Sunday, March 29, 2009

Priceless vintage collage materials?

Friday I found this stack of vintage books to take home with me from the used book store. But instead of tearing up the books to use them in collage, I started reading them. One book I'm particularly delighted with is 1933 California textbook, Visual Geography of California. The book is loaded with gorgeous maps and photos, and I was so fascinated that I read the book from cover to cover. Here's an excerpt:

"Times are changing very rapidly and airplane speeds are increasing at a very fast rate. It is thought that soon large planes carrying freight and passengers will cross the United States in from 7 to 10 hours."

If I had a flat scanner, I'd scan the California aviation map that shows airports with radio stations (Shasta, Willows, Reno, Oakland, Fresno, Daggett, Glendale, Fontana and Los Angeles). Not San Francisco, not San Diego.

This is great stuff. What if I'm tearing up one of the last books of its kind?

This weekend I rescued all my vintage materials from the garage to add to my growing collection in my art room. But again, instead of making collage, I started pouring over my Great Grandma Niccum's recipe file with a dozen salad recipes--Cucumber Salad, Reception Salad, Spicy Salad, Jello-Sunshine Salad, etc--that marry gelatin and vegetables and fruits in unimaginable combinations.

I found things like a newspaper clipping about my grandfather's music business and learned for the first time that he was a music teacher for four years in Missouri before he was drafted for the war. I knew my grandparents and their stories well, so this was a surprise. Part of me wonders if it was a reporter's error instead of a detail they left out in their stories.

I'm prone to reverie and nostalgia, and it's becoming quite clear that I'm going to have a hard time tearing up any of this material and getting down to the business of collaging.

I remember in about 1990 I was riffling through my grandmother's closet trying to find a Halloween costume and stumbled upon a gorgeous pair of 1960s camel suede shoes. They were brand new. I was stunned. I wore them, but I still wonder about how she could have allowed those shoes to sit unworn. And now I see I may have the same problem. What good will all this stuff do sitting in boxes in the garage? But can I give myself permission to experiment with such precious material?

I doubt it, so I've been spending some time researching printers and scanners, and I'm not quite sure what to do. I wonder what kind of printer to buy. And I'm also realizing that to scan and print these books would quickly add up to more than the materials themselves. How priceless are they?

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