Woman creates earth-friendly art

December 18, 2009 (CHICAGO) Old books with missing covers and tattered pages that would be destined for a trash heap are being repurposed to make cards and stationery. It's the work of a North Side artist whose passion is to be creative and also green.

"I went in with a gold paint pen and finished the details," said Amy Rowan.

Rowan calls her company "Art School Girl" making reference to her time as a student at Chicago's school of the Art Institute. But that's just the beginning of her intense connection with eras of the past.

"Old school communication. I love mail. I love the romanticism about getting a handwritten letter in the mail," said Rowan.

It's the images that pre-date her by generations that fuel her passion. Rowan captures the faces of the fifties in her line of cards and stationery mostly through old books that have been discarded by libraries.

"For my products I keep that mid-century optimism that's like cherub-cheeked children and that beautiful housewife with her apron on. I just love the idealistic imagery from that era," said Rowan.

She makes note cards and envelopes from the pages of old childrens books. She adds smaller illustrations to greeting cards with a die-cut window to give new products a vintage look.

"The idea was that I would go into a scene that was already painted or already created and crop into it and make a new narrative and then sell it or give it to somebody and then they could create their own narrative with that imagery," said Rowan.

She uses soy-based ink to hand-paint her own version of vintage images onto calendars that represent a time gone by. And she rummages thrift stores and yard sales to find treasures like old hard-bound reader's digests. She uses the covers to make Christmas ornaments.

"Again it's just creating something new from something that's discarded or not loved anymore," said Rowan.

Rowan says the paper she uses for those calendars is made partly from other paper that's been recycled and bamboo.


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