It all began with one innocent little flower crown. That’s how it always begins. After that it’s “time is just a construct of human perception” and barefoot walks through the woods. You’ve been warned. Tread lightly.
I’ve always wanted to try making one of these things so I decided that now was the time to construct myself a fancy little head piece as it was now only a week or two into the announced quarantine. I was looking for new projects to keep my hands (and mind) busy with. I started the piece by first size a wire hoop to fit my head. I then took shorter lengths of wire and twisted them into what would become the petals, using the last of my most precious tissue paper and some PVA glue to completely cover the shapes. Once they were dry, they made rigid pieces that could be attached by wire-wrapping, but be bent to varying angles to create a fuller looking arrangement.
Once I ran out of wire and tissue paper, I rifled around for some alternate fibers that I could use to create even more bulk, searching for something that would give me a little more variation in texture. I found tucked away, some Swiffer cloth and a thin weird styrofoam paper packing material. I cut out some more “petals” in the shape of 8’s and folded them over the hoop one by one, hand-stitching them in place to hide any exposed wire, while making the crown more comfortable to wear.
Then of course, once it was finished enough to adorn my head in faux petals, I would wear it around the house for entire afternoons, for no apparent reason other than to make myself feel better. And you know what? It worked. I felt a lot better about whatever was or wasn’t going on. All hail The Craft Queen of Quarantine.
After one impromptu photo-shoot, I laid the crown to rest for a while.. I thought about experimenting with a couple of other arrangements but quickly realized that I was a little limited when it came to supplies (namely the wire used to construct the basic shape), so I decided that I needed to try something a little different.. I suddenly remembered that I had my Intuos tablet stashed in a protective case, waiting to be revisited and considered that compositing in Photoshop was a very viable option. I quickly grabbed my phone to search for a couple of photos I remembered taking while on a bike ride through the 13ème, pre-quarantine and bingooooo. Found them.
This really was one of the big reasons I decided to return to Paris for the longer-term. When I arrived for the first time, the city was nothing like I expected it to be. It was, in fact, so much more. I spent countless days on-foot, wandering the streets and whole-heartedly fell in love with what I saw up on the walls. Around every corner lived some new, provocative wheat-pasted poster or spray-bombed masterpiece. My first three months in the city were like a massive scavenger hunt. And while I understand that a plethora of metropolitan cities have their own phenomenal street art, there was just something about what I saw in Paris (and the culture that seemed to surround it) that had my full attention.
For whatever reason, I had all but stopped cataloging my urban finds, but for whatever reason, when I saw these dazzling graffiti girls on Rue René Goscinny just off the Seine, I made sure to take a photo before we got back on our bikes and rode home. The streets that day were unusually quiet for one of the first sunny days in Paris; a sort of calm before the storm, I suppose..
I set to work creating my own graffiti girl, using myself first as a subject, taking a seat in front of a white wall upstairs, in the last of the afternoon light. I was able to worth with the photo, removing the background and adjusting the levels and curves. I used an overlay to colour the hair, although I think I need to finesse this colour substitution a little on any future projects. What. I’m impatient and it shows.
The next step was finding a flower photo that I could snag for the composite, along with something to use as an overlay for the shirt. I found a rose that I used 1, 2, 3.. 7 times, varying the hue just slightly each time. I think I tried to warp the perspective on one or two of them with limited success. I’m not exactly bothered with it having a flatter appearance– I actually kind of find it a bit funny. But the thing that I really wanted to experiment with the most for this initial attempt was the spray painted face and it was probably the element that I was the most satisfied with.
All-in-all, decent first attempt. Quick and dirty. I’m not a master of composites and like I said, I’m impatient (and need practice). I have a feeling that the secret is lots of fine layers and blending and oh god, my head hurts just thinking about it.. Not my favourite thing to do, but maybe one day.. Of course after sharing this first attempt with my nearest and dearest, I asked a of them to send me a selfie taken in front of a white wall in the best light they could find..
You know this is going to be a continual work in progress. I’m still assembling my army of flower children as we speak.