January 22, 2014

Digital Portfolio: Fall 2013

Yesterday was supposed to be the first day of the spring semester but lucky for those of us who were not mentally prepared for classes to begin, there was enough snow to close campus after 11AM (even some of our earlier classes were cancelled). However, the beginning of each new semester means new studios which means I am presented with the question of  "what am I going to create to fulfill the assignment?" One of the things I like to do when approaching this topic is looking at my other work and seeing if I can find a common connection and thinking of how I can expand upon it for this new project. My most common theme between a vast majority of my work is nature. It's something we experience in some way every day and I constantly find myself incorporating or representing it when I look back at my work. Even though I didn't start my classes today as planned, I still started brainstorming for the assignments I already know about and I thought I would share some of my work from the past semester. Be prepared for a very lengthy post as I will also discuss details of my process in creating these pieces. 
Self-Portrait Collage: This was another one of my photography projects that I decided to save for this post because it fits in the nature theme. For this assignment we had to use a scanner to collect imagery to create a collage that was descriptive of us in some way. Another requirement for this project was to print on an alternate substrate, in other words, something other than photo paper.  I had a really hard time thinking of objects to scan but I kept coming back to these fabric leaves I had in my stash of supplies. I decided to try to make a sheet of "paper" out of these leaves by gluing each one of them together. The print ended up being about 13.5"x 19" and composed of a little less than 200 leaves. Going into the printing of this one was extremely nerve-racking because I didn't know if the ink would set properly, luckily it did. Each piece of this collage is meaningful to me in some way.
Pyramid Luminary: I took my first Art History course this past semester and it covered early cave paintings to parts of the Renaissance period. The time period that stuck with me the most was the Egyptian. This has always been one of my favorite periods to study so it really didn't come as a surprise when I decided to create a pyramid slab box for my ceramics class. I decided to make the box a luminary by carving a more modern damask pattern on all three sides. For the finish, I wanted create the look of the shiny limestone finish as it was aging like the great pyramids might have looked  years ago. I wanted to create something functional that showed things I learned in my art history class while also adding a modern element to fit my style. 
Nature Mugs: Three of the assignments for my ceramics class were to create mugs. We were required to hand in a hand built mug (left), a thrown mug (right), and an artist's mug (not pictured). 
In creating my hand built mug, I had a really hard time deciding what I actually wanted to do with it. I didn't just want to make a standard cylindrical mug with a standard handle. I started thinking about all sorts of ideas but the one I kept coming back to was a tree mug. I made the standard mug shape but added some knots and lines for bark to make this typical shape into something less ordinary.
Throwing on the wheel is just not something I am very, well, good at. I'm clumsy and the wheel is not great for clumsy people. However, I don't let silly things like lack of coordination stop me from trying. I got this decent sized mug one day while I was practicing so I decided to go with it and gave it a little feather handle to stick with my nature theme.
For the artist's mug we were required to choose an artist and create a mug that would be consistent with their style of work and we had to use an alternate finish- something other than glaze. To complete this assignment, I chose Salvador Dali and The Persistence of Memory (the melting clocks) as my inspiration. I created a melting cup that actually curves over the edge of a block of wood as if gravity is pulling it down. It was finished in a high gloss black spray paint to make give it the appearance of melting plastic. This piece is currently on display in the art building so I was unable to photograph it for this post. 
Toadstool Sculpture: My sculpture assignment for my ceramics studio required a lot of thought for what I wanted to create. I was thinking how fun it would be to have a larger than life toadstool in my room just to bring a little more of the outdoors in. The sculpture had to be hollow to ensure it wouldn't blow up in the kiln. I constructed the cap by piecing together bits of slab inside a very large bowl and smoothed the inside and outside to prevent cracking and when it was dry enough, I placed the cap on another piece of slab to create the base of the cap. To create the stalk, I used the coil extractor to produce very thick coils which I stacked and smoothed. The cap and stalk had to sit for a few days to stiffen before putting them together to prevent warping. This gave me time to think about what else I could add to my toadstool. I had recently become infatuated with Monarch butterflies and decided that was what I wanted to add to my sculpture. After the assembly, I decided to add the gills to the underside of the cap for realism (not pictured). Once this was fired, I used alternate finishing materials, spray paint, acrylic paint hot glue, and a pipe cleaner. The mushroom was spray painted using four different colors, thanks to my dad. The scale (little white bumps) were created using dots of hot glue and watered down acrylic paint. The butterfly was painted using acrylic paints and a little pipe cleaner body was added to mimic a butterfly's fuzzy torso. This sculpture stands about 9" high if measured to the tip of the butterfly's wings and about 8" wide if measured by the cap.
Flower Hairpin: The first assignment for Intro to Metals was to create a fastener. I had no idea what type of fastener I wanted to create so I just sketched ten ideas without thinking into what they would potentially become. My teacher chose this flower to be the strongest sketch and we discussed fasteners and settled for a hair pin. This hair pin is two pieces of 16 gauge copper sheet metal sweat soldered to give depth as well as to add structural strength. The pin was made with a piece of 8 gauge wire formed and forged to slide through the back loops and stay put. This piece measures about 3 1/2" by 3 1/2" not including the pick which is 5" long.
Feather Cuff: The second assignment for my metals studio was to create a piece with a set stone. I went to the bookstore to pick out a stone before beginning my sketches to give me a starting point. I decided to go with a turquoise stone which also helped me decide I was going to work with nickel silver. I began my sketches and one of the early ones was this feather cuff. I don't know what it is but when I sketch out my ideas I tend to get fixated on one and can't think of anything else. I had to made this simplified feather cuff part of my jewelry collection. I sawed out the feather from a piece of 18 gauge sheet metal and began filing and rounding all of the edges. Then I soldered on a piece of 16 gauge wire to act as the quill before I formed the sheet metal into a cuff shape. Once it was formed, the tricky part began, filing down the bezel to match up perfectly with the shape of the cuff to hold the stone. I love the simplicity of the feather with a little added embellishment of the stone.
Butterfly Box: The final two projects for metals were hollow construction and linkage. I decided to try to tackle both assignments with one project (which was an option) and came up with this box shaped like a butterfly where the hinge acts as the body. As I said before, I was seriously infatuated with butterflies. The trickiest part of creating this box was creating the sides of the boxes which had to be perfectly aligned with the base. This part of the project probably took me about two weeks (four classes) to get perfectly aligned and soldered together. I decided to use a piece of copper tubing to create the hinge and instead of a typical hinge where the pin doesn't stick out much, I used two pieces of wire to mimic the butterfly's antennae and a fancy abdomen. This piece measures 4" wide at its longest point and 1 1/2" tall and was made of 18 gauge copper sheet.

Thank you so much for stopping by! 

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