Thursday, 17 January 2019

Putting on a show

Research: Books, internet, artists, images
Design: Generate thoughts, develop the ideas, sketch, rethink, consider research influences, refine, reflect, refine, reflect refine....
Develop:  Try the designs, practice the techniques, test the shapes, review the idea concept, problem solve, refine the design, create the pieces
Exhibit: Where, what space, light, surroundings, risks, foot traffic, aesthetics, duration, cleaning, painting, setting up, labelling photographing, enjoying....  Putting on a show!

This summarised 12 weeks of work and it all culminates in a display space no bigger than 400mm wide, 600mm deep and 2.2m tall.

I took time to consider what my pieces required to be presented at their best and, unlike the last brief, I reckoned these needed lots of natural light.  Given the fragile nature of glass and the potentially precarious display I also wanted a located that offered some natural protection.  I surveyed the exhibition corridors and reckoned this location worked well.   It has loads of natural light, over head lighting and protection from the nearby column plus it sits away from the direction of foot traffic.

I took measurements of the space (and left nothing to chance) as I need to understand how a pedestal would sit against the window and how I could utilise the available window area to serve as a backdrop to the piece.  You can read my 'Accessorise me!' blog to see how I developed the backdrop.

I painted my pedestal, washed the windows (pity about the permanent acid staining on the outsides) and washed the floor and sills.  I applied the vinyl backdrop image onto the window and the vinyl runic symbols onto the window safety discs and then set up the artefacts.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blogs about the creation of this installation.  I have been on a real journey with it and I have learned to embrace the unexpected, follow the research and allow each piece to fulfil its own destiny.

Accessorise me!

Week 10

This blog is about adding the finishing touches to the exhibition of my pieces.  I have to consider how am I going to display the pieces; do I need stands, supports, adornments that assist with the narrative etc.

I have decided that I am going to stand my plate so I need a plate stand.  I could go and buy a stand however what kind do I buy? Metal, plastic, coloured, clear, decorative or simple lines, size, folding, two part... so many considerations.  The biggest consideration has to be the aesthetic.  What would allow the plate to speak?  I decided to make my own so worked on some basic designs.

I have previously used lead came, used in leading windows, to create elements to a window panel so I know the material is malleable and its darkened metal appearance would add to the aesthetic.  I am using 6mm lead came which, in profile is shaped like an H.  I folded down the sides into the heart which made a flattened chord shape.  I did this with three lengths and then plaited the, continuing the entwined threads of life theme.
I used a metal rod which I shaped and sized to suit the needs of my 300mm diameter plate.  I then formed the lead plaits over the stand's feet and secured them by soldering with C grade lead solder and tallow flux.  I had to be mindful that the feet were long enough to angle the plate and had a means of securing it, hence the turn ups.

The back support and feet are not sufficient to support the plate as the plate's curvature would hit the table, and not allow the feet to hold it, plus the weight would cause the feet to splay further apart.  The next stage was to add a circular base that I soldered to the feet.   This lifted the feet from the table, accommodated the curvature of the plate and also secured the width of the feet; it also added weight to balance the plate.  I made this from a two thread rope twist as I didn't want it to be too prominent or bulky.

Well, making the stand was good fun and I am going to use more lead to recreate some dig find coins.  I only want the coins to add mood to the exhibit.  I researched coins and created simplified designs that were indicative of the coins.  I used 22mm lead came to make the coins.  I cut the flanges off and trimmed them to shape and then used a selection of nails to punch the designs into the lead.

The last thing to make are runes.  Runes, not runestones (these are large memorial landmarks), are small ingots, ironically usually made from stones... that are inscribed with runic symbols of the Nordic alphabet.  Runes were used for various reasons and are associated with mystical practices.  I've decided to make my runes look like stone ingots.

I created moulds from a strip of rolled clay from which I cut small rectangles.


I then inserted clay strips to create the rune alphabet letters.  These could only be half the thickness of the depth of the slab so that they eventually became inscribed impressions.  I then poured plaster (equal parts plaster, flint and water) into the moulds and allow it to stand proud and malformed as this would add to the natural stone shapes. 

The next day I removed the set plaster forms from the mould and then started to shape them into natural shapes, losing the square corned production shapes.  I did this using a knife and sandpaper.  It was easy to do as the plaster was still not fully dried out.  

All done.  Can you guess what they spell out? Destiny of course.

The last thing I have to create is a backdrop. Given the available time I am going to create a composite image taken from a number of the images I gathered during my research.  I want to create something that provides the main narrative of the installation while not actually stealing the lime light; I want it to inform but not be intrude. Not tall order then.

I know what image I would like to have had time to draw from scratch so I'm looking for images that lean towards that.  I want Skulda, the Norn, walking among the dead in the battle field and selecting which are worthy of ascension and showing these souls in Valhalla. Yeah, no tall order after all.

I selected the following:

I use photoshop for most of my photo editing so some careful selection and laying, transition filters and you have this...

and add a purpose made border that continues the braided threads of life them...

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

If you want to get a head get some resin

Week 10

Serendipity indeed.  Since I was using resin for my large bowl, and being mindful how it get into very small gaps and sets very firmly, I seized the opportunity to do something with these guys...

If you read my blog 'Six heads are better than one' you will know that I had made these god heads as a development for the finishing off of the large bowls ascending tips.  The problem I had was that the fine details in the silicone rubber moulds wouldn't have been kind to wax; required to make lost wax plaster moulds.  Resin on the other hand is string enough to be removed from the moulds and in themselves would be finished casts. Ideal.

 I used the same resin two part, 10% catalyst mix and slowly poured it into the moulds, allowing it time to find its way into the subtle fine voids without trapping any air pockets.  I then vibrated the moulds to release any trapped air. 

I left the resin to set for 36 hours, more than the recommended 24, however one or two of them still had some soft spots resulting in some distortion when they were divested from their moulds.  While not ideal it was still in keeping with the ravages of time and archaeology.

I've shown images of the lynx below and compared it to the condition of the clay model after it was released.  This is a good comparison to show the strength of the resin.

I then painted all of the heads to give them a cast metal appearance so that they resembled the concept of them being cast in lead.  I did this by painting them black, as per the lynx above, then silver, allowing each coat to dry between.  I then applied another layer of black however before it dried I loosely brush it with a soft clothes to lift and smudge the paint revealing variations of silver beneath.  It worked quite well.

I then trimmed the ends that were formed from plaited twine attached to the clay models.  I made sure they were the same length and angled is though part of the original bowl.  I then glued small metal rods to their top line which I then hot glued to the top edge of the bowls ascending tips and made sure the rods were rounded to follow the curvature of the bowl.  I hoped this gave it the appearance of having being reconstructed.  

Putting on a show

Research: Books, internet, artists, images Design: Generate thoughts, develop the ideas, sketch, rethink, consider research influences, r...