This summer, countless client proposals and case studies came out of ThoughtMatter’s office. But there also were balloon animals, summer snow globes, aerial landscapes, micro-gardens and neon signs that formed some of our less traditional output. These were the result of “Maker Studio Fridays.” Each week, a different studio member would lead an activity session, encouraging us to make something with our own hands and minds. It gave us an opportunity to step away from the screen and embrace simple truths, whether that meant meditatively making cyanotypes or folding plain paper into graceful origami frogs. All summer long we took the time to reflect and hone what helps us create better and more innovative work for our clients. By season’s end we were ready to set eyes on the next adventure.
Our tendency to cast away conventional models eventually piqued our interest in the Sandwich Club Summit, an annual event hosted by The Wassaic Project – where fellow sandwich enthusiasts come together and talk about, well, sandwiches. Complete with presentations, workshops and a grilled cheese bar, this year’s theme was “Something Different,” focused on sides (chips, pickles, slaws, baked beans, beverage pairings, etc.).
We wanted in on this glorious gathering, so our in-studio producer Whitney Burnett came up with a plan to realize that dream. She married our love for chips with our passion for art in a cleverly designed workshop. Remember the grade-school craft with Elmer’s glue and glitter? You drew with a bead of glue on your paper, and sprinkled mounds of glitter on it. Then you picked up the paper and watched the glitter fall, leaving your image in sparkle essence. Our workshop took this familiar craft and substituted glitter with chip dust!
In a paint-by-numbers style, our participants glued pre-crushed chips with Pantone Color Chip labels to their individual chipboards. We even handed out “Let Your Chip Flag Fly” buttons. It’s safe to say that we were inspired by our exhaustive list of chip-related puns. Once the participants were done, they put together their numbered canvases like puzzle pieces to reveal their re-imagined versions of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” Matisse’s “Music” and Munch’s “Scream,” while unattached chip dust fell away.
It was surprisingly fulfilling to watch people build a meaningful connection with chips through deconstruction. Snacks were crushed, rules were bent, masterpieces emerged and all of a sudden we had a group of unrelated strangers silently working together to create something ephemeral but rewarding.
It reminded us of the power of community and collaboration, no matter how small or fleeting the common cause is. In fact, one could argue that it is in the little things that one eventually finds the biggest joys. (Kurt Vonnegut wouldn’t disagree.) Aside from the fear that our fingers will never stop smelling like Cool Ranch Doritos – or in ThoughtMatter Client Services Director Martha Kirby’s words, “Post Traumatic Chip Disorder” – we thoroughly enjoyed our presence at the Sandwich Club Summit.
The thinkers, teachers and artists in us are always coming up for air, so it’s important to exercise them and keep them alive. There’s a strange kind of joy and liberation in rolling up our sleeves and immersing ourselves in arts and crafts. Not entirely out of context, Jessie, our executive director of strategy and leader of a Maker Studio Veggie Art session, once rightly said, “the bigger mess, the bigger the imagination.”