A Project with a Purpose

I am a flawed human being.

This fact is something that I believe we all can attest to, and I clearly am more than willing to admit it.

If anyone needs further proof of my annoying tendencies, though, please be aware of the fact that I wasted about eighty-four pieces of paper for a project associated with my summer class, which just ended a few days ago.

I know…I am the worst.

My project was essentially a binder, comprised of fourteen sections, which ended up ranging from two to twenty-one pages in length each, totaling to approximately 121 pieces of paper.

I know…I am the worst.

Anyway, as this undertaking was ginormous in scale and importance, I was determined to not save all of my printing until the night before it was due. Consequently, as I reviewed the sections in chunks, I would then print out those parts and insert them into the binder. By the end of the weekend, I had everything printed out, and I visited my professor’s office hours a couple of days later in order to make sure that my overall work was up to par. Encouragement and validation was (gladly) what I heard, and I was told to not change anything.

Well, the day before I had to turn it in, I decided to read over my project “just in case,” assuming that action would be a quick way to ensure that no minute issues could be found. I must not have read over everything objectively the first time around, because I ended up feverishly reprinting many of the flawed sections; my greatest efforts to reduce the number of pages I had to switch out only helped a bit.

So, in combination with prior printer issues and misprints, I had so many pieces of paper with my questionable combinations of words cemented onto them. As they sat on a coffee table and accumulated over the course of a week, for some reason, I innately knew that I would not just recycle them (it goes without saying that I would not even consider throwing them in a garbage can, but I will present this assertion anyway). All of that work I did deserved some kind of use, I thought. I mean, that paper was not created just to be covered in ink and immediately recycled, right?

While I finished up the project, the idea of using those pieces of paper in an “arts & crafts” project of sorts flowed through my mind. Perhaps I could utilize a cork board, just like the one I employed in the planning of my project, or a different kind of material instead. An artsy project of sorts, prepared with the kind of precision and analysis of my psyche that would impress everyone willing to look at it, could have been the result.

I wanted this new project of mine to be a bit more fun, though, and just let it turn out how it would naturally. In addition, after class ended on Wednesday, I came to the conclusion that I would use the aforementioned cork board. Removing all of my plans for the fictitious meeting was something I did not want to do, and on the other hand, I did not just want the board to sit around, and likely end up in the basement; thus, making the board into something I could hang up in my room was appealing to me.

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The cork board

My interest, and thus determination, to make every class of mine have a genuine impact on my life, instead of discarding them from my memory, drove me to perusing this project as well. (“The Wikipedia Project” outlines this overall idea, by the way.)

All the while, I had a feeling that triangles would be a major component of this new project, particularly in accordance with my wasted pieces of paper. With these shapes, I would then place them in a way that would completely whatever material was under it.

I have an odd, natural connection with triangles; in fact, when I am in a classroom before instruction starts, I often find myself drawing triangles. There is something about how they fit together and the imperfections in measurements they allow that I am drawn to. Accordingly, I must state that the number “3” (as in, the number of sides a triangle has) is one that I have weirdly been afraid of since I was young, and have tried to avoid, although it has been a recurring presence in large life events. Nevertheless, I simply love triangles.

Below are images I took of some of my drawings showcased in my English notebook from last semester.

When all of these components amalgamated, I was able to put my overall concept into motion just a few hours after my last day of class. (On a side note, I am basically an eighteen-year-old toddler who needs an activity in order to avoid existential crises, as opposed to tantrums, when free time is in possession.)

My first step was to cut out square pieces of paper from the failed copies of my project. These shapes, although flawed in their execution, would take the role of anchors in my piece (all throughout my process of developing ideas, I was certain I would incorporate this concept), and cover the corners of the cork board. Next, I cut out triangular pieces of paper. I chose to only utilize pieces that were almost entirely covered in words, although I allowed the sizes of them to be of a large variety.

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The ginormous pile of “wasted” paper

As I cut out these pieces, I started laying them onto the cork board. By doing so, I could create a general plan that could be put into action when I finally applied them to the board, and my awareness of the amount of triangles I needed could be heightened as well. Such a process was quite frustrating at times, since any remotely grand movement of mine adjusted the placement of them, but I stuck with it.

At times, I was tempted to cut out the shapes in ways that would perfectly cover certain spots of the cork board that were not concealed by the triangles around it, but I tried my best to not succumb to this pressure. So much intricate planning would have been incredibly frustrating, and the spontaneity I had hoped to capture (similar to my drawings I explained before) would have dissipated quickly. Consequently, for most of the process, I cut out groups of triangles at a time, and then arranged them in somewhat creative ways that I believed would provoke the utilization of critical thinking skills.

