By Michelle Sessions DiFranco | Photography by Phillip Shippert
As a relatively new mom, I am growing more and more sensitive to the corrosive effects of crude marketing and indecent media. On one recent occasion I visited Best Buy to get some rechargeable batteries but drifted off-course toward the sea of flashing flat-screen TVs that made up a third of the store. I stopped in my tracks, looked up at one of them and started to daydream. I imagined the Iron Chef plating his chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce on the nice 42-inch plasma that would be hanging above my fireplace.
I pictured large vistas of the Italian Alps on the Travel Channel filling my living room. But in a moment, the spell was broken, as I shuddered at the thought of my children seeing 42 flat-screen inches of the inappropriate shows and commercials that permeate TV. Discouraged, I continued to walk toward those boring rechargeable batteries. Often, when we turn on a TV, launch the Internet or tune into our i-pods, we come in contact with lots of messages and imagery that are contrary to what is really good for us. Our culture makes it a challenge to be chaste before marriage or even in marriage. We are told it is unfashionable to be decent when it comes to what we wear. Where in today’s world do we look to find imagery that honors God? Where can we find role models who exhibit self-control, decency, or purity? Thankfully, as Catholics, we don’t have to look very far. There is no better role model of grace and purity than the Blessed Mother. Is it no coincidence that May is the month of Mary as well as the month that celebrates mother’s day? After all, she is the spiritual mother of all of us. When we find ourselves tempted to stray from God through our actions or words, we can look to her for strength. Whether we pray a whole rosary or a quick Hail Mary, we can ask her to intercede before God for us. Here are a couple of cool projects that lend themselves to just that. One is a rosary box and the other, a framed image to hang on a wall or place on a table. Both involve collage, which is one of my favorite art techniques. Collage is basically an assembly of different images to create a new whole image. These in particular have a shabby chic look and feel, but don’t limit your self to that style. You can do almost anything, since there are thousands of different papers and stamps out there. Whatever your design, consider it art to add to your own home or to give as a gift on Mothers Day. Most importantly, consider it imagery that does honor God as well as our Blessed Mother.
For both projects, you will need the following: • A small unfinished wood box • An unfinished wood picture frame • Several sheets of scrapbook or collage paper for background • Prayer card or any printed image of the Blessed Mother • Floral or ornamental stamps • Inkpads in colors of choice (for stamping) • Decoupage medium (for adhesive and finishing) • A medium-sized paintbrush
For the rosary box, simply cut out background paper and adhere (with decoupage medium) to all sides and top of the unfinished wood box. Stamp any design you wish to add more color and texture to your collage. Cut the contour of the Blessed Mother image and adhere on top of box lid. Using a paintbrush, apply a coat of the decoupage medium all over the finished box and let dry. For the framed image, cut out background paper and adhere to the front and sides of the unfinished wood frame. Stamp any design you wish for additional color and texture. Apply a coat of the decoupage medium all over the finished frame and let dry. For the image inside, create a collaged design using background papers, stamps, and the printed image of the Blessed Mother. Frame the final image.
More ideas: Don’t limit your collage to just paper and stamping. Use any recycled findings such as metal charms or pieces from a board game. Since rubber stamps are sometimes pricey, use scrapbook paper with printed images instead. There are several out there.