I haven’t done a collage in a long time, but I’d been thinking for awhile about doing one made up of all the random crap I pick up all over the house. The amount of cheap, useless plastic stuff that we seem to end up with amazes me. The kids get a bag of pencils, erasers, spinning tops and/or temporary tattoos every time they go to a birthday. They have craft supplies, building toys, puzzles and games with tiny pieces. Every time I vacuum I pick up legos, Baufix, playmobile, flexxies and heaven only knows what.
So the other day we took down the safety gate that we’ve had around the wood stove in our living room for the past 7+ years. We put it up when our oldest started cruising around to prevent critical bonks to the noggin. Our youngest turned 4, so we thought it would be safe to take it down. The safety gate was a traditional child safety gate attached to two panels on either end. My husband fabricated the panels from composite bead board and wood.
Like most things my husband builds from scratch, they were carefully handfitted and built to withstand fire, flood and nuclear war. When we took them down we looked at them and thought “there has to be a use for these.” And I thought of one.
Today I assembled all of my kit, left untouched since March or so – the wax from out on the porch and the iron from the back of the pantry closet. Then I set to picking things up off the floor and the surfaces of bureaus: first grade homework sheets, marbles, paper clips, beads, scraps cut from construction paper and left behind on the table. Odds and ends that hadn’t been thrown away yet.
The first layer includes the usual loose pages from old books (Gerald Durrell and Laura Ingalls Wilder), cards, ticket stubs, scrap fabric from my daughter’s sewing projects for her toy hamsters. I included some old playing cards I’ve had for years and a 20 year old Magic: The Gathering card. The black dish is one that one of the children dropped a week or so back, one of the first set I got after I graduated from college. The set has been slowly disappearing into collages and other places for a while now. I held the pieces in places with random screws I found on the floor and scattered on table tops as well.
The cascade of debris includes one of the cheap plastic toy cowboys that my kids played with in the bath when they were tiny (called “Dodos” by my son), a dream catcher a co-worker gave me about 20 years ago, three different kinds of lego, dried out markers and loose marker caps, an empty tin of candy a friend in Cleveland gave me, and plenty of the miscellaneous plastic or wooden toy parts that the kids leave out to stab my feet. When ever I throw away plastic rings or puzzles or frisbees from the kids’ gift bags, I think of the oceanic gyre of plastic fouling the Pacific. I’m not sure if this is a better use, but I’m thinking of making a triptych with the other panel and the similar safety gate my husband made for the attack stair. I think I’ll call it “Married with Children.”