Saturday, 29 March 2014

Workshops - Making Papier-Mâché Shoes

Papier-Mâché Shoes 
workshops this year - details to follow 
I make all sorts of different kinds of things with papier-mâché - I like to experiment and push the boundaries of what might be possible. 
For example - papier-mâché shoes - copies of historic foot ware -
The shoe above is Delftware, made in the 18th century. They were often given as gifts between friends and lovers.
Or the above - a brocade shoe from the 18th century. in point of fact a pair of Marie Antoinette’s shoes - below, in green and pink striped silk sold at auction in 2012 for £39,500!
It would be interesting to make a papier-mâché version and at the same time look into the history, not only of court shoes but also the shoes of the shoes of the revolutionary working women and make a pair of these -
Incidentally, a blog, called Two Nerdy History Girls can be found here
I like to recreate interesting shoes in papier-mâché and shall be running workshops showing how to make them, starting later this year, also I will post some tutorials on My YouTube Channel
My photos to follow. 
But now I shall divert my attention to the extraordinary world of Isabelle de Borchgrave, in this instance making some of her own quite wonderful papier-mâché shoes.


(The above photo is from Isabelle de Borchgrave's studio.) 
I nearly always paint on paper or card and then cut into strips, sometime I then crumple it and smooth it out. This technique is great to use on shoes - just as I do in my jewellery making. This gives lovely details and helps to do the more delicate work needed on shoe making.  I also paint on Japanese rice paper, tracing paper
and blotting paper etc - in fact too many to mention in detail here. I will compile a list sometime - the point being - they all have different qualities to explore and develop.

Inadvertent shot of my apron! I usually begin by gathering together my ideas - colours, textures, moods etc from all my references from when I'm in my favourite places - Venice, Paris, London, Côte d'Azur, Capri, Pompeii,
Cornwall and when mooching around at home in Devon. I have sketchbooks, notes, photographs, videos, samples of papers,
fabrics and endless curious and found objects. They are all to hand in my studio.
I recently saw this sash on a dress by paper artist Isabelle de Borchgrave on YouTube - if, by chance you have never heard of her - click on her link and explore her quite incredible skill. 
This is a section a sash from one of her pieces -
It reminds me so much of a detail from some of the many paintings I've done over the years and also of one I'm working on at the moment. I often start off by painting in acrylic size then adding silver leaf or silver foil first of all - it's painting 'blind' in many ways and brings an added degree of freedom that I like. After gilding, I paint the blues - indigo, cerulean, cobalt and turquoise around them, on top of chalky and titanium tinted whites. I work often with acrylic inks - they over paint nicely on top of foils and resist silver leaf. These remind me of the full moon on the Mediterranean at night. I am in fact working on a collection - The Full Moon in Springtime. There's rather a lot of synchronicity going on in my life at present.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Making resin rough cut diamonds and sapphires.

I am about to make a necklace using lots of the papier-mache baroque pearls that I make - 
To which I will add some faux - that is made with epoxy resin - rough cut gems - I add acrylic ink to get the right colours. I spotted this necklace and thought I could develop the idea -
These are faceted beads, I tend to prefer the rough cut ones. I am starting with faux rough cut diamonds and papier-mache baroque pearls and may well work my way through the mineral kingdom!
they look like this -
Some papier-mache baroque pearls could also have colour added to resemble these -
rough cut raw sapphires are like this and papier-mache 
pearls below. I think it could work with a few adjustments. Below is the real thing - uncut sapphires.

And here are the prototypes for the sapphire molds - just simple pieces of gravel.












So first things first - I pondered how to make the actual shapes of the resin 'diamonds' and 'sapphires' for a moment or two and then realized that there was plenty of gravel outside my studio - I could make molds from that. I chose some different sizes and washed them in a plastic cup with washing up liquid, shaking vigorously. 
It would probably be better to pop them in the cutlery holder in a dishwasher, alas an appliance I don't have in my studio, in fact there's only just enough room for me and I still haven't got everything in yet. Need more shelves.
Stones now washed and dried. I work on tiles or sheets of glass as a rule when doing things like this. There are extensive renovations being done here at Seale Hayne. The old student accommodation from the days when Seale Hayne was an agricultural college is being improved to make comfortable rooms for guests and for people coming to do workshops here. As a result there are plenty of off cuts of tiles in the skip!
I use a two part epoxy molding paste called Silligum to make my molds. The process involves mixing blue and white together.           
You have to work quite quickly as the mixed paste cures within 4 minutes. It will then remain usable and flexible almost indefinitely. 





