29th Birthday

My best friend turned 29. We are rarely together on either of our birthdays and so I get great joy out of making sure what I send is exciting. This year I decided to make a card. Conveniently I had scraps of paper and card from other projects and left over red envelope from a failed previous Christmas card that was never sent. 

I wrote a nice message on the back, but the front appears as if it's been cut out in stencil form. But in reality they are pasted on the front of this heavy white cardstock. I agonized over the color arrangement. I think it came out well!


Every now and then someone contacts me on Etsy about creating a special piece for them. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. In one case I was never able to figure out what the individual who had contacted me wanted. We can't always translate what's in our heads to what the person making the thing is capable of doing. In any event, I had an idea about creating a map that was more white space and very specific shapes. It coalesced during one of these conversations around making a map of Harlem.

This is one of my favorite maps. The straight lines reveal a sort of skeleton of NYC. The bottom of Harlem touches the top of Central Park. I enjoy running my fingers across the remaining lines of paper.

What makes this piece work is the bodies of water. I've drawn it out for my old neighborhood in Chicago, but it doesn't look as visually compelling. 

Birth of a Series

Lately it seems that a new type of map comes into being primarily as the result of someone making a suggestion. In this case it was suggested to me that I might make one of a cemetery. Having just visited Père Lachaise in Paris with a dear friend from Chicago, I was reminded how cemeteries used to be places that people went to be seen and to enjoy. Paper crafts and death have long gone together. Papel Picado, for instance, a type of perforated paper craft is used to create designs for El Dia de Los Muertos. Prayer flags, Chinese window flowers, and Papel Picado will be the subjects of later posts. But for now, the dead.

If you're running away from zombies that have invaded your city, and if your city is say New York, I hope that you'll have procured this map below. You'll need it when you turn to storming their death places and putting them right back to rest. Or maybe that's vampires. Well, there are just a lot of undead folks aren't there? This is where they started anyway. 

This map is of Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn sent to me by my friend. As I write this, an American expat in London, I am keen to highlight that in 1776 the Battle of Long Island was fought on the current site. So some of those zombies might be Revolutionary War participants I hear you ask? Sadly not. Green-Wood wasn't built until 1838. You might however encounter the Tiger of Tammany, Jean-Michal Basquiat, or Louis Comfort Tiffany. I'm hoping for Tiffany, personally. You know he throws some fierce shade. 

But when I saw this photo I was immediately struck by not just the shape of the cemetery itself, but by the elaborate arrangement of its paths. There are a great many curves and deliberate use of loops to permit extensive perambulation. So I thought I'd see if I could cut it. I liked the idea of making everything outside the cemetery white and just cutting the paths. Before tackling this objective though I wanted to try a slightly simpler version. So I turned to the most recent cemetery I had visited, Père Lachaise. 

So I cut and created this map, backing it in a delightful find at the art shop called 'plum':

I love this bit:

I've completed the drawing of Green-Wood and now all that remains is to cut it. So with Père Lachaise, Green-Wood, and a yet to be determined third cemetery I think a new series has been born. If you've got a suggestion for the third cemetery, leave it in the comments and I might create it!