Saturday, December 31, 2016
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In my last post of 2016 I wanted to show you some petite robots that I recently made. I have a thing for robots and you can see a past robot project here. These little darlings were intended to be high end ornaments for a gallery. After all these years of working with metal and doing photo-etching, apparently, I still don't have a sense of how much time it will take to complete a project. While these robots were meant to sell for around $100 in a gallery, by the time I had the last rivet hammered into place, I had way too much time invested in them. I couldn't really afford to place them in the gallery, especially considering that I get 50% of the retail price. In the end, my two sisters each got a robot for Christmas and my friend, Zo, was gifted one on the solstice .... and lucky me .... I got to keep three.
BE SURE TO CLICK ON THIS IMAGE TO SEE THE PETITE ROBOTS LARGER AND IN ALL THEIR GLORY!
It's not shown in this photo but each robot was equipped with a chain, attached at the shoulders, for hanging on the tree or a wall. Mine will hang as a small group on the wall year round.
The petite robots measure approximately 6.5" tall x 2.5" wide (not including the chain). Each is photo etched, using salt water and a car battery charger, on either brass, copper or nickel. The arms and legs are made from tubing and everything is assembled with tiny rivets. A light coat of lacquer will keep tarnish at bay.
The petite robots and I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a sweet new year filled to overflowing with creativity, laughter, excellent health and a child-like wonder. We are surrounded by beauty all the time ... everyday ... let's open our eyes to it in 2017.
PS....I mentioned earlier in this post that my two sisters each received a robot for Christmas. I just received an email from my sister, Mary, who lives in TN. All her grown kids were home for the holidays and apparently the whole family had a grand time naming her robot. I love it that creativity on my part started this whole endeavor and then followed that little robot all the way to Tennessee where creativity continued in sorting out a name. Here is the email she sent me.
It turns out that the naming of a robot is no simple task. Like all important projects, we started with information gathering.
I had such fun watching the jar fill. I am including the list of names (in no particular order) in case you are ever faced with such a daunting task!
Robot E. Lee
Robot De Niro
Stuart, Stu-bot, or Steve
Ganlebot x 5
Rory the Robot
Andreas Weslean Leganza v2.0
Honestly, I could name a host of robots with these excellent names. I tried out a few several days at a time. I have several favorites. You can see what we settled on below.
Ulysses of Homer fame. It turns out there is an Ithaca connection in the history of Ulysses which makes it even more fun. (Mary's son , Andrew, is working on his graduate degree at Cornell in Ithaca.)
If you use any of these excellent names to name anything, please share it with us. Honestly, this is the best list ever from clever, fun, honest, loving people. Love to all, best wishes always, and Happy 2017
Friday, December 23, 2016
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STAYED TOO LONG IN THE CROOKED FOREST is the third and final piece I had in the GRIM(M) show in October at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts. We were asked to make work that had a distinct haunting feeling or had something to do with the darker side of the Grimm Brother's fairy tales. You can read more about the show and see my other two pieces in the two previous posts.
This is the image I used for the two young men who found themselves being absorbed back into the forest. This photo is by Costica Acsinte, a photographer in the early 1900's who lived in Slobozia. I am totally enamored with his photography of everyday people in his city/village. There is something so authentic and absorbing about the photos....that they are in the public domain and are copyright free is only a bonus.
And here is the photo of the crooked forest. I think I took this photo on a back road somewhere between Quilcene, WA and Shelton, WA. All the texture ... and various shades of green ... and little ferns popping up here and there were just what I was looking for. At first I tried to take a forest shot with all the trunks, via photoshop, having a slight bend in them to represent the crooked forest ... and then I came to my senses. The longer I practice art and the older I get, I realize that being literal is NOT what it is all about.....at least for me.
As with the other two pieces I made for this show, I printed with archival inks on thin gampi paper and then glued the paper down in a tiled pattern. Once everything was sealed with pva archival glue, I used cold wax as a final finish.
On the side of the cradleboard which measures 18" x 24" x 1.5" I made two brackets out of copper that each hold a test tube with a cork stopper. Inside the test tubes are specimens taken from the crooked forest. In real life I stepped outside to my old King apple tree, about 20 feet away, and selected two little twigs that were covered with lichen. I do like adding a little scientific/biological twist to things.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
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This is the second post about work I had in the October show at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts titled GRIM(M). You can read the previous post to learn more about the show.
