Chains of Paper Love

My favorite part of elementary school was the arts and crafts moment of every day, where we would dissemble throughout the classroom and work on whatever project the teacher had taught us to do. I liked the mostly-solitary aspect of these projects, though I always managed to socialize and visit with others during this time. My work was mine alone, executed solely from and for my vision, and untainted by the ideas or inspiration of another.

I remember doing a diorama in class, then rummaging my Mom’s closet for more shoe boxes so I could make them at home. Whereas others dreaded such artsy-fartsy stuff, I reveled in it, even if my enthusiasm for it often far exceeded any artistic capability. There were yarn pom-pom sculptures, watery pastel-chalk Easter eggs, and impressionistic tissue paper paintings.

During the Christmas holidays, our creative output reached its zenith – angels of corregated poster board topped with tinsel halos, Santas with disproportionately-long cotton ball beards, and Christmas trees doused in so much glue and glitter that a drag queen would cut a kid over it. And then one of my favorite, albeit simple, craft projects of all – paper link chains of garland, in every conceivable color and combination. Back then they seemed to take forever to make, as we had to use paste instead of staples, creating one link at a time, and holding it together long enough to have the paste stick. (We used the paste that wouldn’t kill you if ingested, or give you a sniffing high if inhaled – in other words, it didn’t work. How could it when you put a mound of it on a  paper towel and it’s still pliable the next morning?)

The idea of that paper garland has stuck with me all these years, and when faced with the prospect of making wedding decorations it came back in an inspired rush. Having had to square a thousand sheets of  eight-and-a-half-by-eleven colored paper for that number of paper cranes, I was left with a thousand excess bands of said paper, which I piled up and saved in the event that they might be of some use. I trimmed them down a bit, stapled them together (much easier than paste), and quickly created a simple, cost-efficient, and surprisingly elegant decoration. Homemade, a little humble, and completely from the heart – just like our wedding celebration next month.

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