On Vinyl

Judy Gamache DiGeorge finds a new purpose for old records.

Cheryl Gerber

As the daughter of a self-taught painter and a saxophone player, Judy Gamache DiGeorge is fueled by the creativity that was bestowed upon her during her childhood. She combines elements of music into her art, resulting in imaginative multimedia pieces that are as functional as they are fanciful – with a nod to nostalgia.

 DiGeorge creates clocks out of vinyl records; she also makes jewelry from other objects, and she avidly paints and draws. Most of her pieces incorporate recycled or found items.

“I’ve been on a lifelong path of self-education and discovery,” she says. “I have always had an inherent need to create. It is part of my being.”

When she was in high school, DiGeorge says the encouragement from both her family and her teachers was crucial while she was on the path that led her to become an artist. “They told me that no matter what anyone said, my creations were miraculous, no matter how crazy they seemed.”

After college, she raised her two daughters, Grace and Abby, with the same passion for art that her parents had instilled in her. “I found myself in a constant state of cleaning up paint and glitter and feathers,” she says. “It was a time of great growth for me: I was stimulated by their natural creative imaginations while giving them the gift of my own knowledge and experiences.”

DiGeorge says that she has evolved over the years as she continues to experiment with different media and techniques and to study everything she can. “My pieces have become much more refined, interesting and humorous,” she says.

When making one of her signature clocks, DiGeorge says that sometimes she begins with a theme from the title of the record. For example, she once made a clock out of several old 45s with songs, including “Sittin’ and Drinkin’,” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” She named the piece A Night in New Orleans.

But occasionally she believes that the clocks direct her – rather than the other way around. “Sometimes they take on a life of their own,” she says. “I begin them with an idea of what I’d like the final product to look like; then I leave the room for a few minutes and come back, and it goes in a completely different direction.”

She’s always picking up small objects and eyeing colors and shapes, figuring out how to incorporate them into one of her clocks. She jokes, “I think people get annoyed with me because I’m constantly saying, ‘Oh, look, I can make that into a clock!’”

Five years ago, DiGeorge took some of her goods to the Freret Market, and the whimsical creations became popular with locals in search of something unique. “To have total strangers compliment my efforts really motivated me,” she says. “Then I realized I could buy more art supplies and create more pieces if I sold a few along the way. It seems that I’ve developed a longing to have my work viewed on a much larger scale.”

She learned completely by “trial and error – I have broken many records along the way,” she admits. “I’ve had them warp and melt in my car and made some that were so confusing that I had to just throw them away. Every time I make a clock, I learn something new and have additional ideas for the next.”

DiGeorge continues to sell at the Freret Market as well as other local festivals, including the Bayou Boogaloo; the Earth Festival; Piety Street Market; and the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Miss. She also sells some of her creations on music-related Web sites, including www.bluescentric.com. She is currently working on launching her own Web site.  

“Creating art of any kind is a very special gift for which I’m thankful for every single day,” she says. “When I’m in the creative process, everything else fades away. I enter a whole new world where I feel that I’m exactly where I should be at that very moment. “

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