My inspiration for this project came from a bit of digging, a bit of Pinterest browsing, and an ever-growing pile of recycling in my apartment that was begging to be repurposed. I’m a lover of art; I try my best to practice when I have the time in various forms. Something that I’ve always enjoyed is making Thank You, holiday, and birthday cards. In a busy time in my life I have found this “kills two birds with one stone” in a sense, although giving back to those in my life that I’m thankful for isn’t always a burden. I spent a large portion of my last semester applying to graduate school and, although this took large portions of my own time, some of the most important aspects of each application were my references. After receiving an offer from my top choice university, I’ve been meaning to follow up with everyone that helped me along the way. I did something similar last semester after submitting my first round of applications and have included some pictures below.
I wanted to try something new; I have made cards using water color and oil paints in the past, but only on traditional paper. Cardboard seemed like a fun challenge and proposed a new medium that intrigued me. Hence, my Upscaling Project was born.
1 Quaker Oats Oatmeal Box
1 Peanut and Banana Clif Bar Box
1 Egg Carton
My initial plan for my Upscaling Project was to fabricate wooden beads. I thought it would be a cool way to learn how to use the wood lathe and test out some machining skills. However, after talking to the shop manager at the ITLL, I realized this would be quite the undertaking. First, beads are TINY! The wood lathe is purposed for large scale engineering projects, not precise and detailed beads. Second, the wood required for such precise processes is expensive. With the core goal of this project centered on repurposed material, I figured buying wood would steer away from the concept of upscaling.
I’ve detailed my design process in the sketch shown below. As you can see, I took a few turns before arriving at my final destination. I suppose that was one of the lessons I learned: Don’t use your first idea!
My vision – and this seems to be a theme with my artistic pursuits – was fairly broad. I wasn’t entirely sure what direction I would take until I sat down and started putting things together. I had initially wanted to use oil paints, although once I saw how the grey egg carton, brown cardboard, and black thread looked together, I realized I wanted to keep it simple. I actually really liked how the grey, black, and brown complemented each other. It created a bit of an earth-tone aesthetic, so I just went with it. I also wanted to incorporate additional art to the design, so I decided to play around with some black ink drawings. Everything started to come together quite nicely, including the functionality of the cards. I was a bit nervous as to how the cardboard would bend, but the material used in the Quaker Oats and Clif Bar boxes was thin enough to function exactly how I needed. Next, it was a matter of putting everything together.
I began by cutting out the sides of each box and seeing what card sizes I would be working with. I decided to make two folding cards and two square cards. I initially thought I would glue everything together, but after experimenting with some sewing techniques, I found this created a neat aesthetic with the cardboard. In addition, I knew nothing would be falling apart.
I did some drawings with black ink that are shown below. I’ve been experimenting with line drawings with fine black ink. I thought the designs would be a unique addition to the aesthetic.
I cut them to shape and used glue to mount the paper to the cardboard. I didn’t want to risk ripping my drawings, so I figured this would be the best route to take. One thing that became a fun additive was the egg carton material. I ended up layering the last card that I made, and I think it’s safe to say it was my favorite. You can really see an additional design process through the card iteration. My first being the simple folded cardboard with one piece of egg carton, my next two incorporating my hand drawings, and the final using layered material. Which one is your favorite?
Analysis of Functional and Artistic Goals
The cards are bulky, to say the least. If you’re looking for something that you can mail at minimum price from UPS, these may not be the right products for you. However, I really like the way the aesthetic turned out. It’s simple, but detailed. I had fun doing some black ink drawing as well, and I think it ended up being a nice additive. Overall, I’m satisfied.
My next steps will be to write the “thank you’s!” I’ll probably draft them in my notebook and then write them out on white sketch paper and glue them into the interior. Nothing fancy, and hopefully they hold up. Cards are an interesting concept as most of us probably throw away the majority that we receive. However, I know that I keep some that hold meaning. These may not be incredibly emotional or memorable cards, but they will be unique. They may end up in the trash, but I’ll definitely let their recipients know that they’re recyclable. 😉
Link to view in class presentation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1z-a4nf–3_Pl1TRgKDOc0a_mY9v8foLh/view?usp=sharing