Countdown to Mexico

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We are leaving for Mexico next weekend, and I suppose that tomorrow I need to get serious about packing and planning. I finished post-planning with a bang on Wednesday – I didn’t finish packing up my classroom until 6PM that night (the Cambodian custodian was not happy with me…), and still had to return the next morning because we were given the wrong camcorder. I didn’t go back to my classroom, as much as I wanted to. There are still some unpacked items, but they are in one of our former storerooms, so I am calling it quits until we return.

The rest of the week was spent doing a lot of sleeping, and some shopping. I went to WalMart and bought two more pairs of comfy walking sandals in black and brown. I also went grocery shopping – maybe for the last time in the U.S. for a while. My husband keeps begging me to stop cooking – he says that he doesn’t want to leave food in the freezer for five weeks.

Isn’t he aware that there is food in our freezer that had been there since last Christmas? That’s what freezers are for!

I also bought some additional items to begin organizing my office and art space. I am a collage artist, and rely on a variety of images gleaned from magazines to create my pieces. What started as just a “let’s look at a few magazines and see what I come up with” project to occupy myself at school during down time has erupted into magazine overload. I have inherited a score of interior design magazines from my mother (my favorites are Veranda and Traditional Home) as well as a huge amount of National Geographics from a fellow teacher. I have been compulsively looking through magazines and tearing out pages, yet it has been months since I have created a collage.

I have been pondering different ideas about how to organize this vast wealth of images. I started out with manila folders, and was organizing the pictures according to theme: shrine elements, Asian, animals like roosters, lions, and tigers, sculptures, oriental rugs, etc. But the day before yesterday, I came across a clear blue “reusable vinyl folder” at WalMart – it was only 99 cents, but I knew that I didn’t want blue folders – or any colored folders, for that matter.

When I got home, I consulted Google, and found out that Office Depot had clear vinyl envelopes with string closures in letter and legal sizes. I went right over and bought several packages of what I later realized were legal sized envelopes (which was fine, because they will hold more pictures), and an equal number of check file sized envelopes, then I bought a 13 pocket clear file in both sizes to be safe. I also found 3 more project boxes, which are letter sized plastic boxes just deep enough to store paper and things for a project. I had one at home, and I knew I wanted more. Finally, for ONE penny apiece, I got 4 clear pencil cases for smaller projects. The price was a misprint – I was given the four I bought at that price, but could get no more.

Now, I laid out my envelopes onto my dining room table and decided to organize the majority of the pictures by color and size. The colors so far are: pink, red, orange, yellow and gold, green, turquoise blue, blue, purple, tan and light browns, dark browns (there were a lot of brown), silver/white, and black/grey. The small envelopes hold tiny items that I may use in ATCs or small projects. I also have an envelope for frames and framing elements, and have – for the moment – filled most of the others with shrine elements, roses, animals, the rest of my body and faces, and Asian elements. I will keep the envelopes in a milk crate for the time being.

I go into great detail because I found nothing on the internet to help me with this task – most magazine collage artists use images in a different way than I do – and the organizational tips I found for scrapbooking just don’t do the trick. I need to stop NOW so that I can get ready to go to Mexico, but I still have hundreds of images to sort and file. The sorting and filing process has already given me the beginnings of three new works, so it is time well spent. In fact, I know one assemblage artist that insists that elements be more serendipitous – like he has boxes of stuff that he randomly goes through to find the right piece. That’s great, but I would like to try the more organized approach. And besides, I spent about $90 on all of my organizing stuff.

There is only one question left unanswered: Do I hang on to the magazines for future possible student projects, or do I just toss them? There are still a lot of images left, but I know that my magazine choices are not “boy-friendly.” I don’t know yet – I have inherited a huge amount of National Geographics from my fellow retired teacher – but a lot of them have been cut up.

See why I don’t have anything packed yet?

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