Can Only God Make a Tree?

I like to make things. And I like books. Last Summer, I combined these two interests and I started to make stuff out of books:

I made castles, and then they were put on display at our local library:

Now I’m on a Tree kick. . .

. . . so that’s why I chose to do this scene even though I am not, at all, a big fan of the book Where The Wild Things Are:

Here was a chance to do a little forest of trees, with branches intertwined, and with all different kinds of foliage. Cool!

As usual, I began by rolling a short length of plain white bond paper and gluing it to make something that resembles a big fat straw:

I thought it was a stroke of genius to use one of these large clips as a holder.

I wish I had good corrugated cardboard, but I only had crappy corrugated cardboard, so I had to glue several pieces together to make a nice fat branch. I then cut holes into the “straw” into which I inserted the “branches”:

I also cut the “straw” so I could make one end of it tapered — the “branches” are all firmly glued into place:

Then I wrap it all up:

I have a book that contains half the plays of Shakespeare. The pages are very thin, and the print is rather small, which makes it the ideal wrapping material.  I cut each page into strips, and then I wrap the strip around whatever “start” or “branch” I am working on. I load the strip up with glue, so it’s like hanging wallpaper: it’s really messy. The print will come off while you’re handling it, and the glue will leak, and your hands will get crusty and grimy. I have to rinse off my hands between every other strip that I wrap.

But in the end, with all that glue and those layers of text, your “tree” will be very, very sturdy.

Now, remember the image that I’m using from Where The Wild Things Are?

If you look closely at the top of the illustration, yo’ll see that the trees all have different leaves:

The tree at the end is a broad-leaf, so bread leaves is what I made:

The tree next to it has strange little curlicue leaves, so I rolled up some more “straws”, in two different sizes. . .

. . . which I then cut, in 1/4 – inch intervals, so that a I reduced the “straw” into a little pile of “rings”. I glued the little rings into groups like this:

The middle tree, the one on which the little kid is swinging, is a palm! Oh, those palm fronds were a lot of fun to make!

Unfortunately, I did to take any photos of making the palm fronds, but here are the three trees, plus the next-to-last one, with all their various leaves glued into place:

See those black and white photocopy of the characters from Where The Wild Things Are?  I only used them as a guide to how the trees would fit together, and how the characters would “land” on their branches. The illustration in the book is very large, too large for my purposes, so I made color copies of them at 50% their original size (I’m a miniaturist at heart).

If you remember the original illustration:

You can see that the characters are swinging from rather short trees, so now I know how much I have to cut off my paper trees. And, so, now I can make the thingy that will let the trees stand up on their own:

See those strips of text? That’s what I will use to wrap the foot of this tree.


And yes, I did glue all the trees together (branches) and here they are, in place:

There were a few miscalculations about the heights of trees. I’m never doing this again but if I did, it would be more uniform. Although I do like the syncopation of the swingers from hi to lo, if you know what I mean.

In the original illustration, there is a lot of vegetation on the ground — vines and leaves and tall grass. That’s good for me, because I need to use ground vegetation to cover up the fact that my middle tree, the one siting across the inside spine of the open book, is not flush with the surface upon which the trees are standing.

I like to use pages from several different books when I do Book Art. Since there is no color to these things, I use the differences in the size and character of the fonts and typesets of the texts, and the differences in weight and tone of the paper, to give variety and interest.

For first two ground covers, I’m using some very cool pages from a book about music, for obvious reasons:

One tree had a small, bushy-type of thing growing around its base:

Another tree had more of a vine-type thing growing around its base:

Maybe the differences between the two is not terribly important to anyone but me, but yes, one of these is a bush, and one is a vine:

And for the other three trees, I made a different kind of bush, and some tall grass (as it is in the original illustration — you know that I’m a stickler for accuracy):

And here’s the whole shebang:

I have made this piece, let’s call it Wild Thing, as a companion to a previous piece I’ve showed you, let’s call it Dragon Cliff:

I still have a dragon or two that I want to include in this story (“story” is what I call the things I’m making; each book that I cut up or use as a platform for the forms I’m making tell a “story”). So there will be dragons playing miniature miniature golf with the wild wings in the background.

About the Dragon Cliff:

The fellow in the yellow cardigan is Arthur the Aardvark:

I was lucky to find him in a pose that is uncharacteristically wary. (Congratulations to Fresca and Steve for guessing it correctly!)

The kid with the taco, and his dog, are the kid and the dog from the book Dragons Love Tacos:

Getting that kid into shape so he could stand up on those incredibly spindly legs was murder, but I am a freaking genius at cutting and gluing hair-width pieces of paper together. (Kudos to Casey!)

The two girls peering over the edge of the end paper are from:

(Honorable Mention to Fresca and Casey!)

And the dragon is from the dust jacket of:

Cool dragon. I know the dragon has a name, but I haven’t so much as glanced into the book (third in a series of four, all about dragons) so I can’t tell you what her name is. (Steve stands alone on this one! )

And, lastly, the polar vortex slammed onto the north shore of Long Island yesterday and I’ve been pre-occupied with insulating my feral outdoor cat, Steve, against zero-degree weather . On Monday I went to the thrift store and found a nice warm puffy vest that I took home and washed, and then I wrapped it around Steve’s heating pad to give him an extra layer of coziness in his nest by the front stoop:

Steve seemed to like the new accoutrement very much, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your outdoor kitty is warm and safe only lasted two days. Then the snow squall came in — a furious blast of fine snow that only lasted half an hour, but did damage:

A little snow blew into Steve’s nest, and I was hoping that wouldn’t happen. Snow in there would melt because of the heating pad under the puffy vest, and it would soak the material of the vest, and be a cold, damp resting place, which would not be good for Steve. So I took the vest out and layered a nice big pile of  straw all around and on top of his heating pad; straw wicks moisture better than any other insulating material.

Steve nestled right down in the straw, and when I checked on him the morning after our dangerously cold night, he moseyed out and stretched as if it were any lazy Summer morn.

Today it is cold — 5 degrees this morning, to a high of 15 degrees — but sunny, and this is Steve on his stoop:

One more day of this bone-chilling weather and then it will warm up to the 40s and I can go back to my normal worrying about Steve’s comfort and happiness like I usually do.

And here’s Taffy, risking frostbite to do his thing in his favorite patch of dirt:

Have a great weekend, everyone. This Saturday is Groundhog Day, and Winter is calendrically half over!!




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