Monday, March 8, 2010


Bricolage: (from Merriam-Webster)
Pronunciation: \ˌbrē-kō-ˈläzh, ˌbri-\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from bricoler to putter about
Date: 1964

: construction (as of a sculpture or a structure of ideas) achieved by using whatever comes to hand; also : something constructed in this way

Yesterday there was mention of bricolage on Seth Apter's Secret Sunday post. I decided to try my hand at it, using only scraps I had saved over the past few months and stuffed into envelopes. I have made backgrounds that use small scraps. I've even made fabric paper that uses small scraps of paper. I've made "serendipity squares." But none of these tell a story, which I feel bricolage does, especially when incorporating the "structure of ideas."

Here is my take on bricolage. It is my first piece and I tried to stay in a red/green/brown color pallette. I didn't want to add any color over the scraps. I especially chose not to dry brush over the entire piece, something I often do to bring it all together. For me, this piece was a challenge. I really liked how it turned out, although I had hoped to have several finished. Click for a better view and see how many scraps you remember.

And before you ask about my project I said I'd probably post on Monday that my friend Kathy and I worked on last Friday, here's the story on that. I have mine finished, photographed, and uploaded to ABC (altered book club yahoo group). However, many people still don't have theirs finished, and I don't want to add this project to my blog until everyone on ABC has had a chance to finish theirs.

Earlier in the day, I also decided to start another new project using security envelopes. I apparently didn't think the project through very well, as I often don't. I should have cut all the pieces the same size. This piece can be cut up (in fact, I only showed about half of it, since I couldn't get it to scan at a low res) and used in other projects, as I plan the next one a bit better and collect more security envelopes. I also had trouble with the tension on my sewing machine and had to sew the pieces on the wrong side, thus not being able to control color or matching very well. To make matters worse, I broke my thread at least six times, thus all the wisps of errant thread. At least doing this early in the day allowed me to regroup after I got discouraged with this piece on many levels.

Today I'm showing a web site featuring the Watts Towers. To me, these towers are the best example I know of bricolage. While on assignment for my former company back in the late 80s, I actually hunted the Watts Towers down and went to see them. People where I was working, and friends I had made, all told me not to go, it wasn't safe. It didn't matter to me. I'm glad I didn't listen to them. At the time, the neighborhood was in transition, having just been passed from the State of California to the City of Los Angeles. I was so glad I went when I did, because several events have happened since then, like the earthquake of 1994 and the Rodney King fiasco, that have caused changes to the area around the towers. When I first saw the towers, I was not a mixed media artist, but a mechanical engineer. As an engineer, I was impressed by the structures. From an aesthetic standpoint, I was disturbed. After perusing the web site today, I'm still disturbed by these towers, more from their design aestheics than anything else. If you are not from the Los Angeles area, or have never seen these towers, you owe it to yourself to check out the web site and pay particular attention to the "history" link. The 12 minute documentary, shot in 1957, is of particular interest, especially if you like history. This web site is not owned by the Watts Towers or Watts Towers Center, but by a private individual.

Now go have a bricolage kind of day.

13 thoughtful remarks:

Stephanie Mealor Corder said...

I love your collage and that bricollage technique is something I really must try! Secret Sunday is always so inspiring- I'm so excited to know how to remove wine labels now!

Marilyn Rock said...

Wasn't sure my first comment went through so forgive if this is duplicate. Love your collage and the bricollage intrigues me. xxoo

Diane said...

I am going over to Seth's blog--I love this bricollage, but I've never heard that term before--I'll check it out.

Sherry said...

hmmmm - would it be better to say we're bricolage artists than mixed-media collage artists? I like that word a lot -- I HAVE always been a putterer

La Dolce Vita said...

I love your stitched piece it is so abstract and wonderful!! way to go!

Margaret said...

Elizabeth, I love how your bricolage turned out, really interesting composition. The envelopes are fab, I like that they're not all the same and the hanging threads are all part of it. Margaret

linda said...

I like your collage, Elizabeth, the reds and the netting really pull it all together.

Seth said...

Great pieces here Elizabeth. The red netting in the bricolage piece really serves to unite the elements. And the disorderly nature of the security envelope piece looks just right to me.

~*~Patty Szymkowicz said...

Extra fun visit here today E! I am learning so much!
Bricolage is what I have been doing lots of and not even knowing it had a name!
I got completely lost over at the Watts Towers link. Many thanks.
Totally amazing the complexity, mystery and beauty Simon Rodia created out of the ordinary ... sharing his vision and cathedral with so many.
Isaiah Zagar of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens came to mind, altho he is primarily a mosiac artiste extraordinare, not much metal involved in his art!
Thanks for of my favorite posts!
Happy Monday!

Carol Anne's Boutique said...

Hi Elizabeth, Wow, I just love what you have created...Bricolage, I have never heard of the name before! Your Bricolage is gorgeous, I love the color combination and how you used the netting...looks absolutely fabulous!!
I want to thank you so much for stopping by my blog last week and leaving your very lovely comment, it really made my day! :)
Hugs, Carol Anne

Kimmie said...

what a fabulous word! You could use this technique and then cut out a few one inch squares of the most interesting bits - and voila - you would have some amazing inchies (hint hint)

Marlynn said...

I do love your creation and the netting. Excuse me why I was LOL about your "quilting" - Oh, my German Grandmother born in Kansas had a lot to say to me about measuring and cutting and piecing when quilting. My mom never could get it... I know I had some of her quilt squares. Brought back fun memories! Love those towers, they do have the mystery! Engjoy the evening.

thekathrynwheel said...

I have never heard of Bricolage before but now I know! This is great :-) What a cool idea. Kate