Happy Thanksgiving Weekend, everyone! Did you guys have the holiday off? And eat lots of turkey? I didn’t, really (though Jeffrey DID make us some delicious steaks and asparagus risotto the night before). I cross-covered on the general wards Thursday and Friday, but the hospital was nice and calm because kids don’t really get sick during holidays. They also don’t get sick during Friday evenings or Saturdays. Sunday night, however, is a perfect time to get sick because they get to skip school the next day. Kids also don’t get sick when the weather is pretty outside. Or when there is an important sporting event going on. All in all, they are pretty smart about picking out their sick days. And Thanksgiving is NOT a time they choose to spend in a hospital.
This year, I am thankful that my and Jeffrey’s families both made plans to visit us during this holiday season. I am thankful for Wolfgang and Merlin. I am thankful for a residency program that I love. I am thankful for my new blog that helps keep me sane, and for all the people that are reading along! I am thankful for my salary. I am thankful for my heater. I am thankful for Steve Jobs. I am thankful for FaceTime. I am also thankful for having the weekend after Thanksgiving off, so that I can spend my time working on fun DIY projects!
Today’s object of genius is the ULTIMATE yinnified yangification: an artistically personalized work briefcase. I first got the idea to create this after perusing the Boston Arts Festival earlier this year (the pics of which you can check out in this post), and making millions of mental notes about potential projects from the local artist vendors. This one chick was selling uniquely decoupaged leather bags for hundreds of dollars. I took a good look at them, complimented her creativity, had a mini heart attack upon learning the price she was selling them for, and thought: “I can make this.” And so can you.
Here’s what I started with…
You will need (click to see pictures of each item):
- A leather bag/satchel/wallet/briefcase that you are willing to experiment on/transform into pure awesomeness. Shop cheap (aka: garage sale, flea market, Goodwill, etc.). Otherwise, it’s no fun.
- A stack of magazines that somehow represent your personal interests, and that you are willing to destroy (for a good cause, I promise!). I chose a series of art magazines that I snuck out of my art classroom in 8th grade. They were old and covered in paint and stuffed in boxes at the bottom of a closet. And no one appreciated them. So I took them. To be honest, it was very hard for me to cut them up, but I love what I did with them.
- Mod Podge from a craft/hobby store (this supply is KEY). I prefer one that produces a matte finish, but I think they also sell glossy. It’s a matter of personal preference!
- A thick paintbrush or sponge-brush to apply the Mod Podge.
- Creativity, like whoa.
Easy breezy steps:
- Start by cleaning what you purchased out of someone’s dusty garage. Hopefully you picked out something with lots of potential and beautiful detailing.
- Sand the leather portions that you are planning on decoupaging. Why sand it? Oh I don’t know. I seriously make up these steps as I go. I figured that furniture gets sanded to make paint stick, so by the same logic, leather briefcases get sanded to make decoupaged magazine cutouts stick. Makes sense, no? Anyway, give it just a quick sanding to give it a rough texture… Don’t rub a hole through your project!
- Cut out bits and pieces you find inspirational/interesting/cool-looking from the magazines: quotes, photographs, paintings, song lyrics, etc., and start playing with different arrangements. You are basically gonna collage this stuff onto your leather object, turning it into a portable piece of artwork that represents you.
- Start gluing. Be generous with the Mod Podge, and don’t be afraid to start. Your piece is going to eventually take a life of its own and turn into something amazingballs. Remember that Mod Podge dries clear, that imperfections are what make things interesting, and that you bought this at a flea market. You always start by putting a coat straight onto the leather itself, and then adding more Mod Podge on top of the cut-outs you are decoupaging. This will reinforce the whole gluing process, and provide a protective coat of lacquer over the whole piece. You cut-outs will develop bends and air bubbles with all the moisture from the glue. That is FINE.
- You want most of the leather to be covered, so start by decoupaging large cut-outs as your first layer. I chose a series of interesting articles about some of my favorites painters.
- Be creative! There are no rules.
- Pay homage to the big dudes… Ten bucks to anyone besides my mom, grandma, and grandpa’s ghost who can *name these three, tell me what painting they appear in, who they represent in the painting, and who the painting is by!
- Highlight quotes by your favorites…
- Incorporate reminders of your professional life. I chose Leonardo’s anatomic drawings… to remind me that I’m a doctor, not a hippie. I wish I was a hippie, by the way. Notice how I left some of the leather detailing intact. I think it’s beautiful.
- I also recreated one of my favorite works by Dali, his portrait of Mae West, using bits and pieces from both this Mae West piece, and from his 1931 “The Persistence of Memory.” When I visited his museum in Figueres, Spain (hands-down, THE BEST museum I’ve ever set foot in… and I’ve set foot in lots of museums), an entire room was devoted to recreating this painting. The viewer had to climb onto a platform and see the room from above in order to achieve the visual effect. Genius. GENIUS.
- Don’t forget to “sign it!” You just created a piece of art yourself!
Enough art talk. Ready for the big reveal?!!!
Eeeeeh?!!! That’s right. You just made something to be marveled at. A work object which screams everything BUT work. Something which inspires you, reminds you of the the things you love, and makes everyone stare. This briefcase takes me back to a time of sipping champagne at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, replicating van Gogh’s “Starry Night” with oil pastels as a 10th grader, staring down at Mae West from a platform, and staring at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for hours undisturbed. It reminds me of my mom’s art books, and about my how my application essay to medical school was all about art. How much do you think I can sell these for?
Yinnification done. Over and out.
* From left to right, these are Leonardo daVinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael (what, you thought the creator of The Ninja Turtles just happened to randomly choose those names?), and they represent Plato, Heraclitus, and Raphael himself. They are details from Raphael’s masterpiece “The School of Athens,” found in the Vatican’s “Stanza della Segnatura,” in Rome.
If you make one of these, please show it to me afterwards!!! And for my other DIY projects, click here. If you’d like emails about my new posts, subscribe by clicking on the “Subscribe!” section on the right-hand sidebar, and follow me on Twitter @doctorontheside. Toodles!