Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Blue Valentine

The first year my husband and I celebrated Valentine's Day, I made him an altered book. It was actually before he was my husband--back when we were dating, boyfriend/girlfriend....whatever you call it.

The book contained 26  layouts--one for each letter of the alphabet. I matched each letter with some sort of characteristic I loved about him, or I used the letter as a trigger to write about a memory we had shared.

He went on to use the page layouts in that altered book as inspiration for one of his watercolor shows.

Several Valentine's Days have passed, and for each of those years, I felt a bit of despair that I couldn't replicate that project or go to such great lengths. It just wasn't in me--not because I didn't feel the love. Indeed, every year I have felt more love and adoration. It's just that the project sort of set the bar high and created a creative block.

Fast forward to this year. We dated for one year before he proposed to me. It was another year until we got married. And now we have been married one year and four months.

Tobe lavished Valentine's Day celebration on me the moment I got home Thursday night. He presented me with flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries. Last night, he took me out to dinner at Wild Sage.

I decided to create a card that would hold gift cards for things my husband enjoys. The card idea quickly became a super-sized accordion-fold album with a carrying case. 

My intent was to create a found poem that talked about the evolution of how we came to be--who we are as a couple so far.

I set a few ground rules for myself: no hearts, no typical valentine colors, and no store-bought items--only papers I'd painted or made via some technique.
 ...and immediately I broke the rule, since there's a heart on that hand, and that woman's face comes from a vintage piece of scrapbook paper...
 Very quickly the poem started to come together. This first part reflects who I was and how I felt before Tobe.
 I had to include a vintage image from an old art textbook. I actually think this is supposed to be a dude...but let's pretend it's me ;)
 I also tried to include lots of geometric shapes, particularly circles, since Tobe's own art has been characterized lately by circle love.
 I found myself making reference to a river, which seems apt, considering that Tobe loves to fish, and we spend as many days as we can during the summer fishing.
 I suppose I wanted to include a male character within these pages, so I tore this poor fellow in half. He hairline actually is pretty reminiscent of Tobe's.
 I couldn't resist getting a few clocks in...I'm a bit obsessed with them in my own projects.
 At this point, I flipped the book over and continued our story.
 I broke my "no typical Valentine fodder" rule by including a love poem.
 A couple months ago, I made some owl prints. I decided to include one here.
 I tried to make sure that there was continuity in the images and the words of the poem, so it made sense to include this motel name.
 I enjoy re-using and recycling things, so I was pleased I could include an airmail sticker and a side off a spool of ribbon.
 I wanted the poem to address the difference between storybook love and real-life. Thus, I included our animals and the fact that Tobe often sleeps in.
 And I ended the poem with the idea that I am glad these "things"--the dog, the cat, the house, my man are mine. I feel blessed.

Here's a shot of the first half of the story.
Here's a shot of the second half of the story.
 Here's the holder I made for it. I ran ribbon through grommets, and it will tie in a bow. I'm not crazy about this, but I'm unwilling to re-do it.
And finally, I glued some bags, envelopes and library card holders onto the inside. This will hold the 3 gift cards I got him. I got him cards to places that he might like to go without me.  To a stranger, this might sound cold, but it's actually practical. Because my job takes me away from him for half of every week, he's a bit of a bachelor on those days. While I try to make sure I've made some sort of dinner on our last night that will result in leftovers, I thought it would be nice if he was able to go get some beer and wings ;)

In a case of art imitating life (or vice versa), my love is still sleeping. But when he wakes, I'll present him with this gift.

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