This piece, THE BOG KEEPER AND HER DAUGHTER, is a favorite of mine. I am very fond of vintage photographs and am always looking for clean ... crisp ... copyright free images that I can use in my art. I was so excited to find the photographs of Costica Acsinte who had a photography studio in the early 1900's in Slobozia. His images are hauntingly beautiful ... and high contrast. Some look as though the chemicals weren't mixed exactly right because the borders of the photos are deteriorating away ... on others, the whole face is evaporating. I am so grateful that someone felt it was necessary to save these images in a digital form.
This is the original image I used for THE BOG KEEPER AND HER DAUGHTER. I think both of these women are exceedingly beautiful and if they were alive today, I hope they would approve of how I used them in my art.
This is a photo of butterburs that grow just beyond my french doors. These butterburs, one of my favorite plants, were the perfect background to blend in with the 2 women. I also blended in some photos of horsetail rushes that I photographed in our local ditches. Between the butterburs and the horsetails, I felt like the feeling of 'bog' was complete.
My whole idea around this piece was that the elderly, wise bog woman was passing on her knowledge to her daughter. Some of that knowledge was held in small amulets and talismans that hung freely from a copper rod attached to the bottom of the cradleboard.
These amulets and talismans were fun to make ... I found a snake skin in my woodpile ... the broken tip of an old fishing rod ... a vertebrae ... lichen in a small bottle ... a bell ... some beads ... etc.
I used the same technique as I did in my last post, tiling archival printed thin gampi paper using pva glue and then coating the whole piece with a cold wax to seal it.
Overall THE BOG KEEPER AND HER DAUGHTER measures 18" x 22" x 1.5.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
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In October I was asked to be part of a group show at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts titled GRIM(M). They were looking for either dark and haunting imagery or work that had something to do with the darker side of the Grimm Brother's fairy tales. I accepted the invitation right away but wondered for weeks what on earth I was going to make for this exhibition. I wouldn't describe my body of work as being dark ... or grim ... contemplative, maybe. I also thought about who would want to live with very haunting imagery on their walls on a daily basis. I continued to think about the theme and chewed on it most waking hours ... and sometimes in my dreams. Then some kind of transition happened in me ... I began to notice shadows and all the subtleties found in that darkness ... and the suggestion of stories that are not immediately obvious.
While I have worked primarily with photo etched metals the last several years, I wanted to try something different for this show. I enjoy photography and manipulating images in photoshop and thought that might be the springboard for me this time around. I asked Lindsay Masters, the director of Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, if I could photograph her with the intention of making her image be part of the Grim(m) show. Once she bravely said yes, I knew I was beginning a journey, not only into the darker side of things, but also a journey of new materials and new techniques.
Using Lindsay's image, I created MAKING PEACE WITH THE BONE TREE which measures 21.5" x 20" x 1.5". After days of messing around with photoshop, I blended Lindsay's image with some bare trees that I photographed at Rialto Beach on the Washington coast several years ago. I love the depth and shadows in this piece ... and the single visible eye looking to the side ... and the white bone-like structure of the central tree.
Once I was happy with the photoshop version, I printed the image using pigmented archival inks on thin Japanese gampi paper. I really wanted to achieve a tiled look so each image was printed on small squares of the gampi allowing for about a 1/4" overlap. I love how the overlaps are a bit darker and make the tiling more obvious. It was tricky glueing down each piece of very thin paper with pva archival glue and getting everything to line up as perfectly as possible ... a little bit like wrestling jellyfish.
It was so fun trying this new, to me, technique but I did want a little bit of my old voice, etched metal, to also be present. I etched a small brass door and hinged it in the lower right corner. I love doors in art and the slow reveal they contribute.
Inside the door is a small amulet and the words, " ... lay your burdens down ... lay your burdens down ...".
For the 'icing on the cake', I hammered some bent and rusty nails into the top of the cradleboard and with drippy paint, highlighted the tops of the nails. They sort of reiterate the white bone-like fingers of the bone tree.
This is my artists statement for the show ...
I hesitated, at first, when I was asked to be part of this show ... GRIM(M). My past body of work could not easily be described as dark ... but ... the more I got into it, the more I investigated the subtleties in the shadows ... the weaving of modern photography with vintage images ... a blending of science and the occult ... well ... then the story emerged ... the narrative ... the common denominator of all my work. Stay tuned ... but I think I will be leaning toward the dark side for a while now. A friend wrote to me saying, “These images make me go to some forgotten place in the hard to reach caverns of my subconscious, where Neptune rules, where time is warp and light is weft, and what is left is a kind of woven memory of myself, faded by dreams, or like reflections in the lake of clouds on an unclear day.” A big ‘thank you’ to my friend, Zo, for these words ... I couldn’t have said it better myself. -Shane Miller