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Buried Papers Revisited

May 26, 2010

Finally! Here’s an update on my buried papers project. Previous posts describing the process and progress are here and here.

I placed these papers inside my small separate fenced garden enclosure that is being used for my compost pile and some planting tubs.

I didn’t want the papers to be under the compost. So I’ve had them on top of leaves and the bare ground, and a couple of times have had to move them to new locations in the pen, because of plantings that needed room.

To recap, these are some sources of the papers I chose:

  • some full pages from a road atlas which I tore into quarters
  • magazine pages
  • collage rejects
  • torn pieces of paintings on paper
  • some plain papers with nothing printed on them
  • delicate handmade paper
  • a sizeable stack of paper samples from a paper company

These were all bundled with rubber bands and placed right on top of the ground. There is no rubber band evident anywhere now.

Before gathering these all up to clean them, I took a series of pictures showing their current state of decay. They are very delicate in places now, so I’m glad I decided to get them inside. They’ve been out there for about four months.

The blue piece in the bottom of this picture is a piece of acrylic painted heavy paper. It has been voraciously chewed by something.

And there are other chew marks evident, making me wonder what goes on out here at night.

The undersides are completely encrusted with leaves and straw and dirt. Edges are stained and moldy, and inks have bled through several sheets at a time. They are stuck together in places, making it necessary to be very careful getting them apart.

Cleaning these without damaging them will be a delicate operation. I’ve never done this before, so I will proceed with caution. I don’t want to destroy the papers nor the colors that have run from one sheet to another and from the earth to the paper.

I think to sterilize them I’ll bake them in the oven when I’m through cleaning them — but not too hot.

Maybe I’ll scan the best ones and post those as well.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2010 5:43 pm

    Interesting idea. The papers look beautiful just as is!

    • May 27, 2010 4:31 am

      Loriann, thanks so much for stopping by and for your comment. I was thinking the same thing about these papers, knowing they can’t stay quite as they are, with all the dirt and leaves attached. Some may not survive. But I think I’ll end up with some interesting pieces.

  2. Sandra permalink
    May 26, 2010 6:28 pm

    I think you are going to have to paint and bury some more to keep your critter visitors happy!

  3. SHANNON permalink
    May 26, 2010 7:23 pm

    I absolutely love your process. I can’t wait to see what becomes or what has already…
    I love your work. Thank you for what you do.

    • May 27, 2010 8:19 am

      Thank you, Shannon! It’s always great to know there’s an appreciation for what one does. Glad you are enjoying it.

  4. May 26, 2010 10:25 pm

    Fascinating! Martha would you do it again or is it too early to tell?

    • May 27, 2010 8:18 am

      Terrill, I am sure I’d do it again. After all, there’s always a space to put them and forget them for a while around here. I think the secret is to have a lot of them in order to get some wonderful surprises in the lot.

  5. May 27, 2010 4:49 am


    I love it!… Collage has been coming up a lot lately in my life…. I love your work… I am going to try this out… so much expression comes out in your work. The paper being changed by nature is such an amazing idea…. I know you found this idea through Gina’s blog… but thanks for bringing it to the rest of us….

  6. May 27, 2010 8:15 am

    ooh, martha, so COOL! I did NOT think these would come out as cool as they are!

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