Sometimes You Find Friends In the Most Unusual Places
It all started with a bed posted for sale on Craigslist…
We had recently moved to the Seattle area and were looking to replace all the furniture we got rid of when we moved out here. That included a bed for our son. My wife took to Craigslist to find one of those Ikea loft beds (the same kind we had bought and sold three times over in as many years). She found one from a nice family in Issaquah. The wife’s name was Aline.
The first 10 minutes at their house was like any other Craigslist transaction. You drive up. Take a good look around the neighborhood to make sure you feel safe. Assess the husband as he comes out, to make sure he doesn’t look like some psycho serial killer (and to see if you can take him just in case he turns out to be one). You collect the goods, count the screws and pieces to the bed, and fork over the cash. Yep. It was just like any other Craigslist transaction.
Until fate stepped in.
As we started to leave and were making small talk, I just had to ask where the couple was from. Based on their accents, I knew they weren’t originally from around these parts.
“We’re from Paris,” Aline said. (I found it interesting that she said Paris specifically, as opposed to just France.) Paris just happens to be me and my wife’s favorite city. It had been her life long dream to go there and just two years earlier we went for our ten-year anniversary for the best trip of our lives.
After that, the “small talk” evolved into a full-blown coffee and sit-down get together. It would be another 1.5 hours before we left.
Aline and her husband had been in the States for a few years now. He’s a technology evangelist for Microsoft. She’s a stay-at-home mom who takes care of their three kids (and a dog). As we walked around their home, we noticed some of the most unusual art and furniture pieces. We soon realized they were constructed out of cardboard. Aline told us the story of how she needed an outlet to express her creativity and looked into this unusual art form (one that apparently is rather popular in France). One of the most incredible pieces was a chair. Beautifully crafted and strong enough to stand on; and created entirely out of cardboard.
I knew I wanted to create a film series about unique people and places in Seattle. I knew I wanted it to be a resource to discover interesting people and small businesses you wouldn’t normally hear about. Aline and her cardboard furniture would be the perfect subject.
Beyond the Usual
My first inclination was to make a traditional documentary film about Aline and her unusual furniture. But then I thought to myself, “Why in the world make something so usual for a subject that is quite the opposite?” I wanted to tell the story of Aline’s furniture in a way that was profound and would connect emotionally with viewers.
I started thinking about what it is she does. She takes these discarded pieces of cardboard, forgotten and abandoned; then transforms them into works of art strong enough to support an adult. I thought, “What a beautiful metaphor for life.”
We all have moments when we feel like those pieces of cardboard. Broken. Abandoned. Worthless. But all it takes is one person to see something special in us.
A coach. A teacher. A good friend. A mother.
That’s when it hit me. I would use the relationship between a mother and her daughter to illustrate that story.
So I wrote a poem that would capture both the essence of Aline’s art, and well as this notion of one person building up the self-esteem of another. And because the French language is so captivating, I knew I wanted that voice over to be in Aline’s native tongue. I had Aline and her husband translate it in such a way that it communicated the intended meaning (apparently Google translate was just a tad too literal in the original translation I created).
I hope you will find the film not only an interesting peek at the craftsmanship of a wonderful artist and her work, but also a message that will inspire you to be to others that one person who sees beauty where others see the boring.
Click here to see the short film where Aline share (in English) her thoughts about her craft.
Artist: Aline Bloch of AlinesCardboard.com.