Weeks 14 and 15

We have had some unseasonably warm weather, and this, together with the clocks going forward, seems to have improved my motivation. ‘Untitled’ and ‘Great Art?’ are now finished. In the case of ‘Great Art?’ – now retitled ‘Earth to Earth’ – it is not only finished but gone, after a short but adventurous life. I took the dipyramids on a day trip to the seaside where they had a paddle – and in some cases a swim from which they did not return.

After bringing those that had not escaped home, and drying them out, I attempted to burn them. My intention was to have a bonfire on the drive, but they were reluctant to cooperate, so I ended up using  and old barbecue and some lighter fluid, for a short but satisfying bonfire.

Now all I have left are the ashes.

‘Untitled’ also had a brief trip outside, but will not be staying there though these pieces all seem to look at their best outside.

I have also made progress with ‘Saga’ – innumerable brochure pages have been rolled. ‘Saga’ makes me think of age and story telling as well as travel, and I have been thinking about how to get that into the piece. When finished, it may go outside to mature, but it has had premature ageing with some sandpaper. I am also experimenting with discolouring the rather bright white pages – I have tried the ‘natural’ colours of coffee, tea and walnut ink of different forms, without much success, so may have to resort to Brusho.   I am also thinking of adding the accrued crud of ages through the entirely artificial means of filigree fluid and embossing powder. [I knew all that sampling at the beginning would come in useful.]

While sitting sanding ‘Saga’ I thought about the relationship between names and what I do to the tubes. For example ‘Chronicle’ has all sorts of resonances which my two versions, made very early on in this series, don’t reflect. My next step may be to make ‘Chronicle 3’ with a little more thought – although there is the problem that the name has similar resonances to ‘Saga’. Perhaps ‘Guardian’? – newspaper names seem to lend themselves to my work – although there are some papers I could never bring myself to buy, even for the sake of art.

On a completely different topic, after discussing the business plan with Sue on the last day of term, I have started thinking about writing it. Sue agreed that rather than a complete plan, we could write an outline of what we would need to include if we were to write a full one. So I have Googled and mind mapped – and ended up more confused than when I started. It is possible to have too much information. However, it is a start – and provided my motivation survives the disappearance of the lovely weather, I intend to sort it out over the holidays.

Week 13: progress on all fronts…

with the Mac – [particularly with iPhoto, which to someone used to Picasa is a real challenge] with ‘Great Art?’ and ‘Untitled’.

I finished the 25 dipyramids, and have started the series of photographs inspired by the elements – air, and some earth. ‘Air’ must have been entertaining for the neighbours – first I scrambled about in the hedge hanging up the dipyramids – and then I got down to ground level to take their photographs from as close to underneath them as I could get.

It was difficult to see the camera screen because of the bright sunlight. Then I deleted the video I’d shot because I thought iPhoto had downloaded it, as Picasa would have done – and it hadn’t, I should have used iMovie. And I took the dipyramids out of the trees before I realised.

I wasn’t going to take any ‘Earth’ photos today, but the evening light was so good I was tempted. My assistant agreed.

“Untitled’ is nearly finished – just a few more rows of raised chain band and a decision about how to display it.

So, not a bad week, even though I lost two days to some unexpected baby sitting – fun, but exhausting. And I’ve had an idea for another piece, to be called ‘Saga’ – at last  a use for the endless holiday brochures.

Week 12.

Some progress has been made this week – I rolled about 300 tubes from an old ‘Great Art’ catalogue, and did rather a lot of raised chain band over 50 brown paper tubes.

The catalogue was on its way into the bin when I realised that it would solve my problem about adding colour – the pages are mostly white, but the tubes have little flashes of colour where the illustrations show. I was also amused at the idea of adopting my usual naming policy and calling the piece ‘Great Art’ – or possibly ‘Great Art?’  I had intended to spend today making up the tubes into dipyramids – but I have been distracted into playing wrestling with my birthday present, a Mac. As a confirmed PC user, I have undergone something of a steep learning curve.

During the week I came across the work of Lauren Scanlon, who uses recycled romance novels, carrying out what she calls ‘ritual transformations’ on them, involving earth [burying them] air [making paper cuts from the covers] water [turning them into hand-made paper] and fire – which is obvious. I have been thinking about trying a similar idea with ‘Great Art’, but with different processes – starting from earth and returning to earth via the ashes of the burnt structures. So I’d better get on and make them.

The embroidered piece, so far untitled, is an exploration of making an indoor piece, and using stitch more intensively than I have so far. The problem is the intensity – one line of stitch uses 5 metres of thread and takes an hour, and I find it boring, so it only gets done when there is something on the TV which I can listen to more than watch – which rules out my favourite foreign language detective series.  But both pieces are making steady progress and will make more when the novelty of the Mac wears off.

Weeks 10 & 11: Good Intentions.

I had plans for these two weeks – using the college session on Wednesday to make tubes which I could use in experimental pieces on the subsequent free days I thought I had.

I hadn’t realised that Terrie had planned a workshop for Wednesday, which was quite useful – especially her ideas on colouring paper should I decide to do so – but of course it put back my plans.

I did manage to make a couple of experimental pieces on Thursday – but on Friday and Saturday we  were called in for emergency baby sitting after my daughter-in-law went down with norovirus.  Then, as I expected, I got it as well.  Although the worst of it was over within 12 hours, the after-effects left me with little energy.

Enough of the excuses. I managed to put together a few samples for the peer review with Mel, which was very helpful – the advice was to keep going, abandon Prayer Flags which I have been increasingly unhappy with [still like the idea, didn’t like the execution], and forget about  making books as they wouldn’t add anything.

Mel also suggested I try to find some natural paints and dyes to colour the pieces, as I liked the look of a 3D piece I coloured with Brusho, but felt there was no artistic justification for what I’d done.  Thanks to the wonders of Google,  I have managed to track down some naturally coloured watercolours, and some oak gall and walnut ink-  made with real walnuts, not the fake stuff generally available. As I am now feeling a bit more energetic, I hope to start experimenting with those when they arrive.