two local children’s/baby stores in downtown Ithaca – Jillian’s Drawers and Cat’s Pajamas. They have been renamed “InspirArt EcoFun” to emphasize that 80% of the materials are repurposed/upcycled/found objects. Each pack contains either mixed-media art-making materials, or vintage, decorative, handmade and specialty papers. The packs can be purchased in 1 oz., 2 oz. or 3 oz. sizes.

In talking with the local college bookstores about marketing InspirArt EcoFun Paks there, we discussed the fact that Facebook is fading out with younger readers in favor of SnapChat, Instagram and blogs. So I am going to jump on the bandwagon by answering a request for more photos of completed FCp! projects here.

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Fancy cork

Gluing collage