Rules are funny things.
We’re taught that they make our lives easier and “safer” by protecting us from all the bad stuff and people.
But they also do something else: they grow and multiply, expand and enlarge, develop to the point where it takes libraries of volumes to contain them, and everyone, at some point, becomes a rule breaker. When rules get out of control, they limit and hinder, circumscribe and restrict, regulate and dominate.
Artist Trudy Love Tantalo discovered this foray into philosophy by, of all things, creating “junk journals,” handmade paper books embellished with additions like lace, fabric, ribbons, even discarded cereal boxes. It was an epiphany.
Initially, the Des Moines, WA, creative “jumped onto the scrapbooking bandwagon” because of her fascination for papers and design. But she found that the emphasis on getting the pages perfect, the unwritten rule of scrapbooking, was stressful.
The Rules of Perfection
She encountered a similar sense of stress upon receiving an especially beautifully bound journal as a gift, after years of using whatever notebook she had on hand. A lifetime lover of journals to record her day or feelings, Love Tantalo noticed an unusual change in her behavior when she used the gifted journal: instead of writing in pen, as she usually would, she used pencil, in case she made a “mistake” and ruined the perfection of the page. Journaling, like creating scrapbook pages, was no longer fun because the emphasis was on perfection, not creativity.
And then she discovered junk journals.
“I happened upon them on Pinterest — the uniqueness and creativity really appealed to me. And the fact that you didn’t necessarily need a lot of fancy supplies or papers fit perfectly with my innate frugality and desire to ‘upcycle’ as much as possible.
“This finally fit the bill for me.
“There were no rules!”
Freedom from Rules
The finding of junk journals released a sense of creativity that Love Tantalo didn’t know she had. She quickly put together her first two journals, choosing folded-over cereal box as covers and incorporating a variety of papers. One she used as a travel journal on her trip to Europe, filling it with brochures and postcards, tickets stubs and packaging, thoughts for the day. And . . .
“I threw caution to the wind and used a pen to write with!”
Junk journals, to Love Tantalo, perfectly fit her desire to create, her interest in journaling, and the challenge of using items that might ordinarily be thrown away. These were interests, she realized, that other people had as well. She turned a second bedroom into her studio, filled it “to the rafters” with a variety of papers and all manner of upcycled items (“AKA ‘junk'”), and got to a most pleasurable and productive work.
“My biggest problem is becoming overwhelmed with all my ideas and possibilities,” she says.
Lots of Space for Writing and Drawing
“Because I am a journaler and use my own creations, I always make sure there is plenty of writing space in each one, although I want to make it fun and interesting to look at and use, too.”
Junk journals, like the precious people who use them, are unique, Love Tantalo says, and there is no one way, no incontrovertible series of rules, to use them. Some people use them as diaries, others as doodle spots. Some draw in them. Others write quotes, list what they’re grateful for, tuck in mementos, pen prayers, fashion collage.
Or do it all.
Because, after all . . . there are no rules.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail email@example.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.