By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
It’s a crafter’s paradise: long tables filled with stickers and scissors, glitter glue and paint.
These are tools of the trade for Amanda Brasfield. By day she’s the librarian at Findlay High School. She also owns and operates a business called Spiritus Collage.
Collage is the art of gluing things together, she explained. It could be pictures and words cut out of magazines, photos of family and friends, even pieces of fabric, bits of ribbon and colorful plastic gems.
“I’m not an art teacher. I don’t have a degree. I just like gluing stuff together,” she said. “And I love people, and I believe in people and the power of people.”
Brasfield became interested in two collage artists, Melody Ross and Kelly Rae Roberts, and decided to try it out herself.
“I found that it’s very soothing and peaceful, and I enjoyed the messages that came out of it,” she said.
She set out to share her love of collage through workshops. Brasfield has done sessions at both the Bluffton and Findlay-Hancock County public libraries.
Many of her pieces include meaningful words and phrases.
“I like to do inspirational things, especially for women and young women,” she said. “We get a lot of negative things in our environment, so I think of them as, like, the soul whisperers, the little things that your soul really wants you to know but we don’t always listen to them, and putting it on the canvas.”
Brasfield uses both 5-inch-by-7-inch canvas panels and smaller, wallet-sized cards, called “truth cards,” which are the brainchild of Ross.
“They’re more like a letter to yourself or a letter to your friend,” she said. “What do you need to know? What do you need to remind yourself of every day?”
For example, she keeps a truth card on her desk that reads: “Dear Amanda, it’s OK to take a break.”
Brasfield advised the teens who came to a recent Collage and Cocoa event at the Findlay library that a good first step is to think about the words and phrases that inspire them and the colors they are drawn to.
“Those are going to be the colors and textures and styles that you’re comfortable with, and they’re going to lead you in the right direction,” she told the group.
Megan Earhart, a senior at Findlay High School who is also a member of the library’s Youth Advisory Board, was one of the participants. She was leafing through magazines, cutting out pictures in hues of red and gold.
“I’m not really a crafty person, but this is so low pressure,” she said. “And you can do whatever you want with it.”
Although she didn’t have an exact design in mind, her pile of pictures included a large round photograph of a strawberry pie.
“I was like, that’s beautiful,” said Megan. “I have to get that. I don’t really know what I’m going to do with them yet. But it’s gray outside, so I’m like, I’ll make something warmer.”
Brasfield said being able to express yourself and do something creative and mindful is important for everyone, especially teens.
“That process of painting and gluing becomes almost a meditative process,” she said. “It just kind of gives your brain a break from a lot of other distractions. I notice that when I finish I feel joyful, and if you feel happy while you’re doing it and when you finish, then you’re doing it right.”
She had multiple bottles of acrylic paint available to create backgrounds. Some teens were painting first, using pinks, blues and purples. Others were busily cutting out pictures and words from magazines and old books.
“This is kind of like a buffet,” said Brasfield, referencing the tables full of crafting supplies.
She said Mod Podge is her glue of choice for this project. It dries clear, and can also be used on top of a finished piece to seal it.
She suggested adding a focal point to larger pieces.
“Our eyes are attracted to natural things like a horizon line,” she said. “So you can get a piece of ribbon or a piece of paper with a certain pattern on it to give your eyes somewhere to rest.”
Brasfield also reminded the youth that the hardback books on the table were meant to be cut up and used as well.
“You’re not here to look up words in the dictionary. You’re here to rip up the pages and glue them down,” she said. “It’s so very irreverent for the librarians to say that, but that is what we say today.”
People love words, she added.
“Some people will spend a long amount of time just picking a font. And so we love words, we indulge in words,” said Brasfield. “A lot of people will pick a word for the new year and that will be their theme all year. We’re just really tied to words.”
Brasfield has found that teens are generally fearless when it comes to trying this project.
“They already have a lot of ideas. So I think a lot of times, my job is just facilitating what people already have in their hearts and inside them,” she said.