Did you ever play “bank” when you were a child? Maybe you cut up pieces of colored paper. Maybe you borrowed the pretend money from the Monopoly board game. Money is fun to play with, isn’t it?
It’s also lovely to admire. Just like postage stamps, governments put a lot of resources — talent, money, and time, into designing currency. It’s exciting when new designs are released. In the UK, a brand new 50 pound bill was recently released featuring the commemoration of the work of Alan Turing. If you aren’t familiar with his story, check out the trailer for the Imitation Game.
I have a stack of bank notes that I love to thumb through. I bought a bunch on Ebay a couple of years ago when I was looking for prizes that kids could win at a carnival. I’m in charge of the prize booth at my children’s elementary school, and I thought, well, why not trade in your win tickets for different international currencies? Parents thought this was more interesting that the kids did, however. I wrote a bit about it in this blog post.
I’ve got a funny memory from the last carnival. A kid, probably around 8 or 9, came to the win booth with his mom. She looked totally bored and was just half paying attention while her son was choosing a prize. She saw the box of currency and asked me what it was. I explained that they were for win tickets, and she immediately started looking through them. She then turned to her son, gave him a $20 bill and told him to go win more win tickets for her. Ha! That made me laugh.
Anyway, currency as paper ephemera is a lot of fun to play with too. Here’s a collage I created in my latest eclectic-page gluebook, just last week.
I used a piece of Chinese (I think) currency. It wasn’t old–only from the 1990s, but it has a “timeless” look to it and works very well in a collage. The detail is just beautiful.
Have you collaged yet with currency? Do you have any floating around your home? Maybe from an old trip you took somewhere? Dig them out and start thinking about how you can use them!
If you don’t have any and would like to play with some pieces, I created some tear sheets in my shop, just for this purpose. Print out a page or two, and then tear out interesting bits to use in a collage.
No matter where you find currency, I hope you’ll play with them and make some art!