April Workshops at Hannahs at Seale-Hayne in South Devon

Papier-mâché with printmaking - two crafts for the price of one in April, May and June 2014.

I am embarking on a series of workshops at Hannah's at Seale-Hayne The first ones will be in collaboration with a fellow artist - Sara Gilbert
Sara is a print maker and painter who works in a variety of mediums. So Sara will be explaining and demonstrating lino cutting, showing how to make images that can stand alone or be coloured in a variety of ways. I will be demonstrating mold making using Plaster of Paris and a product known as Silligum that can be used to make repeatable air dried clay reliefs that can be added to the papier-mâché platters or bowls. 
We will be dividing the day into three sessions and be working alternately with half a group each and having the third session as the time to assemble and finish. I'll be showing how to make papier-mâché platters and show 'some I made earlier'. I'll be using pre-made hanging basket liners as we'll never have the papier-mâché pieces ready to actually work on on the day because of drying times, if we had to make them all. The relief work can be dried in 20 seconds in a microwave so we'll have one of these to hand. They can then be glued onto the work.
Sara will be showing how to make various types of prints on Japanese rice and other papers and you will be able to make cards from your lino cuts as well.
I will also demonstrate some gilding and finishing techniques. We can take between 10 and 12 people in the Art Room. The cost will be £60 including materials, tea, coffee, biscuits etc. Really excellent food and barista coffee can be bought from the Bistro or you can bring your own lunch. There is also a very good Takeaway too. The workshops will initially run on the second Saturday in April, May and June. The series of photos here show how a platter can be developed. This is just one way - there are far too many to show!
We have lots of ideas for future ones too. Sara also runs independent printmaking workshops from her studio. I am planning some similar daytime sessions with just a couple of people at a time from my studio in The North Wing at Seale-Hayne. We are both planning evening classes as well. Below is a very simple bowl made with papier-mache
to which has been added a lino cut of a periwinkle printed on Japanese rice paper. The blues/turquoises have been painted with acrylic inks on the base and the deckle edges gilded with silver leaf.
I'm also developing more in depth workshops in 2015 that will be held in various locations in the town and the country and I'll be calling them Town and Country Workshops - naturally! They will be held in peoples homes - homes that will be able to host them will have either a large kitchen or workshop/studio with heating in the form of an Aga, Rayburn or similar for drying the work where necessary. They will also be held in Village Halls and small Hotels. They will be running as half day, one day and two day workshops. I shall be inviting other artist/crafts people to teach as well so that there will be a wide range of skills to choose from. The idea is to have a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting time and to meet like minded people in a homely environment. I used to run such workshops in the 1990's from my cottage in Herefordshire that I was renovating, as you may be able to imagine from the short film that the BBC commissioned of my work.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

March 2014 - part 2

photo by meldenius
An introduction to papier-mâché and print making workshops at Seal-Hayne South Devon.

I'm also developing more in depth workshops in 2015 that will be held in various locations in the town and the country and I'll be calling them Town and Country Workshops - naturally! They will be held in peoples homes - homes that will be able to host them will have either a large kitchen or workshop/studio with heating in the form of an Aga, Rayburn or similar for drying the work where necessary. They will also be held in Village Halls and small Hotels. They will be running as half day, one day and two day workshops. I shall be inviting other artist/crafts people to teach as well so that there will be a wide range of skills to choose from. The idea is to have a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting time and to meet like minded people in a homely environment. I used to run such workshops in the 1990's from my cottage in Herefordshire that I was renovating, as you may be able to imagine from the short film that the BBC commissioned of my work. 
I want to add some videos as a basic introduction to how I make my papier-mâché jewellery resemble enamel. As I say in the video, I've been developing the process for over 25 years so I've ironed out lots of problems that believe me, you will be able to benefit from. Also my approach seems to be quite unique and you will have great fun developing your own style and of course, I am always very happy to share my ideas, discoveries and the things that I find inspiring. It also saves you lots of time. For example, it can be so off putting when for example your pieces are plagued with hundreds of tiny and not so tiny bubbles etc. I've encountered all the problems imaginable and also found the solutions. These videos however are more by way of an introduction and I'll be doing longer, more in depth ones later on. I will also be running workshops from my studio at Seale-Hayne in Devon









