Happy Feet

I'm always amazed at how vulnerable our bodies are to illness. Change the internal temperature just a couple of degrees, throw in a sore throat and a few unwanted sniffles, and you're sapped of all ambition to do anything other than wallow about the house.

I was reminded of this when I spent the holiday weekend nursing a cold. Thankfully it wasn't serious, but I didn't feel like sketching, let alone working at the studio. Some artists may suffer for their work, but I'm not one of them.

I needed something to keep me busy though, so I finally got around to finishing a project I've had on my list for several months now.

I've recently become aware of the vogue for turning magazines into useful objects such as baskets and placemats. I didn't need a basket, but one thing I have needed for a while is a shoe mat.  I could have simply bought one, but I had a pile of Art in America magazines waiting to be used for some colorful project. With what strength I could muster, I heaved them out of their hiding place and decided to make my own shoe mat.

My unsuspecting pile of magazines
I started by tearing out all the pages from the magazines. This ended up taking at least two hours, but it was definitely therapeutic.

The magazines after an evening of salubrious tearing

I then took the individual sheets and sorted them into piles loosely based on color. I ended up creating ten different categories based on the colors that appeared most frequently: white, pink, red, brown/orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, rainbow, and black. I'd thought about doing something witty and art-historically based, such as a Renaissance art pile, an abstract expressionist pile, a performance art pile, etc., but frankly, my mind was too foggy from my cold haze to handle such an undertaking.

Once I had my piles, I needed to makes strips. To do this, I'd take a magazine sheet...

...tear it in half...

...fold each torn sheet in half....

...then finally fold them a second time, and glue the sheet together.

I was able to get two strips for every magazine page. I did this for each my my piles, until I had hundreds of strips in different colors.

My piles of strips

Once I had the strips, it was time to weave them together.

A test mat. I ultimately ended up making them a little smaller.
Whereas the strips had taken hours to make, the actual weaving process itself went fairly quickly. Once I'd woven the mats to the size I liked, I trimmed them down and secured the edges with duct tape. I ended up making two mats for each of my color groups, resulting in a total of twenty mats.

Two of my color groups: blue and purple
Once I had the mats, I placed them in clear plastic sheet protectors, so that the dirt from my shoes wouldn't get into the paper. Finally, I moved the mats into place.

The completed mats. The kitchen has the best light, so I photographed them all here.
The mats as they look in my closet.


My mats with my shoes on them

A project like this takes a lot of time, but it's easy, repetitive work that's perfect when you're sick but still want something to do. I suppose I could have just as easily gone out and bought something, but that wouldn't have been nearly as memorable.