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Butterfly’s Artwork

My mother has a ring-around-the-room problem, where, inevitably, everything she’s reading or working on ends up on the floor around her bed. When I question this system, I am often told that everything is where it is meant to be. The problem with this system became clear, even to Mom, when Butterfly found a quilting magazine on the floor and destroyed it.

"Voila!"

“Voila!”

Butterfly loves to chew paper. She doesn’t chew soft papers, like tissues or paper towels, the way Cricket does. Butterfly chews harder paper that takes real effort to rip through; she likes coupons, and recipes, magazines, and textbooks, crossword puzzles, and pretty much anything close enough for her paws to reach.

"Ooh, yummy!"

“Ooh, yummy!”

            Paper chewing is satisfying. She can hear the tearing and crumpling sounds, and she can smell that humans have been near the paper, and she can taste the material the paper was made from, and all of it keeps her engaged.

Pop-up book, by Butterfly

Pop-up book, by Butterfly

            She has made attempts to chew the furniture, but her teeth just aren’t strong enough to make a dent.

            Butterfly has been watching Grandma learn how to quilt.

Grandma's Sailboat

Grandma’s Sailboat

The Snowy-Haired Egret a la Grandma

The Snowy-Haired Egret a la Grandma

            Butterfly sees Grandma playing with scraps of fabric, and I believe she has been inspired to create her own works of art. She takes what used to be boring pieces of whole paper, and tears them with her teeth and paws until they are all different shapes and sizes, and then she scatters them across the floor in a pleasing design.

Scatter Art

Scatter Art

            The act of scattering the ripped paper seems just as important as the ripping itself. She doesn’t want to organize the paper into a neat pile; she wants to cover the floor with it.

            I would love to be able to help Butterfly preserve her art work. We could spread a huge piece of mural paper down on the floor and provide all kinds of materials for her to work with: magazines and catalogs and newspapers and crossword puzzles. And, when she finishes a mural, we can put it up on the wall so that every time she passes by, she can sniff it and say, hey, I made that!

            My only concern is that she would pull the murals down and try to redo them, like any other artist, never satisfied with her finished work.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

83 responses »

  1. Hahaha, that’s probably true! In the book When Elephants Weep, Masson describes how elephants draw pictures and then destroy them. Maybe that’s why they destroy them!

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  2. Butterfly might become famous and end up in MOMA or the National Gallery of Art alongside the Dadaist Jean Arp and his “Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance.” 🙂

    http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/jean-arp.html

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    • I think we’ll have to start our own art gallery, for Grandma’s quilts and photography, and Butterfly’s paper art. Cricket and I will have to put our heads together to make this happen.

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  3. I’ve done that for a while. Forest products are very nutritional and a complete food group themselves. I’ve done that and it was mostly cook books. You can’t tell the taste of a book by its cover.

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  4. I love this… keep it up!!

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  5. You are too funny! I love the “Pop-up book, by Butterfly” best. BTW Grandma is doing a great job learning to quilt.

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  6. She was just trying to make a collage to go with grandma’s quilts… 😉

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  7. What an artist. I was particularly impressed by the Pop-Up book

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    • Butterfly is an undiscovered talent. She’s been working with the postcard medium recently, but her great love is the magazine. What she wants to work with next, though, is the hard cover textbook.

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  8. So creative Butterfly – paper cutting with very small teeth – a new art form:)

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  9. I see a trend here that is a little un nerving my dad, (now in his 80’s) does the same but it is happening in each room, papers are filed on floors or desks or tables to be sorted – later. Back to Butterfly you can’t give out to her she was being inventive and busy.

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    • My mom has had this ring-around-the-room disorder for as long as I’ve known her. She passed it on to my brother, but I didn’t catch that particular gene. Sometimes these things skip a generation and go straight to the granddogs.

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  10. An excellent way to start the day: a good laugh and Butterfly’s art. I think you should frame it and hang next to Grandma’s beautiful quilts!

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    • I’m afraid if I hang Butterfly’s work on the wall, she will teach herself how to jump and climb until she can get up there and do her editing. I’m trying to convince my mom to hang up more of her work; hopefully she’ll start to listen to me now.

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  11. ANY scrap of paper left on the floor, my last dog (God rest his soul) would IMMEDIATELY run and urinate on it.. He was that well “paper-trained”.
    I had to, like your Mom, rethink my “file organizing”.
    PS.. Nice quilts.

