Monday, March 30, 2015

6x6 Series- Ammonite Architecture

Well I knew it was only a matter of time before these little studies got sculptural.  I always say I keep a toe in sculpture, and love low (and high) relief work, even way back in art history when we were studying friezes on buildings and tombs. Something so very tactile about it.  
So here is how this one evolved...

While heating the panel for its first layer of wax, once again the gorgeous grain of the wood showed up and so I kept the torch there a little longer to highlight them.  

I was in a collagey mood (yes, I know that’s not a word, and many of you are cringing right now, but it accurately describes the art mood I was in!) I let the wood tone and scorches set the color palette to start, and pulled out some other treasures from the pile that had starting growing on my table.  There was a very old brittle book on fossils I bought at the arboretum's library, some wood glue covered scorched paper, and tissue paper that I used to clean up my skillet after a day of work (calling it a monoprint doesn't feel right. It was not considered at all, besides recognizing that some cool color blending was happening amongst the pots on the griddle). There were images of slides of cross sections of different type of plant cells that I had been wanting to work in somewhere... also had bought some micro beads on a whim (and coupon) recently.  As usual- not all of these things made it into the piece, but the act of "foraging" help to inspire me and remind me of all the possibilities in my collection... 

I tore out a section of the fossil book that listed fossils found in the Mazon Creek area, not too far from where we live, and collaged it onto the right.  I finally found a place for the cross section images, then added some subtle color with powdered pigments and a sprinkling of a couple of beads. 

Here’s where I really felt like I wanted/needed to come off the surface.  Bark and twigs are always abundant in my studio, and think they could be worked in- but still wanted more.  Since reading the fossil pages, I started rummaging around my rock and fossil shelf, and found a great ammonite that would fit the scale and palette of the piece, but I was worried that the wax wouldn't be sufficient to hold the weight of the fossil.  Then I recalled reading about some casting processes in one of my books- so looked it up and thought I’d give it a shot.  (Glad I saved that 75 pound bucket of oil based clay- once again, hoarding being rewarded.)  

Coated the ammonite with mineral oil, nuked up some water in the microwave to warm up the clay, and pressed in the fossil to get an impression. Voila! Lovely. Next I poured wax into the impression, and let it cool.  I did not have the casting wax that they called for in the book- but thought -these are experiments. If it fails, ah well. (That is a lovely mind state to be in, and opens up many possibilities. You don't have that freedom with commissions....) 

Adhering it was a little tricky with the torch, and very close to the surface of the panel.  I did lose some detail- but overall was a successful cast I think! 

Now I needed to balance that high relief object out- so used a twig and some eucalyptus bark to do that.  Etched /inscribed some lines, and included a quote about how architecture mimics nature’s designs- very appropriate for that logarithmic spiral of the ammonite! Some staining to bring out the etching, and gonna call this puppy done!  
See it on my website