Saturday, 1 March 2014

March 2014 part 1

Mad as a March Hare - I shall be out looking for boxing hares this month as Bella and I take our early morning walks. This is such a brilliant photo - most likely they are German hares and also, not alas taken by me but from - https://naturfotografen-forum.de
Spring seems to have arrived here in Devon, the trees are changing colour, fiery oranges and moody purples and sometimes when the early sunshine makes pools of light, even pale creamy beige is made magical against grey and indigo. The Ash trees are calling to be painted. I love the young ones with droopy spiky dried leaves and again in the Spring when they are tinged with purple. 
 

In my imagination, I can see a row of them leading from an old wooden gate into a meadow and down a valley to the sea. The early morning air is soft misty lavender, the grass in shadows is icy frosted but the tips of the Ash trees are holding both last years dried seeds and the new year's purple new buds - all blending, shifting and dispersing in the air like an aura. 
I live deep in the Devon countryside and love to follow the river Dart from high up on Dartmoor at its quiet beginnings -
all the way down to the point where it finally meets the sea -
Now is the time of wild primroses, violets and celandines
snowdrops and wild daffodils
wood anemones
crocuses
pussy willow -
and catkins
And painting outside without freezing or being soaked to the skin.
I've been driving up onto Dartmoor in the early mornings and the late afternoons to paint. The first day I forgot brushes so used the tip of the watercolour and gouache tubes as the way of applying the colour, just gently squeezing the paint to the tip. The metal edge also adds marks - delicate traces. White acrylic gesso was applied with fingers.
I've made brushes from twigs and moss previously when I forgot brushes but then I had tubes of acrylic or pots of ink with me. I really like the results and see the work will take me further into my own signature style that has been evolving over the years. Again it reflects my interest in fragmentation, which doesn't surprise me.
So I took a look on the Internet to see if anyone else was on a similar tack. I couldn't find anyone painting with watercolour tube tips but really using oil paint sticks, oil pastels and/or chalk pastel can take you down a similar path. It was here that I rediscovered Wolf Kahn


“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity” -  Alberto Giacometti
Review by Stephen May
Addison/Ripley Fine Art, Washington, D.C.
Still going strong at 86, Wolf Kahn continues to work from nature, intent on representing its universal elements while imbuing his canvases with a specific sense of place. While repeatedly depicting familiar New England landscapes—verdant fields and forests, serene horizons, and sturdy houses and barns nestled among rolling hills—Kahn handles each subject with an appealing spontaneity that keeps every composition fresh. This show brought together 30 oil paintings and pastels, most of them created during the last few years, all of which proved that the German-born American painter has lost none of his flair for intuitive, sensual color.
Kahn’s unconventional use of color often involves brilliant hues that appear to result from rays of sun filtering through stands of spindly trees. In Long Yellow and Silvery Gray (both 2013), chalky trees contrast with a light-suffused, yellow-green setting. Wooded Slice of Nature (2011) features purplish trees set against a verdant backdrop of greenery dappled by sunny patches beneath a grayish sky. In each canvas, the eclectic color combinations and luminous light capture the essence of the landscape, drawing viewers into a world that is both recognizable and ethereal.
And these are rather lovely shots from his studio -
When I am working, especially late into the evening, I love to play this piece by Richard Addinsell.
  
