Saturday, January 25, 2014

Beginning a New Piece

This new piece is going to have quite a bit of detail. I thought I'd take pictures as I go through my process of assembling. I'm pretty loose about it as you'll see. Lately I haven't been sketching first, but sort of feel my way through the look of the piece by creating a very rough layout of it.

Pretty rough no? I'm starting with the ceramic head that I made a couple months ago. I work with thin white board and tape to figure out body and neck connections and proportions. I just want a loose idea at this point to see if it'll even work. The expression on the face is what I use to guide me as far as the concept/message of the piece. Yet I also don't really worry about what the concept will be when I start, I just let it come to me as I try out different ways it might go together. 

This concept appeared pretty quickly that it would be about trusting my gut. The words came to me: 

This is my place of knowing.
Oh, it calls to me.
I doubt.
It insists.
I love it for that.

 So I know I'll put those words on the piece, in this case around an outer frame that will surround the figure. I also want a visual of the 'gut', so I'm using an etched circle of the tree of knowledge that I made previously. 

Then I think about how the piece will actually hold together. Starting with the ceramic head, I know I will have to connect it with a copper surround. The main torso I want to be enameled copper so I can do some xerox transfers onto it. I want to create a "window" in the torso where the 'gut' piece will show through, so that needs to be a cutout. I'll connect the arms probably with screws over the enamel...I tend to get overwhelmed about this time, so it helps me to do a little sketch like this so I can remember all my intentions. Oh, and also there will be 2 sets of threaded rod; one that holds the head to the neck piece and one that holds the head and neck to the torso.

Then I start at the top and start refining. So far this week I got the hat/head/neck parts connected.

Then I got the torso size figured so it will fit into the neck lip (the lip has red enamel stripes on it). I drilled very small holes into that neck lip so that I can use small screws to attach the neck to the torso piece. I don't want the torso to shift, and sometimes even with a threaded rod holding it together it could. The torso piece has been cut to fit the medallion 'gut' piece.

Next I need to figure out my drill holes for the arms, so I need to assemble the arms first. After that I can enamel the torso. I'm thinking seed pods will come up from the base of the torso too (like I need more stuff on this piece), so the figure looks like it's parting the pods to show the 'knowing place'. Of course that could look awful, so I'l have to play it by ear. Onward!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Finished Branch Figure

Several days ago I finished this branched piece that I had started as of last blog. I ended up putting the title on it in the form of hand-cut copper letters: "I Keep Learning As I Grow". I realize that the piece is reflective of the place I'm in this month of wanting to try some new techniques. I like the idea of having that growth be visible in what I do, hence the appeal for me of the arms becoming branches.

"I Keep Learning As I Grow"
Wall mounted - 31x22x3"

Some of the leaves are cut out of brass sheet that I had previously etched so that partial phrases "she will", "she knew", "reality", "believe" and "long way around" appear on them. A milagro of a praying figure hangs on the right branch, a cut out nickel hand on the branch next to it, all referring to my process of learning and being a beginner at some new techniques. At the bottom is a medallion I etched that has a symbol of a pyramid on it representing steps taken (hopefully) upward to a better place.

I used a woven copper mesh for the skirt. I like the way it gets old looking quickly with only minor over-firing with the torch. Yes! for instant patina. Some of the leaves have been torch-fired with a light yellow enamel and then a decal transfer applied over top. The decals have defused imagery with alchemy symbols and rich golden/black tones that I created in Photoshop.

This last Friday I figured out another piece that I'll start putting together soon. More of the marionette-type legs and a little bit bigger ceramic head!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Folk Art Doll Joints

I traditionally take the month of January and explore new directions for my artwork. It can be something that feels big and very different or some small design detail. It's mostly about indulging my creative self with something off my typical beaten path, or that looks intriguing.

The first thing I wanted to explore is the old joints I've seen on folk art doll legs and arms. Mostly a tradition done in wood, but I thought it might be cool to try it in metal.

My first attempt is below (so far). It's rather labor intensive with each different plane within the joint being a separate piece of cut copper braised in place. Yet I'm still wanting to try more variations.

I'll definitely need to leave more space in the central joint area than I did this time. The lower leg moves now, but doesn't have the full range of movement that I want. This piece will eventually have long vines with leaves that come out of the arms. Long enough so that they drop down below the figure's feet by quite a bit. I'm wanting to use etched brass and maybe some decal transfers on some of the leaves. More experimentation!