Monday, August 03, 2009

Nail Triptych for Blues Chapel

(Above: Nail Triptych. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Blues Chapel is going to Denton, Texas this November! Recently, I replaced the four sold "faux stained glass" pieces with six new ones. The only thing missing was a triptych that sold during the last exhibition. This past weekend the new triptych was created.

I'd been thinking about it for some time. A clock case purchased at Bill Mishoe's Auction set everything in motion. Above is the wooden structure beside two small frames my husband Steve built. The unfinished "class piece" from my week in Minnesota was cut and used for the exterior triptych doors. The fabric included scraps on which I'd rusted impressions of nails.

The two sections were backed with acrylic felt and free-motion zigzagged. I used a denim needle to machine stitch the resulting "quilt" to mat board which was then glued to the back of the two frames. The frames had been filled with decorative, wrapped nails made last month. I'd planned on making this nails "special" with embroidery, mostly french knots and beads. It took most of Saturday to accomplish this...but I think they are so cute!

Once I had the "doors" complete, I tackled the clock case. At first, everything I did seemed to make the wooden sections come apart. Yet, this allowed me to paint the inside, replace old nails with new screws, add structural reinforcement, wire it for hanging and create a place for glass. Originally there would have been another frame to fit inside the front opening. This would have held the glass. Slowly, it all came back together, stronger than ever!

The focal point of this triptych is a large, wrapped railroad tie....a specialty nail! Nails are my very favorite symbol. They represent sacrifice (Christ's crucifixion), unity (construction), and precision (as in "hitting the nail on the head"). Yet, "if you get 'nailed', it isn't a "good" thing! Basically, nails are bittersweet, complex, and even look to me like a caricature of a person, a spine and head. Rusted nails are the BEST! The rust simply suggests an adult, someone whose strength shows years of experience.

I drilled holes in the back of the clock case and literally stitched the wrapped railroad tie through the holes using picture framing wire.

For the halo and for decorative touches, I used some of the two clock parts that came with the case. I have lots leftover for future pieces. The theme of "time" is important to me. Clock parts certainly are symbols of "time" and will undoubtedly find a way into new creations.

Above is how the center looks. I let the original, old newprint show through the thin layers of off white paint. I did nothing to disquise the holes and parts that once held the brass gears in place.

Above is how the piece looks when the doors are mostly "closed".
Below is how the piece looks when only one door is "closed".

The image below is just a detail of the outer door. All these pictures can be clicked for closer inspection.

My only problem now is the glass. After painstakingly making a template and cutting antique ("wavy") glass to fit inside (by removing only two screws, the top comes off!), I don't think I like having glass in it! All these photos were taken without glass. Any thoughts?


Magpie's Mumblings said...

Thoughts? All I can think is how wonderful this piece is!! I love it!

arlee said...

Glass would make it more like a protected shrine (though i also think of Lenin in his coffin..)but no glass makes it more open to the viewer and keeps the connection to the world

Unknown said...

Without glass - glass takes away the the materials, feelings, thougths...
It´s beatuiful, love the nails.


lindacreates said...

I think glass would take away from the boldness of the piece. I like it just the way it is.

Unknown said...

I love it!!! It is wonderful! I vote for no glass *LOL*

Doreen G said...

I think to enclose it with glass would distract from it's beauty Susan and beautiful it truly is.

Wanda said...

This is amazing Susan. It is really a work of art in itself. And to think that it is just one piece in a larger work!! wow.

kay said...

Susan: I love all your work, but this one has so much to it. Do you have this piece in your studio?