Thursday, September 10, 2009

Helping a friend and making messes in my studio

Yesterday I tried to upload photos to Blogger showing my day, but Blogger had other ideas. So, this was my day two days ago.
My friend Scott wanted help organizing, and if you could see his house, you would know why he asked. While I was there, part of his kitchen ceiling fell in from the over 5 1/2" of rain we got that day.

Mostly, he wanted to play with his computer, rather than anything else, so that was when I knew I was a real artist and took my self seriously. If I couldn't work and do productive things (that didn't include scooping the ceiling off the stove), I could be more productive at home in my studio.

It wasn't much over four or so hours later that I asked another helper, Rob, to bring my home.

Once home, the first thing I did was check my basement. Although there was water in the basement, it didn't make it into my studio. So, what better way to keep an eye on the water than to work there.
The first thing I did was "surgery" on the stemmed glasses I was frustrated over when Kathy, Dana, and I tried to make "Faeries under glass." We scored, we whacked, and nothing happened. Then I wrote the woman whose technique I had seen in both Altered Arts and Somerset. She said we had done everything right, just had not whacked it hard enough. So, after scoring (which did NO good at all, I covered the glass with a towel and whacked it with a hammer. I whacked three times before I actually got the glass to break.

Ironically, yesterday I saw a technique that involves first scoring the piece, then taking a butane torch to it, then dunking it in water. Now that all three of the long stems are cut, I may try that way with the last six that I didn't mess with!
I wrapped and bagged each of the pieces which I will give to Dana and Kathy the next time we get together. As an aside, my brand new nippers didn't help at all, because I couldn't get any leverage on the stems. I used my trusty antique whisk broom to clean up the glass shards left from breaking the pieces.

While in the basement, I decided to delve into the fine art of batik without even exploring the materials I needed. I did this because Dana had loaned me her tjanting (tool you fill with hot wax and write on fabric). Jumping in is sometimes fun, sometimes spontaneous, and sometimes STUPID. Guess which time this was!!!

I still had a tiny amount of lovely golden beeswax I didn't want to mix with paraffin, so decided to heat it and remove it from the crock.

While heating the beeswax, I got my supplies together, at least the ones stored in my basement studio. From left: paraffin, white beeswax, a tuna tin (for capturing the natural beeswax after it melted), cardboard circle, the tjanting, and my hand formed metal pieces which will be used to "stamp" wax on the material.

Another view of the materials. Then it was off to my upstairs studio while the beeswax melted.

I cut some of the journal pages Kathy gave me on Friday to 6" X 6" for a new project. I began with a yellow acrylic background,

then used another cardboard circle as a mask for the two purple acrylics I blended over the yellow. While this was drying, I stretched some material over that shadowbox I was unhappy with. Better to use it for something useful, since it was going nowhere as a shadowbox.

Then it was back to the basement to check on the wax. Who needs a stair master when I can get my exercise just doing art? With me I brought the stretched material on the shadow box (far left), "peel and seal" to line the tuna tin, two wood touch up pens (between the crock pot and the tjanting), and extra material (far right). I was ready to jump head first into this project.

I was truly hoping the peel and seal would hold up under the heat of the hot beeswax. But before I traded the beeswax out, I wanted to finish a project I started last month.

It all came together when I got these cool sticks FREE at Mrs.O'Leary's last Friday. I cut one down and left one long for placement.

Sadly they were both too long for the little Paper Whimsey girl. And yes, I've just about used every image on that sheet!

When I had the size and placement I wanted, I colored the "fence" with two wood touch up pens I've had for years.

I added the wax, but got way too much on it. That little clover iron of Kathy's would sure come in handy about now!! It's back to the shelf until it cools and I can "rework it. I'm also not impressed with the "light brown" at the top of the fences. I think I'll remove them and color the next ones all with one color.

Now it was time to see if I could pull off saving the beeswax in a way I could easily reheat it. With fingers and toes crossed, it was hard to pour, so I just went with gut feel that it would work.

Yea. Victory and the peel and seal did not melt. Happy dance was happening about then.

Now it was time to start over with white beeswax

and paraffin I split using an awl. If I had been really precise, I would have weighed both pieces, but I went by gut feel. I did that a LOT that day.

Now it was time to play the waiting game again while the slow heating crock pot did its thing.

Although I didn't take any more photos of the project I'm working on (still), I spent time in my upstairs studio painting a few backgrounds.
Then it was back to the basement, where I tried to fill the tjanting. Before I could even get it filled, the wax had cooled and made a mess inside it. What to do?

After checking that the natural colored beeswax had cooled, I put it away, unplugged the crock pot and went up to search the internet for my problem with the tjanting. I never did find out how to keep the wax in the tjanting hot, but on one site I learned you had to use cold immersion dyes, not RIT, which is all I have. So, looks like batik will have to wait for another day. At least I have the wax all ready to go.

I'm sure that I could have used the tools I made, but I still wouldn't have been able to dye anything. At this point I was tired, cranky, and frustrated. It was better to save this project for another time, since I'd spent enough time experimenting for one day.
Lessons learned:
1. Research any new technique before jumping into it.
2. Know how to use the tools before you begin.
3. Have the proper materials for the task.

I hope you learn from my mistakes.

2 thoughtful remarks:

Dianne said...

Even on a challenging day you seem to accomplish so much! and then share what you've learned with us...thank you!...looking forward to seeing how that "shadow box" ends up.

~*~Magpie's Nest said...

I must agree with Dianne Elizabeth, you are amazing! and I learn so much from you!