As I stated in my last posting, I am trying to get back to some bronze pieces that have just been languishing in the studio waiting to be completed. Two years ago I began a piece that involved the creation of 8 small (the longest is 5") carrying cases (see my blog posts for 1/24/16, 2/12/16, 3/30/16, and 5/12/16)...a suitcase, a rolling suitcase, a guitar case, an attache case, a "soft-sided" suitcase, a box tied with string, and a "paper" bag with a folded down top. After making the waxes, and casting them in bronze, I wasn't sure what sort of a base they should go on, so they were put aside while I worked on other projects.
Fast forward to 2018 and, lo and behold, a chance find on ebay provided the solution! I had been searching wooden boxes, thinking that something along that line might make a suitable base for the bronze baggage. Up popped an old empire style wooden box that immediately grabbed my attention. The size seemed to be right - it was 11" wide, 7 1/2" deep and 8 inches high, and it had enough age and character to make it interesting on its own. Once it arrived I assessed its condition. I removed the lid (it had worm hole damage that had been repaired with a light colored wood filler) and the hinges (I knew the weight of the bronze pieces would make a hinged lid impractical). I made a new lid out of a piece of Brazilian Cherry. I applied a light coat of walnut stain to make the lid color better match the base color. I also added a smaller piece of wood
on the underside of the lid to stabilize the lid in the opening of the box. I used a fine sanding sponge on the exterior of the box to even out the surface imperfections, and then coated the box and the lid with satin polyurethane.
The next step was to attach the baggage pieces to the lid. I arranged the baggage on a piece of styrofoam to finalize spacing and determine where holes would need to be drilled in the lid to accommodate the attachment posts on the underside of each piece of baggage. I used tracing paper to transfer the hole placement locations to the new lid, and then drilled the the marked holes to a depth of about 1/2". The final step was to attach each piece in the appropriate hole with 5-minute epoxy. I was very happy with the completed piece. The patina on the baggage gives it an aged look that goes well with the look of the box base, and I feel that the box serves as the last "case" in this composition of carrying cases. I won't go into all my thoughts about all of the "baggage" most of us carry around with us - the box will simply provide a new place to put it!
'Unintended Baggage' ..... complete
Gearing Up For Maine's Art Show Season at Saltwater Artists
Preparations are underway for the beginning of the upcoming art show season at Saltwater Artists Gallery in New Harbor. We will soon be setting up for our Memorial Day opening, and look forward to seeing our work displayed under the new track lighting that we had installed throughout the gallery over the winter. If you are headed to Maine this summer, stop by!
a length of threaded rod that could be screwed into the hole in the bottom of the figure and reach through both disks to the back of the piece of marble. I put epoxy in the hole in the bottom of the figure before I screwed the rod into it. (I did this to keep the rod from "backing out" when I tightened the nut at the other end.) The final step was to thread the other base pieces onto the rod and then tighten the nut onto the end of the rod.
First "cold case" of 2018 solved! On to the next!
"Moonrunner" ... sealed & assembled
Mother Nature has graciously provided me with a bit of unencumbered time (courtesy of her latest Nor'easter blizzard) to get together a new posting. Of course, my time will only be unencumbered until the depth of snow necessitates my braving the elements to clear a pathway to the woodpile. Fingers crossed that the power stays on!
After making 2 each of the four different molds, I dried the castings and then trimmed any irregularities on their edges. I also filled and sanded any surface imperfections. I then experimented with various arrangements of the 3"x3" castings, trying to get a composition that had an interesting distribution of circles, squares and the varying elevations. The next step was to paint each casting with the graphite acrylic, and then prepare the matting materials.
I cut 3 different pieces of matboard (2 white and 1 red) and a piece of foamcore board to fit into a 14" x 14" black Nielsen metal frame. I cut an opening in the foamcore board that corresponded to the outside measurements of the casting arrangement, and an identical opening in the piece of red matboard. I used an angled mat cutter to cut a slightly larger beveled opening in a piece of the white matboard. Before I attempted to assemble the mats, I made one final change in the arrangement of the castings. I decided to reverse the order of the 2 bottom right castings, so that there wouldn't be a circular element in both of the righthand corners of the design.
