(Above: Another EPOXY DAY! Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)
I've been hard at work creating six, large art quilts (most are approximately 58" x 40" before framing) that include a final layer or two or three of epoxy. Conceptually, this clear veneer suggests an untouchable surface, a sense of distance, a sheen of reflection, and an unearthly aura. I will be sharing these new art quilts once I've had a chance to photograph them ... which is a rather tricky process considering the glass-like epoxy finish.
(Above: Curiosity VII and VIII. Two wooden "tea cups", shells collected near Culzean Castle in Scotland, a Cornish game wishbone, and some interesting electrical insulators given to me by Ellen Kochansky at the Rensing Center.)
Due to the size of the art quilts being treated with epoxy, I am only able to "pour" two at a time. Why? Well, after pouring the epoxy, the works must sit totally flat and level inside the garage ... overnight. The work table only has room for two. One particular art quilt needed two additional "over pours". Thus, we've had several EPOXY DAYS. This week was very good for the process. We couldn't use our parking lot anyway. The city recently destroyed our drive way entrance while repairing the century-old sewer pipes.
Last Friday the cement truck came and poured a new driveway entrance and the affected sidewalk. Until today, we couldn't drive on it. (Yes ... we got to write our names. Even Max the Cat got to put his paw prints down!)
(Above: Curiosity IX and X. Two "Made in Japan" porcelain dishes with clock gears and parts.)
Epoxy is messy and very, very sticky. That's why I wear a tyvek suit, protective goggles, disposable gloves and two plastic shopping bags on my feet. Steve and I spend quite a bit of time setting up too. A pair of sawhorses is erected and pieces of thin press board are placed all around to catch the overflow of epoxy. (We do have a few permanent "puddles" on the parking lot where epoxy fell directly onto the pavement. It really looks like water ... but it isn't and it will never evaporate!) Steve and I also "practice" how we will carry each piece into the garage and where ... exactly ... it will be placed to dry. This choreography is necessary because we have less than twenty minutes until the epoxy is no longer fluid enough to manipulate. Steve is also my "timer". Equal parts of the two liquids must to stirred together for one minute and then dumped into another container for continued agitation for two, additional minutes. These are the recommended instructions ... which we follow precisely.
Once inside the garage, I light the propane torch and gently flame the surface. This causes any air bubble to rise and pop. Most of the air bubbles are so miniscule that they can hardly be seen. Yet, the carbon dioxide from the torch does make them rise ... and the result really is a much slicker, shinier, glossy surface.
Working quickly is also a plus because Steve and I can pour any leftover epoxy (and often scoop up some of the over-poured epoxy from the press board) and fill small, found object assemblages that I'm now calling "curiosities". Many of this trinkets are "family pieces". Some of the items come from Bill Mishoe's auction. Many of the nick-knacks have simply been collected over time or because a friend thought I might like their cast-off ephemera.
While assembling these things, I've been thinking about my own TEDxColumbia talk and wondering who will cherish some of these things. I mean, seriously, do I expect my kids to care or want two egg cups? These little things have next to no possibility of becoming treasured family heirlooms. In my talk, I encouraged others to "make a plan" for their precious possessions. Shouldn't I do the same? Well ... YES ... of course! So, I made a plan ... I'm using them for ART!
Perhaps it is just wishful thinking ... perhaps artistic vanity ... perhaps it doesn't matter ... but at least in my mind, these little souvenirs, trinkets, tokens, keepsakes, and assorted "stuff" have a far better chance of making it into the next generation now than they did last week! Plus, I'm having a blast making them.
Because I'm using the "leftover" and "over-poured" epoxy, noticeable air bubbles often occur. Careful use of the propane torch is necessary ... and has worked very well ... without accidentally catching anything on fire!
Seriously ... who would really care about a little brass dish bought in England in the early '70s. It's not valuable. It's sentimental. The sentiment is only mine. Personal sentiment is not a feeling that will last without some help! While the transformation isn't really "significant", it is at least part of a larger series. I sort of imagine all these curiosities displayed together, as if oddities in a natural history museum. By the way, as a child, I absolutely adored the Naturhistroishes Museum in Vienna and many other natural history museums too. I loved the cabinets of taxidermy, the drawers of butterflies, the displays of geodes, the organization of it all, the tiny labels ... everything! In a sense, I'm revisiting ideas from 2006 when I made my The Archeology Project.
My mind is already thinking about a "cabinet". How should it look? What should I make it out of? How can I cobble together mismatched pieces of cabinetry to resemble the style of furniture that would appropriately house so many strange creations? Time will tell!
(Above and below: Curiosity XXII. Hand painted cup and saucer from my Grandma Baker ... but I think it might have been one of her aunt's. Ceramic bird, rosary, beads, artificial cemetery flowers, and a thimble.)
This cup and saucer is also a family piece. I can't remember, however, who exactly owned it or why it was passed down. I'm sure there's a story but ... does it matter? Frankly, I like this transformed cup and saucer sitting in my gallery space now ... instead of "as it was" collecting dust at the back of a shelf in the dining room!
Steve helped collect the things for this piece. The odd, silver-plated container has always been sentimental for Steve ... though he has no idea exactly what it is or why his mother had it or where it came from. As it was, no one would ever treasure it again. I used it when creating Under the Canopy, an installation that I did two years ago. It simply sat on a little table and then went back onto a shelf in the dining room. Maybe now, someone might find it unique. Steve and I will probably keep it ... hoping that it might continue to be treasured in the future. I plan on creating a unique "label" for it ... as if a museum identification tag ... listing the contents and the people associated with it. Should be fun!
While thinking of my own family and people who might treasure strange, trivial pieces of "stuff", I remembered a bag of old metal that came from the Palmetto Compression and Warehouse. This four-story, historic cotton ball compress facility was built in 1917 and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Recently, it was under threat of demolition but fortunately saved. It is being developed by local, interested groups with plenty of preservation projects under their belts. This summer I was lucky to acquire some of the debris. I'm planning on giving this piece to the lady in charge. Over the years, she's done magical things to make Columbia's downtown Vista area the arts and cultural district that it is today ... and she's the one who made the arrangements for me to get the found metal I now have!
While working outside with the epoxy, I noticed the concoction of poke berries and water that I put into a plastic bucket several weeks ago. (I blogged about Steve's "pet weeds", the poke berries ... HERE!) It seemed time to separate the plants, pouring the bright fuchsia liquid into my small, iron cauldron ... and adding several pieces of antique/vintage garments. Who knows what will happen. The last time I tried poke berry, none of the color survived the necessary rinsing. Maybe I should just forget about this until spring? LOL!