Everyone is making journals, or at least reading about making journals and looking at photographs of what some artists are doing with the concept. I love the vivid colors and designs, and I tried to join in the fun; I’ve been collecting old books to re-purpose, and by now I have quite a stash. But there is nothing I really want to preserve in a journal … my ideas have a bad habit of taking off and expanding into multi-dimensional complexities that just won’t fit on a journal page or pages. I do keep notebooks that are probably half words and half doodles. Sometimes the words are the pictures. And I often think I might just color these and call that journaling. But that just doesn’t compare to what other people are doing. (Maybe that’s my problem? Trying to do what other people are doing instead of something that reflects my ideas.)
Anyway … I was recently in a thrift store and found a smallish box (about 18x8x8 … something like that) with three deep drawers along the front. It’s painted a dusty black with fabric quilted pieces on the front of each drawer. I removed the quilting … nice, but the faux-country thing is not really me. I replaced it with some colored prints of antique maps.
Inside I’m making inserts to hold my fossils. Yes, I have a fossil collection. I’ve been working on it since I was 10-years-old. I wasn’t about to leave it behind for the teacher who took over my classroom after I retired. When I moved in to the room years ago I found wonderful things — a taxidermy shark (most of his teeth had been removed by souvenir-hunting kids) and a bonito, as well as beautiful collections of sea shells, corals, and seaweed that students had apparently picked up on various field trips (field trips — something the public school system can’t/won’t afford to do any more). The collections and all the collecting materials had been abandoned and scattered though out the big closets along the back of the room. Many were broken, shells pulled out of their boxes, and wood and paper eaten by termites. I rescued what I could and used them in my teaching. But I wasn’t about to leave my own years of collecting to share the same fate, and so I took my personal collections with me when I left.
So what does a box and fossil collection have to do with journaling? Plenty!
I decided to satisfy my journaling urges by making a small book describing my collection and attempting to place my fossils in the continuum from which they came. The booklet is a l-o-n-g strip folded into a 3.5 x 4.5 book of painted pages that make up a time line from the creation of our solar system, through the geological periods/era, and so forth until the present. It makes the fossils more meaningful when you realize that many of them are millions of years old.
Photo 1: in order, 1) redecorated drawer. 2) two fossils – a stromatolite from the late Carboniferous, possibly Pennsylvanian Period. This stromatolite is a ca 350-yr-old algae deposit from Texas. With it is a ca 400-yr-old coral, Hexagonaria percarinata from Michigan, commonly called a Petoskey Coral. 3) a large mollusk I think is Exogyra ponderosa from the Cretaceous Period 144-65 MYA (million years ago). I found it in New Mexico although I believe it originally came from Texas. 4) shows the book folded up and fitting neatly into a drawer. The fossil is a brachiopod, Mucrospirifer mucronatus from Michigan. It’s Devonian, from 410-360 MYA.
Photo 2: The entire book on my messy work table.
Photo 3: Sample pages from the geological side of the book. The attachment with the drawing of sponges (taken from John McLoughlin’s book THE TREE OF ANIMAL LIFE) lifts up. There is more information printed underneath. The numbers in circles represent pieces from my fossil collection. Detailed information about each fossil is on the other side book.
Photo 4: covers for the 2-sided book; one side reads right side up and the other with the book flipped over.
I’m enjoying doing the research, making drawings, and putting everything in place on the strip. I’ve been at it for a month now, and I’m still not near finished. I even added an additional page to the book last night. Figuring out how to get a lot of information into small spaces is a challenge … but then I have always had a thing for miniatures. The book is reversible. If you open it one way, there’s a general geological overview starting with the creation of our solar system. On the other side is a more detailed breakdown of the more recent periods from the Cambrian through the Quaternary. To date, the book is 13.5 feet long.
The box is now fitted into the collage of small cases on top of one of the bookcases in the hall. I call this my Cabinet of Curiosities. It’s where I keep my collection of miniatures, shells, and other ephemera. The fossils will fit in quite nicely there.
Photo 5: My “Cabinet of Curosities.” Lower left is the black fossil cabine – minus one drawer that’s in my workroom being fitted with trays to hold fossils.
NOTE: The camera I used to take these photographs is my 6-year old Nikon CoolPix. It has lasted me a long time. I had to replace the battery at one point, but other than that, it takes excellent photos, but it should; I bought it for the good quality of Nikon’s lenses. What’s amazing, though, is that I took the camera on a kayaking trip, and of course it fell into the water!!! I fished it out, dried it off inside and outside as best I could, and (HOORAY!!) it still works! Goes to prove that Nikon still makes one of the best cameras available. (No, they’re not paying me to advertise – alas!)