It is my pleasure to introduce you to Sally Vitsky, paper sculptor, and her snowflake…
Sally (a self-portrait, in paper naturally):
Her Snowflake (in paper, of course):
Sally has done lots of interesting things in and amongst the world of kids literature. Including creating illustrations for numerous educational materials, she has illustrated the charming 365 Ways to Say Goodnight by Susan Ring:
I was lucky to be able to ask Sally many questions, to which she kindly offered many answers. Tah dah!
Do you remember your first work of art?
I remember so many pieces I did as a child. I used to make life-sized people with paper plate heads and construction paper and I put them in every seat in the house!
(A budding pre-school paper sculptor?!) I also enjoyed creating little tableaus in shoeboxes. I loved my doll house as a child and enjoyed creating shoebox rooms and “people” to wander in them.
When and how did you begin to use paper as your medium?
Well, as you can tell, I have always, since I can remember, enjoyed the cutting and gluing and construction of things. And, I’ve always loved the tactile quality of different papers, patterns, textures, etc. As an art student at Pratt Institute, I had a project due that I (whoops!) left to the last minute. So, I knew I could get it done quickly if I employed my tried-and-true paper technique. When I finished, I found my love of construction “rekindled” and I was in a place where I could explore it and
push it further.
Place: From my distant past, it was accompanying my mother as she taught fashion illustration classes at the local art school (Virginia Commonwealth University). That always meant a trip to the college book store and a new pad of paper and big box of oil pastels or one of those mega boxes of every-color-there-is crayons. (I can still drift back to my childhood if I smell them!) From my recent past, my own art school experience at Pratt Institute. And, now, I can say that my studio at home, crowded with my books, my papers, my supplies, my computer and my “stuff” is the most inspiring place for me!
Person: My mother, an artist herself (she was a fashion illustrator and taught for many years and went on to do pastel portraits) has greatly inspired me to create.
Book or film: My favorite movie has ALWAYS been The Wizard of Oz! (How many artists say THAT?!) I’ve seen it a gazillion times and still find new things to see!
As to books, I love to read and have many favorites. On the children’s front, I love In the Night Kitchen. It’s SO quirky and my children and I could say the whole text by heart as we took walks! On the adult front (and this is going to sound a bit “heavy”) my favorite book is Of Human Bondage by Sommerset Maugham. The main character has a club foot and, metaphorically, I think most artists do, too. We see the world a bit differently and until we find that outlet for our creativity, we often appear “different”. Once we find it though, be it writing or picture making or singing or dancing, we no longer “limp.” So…that’s what I took from the book!
Food (yes food… all artists must eat!) So, why wasn’t this question FIRST?!!! Okay, here goes, in a public forum, no less! I love chocolate and have recently trained myself to like dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate because, supposedly, it’s good for you! (But probably not so good for you if you eat it in mass quatities…) I also like ethnic foods. Love Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Vietnamese and, of course, Italian. And, a good burger would never be turned away!
What tools do you use to create your sculptures?
I use lots and lots (and LOTS!) of X-acto knife blades, scissors, different size knitting needles for curling the paper, Sobo glue, some fun shape punchers from the craft store, and sometimes I pull my work into Photoshop after it has been photographed
so that I can add details. Paper, of course and I have a rather sizable collection of all sorts. I try to find paper when I travel that I may not be able to get at home. I’ve been known to purchase something in a store just because the paper bag was unusual!
What was your most interesting project ever?
My most interesting project was the piece I created on Tokyo TV for a paper sculpture competition against 3 very talented Japanese paper sculptors. They flew me to Japan for 10 days to film as I created my version of a time travel piece. (You can click on the “Japan” icon on my site for more details) I’ve been very lucky to have had many interesting projects but this was the only one that took me around the globe!
What’s the most incredible paper sculpture you’ve ever seen?
Oh, I’ve seen many beautiful paper sculptures. I really was amazed with the pieces that my competitors in Japan were creating. The country has a long, long history of paper art (most notably origami) and the paper artists there are like sports heroes here. The winner of the competition (Ajin Noda) created a huge spinning toy that opened to reveal a land of dinosaurs invaded by a tiny spaceship with a miniature “him” in it. Everything moved and it was so beautifully crafted. Just amazing!
Now for a few “would you rather” questions…
Would you rather take an art class with Monet, Dali, or some crazy paper artist?
I’d have to say Dali. He must have been such a character and I’m sure he would have been a very unusual instructor! As a matter of fact, I tried to visit him once when he was staying in New York and I was a freshman at college in Brooklyn. The hotel doorman gave me his room number and I knocked on the door, His wife, Gala, opened it and told me to go down
and call him on the house phone, which I did. Suffice it to say that he wasn’t extremely happy with me! But hey, you’re only young, and stupid, once! Monet’s work is very, very beautiful and serene. I love the color and find it relaxing. It puts me in a pensive mood but I need a bit of frenzy to create! As to taking a class with a crazy paper sculptor, well, I think I’m it!
Would you rather take the highway, take a path, make your own path?
My own path. There’s much more of a sense of discovery if you feel you are the first to step into unknown territory.
Would you rather: pick a flower, plant a flower, smell a flower?
Can I opt for all three?! I started my first garden 2 years ago. I decided when I had children that I couldn’t do my work and enjoy them if I was also spending time in a garden. But, 2 years ago my youngest left for college and I got my hands dirty immediately! I love having the flowers I’ve planted to pick AND smell! That was a tricky question!
If you could be AMAZING at one thing (besides fantastic paper sculpture), what would you choose?
I’d choose to sing. I think a fabulous voice is a true gift and hope to come back in another lifetime as a torch singer with a wide repertoire of songs from the ’40s and ’50s (and a little Motown to top it off!).
What projects are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on a Grade 1 reader for a Houghton Mifflin reading program. I’m also creating art for a website about 4 seasonal arts festivals. They are filming my hands as I create the art for one season, take it apart and then put the next season together. When the site is complete, my hands will be moving in fast motion and various parts of the scene will be animated (like snow falling and trees waving). Isn’t that a clever idea?! I can’t wait to see it!
Isn’t Sally fab? Isn’t her snowflake delightful? Well you don’t know the half of it, because folks, Sally’s snowflake is a Lift the Flap snowflake! Cool. Behold the tiny secrets of Sally’s snowflake:
Amazing, yes? To learn much more about Sally, please visit her website at www.vitsky.com. To place a bid on this little charmer of a snowflake (called “Christmas House”), go to Robert’s Snow Auction 3 beginning December 3rd through December 7th. For information and links to the other snowflakes, go to Robert’s Snow Auction General Information. The first two auction periods begin on November 19th.
Many thanks to Sally for sharing so much about her artistic process.
Here is one final papery masterpiece to finish up: