Little Boxes

I created these little boxes to take with me on an outing to meet some friends for coffee the other day. These friends had suggested on earlier occasions that they would like to join me in the studio for some creative time. Knowing that my messy studio is not quite ready for company, I decided to bring the creativity to them. I filled each of these boxes with little bits of paper, buttons, punches, and inspirational trinkets. I grabbed my bag of traveling art supplies and set out. When I arrived at the coffee shop, I was delighted to hand each of them a little box and encourage them to create something on their cardboard coffee sleeves as we sat and talked.

Of course thinking of little boxes brought to mind the delightful song by Malvina Reynolds. “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky…and they all look just the same”. The song was written as a commentary on the lack of creativity and individuality in our society, but the phrase ticky-tacky is what I find so endearing. It refers to the shoddy materials often used in industrial manufacturing. The term brings to mind the wonderful things that our culture sees as garbage, but, for me, are the inspirations for art. Whether it be a straw paper folded into an accordion or a beer mat decked out in glittery gel pen, the potential to create is there on the table, if you look for it.

One of the restaurants in town,┬áserves their sandwiches in wonderful long brown paper bags. They even have a space for customers to write or draw on the bags and clip them to a line to be displayed. So, guess what I do after I’m done with my meal? Yes, you guessed it, I pull out my tiny traveling art kit and I pretty that bag up! Maybe, after a year of going to this sandwich shop I will have enough work on display to warrant a full fledge show. Ha-ha!

Using the time while waiting for a meal at a restaurant or drinking a cup of coffee is a great way to promote a creative lifestyle. Stick a few pens in your bag and decorate a paper napkin, beer mat or a coffee sleeve. It’s a limited amount of time with no expectations other than to enjoy yourself. Better yet, pass the joy on by leaving your creation for someone else to find. It doesn’t matter if it’s a masterpiece, it still has the potential to bring a smile to the one who finds it. And no one will know who left it unless you decide to sign your work.

I’m meeting another friend for coffee today and I’m bringing along another “Little Box”. I’m looking forward to sharing some creativity and making the world a little prettier, one decorated coffee sleeve at a time. Don’t worry Ms. Reynolds, even if they are made out of some ticky-tacky, I am sure they won’t turn out all the same.

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