Meet Your Neighbor: Claudia McDowell
Local artist Claudia McDowell was sorting through her inventory one recent morning at the Winchester Art Guild’s shop on North Main Street.
McDowell is a new artist working with cards, different kinds of paper and other items to make unique cards. Sometimes there is twine, or other items clipped from wrapping paper and layered on the card to add depth.
It’s an art form she discovered fairly recently after she retired from her career, and one that is inspired by the material she uses.
She talked recently with The Winchester Sun about her art.
Winchester Sun: How did you get started making cards?
Claudia McDowell: I actually saw a card being made from a program that was broadcast from England. I saw that, and then a friend sent me a card that was pre-printed and ended up saying “Happy birthday to a wonderful son.” When that happened… I thought, “I can beat that.”
Then I started just twiddling, playing with paper and the different textures.
Then I pretty much just sat down with what I had available, and piece and place it together.
When it comes to Christmas, those would have a definite theme. Valentine’s Day has a definite theme. I have hearts everywhere.
As far as the rest of it is concerned, there are some I take wrapping paper and do what I call fussy cutting and cut out layers, and layer those on so they have texture.
Sometimes I use old papers. I think the oldest one I’ve ever used was wrapping paper that was my mother’s. I found it in some of her things after she passed away. It was probably from the 1940s. That was exciting. It’s fragile, but it was still exciting.
Now I do it probably six months out of the year. It has a lot to do with what kind of papers I run into.
WS: How long have you been making cards?
CM: Two years. I spent 32 years in IT for health care systems, hospitals, clinics and that kind of thing. It’s definitely different.
When I got to 60 and retired, somebody said you could still do consulting.
Nah. It was time to do something different. That’s the year I started.
WS: Had you dabbled in arts or crafts previously?
CM: I did some watercolor probably 20 years ago. I’d like to say it was two years, but it was 20. I did some watercolor and some painting but that was about it.
It absolutely was new.
Mine are unusual. Not everyone cares for this kind of paper art, but I enjoy it and some people do like it.
WS: What is your favorite type of paper to use?
CM: Oh, I like cardboard… I would have to say anything that’s kind of recycled. I still accent with watercolor. I guess I would have to say heavy card stock and unusual colors, and unusual prints. I have some in the other room I’m not sure everyone has an appreciation for, but that’s OK.
WS: Where do you find some those odd patterns and papers?
CM: Most … come from wrapping papers. These are different colors of construction paper. I do have shiny (paper) I use. I can find different things at Rural King and some things from Tractor Supply. I do have burlap on some things. Fabric stores and hobby stores, sometimes. Office supplies. A lot of it I find online, actually.
I found another British company that handles paper from Italy and Ireland and Spain. I can get different kinds of things than going to Hobby Lobby.
And friends who do scrapbooking send me their scraps.
Texture is my big thing. I like dimension and texture.