I became a member of the gallery in 2016. As a co-operative gallery, all of our 25 members take turns "sitting the gallery" during the season - answering questions from our visitors, processing sales, answering the phone, and so on. This was a new experience for me, and I found that it not only gave me the opportunity to get more familiar with the work of my fellow artists, but it was also a great way to get to know our customers. Some of the most consistent feedback from our customers had to do with the quality and variety of the work we were showing. Our members artists work in a wide range of media... photography, jewelry, painting (watercolor, acrylic,and oil), pastels, wood turning, fabrics, glass, printmaking, and sculpture. Have included a few representative pix below -
So as you head up the coast of Maine next summer, be sure to head out to New Harbor and stop to se us at Saltwater Artists Gallery. It will be on your left, just before you get to the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point .
* You can catch up with what's happening at Saltwater Artists Gallery on Facebook.
Read more about the Gallery's history in my blog posting for 6-3-16.
A couple of weeks ago I was running a bit ahead of schedule as I headed to a gallery on the coast to drop off some artwork, so I decided to make an unscheduled stop at an antique / collectible / junk shop shop just over the bridge in Bath. I had gone past this shop for years and had always been intrigued by the piles (and I mean piles!) of "stuff" that surrounded its entranceway. Usually either it wasn't open when I went by, or I was in a hurry and couldn't stop, but evidently the stars were aligned just right on this particular day. As I prowled through
The next step was to cut, sand, and glue two pieces of yellowheart wood together to serve as a baseboard (9" x 9 1/2") for the sculpture. While waiting for the glue to set, I added feet to the seagulls using the same process that I used in the Coastal Trio sculpture (blog entry 7/19/17). I then sanded and sealed the yellowheart with satin polyurethane and painted the seagulls with acrylic. After cutting 3 short pieces of thin doweling to use as attachment pegs, I drilled holes in 3 small flat areas on the bottom of the piece of driftwood. After inserting the pegs in the holes I determined where the piece would sit on the baseboard, and drilled the holes that would receive the other end of the pegs. The last step before before assembling the the sculpture was to accumulate a few possible pieces of "coastal miscellany"... things that might be found on a shoreline beach. First I made a pot buoy out of wood, then I used wood stain to darken a length of string to simulate old fashioned pot warp. I picked out a few small shells from my "maybe I'll use this someday" stash, packing the inside of each shell with Apoxie Clay so that I would have a solid flat surface to use for attaching them to the baseboard. I was finally ready to put all of the pieces of the sculpture together.
I knew I was going to make the gulls out of Apoxie Clay, so the first thing I did was to make some armatures out of small pieces of wood and finish nails. The nails would make sturdy legs and would be used to mount the gulls on the driftwood base. I wasn't sure how many I would need, so decided to make 5 - better too many than too few (any spares could be put to use in a future project). I used Apoxie Clay to build up each of the gull forms, varying head positions and "attitudes". I sealed each gull with flat white enamel spray paint, and then experimented with positioning the gulls on the driftwood base. After determining that 3 was the optimum number of gulls that would fit on the base, I tackled the tricky job of adding the gulls' webbed feet. Each bird was only about 3" high and 3 1/2" long, so the feet would be small and would have to conform to different specific surface contours. For each foot I made a small thin wedge of Apoxie Clay, then pierced the tip with a toothpick and threaded the leg nail through the hole. I made the webbing effect by pressing a clay tool into the wedge of Clay. I then inserted the gull's nails into the holes I had drilled for them in the driftwood base and let the feet harden in place on their perches. (I covered the wood with a small square of plastic wrap so that the Clay wouldn't stick to it.)
