For the past 10 years or so, I’ve been a part of an amazing group in the Twin Cities called the Minnesota Visual Journal Collective. It’s a group of local artists with a wide range of interests and talents that is supportive, inspiring and incredibly welcoming. The group meets on the third Monday of every month at Wet Paint in St. Paul and is led by two amazing women: Briana of OrangeSpiralArts.com and TJ of StudioMailbox.com. There’s a new topic for every meeting and some examples include demonstrations of a new technique or tool, a sketch-out or even a used supply swap. In February of this year, we launched a new collaborative project – a tag book exchange. The idea was drawn from the book Sketchbook Explorations for Mixed-Media and Textile Artists by Shelley Rhodes which is filled with pages of beautiful examples of sketchbook pages in many different formats, including tags. The goal was for everyone who signed up for the project (about 25 people) to create 25 tags in any style they wished, sign the back with as much contact information as they felt comfortable sharing and then bring the tags and a metal binder ring to the July meeting to exchange. Last Monday was the July meeting and we all gathered in the classroom at Wet Paint with our collection of tags to begin our exchange.
It was amazing to see everyone’s collections, to pass them around and hold them in our hands. Some tags were large. Others were small. Some people created collages with an assortment of materials, others painted with watercolors, some sketched and some were created with gelli plate prints. As the collections circulated, we had to choose one tag from each collection (which was no easy feat because they were all so beautiful), put it on our ring and then pass it to the next person. By the end of the swap, we had one tag from each person including one of our own.
For my tags, I used large white shipping tags and began each one with a stenciled background. Then I added a layer of collage with some of my favorite vintage papers. But to tie the series together, I used a vintage postage stamp on every single tag. It was so much fun to sift through my collection of stamps and find one to fit each tiny collage.
When I held my completed ring, I couldn’t stop flipping through it (and still can’t). Each tag is so different, so unique, so inspiring.
It was amazing to listen to the conversations in the room and hear how there were so many tags that spoke to people for specific. I collected tags that held special meaning to me in tiny, heartfelt ways and so many of them were connected to my dog who I lost last year, Murphy – maple seeds like the ones we used to find on our walks, butterflies like the ones in the book a friend sent me after his death to help my family through his loss, a tag with a tiny cut out of an orange dog, just like Murphy. My ring is so meaningful to me because it was created by an amazing group of artists who hold a very special place my in my heart, but it also conjures tender, loving memories of my lost friend. Thank you to each and every person who added a tag to my ring, I will cherish it always.
If you are in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area and are interested in joining the Minnesota Visual Journal Collective you can find information on the Wet Paint website under their events tab, reach out to either Briana or TJ via their websites or contact me and I can send you more information about the group and upcoming meetings. If you’re new to art/art journaling or have many years (and stained shirts) under your belt, there’s something for you in this group. Some months I look forward to the topic we’ll be discussing and others I just can’t wait to be surrounded by people who love paper, paint and making a mess as much as I do.
Thank you Briana and TJ for hosting, you are absolutely amazing (in SO many ways).