After about an hour or so, I took a break, but my determination to work on my idea led me back into the space in which my papers were scattered.

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Starting to arrange the pieces

By the end of the afternoon, the cork board was completely covered with pieces of my project. As one can see, I elected to leave the colored index cards, which had to do with my project for the class, largely uncovered; doing so would add some color and make the activity’s relation to my project clear.

At this point, I was somewhat satisfied with how this fun project was turning out, but I was honestly a bit skeptical of what the final result would look like.

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Done laying out the pieces

The next day, it was time to start using some kind of adhesive to ensure that the pieces of paper would be securely attached to the cork board. I did a bit of searching on the internet in order to determine what would be the best way to do so, which led me to disregarding basically all of the information I found, and instead using a very old stick of “photo glue.”

I know…I am the worst.

Anyway, that afternoon, I sat down, listened to a podcast, and started securing the pieces to the board. This process took a lot longer than I had anticipated, but it was somewhat enjoyable; the fact that the glue seemed to work very well only boosted my satisfaction. It turned out that laying out the pieces beforehand did not help much at this point, as I ended up having to move the ones that comprised the top layer of the way. Figuring out where to place each piece gave the project a ‘jigsaw puzzle’ quality, though, which was admittedly fun. Regardless, though, the placement from the day before did work as a bit of a guideline for me to work off of, and made the process a bit less overwhelming.

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A little less than halfway done after an hour or so

A few hours after the image above was taken, I had some time on my hands, so naturally, I went back to my room to work on the piece; I felt compelled to ensure that it would be concluded by the end of the day.

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Nearly done after a 45-minute session

About an hour following that session, I realized that I had even more time to work on this project (before Big Brother started, of course). I only had a small section of the cork board to work on at this point, so I excitedly covered up the last open spots.

Once I was done, I actually toyed with the idea of using triangles to cover up overlapping index cards in order to break up the large sections present and incorporate the writing to a greater extent. Quickly, I implemented this plan, and I found a spot on my wall to hang up the board before I ran downstairs to watch my beloved Big Brother.

I felt quite proud of the final product, to be honest; I believed it was much better than the version of the previous day.

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The completed board
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Hanging up

After I watched the episode (and watched a video podcast about it, obviously), I noticed that there were some flaws in the execution of my last-minute idea to separate the index cards. Consequently, late at night, I made some small changes, and took some pictures of the new version the next day.

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The revised completed board

 

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The revised version, hung up at last

I must say, I am very happy with the final result of this two-day project. Admittedly, there is little chance that anyone who sees it will understand it, or comprehend why I find it to have significance, but I am now realizing that what the little craft says to me is important. (Guilt has ensued to a certain extent due to the continuation of my habit of analyzing my work after it is completed, as opposed to having specific objectives in the first place, but this activity was something that I had hoped would let me get those tendencies out of my system, anyway.)

Immediately, I knew that this little craft would be a reminder of the hard work I put, and will continue to deposit, into receiving a a great education, which I am lucky enough to pursue. Furthermore, although I have many flaws and insecurities, as exemplified by the fact that so many pieces of paper went unused, when combined with the thought and effort I put into each responsibility, products with a greater purpose and character are what I can create.

In fact, the course that led me to utilizing the cork board in the first place intimidated me, but through five weeks of constant work, I was able to complete its major project in a way that I could stand behind. For such a feeling, no amount of work and re-attempts can be unjustifiable, at least in my opinion that is epitomized in my piece.

Well, maybe the wasting of paper can be one exception, but at least I learned my lesson (and remembered to “reuse” when possible).

On that note, I must admit that there are still many pieces of paper that are lying around; perhaps I will find another interesting use for them in the future. If so, I will make sure to let you all know, whether you want to or not, to be honest.

So, let me know if you enjoyed reading this post about how I decided to utilize some of my “wasted” materials in the creation of something that will cement the importance of my brief five-week class, and hopefully inspire me moving forward. I do not claim to be an artist, and as stated before, I am a flawed amateur, but I truly enjoyed this process, which has transitioned me into the rest of this summer that I hope will have the same sense of purpose as these projects I recently conducted.

Have you ever reused your “wasted” materials in a way that was purposeful to you? Do you have any ideas as to how I can use the rest of my papers (besides recycling them, of course). Feel free to let me know!

Below are the before-and-after pictures; please enjoy my peculiarity.

-Stephanie

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Sorry, I just had to add my “artsy” picture
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