A wondrous glimpse inside.

Dear friends,

I arrived home later than usual Thursday night and here’s what I found waiting for me on my desk:

Photo by Instagram

Is there anything that can make a girl’s heart skip a beat like a surprise package in the mail?

I removed the brown paper and it looked like this:

Photo by Instagram, X-Pro II filter

A wrapped gift and a handwritten note on February 2nd for no apparent reason? Be still my heart!

Turns out, it was an early Valentine. From my pen pal, Maridel. You’ve read Maridel’s comments on this space, no doubt. She’s a regular reader and a friend and a former colleague and a pen pal.

See that lovely hand-written note she sent? I get them all the time. I try to send a few, too, but she has me beat on the exchange rate.

Maridel and I worked together for many years. When she left our organization a few years ago, I was so traumatized that I wrote a short verse about how much I would miss her. I decopauged the verse, along with several clipped images, on the inside of a small, lidded jar and gave it to her.

Before you ooh and ahh, it was not my idea. (I’m not that clever.) It was an homage to my departing friend, who is both a stellar writer and an even more accomplished collage artist. I had long been a fan of her work, both her one-dimensional and her three-dimensional collages. We had enjoyed long talks about our mutual interest in three-dimensional pieces, especially those with surprises (like pictures or verse on the insides or bottoms of boxes or other containers), and the great fun to be had in haunting flea markets and junk stores in search of paper ephemera and found objects.

Whereas my gift to her was a one-off, Maridel (who’s a real artist) continues to create and to send me tiny surprises. I have two collaged seashells and a collaged stone from her scattered about my home, earlier treasures that arrived by U.S. mail.

Bet you’re wondering what was in the box, huh? Wait until you see it! It was inspired by what she called my “dress reveries” on this blog.

It is so full of visual delights, I literally gasped when I opened it.

If you’re not familiar with collage as an artistic medium or have never tried it yourself, think of this: every single one of those tiny images had to be hand cut and applied.

Collage is a medium for the patient artist, clearly. (Oy! All that cutting!)  Maridel’s creations are tiny puzzles that I love to observe and decipher.

And this most recent one is clearly a reflection of Joan-Marie . . . the images of fashion and flowers and home are so me.

And if I know Maridel, those three-dimensional petals on the side of the vase are also the work of her hand. I’m betting they are found objects she painted and reappropriated for this piece.

I really don’t have the talent with words to express my delight and wonder and awe at this gift. I think about how much thought and time my friend gave to finding and selecting the images. And to trimming them just so. And to positioning them just right. And to balancing color and texture and shape into a pleasing visual harmony. And to adding the three-dimensional petals as a final embellishment and touch of verve.

I think of all of that, and then I think she wrapped it up and mailed it to me, setting free her miniature work of art to bring beauty and love into the life of another.

And then I think . . . wow.

With gratitude {for dear friends and generous expressions of their hearts},

Joan, who packed up her collage supplies when she moved 10 months ago and thinks she just might have to get back in business (and who also thinks she may not sleep well until she finds an orange Chanel-esque suit in her size, just like the one on the vase)



  1. Wow indeed! Is there anything more fun than a surprise gift in the mail?

    You have to be a certain kind of person to create such a gift and you have to be a certain kind of person to inspire one as well. A wondrous friendship re-presented, at least in part, by imagery and thoughtful inclusions. Thank you for sharing this small (in size only) treasure.

  2. maridel allinder says:

    Thank you, Joan-Marie. Seeing it on your blog is so cool. I am honored!

  3. Joan & Maridel – what a wonderful piece! Brings back those memories of the good ole days. Loved seeing all of the little details!


  1. […] the most adorable packages was one from my friend Maridel, who’ve you’ve met before in this post. Her gift was enclosed with the card […]

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