Elsi Vassdal Ellis – What Makes a House a Home

FOBA 2021 Challenge Book

Technique and materials used:

I raided one of my drawers that house book cloth shorts — there is not enough to be used for an edition but too much to toss. I then created paste papers to coordinate with them, again using only paints that I had in stock. All paper patterns were formed using graining combs to create a pattern theme. Two different sizes of boxes were created using leftover board: 11 that are 2.13 inches square and 1.13 inches thick; 2 boards 4.25 inches square and 1.13 inches thick. I scrounged through my cover stock drawers to find papers to make the folders to be housed in the boxes. The folders identify the city and brief information about the house. I inkjet printed photographs of myself that corresponded to the dates on the places I have lived on the backside of the paste papers. These were trimmed down and made into little 3-D houses that open up with the folder. Each paste paper house has either a circle or heart die-cut window reflecting whether the house was just a house or a home. All the square boxes are housed in a larger house-shaped box that used up 90% of the lavender cloth.

About the work:

I have always felt fortunate during the pandemic that I am retired and do not have to worry about how I am going to pay the mortgage each month. Living on near 20 acres, surrounded by trees, I live somewhat isolated but safe and secure in my home. One moment during a morning walk, thinking about those who faced possible eviction as a consequence of the pandemic, I thought about how many residences I have lived in over the years and what made some simply a house while others have been memorable as a home, even when a renter. There are 19 residences highlighted in this work. I have personal memories (not simply family stories) of all but two places I have lived over 69 years. Inside the boxes, there are folders with brief explanations of what makes the house a home with its corresponding pop-up house. Each house has a die-cut window identifying whether a house (the circle) or a home (the heart) revealing a photograph of me at the time I was living there. Once I assembled the boxes in the big house box it seemed as if I had created an interesting neighborhood with different types of residences, settings, and neighbors.