July’s generally one of the harder months for me to design and I’m not sure why that is. It’s got the intensity of June, but more viscous. It’s more molasses, less honey. It hasn’t fermented into something new and a little bit tangy like August. It reminds me of the last stanza (and my favorite bit) of Inversnaid by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
What would the world be, once bereft,
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left.
O, let them be left, wildness and wet.
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
In this design, I wanted to capture that heavy and bright wildness and the very thin barrier of a screened window. I remember watching thunderstorms an inch or two from the window, rain blowing on my face, while trying hard to make sure my body didn’t touch the metal screen (you know, in case of lightning striking!). But screens as a graphic element generally tell a different story: they’re grids, ordered and distinctly tamed, a far cry from the sense of the world becoming rapidly and wonderfully and a bit frighteningly and chaotically overgrown.
I pulled a photo I took a few summers ago through a very torn screen on my friends’ porch and used that to return the screen to its symbolic function; a very porous boundary between inside and out. I created in a luminous and cratered moon for focus, both visually and conceptually. The moon is daytime extended and human order upended and things that sleep through the heat of day coming alive again, especially (as a city girl) insects with their heavy wings clattering at the screen. The dragon-fly or sewing needle is a representation of those bugs, its translucent wings with their own segmented and ordered pattern.
I styled the month with magnifying glass, small vials, rocks, and few matches under a bell jar as a nod to the self-made scientists so many of us are in the summer, as both children and adults. We’re out in the world, collecting rocks and hunting for mushrooms, honing our campfire techniques or pruning back our tomato plants for better yields, We’re flipping over logs and catching fireflies and counting stars.
P.S. The rock to the right of the crystal is one I found over the summer in Duluth. It’s lovely, metallic and gently pitted, but I have no idea what it is. I probably shouldn’t reveal how far down the rabbit’s hole of rock-identification I fell one night, but I found this lovely website. of lay-people/scientist interactions (scientist POV) gently snarky and totally LOL, enough to read every single one of the hundreds of entries (it becomes funnier as you get more familiar with the characters and their voices). In that same rabbit’s warren, I also recommend ANSMET’s blog; they’re scientists searching for meteorites in Antartica and it’s easy reading (I think it’s geared towards connecting with school kids). Despite (because of?) the accessibility, it’s interesting in tons of ways, from info about the science of meteorites to the history of Antarctic exploration to the design factors that go into the tents structure/layout/placement, to the food that they eat and the flights they take. Plus it makes today’s errands walking around town in 3F weather seem balmy!