You may or may not know that I also make lots of free video tutorials for my YouTube Channel. I hope that they will enable you to share in my creative adventures. My method is simply to record what I'm doing as I'm working in my studio, or where ever I happen to be, explaining to you as I go along as if you were with me. There is minimal planning and quite a few experiments that usually work out well plus a few mistakes that are par for the course. As yet I still haven't worked out how to edit so it really is how it really is!
My banner - above - is a photo I took in Pompeii of a deer in flight from her hunters. I feel a deep empathy with her as I am sure that many creative and independent people do too.
I have tweaked it quite a bit in photo-shop to brighten the colours to the point where I think they would have originally looked. Actually I think that they probably look better here than they would have originally as there is also the added beauty of ageing and its inherent patina.
My own work sometimes follows a similar line as below
in that I love layers, flashes, twists, swirls of colours that hardly touch the surface and yet in fact are emerging from the depths. I also love fragments - that process by which I for one have understood this world. 
We gather information in bits, quite literally nowadays. We each try to make sense of all these fragments of information, of personal conditioning and try to construct a whole by which we define our lives.
It is simply because of this understanding that I break down my own paintings into fragments and make them into jewellery. I like the fact that they have lives of their own now after being bought or received as gifts and that they are scattered throughout the world.
Fragments once more, doing their work, suggesting and reminding people of their own understandings and their own sense of wholeness.

This 'whole' is constantly evolving if we are lucky and keep our eyes open, otherwise we can get enmeshed in dogma and stop developing our own unique blueprint.
My background image - the so called skin of my blog is from a poster for an exhibition I saw in the South of France. It appears to have been painted in gouache.

I love everything about it - the dreamlike subtle narrative, the Japanese two dimensional and slightly impressionistic quality and most of all the palette  of faded, sun bleached Mediterranean colours - so important to consider and know your palette before painting. McNeill Wistler knew this only too well and would always teach his students that considering your palette before you paint is the most important step.
As I said, I've been driving up onto Dartmoor in the early mornings and the late afternoons to paint. The colours above reflect the colours early mornings that are slowly coming into being there - misty and muted but full of the promise of life.
The weather has been irresistible and I feel I can take the time out from my studio work as I'm always awake early, often well before 4.30am. That's usually my time for writing, reading, researching, social media etc but showered, dressed and tucked back up on my bed with the cat and my laptop but as soon as I hear the first notes of the dawn chorus
through the open window I'm out of the door.  I like long days, the longer, the better. 

When it was raining such a lot last spring I took some photos through the car windscreen of the trees and fields beyond. Reminders for how to look at landscape for me for later.

 

Whilst in London after a disappointing visit to the Saachi Gallery I noticed these Plane tree seeds. I was collecting them to make molds for jewellery and additions to bowls. Inspiration at my feet.

At the Courtauld, I took a series of detail close ups or in my vocabulary - fragments. It is such an intimate gallery and so friendly and I do appreciate being able to get so close to the brush work and take photographs. Great cafe too.



Daffodils - narcissus is one of my favourite fragrances - bunch of at The Selvedge Magazine exhibition at Chelsea Town Hall and cast metal beautifully stylised bunch seen in a cafe window in Newlyn in Cornwall. Need to research who,when and how this/these were made.
















Cast metal tree with birds - blackbirds singing in the dawn or evensong perhaps that I found on a cottage wall on The Lizard in Cornwall.
 
I've been busy making batches of papier-mâché pulp and forming Plaster of Paris molds for workshops. This is yet another process that I find I love doing. Again there are all sorts of variations in how to go about it. Not being particularly fond of precise measurements, I use a method that I learnt at Art School many moons ago, called The Island Method. I will ad my own videos but in the meantime these cover the basics very well.




 photo by meldenius

) Then when the molds are dry they must be sealed with a few coats of Shellac. When working with papier-mâché, simply because we are using copious amounts of glue, the plaster batts do need to be sealed. When working with clay, they are left unsealed in order to help absorb moisture. I also use a release agent.
Reuse of uncontaminated plaster of Paris can be accomplished by breaking the set plaster into small pieces, placing it in an old roasting pan and reheating it to its melting point -- 325 degrees Fahrenheit -- to remove water. When the material can easily be crushed into powder it is ready for reuse. Complete the process away from other projects and follow recommended safety precautions - wearing goggles for eye protection, a face mask to prevent inhalation of dust particles and gloves to prevent skin irritation.
























 
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