Paper is such a wonderful thing, it can become so many different things in as many different hands. When we are children, we are given paper and crayons or finger-paint, and let loose to make a mess. When we learn to look at books, we can see magical images on the same flat plane of paper. When we begin to read and write, we form letters and numbers with pencils and pens and begin to express ourselves in a non-verbal way that other people can understand. But by far, my favorite use of paper is to alter it from it’s usual one-dimensional form, and to create something entirely different.
By layering, gluing, scrunching, folding, cutting, painting, and any other number of manipulations, we can turn paper into magic. We see the world in dimensions, though we may not be as aware of it as we are when we sit in a movie theater looking at that flat screen with those goofy 3D glasses on. There is perspective all around us, some things are closer, some things are farther away. When light moves over the land, be it natural or artificial, different things are highlighted. We see shadows, we see new items illuminated that we didn’t notice before, and everything can change in the span of a few hours. Think about your favorite place to be, it looks different based on how much light there is, and where you are in that space.
Shadow boxes and dioramas are becoming a lost art, and that is a true shame. Children create their art on a tablet or computer screen, and it never achieves the same quality of a hand made work. If you never play with sizes and shapes of cut out paper arranged closer or farther from your eyes, and with different light sources, you will never fully understand the magic of perspective. No matter what technology comes along, there is nothing that can beat a plain old arts and crafts kit full of scraps of paper, trims and findings, glue, paint, and colour.
Today I stumbled upon the most magical of things, a wonderful Shadow Box Diorama created by the very talented hands of Tatiana Kontouli. Tatiana’s Etsy Shop, called LaBoom, contains a bounty of wonderful examples of 3D sculpture, shadow boxes, dioramas, lighted boxes and other magical hand crafted paper creations. Tatiana’s creations vary in price quite a bit, from $12.00 US for smaller shadow boxes, to $55.00 US for her most intricate creations. This makes them affordable for almost anyone to add to a collection of curiosities, or as a perfect gift for that person that is impossible to buy for.
Comprised of vintage ephemera, paper cutouts, fabric trims, wire, glitter, cardboard, and illusion, Tatiana’s work is fascinating to look at, and really makes you want to take a closer look inside the box. From grand multi-figure displays, to simple seeming light boxes, each piece is so very special. You can see the careful combination of elements, the thoughtful placement of text and hidden creatures, and the small touches of magic that make these more than just crafty little items, it makes them something very special indeed.
A close look at the individual listings I have selected to show you, or any of the dozens of others in the LaBoom shop, will show you different angles and close-up views that will enchant you utterly. Tatiana Kontouli’s “whimsical wonderland” ships all the way from beautiful Antiparos, Cyclades in Greece, one of the most magical and mythical places on the planet. It all just makes the story come together for me, Greece is the seat of a great deal of the historical evolution of sculpture and art.
I urge you to take a closer look at LaBoom, and hope you see something so special you simply must bring it’s whimsy and magic into your home. If nothing else, it will have you heading into your old scrap box of bits and bobs, grabbing an old cigar box or cardboard frame, and planning to spend a little time with a glue-stick and some newsprint in the near future. Dioramas should not be on the endangered list of folk arts, too many things have already gone that direction.
So hit up the local craft shop or dig into your old stash of findings and create your own shadow box, and include the children in your life in the process, they will be enchanted by the magic that can be found in paper. Don’t let them think of paper as relegated to school work and books alone, as much as I love books – they need to learn to see possibility in all materials, and not just take them for granted. In the time before television, computers, and video games,it is too easy to forget about real creativity.
Where will our future sculptors, crafters, designers and architects be without knowing the magic that can be found in 3D? I am so glad I found Tatiana Kontouli‘s Etsy Shop, LaBoom on a Friday, and now you can be too. Have a great weekend everyone, do something creative with paper and rediscover the magic.