After painting the hardened feet with the flat white enamel, I used acrylic paint to add color to the gulls' beaks, legs, wings and tail feathers. Next came the assembly process. I used wooden dowels and epoxy glue to attach the driftwood form to the base. Then I attached each gull by putting epoxy into the drilled holes made for it in the driftwood and a small amount on the bottom of the gull's feet. Gulls attached...piece complete!
thought was to attach the snails on a sand textured plaster square that could be framed in the same way I did the fish. I quickly nixed that idea in favor of simply using a wooden board that could be sprayed with a Rust-Oleum textured paint that is sand colored. After coming up with a tentative arrangement of a dozen of the snails, the next step was to cut the wooden board to size (about 6 1/8" x 6 1/8") and figure out how to put the piece together.
I decided that rather than just gluing the snails directly onto the board, I would use wooden pegs to insure that the shells would be securely attached. I filled each shell with Apoxie Clay, let it harden, then drilled holes for the wooden pegs in the clay. Before gluing the pegs into the holes, I marked out the positions of the snails on the board and drilled the "receiving holes" for the pegs. I also decided that I wanted to create a "snail trail" behind each snail to show that each one was moving in a specific direction. I mixed up a sand color with acrylic paint that was slightly darker than the color on the base. I then thinned the paint a bit with water, and painted the trails on the board. When the paint was dry, I sanded the trails lightly. Since the base coat of Rust-Oleum actually has a sandy texture, the sanding created the same sand-like texture in the darker acrylic paint of the trails.
My final decision, before gluing the snails in place, was to paint the large center snail a dark color by spray painting it with layers of several different colors (grey, brown, green) and adding a little Graphite Grey acrylic to emphasize the recesses. I wanted a contrast to the somewhat exotic coloring of the original snail shells, and I thought it would add a nice variation to the dynamics to the composition. The last step, after gluing the snails to the prepared board, was to mat and frame the piece. I was pleased with the outcome, and have titled the piece "Beach Crowd". I will let the viewer decide if "crowd" is a noun or verb. I have quite a few snail shells left over, so wouldn't be surprised if there were more snail reliefs to be made in the future.
... matted & framed 10"x10" ... "Beach Crowd"
I utilized the same process that I have detailed in earlier blog postings (8-8-16 and 8-26-16). After impressing my design into a half inch thick slab of clay, I enclose the clay slab in a wooden frame and pour in a half inch thick layer of casting plaster. Once the plaster sets, the frame is removed and the plaster casting is separated from the clay. After cleaning off the clay residue with water and a toothbrush, I dry the casting in the oven. The final step before framing is to paint the piece with Golden's Graphite Gray acrylic paint.
When coming up with designs for the fish reliefs, I try to create a composition that suggests some sort of interaction between the fish "characters". As with most of my work, I am trying to freeze a moment in time that suggests a story. The size of the reliefs (about 6 1/4" x 6 1/4') and the limited cast of characters (the 2 different original wooden fish carvings that I use to make the impressions) somewhat limits the number of potential compositions that I can create, so it may be time to grab some wood and my chisels, and some carve out some additional cast members. Stay tuned!
In addition to the artists mentioned in the above photos, the gallery offers the jewelry of Lynn Thompson, Linda Paine and Cat Crozier; the photographs of Ardy Greatorex and Rick Berg; the etchings of Kat Miller; the paintings of Tania Amazeen-Jones; and the digital photographs, posters and pendants of Dave Higgins. The gallery presents a wide and interesting range of media and artistic styles. You can find links to the artists' websites at the gallery website www.saltwaterartists.com. and you can follow current gallery news on Facebook. If you are vacationing in Maine, stop by to see us on your way out to see the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point!
Cynthia Smith, Maine artist, originally from Connecticut. Taught art at secondary level for 35 years, retired in 2004. Sculpts in bronze, wood, stone, clay & plaster. Her work can be seen at several mid-coast Maine galleries and shows.