Friday, April 16, 2021

Hugo Seafarer–A Nautical Undertaking

Hugo Seafarer is a one-of-a-kind piece in my ‘bears&boxes’ series.  I absolutely love creating these pieces that challenge my skills and creativity. I began with a box built to my specifications by Jay. The process begins here with the plain box.

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The next few photos show the layering process of paints and mediums for the outside of the box – back, front, sides, top and bottom. It’s like painting six canvas all the same way.

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While the different layers dried, I turned my attention to other details that I expected to include along the way. I used a paper mâché box lid and created a porthole. Here are a few of the steps.

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The photo that follows is one of many times I added patina to copper strips. It’s a fun process – at least I think so. One of those you get-what-you-get operations because the patina that emerges has a mind of it’s own.

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Making some diamond plate, or something that looked like it was on my list as well. I began with very shiny cardstock that I toned down with some spray. I distressed it a bit more before I embossed it.

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Back to the copper strips. Most of them were used to finish the box edges.

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Copper pipes of an appropriate size and shape were a large part of this project. My method involves using a tiny saw, a heat gun, glue, paint and patience.

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I’d never built what I would term as a balcony. Not sure what they call it on a ship or submarine, if there is such a thing. Maybe the bridge? It was an exciting idea which was a smoke screen for how exactly I was going to make it, especially the shape I wanted it to be. I used coffee stirring sticks for flooring and some of my ‘pipes’ for supports.

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Next it was portholes. Not just the big one I started with but also six smaller ones. There were two parts to each porthole including a glass-like window. Each one treated the same with layers of finish for that aged and rusted patina.

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How does the captain get to his bridge? He uses a ship’s ladder of course. Plastic rods, wood pieces, stain, paint, glue and a little bit of insanity were components of the construction of it.

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This playful detail began a few years ago in a shop on a trip where I saw an octopus tentacle finger puppet. I almost left without buying it, but I changed my mind, bought it, and stored it waiting for just the right project to come along. This turned out to be that project.

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Gears, gears. Ever so many gears. They begin unfinished so I paint them, and paint them and paint them.

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Two more paper mâché box lids – square this time. Using themed scrapbook paper, I covered them.

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It seems the closer I get to finishing a piece, the faster it goes and the fewer photos I take along the way, but here’s a couple more. Anchors and placing the pipes on one side of the box.

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Then there’s the Captain – Hugo Seafarer. An adventurer, an explorer, a voyager. He needed appropriate attire. I often take photos of an arrangement to help me remember how I had planned it. Here you have an before and after of the top of his cap.

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A detail of his wrist cuff.

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The final photos:

The Front

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The Left Side

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The Right Side

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The Entire Piece with the Captain in Place

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Showing the details without the Captain

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Hugo Seafarer

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Up Close

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Thanks for joining me on this nautical journey!

And thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Making Stitch–from my bears&boxes series

After quite a few starts and stops, I have completed “Stitch” and it is currently on the way to its new home.  With my bears&boxes pieces, the first thing I determine is the style, size and configuration of the basic box.  My husband Jay built this box for me.  I’m pretty sure he must have wondered if I was ever going to make anything with it.  Sometimes, these things take time – almost always in other words.

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I painted this box with gesso so the paper I used to cover it would have a better surface to adhere to.  It’s often about looking ahead and working backwards.  So after determining which paper I was going to use, I then painted the edges to match.

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Painting the edges first and covering the box afterwards helps me to avoid messing up the paper. 

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I purposely left the front unfinished for two reasons.  The art I had planned for the front would create an uneven surface when I was working on the inside.  And I was still working out the details of the front artwork in my head.

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There are so many parts and pieces to these things.  Often they begin as one thing and end up as another.  This little sewing machine Christmas ornament was perfect – except for the coloring.

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Here are a few photos of various stages of the inside details.  I began with the bench I knew the bear would be sitting on – made from small wooden vintage style rulers.

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Then I created the shelf for the top part of the box.

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One of the main features of the box was a panel of various kinds of scissors.  I love scissors as many sewers/seamstresses/makers/creators do.  I have many variations of them.  I decided it was a detail that should be quite prominent.  Here’s the beginning of the panel covered with coordinating paper.

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I cut the wooden frame to size and painted it and added the tiny scissors.

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And although it was really stating the obvious, I created a little sign to go above it:  “SCISSORS”  Here you can also see the repainted sewing machine and the shelf supports that are vintage wooden spools.

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I cut out these panels and covered the edges with metallic silver tape.

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These tiny thimble charms were also part of the plan dangling from this wooden support.

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Here’s a peek behind the scenes so to speak.  I fiddled around with the layout of the elements to get a feel for how things will mesh and how they should be spaced.

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Once I have a good plan in place I try to sort it out a little more.  Note the lack of paint and details on the spools, jars, bottles and other items.  They will show up later.

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The artwork for the front of the box consisted of several steps.  I started by arranging these sewing related bits and pieces.

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I took a coordinating piece of scrapbook paper and added a clear texture to it. I gave this same treatment to the board that the bits and pieces will be mounted on which you can in these photos. I made sure everything was properly adhered in place and added some texture with tiny glass and steel beads.

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Painting the piece was the final step of this stage – black, a bit of blue chalk-like paint and silver highlights.

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I added yet another wooden frame cut to size around the panel and mounted it on the textured scrapbook paper.  Then I mounted both onto corrugated paper.

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I had already created “Stitch”, the bear and had to decide on his hat.  A thimble? A button?

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How about both?

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So finally, the piece is completed  Here’s the front:

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And here’s the box opened:

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The left side:

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And the right:

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And “Stitch”!

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I loved, loved, loved creating this box.  It was fun working with all the so-very-familiar objects in teeny, tiny sizes.  The scissors  I especially adored.  Several of these items were once pins that came from my mother’s jewelry box. She was quite the seamstress and I like to think she would have enjoyed this piece a great deal. Now my next box piece underway and it’s slow at first but I’m hoping to make some headway soon.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

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