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What Did I do with My Artwork?

What brought me here today?

The largest and most difficult task for me during the move was what do to with all of my artwork, supplies and materials. I had little difficulty going through my clothing and personal items, weeding out what I would keep and what I would donate. At one point, very early in the entire process, I burst into tears at the thought of having to leave all of my artwork behind. Or worse, having to just throw it away because there was no way anyone would buy it. (Yeah. I am completely aware of how weird that sounds.)

Long story somewhat shorter, five boxes of my artwork were shipped from Jyväskylä, Finland to our new apartment in Delaware. The shipping charges were…(insert eye-rolling and a lot of sighing here) more expensive than I had planned for. But I needed to have them for my future small business plans.

(Edit: All five boxes arrived in Delaware about a week and a half after we did. I honestly thought that it would be closer to a month before they would get here. The packages are in my studio right now. Waiting to be opened!)

Let’s start with the crying:

I surprised myself by how incredibly emotional I became at the thought of not being able to keep the vast majority of my large paper mâché pieces of artwork. My life if constructed around the creation of art. The thought of being without that artwork made me  feel mentally and physically incomplete. Realistically, it felt like a hard punch or two to the gut.

Yes. I’m attached to my artwork. As well I should be. Art is a huge portion of my personal and professional identity. The rest of my possessions don’t mean that much to me. All but a few are replaceable. I had no emotional attachment to them. I hadn’t created them. My winter coat, dress shoes, hairdryer and iron were just objects that I could, in time, replace.

So yeah. I cried. Then decided that I needed to figure out how in the hell I would get my artwork across an ocean in one piece.

Procrastination or…?

Then what I thought was procrastination hit me square in the face. I organized all of my art tools, materials and supplies. What was going to come with me was quickly and easily chosen. I put together donations for several people and art educational groups from the gargantuan remainder of my tools, materials and supplies. While I worked, I kept looking at my large paper mâché pieces and wishing that I they would somehow magically pack themselves into boxes.

I procrastinated about packing my artwork for a few week. I actually did not pack my artwork until about two days before we left Jyväskylä. My poor husband didn’t want to push too hard to make me pack the artwork either. He sensed that there was something else going on, even when I didn’t totally realize it myself. Yet.

‘In one piece’ was the problem:

The thing that was stopping me from packing up my large paper mâché pieces was the fact that I had to break them to get them into their shipping containers. I know I’ve made jokes about piling-up my artwork and lighting it all on fire when I’m frustrated or angry. But the thought of actually doing that makes me cringe. I’m very firmly a creator, and not a destroyer.

Most of my larger paper mâché pieces were designed to come apart, at least partially. This was helpful, but didn’t solve all of the problems of getting my artwork to fit within the containers I purchased. I had to break most of the pins holding on arms and legs. And I ended-up pulling the heads off of other pieces. Some pieces had smaller components that had to be carefully broken-off too.

The whole experience just suuuucked. I did not like having to purposefully break my artwork. It felt so incredibly wrong. While packing the pieces, I kind of turned on ‘auto-pilot’. I didn’t allow myself to think too much about what I was doing. Otherwise, I might have started crying. And that wouldn’t have been helpful in the slightest.

Repair work:

I use wooden dowels and bamboo skewers to attach movable arms and legs to the large, paper mâché pieces. I can repair the damage that I inflicted on my artwork over time. Several large pieces, including Pink Paddle Doll , Shirley, Agnes, and Kiddo had have parts intentionally broken-off of their surfaces so that they could be packed for shipping.

Kiddo and Pink Paddle, and several pieces that were already under construction were packed in my suitcases along with my clothing and other personal items. My husband and I didn’t want to have to pay un-godly high baggage fees, so we were extremely careful in what we packed in our luggage. My large work almost all paper mâché which is lightweight. The trade-off is that the pieces did get bashed around a little bit.

Repairing my artwork won’t be incredibly fun, but I like it better than the alternative of not having them at all. My husband thought that the repair work would be a good way to get settled into my new studio space. Working on something familiar will be comforting to me. And a good way to christen the new work space.

Now what?

As of the time that I’m writing this blog post, we are waiting on our furniture. Remember earlier, when I said that I wasn’t too attached to things like a winter coat or a pair of heels? Well the same goes for the furniture we had. Almost every stick of furniture we had in Finland was from Ikea. Including my desk, shelves, chair and lamp. I’m getting a smaller desk. And I don’t need any shelves. I am upgrading my desk chair though. But all of that is for another post.

Once I have a functioning workspace, I will begin to repair my broken artwork. I have several pieces that once repaired, will go right back up on the wall. I also have several small dolls that are waiting to be finished as well. Hopefully I can get back to more of a normal creative work-flow by the end of the month of July.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Friday.