Interview with Melanie Testa CPS July/August issue

19 Jun 2009

As a follow-up to Melanie Testa's article "Visual Journaling with Found Papers & Ephemera" on page 68 of the July/August issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, I asked her several questions:

HG: How do you store all of your found papers?

MT: I have plastic bins that are large and flat, and I organize them (loosely) according to the papers I am in love with most! A very personal system to say the least.

HG: Do you have a storage container for the "dirty" papers and a separate storage location for the papers you've cleaned?

MT: No way! As I said, this is all about what pumps my creative juices. I don't think the dirt really transfers, and washing paper is easy, much easier than you might think anyway.

HG: The article opens with a photo of an intriguing spread from your journal. Please tell us about this artwork.

MT: You must be talking about the red bird piece. That piece of ephemera, the bird-I mean, is freezer paper originally used as a resist in cloth making. As a resist, the shiny side of freezer paper adheres to cloth and creates a resist, blocking off an area of cloth from being printed; as a collage element, this same attribute presents a challenge. The shiny side of the paper does not glue well. To work through  this, I sanded the shine off the freezer paper with 200-grit sandpaper.

Once that was complete, I looked in my stash of papers and found the Asian paper. The two seemed to 'go' together. I first glued the Asian paper, then the sanded bird resist. When I start painting a piece like this, I like to embrace the random, I like to allow myself creative freedom. Not every bit of paper needs to be covered, using a pen to bring an aspect back to the forefront, utilizing drips and dots—the decorative aspect of art making and knowing when to take the piece away from myself is all very important.

When I found the antique thread label and placed it upside down, that became the point where I knew the piece was coming to an end, Finding completion, I stepped that collage element back by copying the color and gradating it down and away from the label. I didn't want the stark edge of the label to dominate the piece; I think this worked well to draw the eye away from the fact that I placed the label upside down. I don't really want the viewer to connect with the words so much as the effect of the label.

HG: What's the name and address of your favorite coffee shop? I've never been to Brooklyn, so it's time I visit (and I believe you mentioned chocolate chip cookies - can't get them out of my mind).

MT: Le Petite Cafe, in Carroll Gardens, is on Court between Nelson and LeQuere. It is a gorgeous little cafe; there is a waterfall in the back room, and there are plants growing in the rock facade around it. There is a metal tree in the room that holds votive candles. A journaling paradise if you ask me. They also have a great double chocolate and cherry cookie. I'm just sayin'.

Thanks Melanie!

Don't miss the image below, Melanie's journal composition featuring the interior of the local coffee shop. For more from Melanie Testa, visit her blog.

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jojo wrote
on 22 Jun 2009 7:55 AM

I just took a Monoprinting/Soy Wax Resist class from Melanie in San Diego.  It was wonderful class AND so much fun!  Melly Mells has inspired me to try some sketching. . .stand back!

on 23 Jun 2009 9:45 AM

Melly does such beautiful, creative work.  I am so inspired by her.

MellyT wrote
on 23 Jun 2009 3:39 PM

aw, Helen! Thanks. It is so nice to see that journal page in its correct orientation and small,

it gives me perspective! Sometimes I find it quite difficult to see my own work and will take a photo of it in order to see it from afar!

on 5 Jul 2009 6:52 PM

I really enjoyed Melanie's article as a new Art Journal enthusiast and a new blogger. I loved her tips and could relate to some of her "hoarding" habits! Maron (the artfulcodger)

on 17 Jul 2009 1:07 PM

LOVING the visual journalling articles......Mel has inspired me to use my journals more!  Even have 2 moleskins that have been sitting waiting for a couple years!!!