Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Encaustic Day in Rock Glen

Last week Sue came over to my house and we, along with Nate, dove in to my new encaustic set up. I had a starter set with 8 transparent encaustic colors, a bunch of oil paints, encaustic medium, filtered beeswax, paraffin, an electric griddle, 5x5 inch baltic birch panels, a couple of great reference books The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax and Encaustic Workshop: Artistic Techniques for Working with Wax and a bunch of cheap bristle brushes. I covered the table with an old vinyl cloth, put an exhaust fan in the window and away we went.

Apparently, encaustic with the uninitiated can be a very messy affair. It was a good thing that I had thought of using paper work space covers or else Nate's area would be hopelessly lost to anyone else using that area in the future. Encaustic wax does not flake off hard surfaces like candle wax, it must be the damar crystals that keep it sticky and adhesive. The paraffin does peel off easily but it is used to clean the brushes.
Nate really went to town, as evidenced from his mess above, and ended up with a triptych complete with scanned and printed negatives and LOTS of texture.
Sue brought all sorts of stuff from home and made this beautiful collage using a printed image, flower bud, sonnet from Shakespeare and part of a potato bag.
My first one really bothered me because the wax kept blowing all over the board when I tried to fuse it. I would scrape the wax off and start again only to achieve the same results. Next I just started sticking stuff into the warm wax; shredded packing materials, a little bee firework and a bunch of scraped off wax globs. Then I added a final coat of medium and got this Starry Night kind of look with the fusing.
I used some of what I learned in my second one - keeping the background somewhat simple and layering a lot on top of that before fusing. I painted over Sue's potato sack, threw in a few gouges and filled them with oil paint, stuck on a paper flower, carved out a little vase shape and sprinkled some lavender over the top.

Throughout this process we depended on two books for our how-to references and inspiration. These books were The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax by Joanne Mattera andEncaustic Workshop: Artistic Techniques for Working with Wax by Patricia B. Seggebruch. These two books really compliment one another; The Art of Encaustic Painting take a fine art approach to historical and contemporary uses of encaustic combined with technical knowhow while Encaustic Workshop is a more freeform look at one artist's work and step-by-step instructions for achieving the numerous effects she illustrates in the book. One of us was always asking to look at one book or the other.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Enameling the Future

Day two at Sue's was all about copper and glass. A friend of hers had found an enamel kiln on craigslist and told her to buy it. Sue thought that maybe she could use it to make buttons and other embellishments for her fiber pieces, so she called the guy and bought it. The kiln came with all of the tools needed, boxes of enamels and bunches of copper shapes to work with. She got a few other tools at Harbor Freight and was good to go. If you happen to be interested in doing enamel work on your own I highly recommend The Art of Enameling: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration by Linda Darty, it tells you everything you need to know to get started and has some great pictures for inspiration as well. 
Once in the basement we settled in to work; turned on the kiln, sorted the enamels, selected our metal pieces and were ready to start. The kiln, however, was not ready. The kiln was hardly even warm. Sue switched it from low to high and we refined our rudimentary preparations. I sorted the enamels even further and put all of the little copper bits in piles according to shape and size. Sue busied herself with cutting circles and doming them. Eventually the kiln was ready to go. 
Evidently it needs to be turned on high about 45 minutes or an hour before you are ready to work. I chose a crescent shape from the pre-cut pile and put holes in both points and one at the center of the wide side of the curve. Sue cut 2 small circles, drilled 4 holes in each and domed them. I coated the back of mine with Indian Blue (seen above) which turns out to be a bright turquoise color. On the front I put a clear coat and after firing that I used enamel from a bottle labeled "Mixture". There are about 6 of these bottles each with a different color to it. This one looked blue-ish but turned out to be a lovely mottled pale green (below.) I think that the uneven dark edges mean that we over fired but I like the roughness of them.
The large bead is lava, the red ones are garnet and I think the other 2 are soapstone. Now all I need is to find a good clasp to attach to the leather laces and it's finished! 
Next time we get together I'll take more pics of the process and of Sue's work, she does very nice work.

Fun with Arts and Crafts

My friend Sue, from Fiber Lingo, and I have begun getting together now and then to learn new techniques that we can both incorporate into our own work. A couple of weeks ago I went over to her house and we made felted miliflori beads drawing from her vast collection of beautifully colored fleece. We started by rolling up individual colors then grouping those together and covering the whole bunch of them with even more wool. At the end of this step our logs looked like this: (mine is the bluer one)
Next we wet them with warm soapy water and began to roll the bejeebers out of them. When we decided that they were compacted tightly enough we put them on the floor and continued to roll them, this time using our feet! If this wasn't enough the next step was to beat them into complete submission:

All of this abuse was well worth the effort when we cut off the ends of our rolls and saw what was inside:
Our final step was to cut a 1/2 inch slice that would become a bead once it, and its sisters, had been carefully soaked in acrylic floor finish to keep them in one piece:
I may end up having to shave my beads as I did not use merino on my outer wrap or, maybe, the acrylic will hold the hairs in - we'll see - it's an adventure!
Thanks to Interweave Felt Magazine and their article by Carol Cypher for the directions for this project.

And speaking of adventures, next time I'll tell you all about our learning to use Sue's enamel kiln! For red-hot glass and metal it is soo cool!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On The Live Side

This evening I dropped the three prints off at the ACWC for the annual Local Color Members show which opens next Friday, January 15th. Two TtVs and one plain ol' photo. (They don't fit on here very gracefully, but I suppose that a lot of that has to do with my inability to make them conform at this point. Oh, wait, they're looking better!) These prints are not (yet?) available on Etsy but might be at some point if I figure out a better way of getting them printed - I don't want to impose on friends every time I need one. While there will be more work being dropped off the rest of the week, there is a surprising lack of photographic representation this year. On my quick look through the stacks, I didn't see any others though there must be some in there somewhere. There are, however, quite a lot of paintings, pastels and drawings and even a few bits of fiber art floating around. This year is the Arts Council's 35th Anniversary and their theme is Progressions so we'll see how much everyone has progressed! One area I need to work on in order to progress is learning to take better photographs of my photographs - the problem is more than just using a tripod, I'm thinking I need some sort of lighting set-up. That can all wait for now. In their own (here blurry) way I think the two TtVs look pretty good and I like the other but have to stop buying brown frames.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Am I Back Yet?

I think I'm back, just still can't fight that semi-depressed nuh feeling regarding all things photographic. Should probably use this blog for the crafty stuff and start a new one for the photos. It's all getting way too complicated and labor intensive - especially when I'm sooooo nuh.
On the up side: I have three photos ready for the Arts Council for Wyoming County Member's exhibit, Local Color. Barbara, over at Days Light, printed them for me and they look great! I should take pictures of them all framed up before I drop them off tomorrow. that way I can post them some time in the next six months.
I also have a book making class over in Perry in the near future, don't know the dates yet but I'd better get started on ordering supplies.
Back later with actual pictures.