Monday, April 25, 2016

Spring has sprung

For a long time, I have been wanting to do an art vessel focused on negative space as the major design element. The theme for the May PCAGOE challenge is "negative space".  So, the PCAGOE challenge was the impetus that I needed to bring one of those ideas to life.



I had the idea to make a continuous spiral as the body of the vessel, combined with some side supports to buttress the spiral shape. I decided to try this with a method that Donna Greenberg generously shared on facebook. Donna used an epoxy clay as the under support for one of her wonderful openwork sculptures. If you're not familiar with Donna's work, you should definitely check her out. She is, without a doubt, one of my polymer heroes. You can find her facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Donna-Greenberg-Arts-151594531536806/?fref=ts



 I had some epoxy clay on hand so I decided to give Donna's method a try. Unfortunately, I initially only made the spiral, my thought was that I'd cover it with polymer before adding the side supports. Well... I wish I had realized that once separated from the form I was using to mold the spiral, it could potentially just become a great big epoxy clay slinky... needless to say, I didn't think of that. I guess I  assumed that the epoxy clay would be sturdy enough to hold it's own, but it wasn't, big epoxy slinky is indeed what I got.



I then had to put the slinky, I mean sculpted spiral, back on the mold form and try to add the side supports. When I finally was able to cover the epoxy clay with polymer it was a tricky undertaking. Difficult first, because the lower spindles of the spiral did not have a lot of space for my fingers to get in and smooth out the clay; and second, because the epoxy clay form (because I removed it from the base too soon) was a little wonky. Yes, that's a technical term. ;)



I decided to wrap strips of black polymer around the epoxy clay spiral shape of the base form. But because smoothing out the polymer was not going to happen easily with the limited space between the lower spiral spindles, I decided to use a technique that I used last year to make a necklace for myself... I took thin crochet thread and wrapped it around the raw polymer, then cured it and removed the thread, then backfilled the spaces that were created by the thread with some acrylic paint. Here's a photo of that necklace (and the sweater I wanted to match it to) that gave me the idea for how to treat the coil of the vessel:



This was a good idea, only thing was that with the necklace I was able to smooth out the clay, but with the vessel and the tight spaces, this wasn't feasible, so the vessel's finish is rougher than I would really prefer. Instead of acrylic paint I decided to use some peacock pearl colored Premo mixed with some LPC and thinner to make a paste that would be thin enough to fill the thread voids. I like the fact that this mixture clung to the cured polymer a bit more than the acrylic paint did, which I think gave it a little bit of a mokume gane feel.  Here's a shot of me holding it, so you can see the scale of the piece:


So, while I'm happy to see the idea come to life, I'm not really happy with this piece. I have another idea for how I might construct this next time, and I am considering doing a second iteration very soon. The thing I'm most unhappy about is how wonky the spiral got because of taking it off the form before adding epoxy supports on the side. I also don't like the fact that I had to texture everything because of how it was formed. My new idea for designing this will allow me to finish it smoothly. So, while I'm not completely happy, I am grateful for the lessons I learned and the inspiration I received while making this piece. What about you? Has there ever been a piece that you made which turned out less than you had hoped, but you were still grateful for the lessons learned? Did you do another iteration of that piece and better it with those gained insights? Tell me about it in the comments... and let me know what you think of my Spring Sprung vessel too!

6 comments:

  1. Beth this is awesome! Embrace wonky, it is a good thing.

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    1. Thank you Betsy! LOL! I will try to embrace wonky! ;)

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  2. Beth, only you would know that this is not you meant to do. It is beautiful and totally looks like you did it on purpose. lol I love it! Especially the slinky analogy because I have a totally inspiring story of my own when it comes to slinkys. I'll tell you about it if you ever want to know. I've learned from this as well. I didn't know you could bake epoxy clay. And I have quite a few things that didn't end up like they started out in my head and many lessons that go with those projects. Those are the best kind in my opinion. They let your knowledge and techniques grow. In the end though, this is an amazing piece. I admire your courage and imagination.

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    1. Thank you Line! I would love to hear your slinky story some time! Indeed, sometimes the gained knowledge from a failed project is worth the costs! ;)

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  3. I agree with everyone - this is incredible! What an impressive job you've done. I'm sure we can all sympathize with the frustrations and angst you experienced while making this - but the end result (for us) is spectacular. You've got my vote in the challenge! Great job indeed!

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    1. Thank you so much, aims, for your generous comments! :)

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