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The space between

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Nadja, our first year law student, has always enjoyed artistic pursuits. She won a children's best-of-show prize at the Topsfield Fair with a pencil drawing of a cat, majored in theater costume design along with Russian studies in college, and took paint, brushes, and canvas to Moscow during her two year teaching contract.

I have to admit that I love snowflakes, not the ones that pile up in driveways and close schools, but the paper snowflakes that often decorate windows and doors. Among Nadja's hobbies is making paper snowflakes. She's been folding paper circles and cutting them for years. I remember doing them in elementary school, but they never looked like hers. Hers are lacy poinsettias, oak leaves, angels blowing trumpets, silhouettes of Bethlehem, and three figures under a stable roof. Every one of them is amazingly intricate and beautiful.

This year, I decided to give it a try. When I asked Nadja to show me her secret, she told me something I've heard her say about almost everything she has ever made. Creating the design is all about "negative space." What you cut away -- the space between things -- is what creates the picture. In other words, what remains emerges from what is taken away.

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