Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TBAI Gallery Piece - 2015

Meet Madame Zola – Gypsy Fortune Teller. She is my gallery piece for TBAI this year. The theme is “On the Road” and this little gypsy fortune teller is always on the road setting up shop in the nearest tree stump when she decides to stop for a spell.

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Her space is decorated with all kinds of things that a fortune teller would find essential. Mood lighting of blue stars and

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lots and lots of charms and other things dangle from the ceiling for an ‘other worldly’ effect.

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She tells fortunes by reading palms, tarot cards, tea leaves and peering into a crystal ball. (One of my favorite images is this one in which the lights from above are reflected in the crystal ball.)

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Madame Zola will even use the ubiquitous fortune cookie if necessary. (My daughter made the fortune cookies at my request and they are exceptional – and very, very tiny!)

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Take a look around and you will see that she has a lot of resources at her fingertips. There are reference books covering many fortune telling subjects and extra potions in bottles and jars just in case someone needs a little something to take home with them after their visit.

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Here’s the diminutive fortune teller herself: Madame Zola
She stands 5” tall.

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A view from the side.

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A view of the back.

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And one more for good measure.

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Now it’s time for me to get back to making more bears for the show.  Thanks again for reading!

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

TBAI Gallery Piece 2015 – Interior Basics

I molded, painted and finished the exterior of the tree stump before I began on the interior. One of the main reasons I chose this order was because I am very messy when I use paper mâché. That also goes for paint. I think I am being very careful but I still manage to smear it somewhere. And even sometimes it is intentional, especially if I am in the middle of painting something critical and have no time to grab a cloth or towel to wipe my hands or a brush. Thankfully, I am not alone in this. I have watched artists paint and they often wipe the brush on the back of their hand or on something close by. Anywho . . .

As for the interior, I knew I needed to place lights I wanted to use before I proceeded and that involved determining how I wanted the ceiling to look. The shimmery fabric was just the thing so I started with that and then moved onto the lights.

Here you can see the unfinished floor. This is before I added the stirring stick ‘hardwood’ floor. It looks a little strange with the bump out on the edge and the rectangle cut out for the battery pack but that’s how it goes in the early stages.

I knew shelving would be an integral part of this piece. It’s just a little bit more complicated when the wall is curved. If you notice, the shelf brackets are made from quartered wood slices. I’m not sure there is an easy way to saw a tiny wood slice into quarters, but I only had to do two so there was an end in sight from the beginning.

The following photo shows the lights in place, the shelves in place and the flooring finished. The next part is populating it with the fun details.

I try to do a dry run before I start finishing the details. Arranging bottles and knickknacks where I think they should go before I fill bottles and label them saves me from spending too much time working on pieces I won’t be using.

By now, you probably have an idea of where this is going, right? Next time, I will be posting photos of the piece in its entirety.

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TBAI Gallery Piece 2015 – Elements

Transformations are my thing, but I think that is the nature of creativity. These very involved and detailed projects which I love to do are often comprised of many, many little projects. I have learned to go with the flow and forget about what each may involve. I have accepted that they are all part of the process.

These ribbons are my color scheme but they weren’t my intention at the start. I really didn’t have a plan.

On the other hand these coffee stirring sticks were part of my plan from the beginning. In fact, maybe I needed an excuse to use them and created this whole project on that basis!

It was a fairly straight forward process to turn them into a wood floor. Just the look I was going after and the fact that it turned out as planned was a nice bonus.  That hardly ever happens.

I turned this piece of steel wire to make a decorative hanger. It was an experiment that resulted in very sore fingers. I learned something. I’ll wear gloves next time.

Another transformation involved this small brass lantern. Loved the shape but the color was a bit too polished and shiny for my project.

First I painted it with a copper paint.

Then I used that magical solution that creates a copper patina. It takes a bit of time but eventually,

I got an effect like this:

And here you see the lantern on the lantern hanger.

Next up: the interior of the tree stump.  Yes, it was a tree stump.  I’m relieved that it was fairly easy for you to guess!

Until next time,

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

TBAI Gallery Piece 2015 Start

Hello there. Does it seem like I have just now crawled out from under a rock? It almost feels that way but a lot of things have been going on so rock or not, here I am again.

I have finished my gallery piece for TBAI (Teddy Bear Artist Invitational) which takes place in August. I haven’t yet taken photos of the entire completed piece, but I do have photos of the piece in progress.

This post shows the primary structure I created from a paper mâché box.  Here it is before I started to work with it.

 

Here I have cut out the basic shape the way I wanted it and added some additional base material and features around what will be the back.

Then I began to add a mixture of paper mâché for texture and stability. 

This is a view from the top.

I added some additional details and cut a utilitarian rectangle in the base.  I try to anticipate where I want to go and then it often requires working backwards from there.

 

I added more paper mâché, drying each section over several days

as you can see in the photo below: another layer.

Another point of view, the basic structure is complete.

The following shows the first layer of paint.  Many more followed as I tweaked the colors.  I delved into mixing colors, adding, covering, drying, and doing it all over again and again.

I got off track with the photos after this section. I got caught up in many little details while the camera languished at my elbow as I went further and further down the rabbit hole.

Can you tell what is it yet?  Next time, I will share a few photos of the progress of the interior.

Thanks for reading!!!

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Collaboration

A few months ago, my friend and fellow artist Elanor of Shantock Bears, asked if I would consider collaborating on a special piece. I would create a box and she would create the mouse that would go inside. It was to be based on the children’s book, The Gruffalo.  I had never read the story before, but Elanor gave me a copy of the book and after reading it, I immediately began forming ideas on which direction I wanted to go.  The following photos show its evolution.

Here’s the cigar box that I started with.  I had to strip it of liner papers inside and the spine decoration on the outside.

After exchanging several emails (Elanor and I have an ocean between us), I was able to determine just the right position of the window I wanted to install on the front.

Saw, saw, saw.  Just part of the plan and finally the window hole is ready.

The outside of the box had to be prepared for the painting and decoration I wanted to apply.

The inside had to be prepared too.  I also painted the edges with the first of many coats of paint.

It may be hard to tell from this photo, but I used a very, very pale gray paint here in preparation for some stenciling,

which I got so involved in and excited by, that I forgot to photograph in process. So we’ll just move onto a snippet of the arrangement I was beginning to work out.  What is that white blob?

Here it is painted. Still can’t figure out what it is?  It’s a rock.

The following photo shows glass tiles that I added  Gruffalo images to as a feature of the box.  Something Elanor doesn’t know is that I bought these when we were in Oregon together two years ago.  I had no idea at the time when or where or how I would use them.

There are quite a few steps that I didn’t photograph.  Most of them involved painting and painting and painting.  Also applying transfers and some c0mputer work.  In the end, the back of the box turned out like this:

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And here is the front with the framed window with real glass:

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A view of the box from an angle so the spine is visible:

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The box opened showing the right side with two trees, a rock, and quotes on the edges:

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and the left side with the glass tiles, title and excerpt from the book:

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The entire piece without the mouse.  It’s the first time I have shipped a piece not having seen it completed. My part was finished and the mouse was finished but it would only be complete when they were together.

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These last two photos, courtesy of Elanor, show it all completed!  The mouse sits contentedly on the rock.  When the box is closed, he peers out the window.

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Here’s a close-up view of the right side. Isn’t that mouse adorable?  It was a blast working on this project and great to have a chance to create something unique with and for a friend and her lovely family.

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