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  12. I love the free impressionist content of Butterfly’s artwork. My dog does a similar thing to our mail given half a chance and waits with eager anticipation for the cardboard roll from the toilet roll so that she can sculpt it with her teeth…

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  13. very creative, you can use it for papermache projects :o)

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  14. Artwork, what a tremendous idea!! Once she begins her mural I can see her completed work rivaling that of perhaps a Christo. 😉

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  15. Butterfly is an original. She will cling to that artistic bent, I’m sure.

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  16. Love it!
    You see through to the doggy side ,.all the lway to the ” Human nature of male dogs”.
    I know she’s not a male , but I have to stick with my silly theme,

    Keep it up.

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  17. This is charming, Rachel. Your empathy with cricket is so touching and her work most interesting!

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  18. I had a foxhound who would take the dog bowls from the eating area and arrange them in different ways. When we were not looking, he would also remove plates and bowls and do the same thing. Some dogs are called to create I think–just like people. Great post!

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  19. I like that Pop up never would have thought of that 🙂 You so see it through the doggies eye’s . Great post! x

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  20. It is great that you have an artist. My Sophie is a construction, or destruction, worker. She tears apart toys, and has even take a few bites out of the wall. Sigh. I love cats. 🙂

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  21. Haha, this is hilarious. I love Butterfly’s pop-up book. Will it be available on Amazon soon? I’ll pre-order! 🙂

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  22. Run A Muck Ranch

    I’m really liking her attention to detail: The combination of shredded to whole parts really shows her grasp of perspective!

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  23. Mambo loves chewing on paper too!! His Christmas present is getting to revel in all that wrapping paper all over the ground. He loves it!!

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  24. Your pups are too cute Rachel! Even when they are naughty! Thank you for visiting my blog and introducing me to yours. I noticed on your about page you are writing memoir. Just curious as to why the switch from fiction? I have been considering memoir too.

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    • Thank you! I still write fiction, I’m just branching out. I tried writing children’s stories as my escape from novels, but it didn’t feel like much of an escape. I can’t manage long memoir pieces, or short fiction, it’s odd.

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  25. Oh! I wish I could send you a picture of my current issue of “House Beautiful” magazine! Louie chewed it, and now how will I know the secrets to making my house beautiful??

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  26. Ooooh, right! Mine is more of a pop-up mess.

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  27. I stopped buying dog toys when I realized my dogs were much happier tearing apart paper and cardboard. Now I collect all the boxes coming my way and give to them, sometimes with a treat inside. Keeps them entertained for hours (and way cheaper than all the toys!). Very cute puppies you have

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    • Thank you! I think Butterfly would be overwhelmed by a cardboard box, even Cricket would nudge it a few times and then crawl back under the couch. Now, wrapping paper, or bubble wrap, those would go over very well around here.

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  28. Lucky for me, Summer is not a paper chewer….now a counter surfer, yes. Leave anything up there and she is interested – edible or not!

    Thanks for the like on my blog!

    klm
    http://foggydaydreams.wordpress.com

    Reply
  29. What a fun post! Thanks for a good chuckle with my cup of tea!

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  30. Pearl’s favourite toy is an armchair – she loves pulling the stuffing out and distributing it around the house.
    I love your Grandma’s egret!

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  31. Wow, you are one creative family! I love Butterfly’s 3-d creations and Grandma’s quilts. Have you tried giving Butterfly some yarn? She might be a knitter…..

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    • I have a picture somewhere of Butterfly chewing on a hank of yarn, but it never really progressed form there. Cricket used to be fascinated with knitting. She’d sit on my lap and drop hair and spit in every blanket.

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  32. Millie and Pearl both love unravelling a ball of wool and remaking it into a masterpiece of tangled chaos!

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  33. Cricket sounds like a cutie – and a ball of energy. Her endeavours remind me a bit of my little ones. Isn’t it nice to have the liveliness? 🙂

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  34. Sounds familiar! I usually have to pick up by hand, because it’s pieces of sticks, shredded toilet paper, or stuffing from a toy. I like to shop at Goodwill for stuffed animals, but I only buy the ones with no plastic eyes.

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  35. This was a fun first visit to your site.. I liked the ‘pop up book by Butterfly’ picture and caption and “like any other artist, never satisfied with her work.” 🙂

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  36. LOL! I loved this post! Reminds me of my dog Posey, who loved to devour books. Her favorite was Reverence for Life by A. Schweitzer…good thing, too.

    Reply

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