Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Travellers - Antique Kitchen Strainers

The Travellers
Photography by Christina Arsenault 

At the beginning of the year I found some delightful antique kitchen strainers and I immediately fell in love with their shape and form. I wanted to incorporate them into my artwork and create something beautiful with them.

Incorporating metal wire (copper, brass and silver plated that has been patina'ed) each antique strainer contains or carries a machine embroidered heart, that is incased in a resin house shape.

They certainly have character and have developed a life of their own. They became the inspiration for some stop motion animation, ending up in my 3 and a half minute animation, The Drive.

Finally I have finished a family of three 'Travellers'. Here they are

The Travellers
Photography by Christina Arsenault 

The Travellers
Photography by Christina Arsenault 

The Travellers
Photography by Christina Arsenault 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Antique style Russian Floral Mittens

I don't know about you, but I can't resist buying beautiful yarn. Even when Im not sure that I have a project in mind for it.

I bought this beautiful yarn (Filatura Di Crosa 127 Print) many moons ago whilst I was living in London, UK. I was romanced by the colour (fuscia pink) that was teamed with navy blue, mustard yellow, charcoal grey and olive green. And since its purchase it has moved with me from location to location, always with the intention of knitting something special with it.

As you can see in the picture above I had already attempted to knit it, but I wasn't happy with how the various colours in the yarn were knitting up in pattern. I was getting the dreaded tiger stripe - to which I have a great aversion! 

I wanted to try try knitting something different which would only require a small amount of wool, like one or two skeins.  Having mastered knitting socks some years ago and looking for something different, I decided to try mittens. 

I found a fabulous pattern on Ravelry but to my dismay it was written in Russian. Thankfully I could follow the chart, but I had to improvise a little with the actual mitten pattern, and I made a note of the pattern in English here.

With the help of Espacetricot's blog post on how to knit a basic mitten I came up with the above result. 

I was very happy with the result of blending the multicoloured yarn with the creamy white. The combination of wools reminds me a little of antique floral patterns. They're perfect and I love them. And so easy and fun to knit! 

(and a good excuse to watch a movie or two. Whilst knitting them I watched the magical French movie City of Lost Children, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, who recently directed the beautiful movie, Amelie) 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Resin and Machine Embroidery

Heart houses 2.5 x 4 x 2.3 cm

I have been experimenting with machine embroidery, hand embroidery using reflective thread and embedding it into clear resin.

landscape embroidery embedded into a shape created from an antique hand saw

To create my own resin moulds I have been using a two part moulding paste (Pebeo silicon moulding paste) where you mix equal quantities of the blue and white paste for a minute until a uniform colour appears. It is quick to use and sets in about 5 minutes and is a little like working with oily Fimo (or polymer clay).

two part moulding paste house moulds

And I have worked with 2 different brands of resin: Pebeo Gedeo Crystal Resin and Castin' Craft Clear Polyester Casting Resin. Interestingly there was quite a bit of difference between the two. 

Pebeo Gedeo Crystal Resin took 24 hours to cure, was frosty where it came into contact with the mould and relatively smell free. I quite liked the 'softness' in the quality of the frostiness of the Pedeo Gedeo Crystal Resin, it is reminiscent of the sea washed glass you find on the beach. 

Castin' Craft Clear Polyester Casting Resin cured to the touch in less than 24 hours, was crystal clear even when it came into contact with the mould and was incredibly smelly. This one definitely needed to be used in a well ventilated space!  

House embroidery
embedded into the shape created from an antique hand saw

Whilst working with resin I discovered that you can:
  • sand it with sand paper (this gives you a frosty look) and also helps even out any unwanted lumps and bumps
  • paint it clear varnish (I used nail polish) which turns the sanded areas clear again 
  • speed up the curing time by placing it in a warm oven (preheated to 80 degrees C for 15 minutes) this process also encourages any bubbles to come to the surface and disappear

Thursday, 3 April 2014

In the studio: Salt of the Earth ceramics

Following weeks in the studio in which all my ceramic experiments seemed to disintegrate I decided to change direction and work with a more substantial and solid approach to my work, aiming to create bowls that appear to be carved from rock hewn from the earth.

Working with porcelain and oxides, my intention was to create bowls that represented layered strata of rock.

Salt of the Earth #1
Due to the extreme thickness of the slabs (about 20 x 20 x 30 cm) the slabs would require a couple of weeks to completely dry before the firing process could take place. 

Of course, I chose to rush this process and subsequently had a disaster where an entire kiln load of my work exploded because I tried to fire it too quickly.

A subsequent firing where the kiln was programmed to dry the clay for 24 hours before the firing process begun was much more successful and the results can be seen in Salt of the Earth #1 and #2.

Although there was some cracking in these pieces (probably due to the porcelain clay body rather than the firing process), I think it adds to the work and the idea of erosion. The pieces were fired once, skipping the bisque firing, in a reduction atmosphere. I really like how carbon has been trapped in the clay, turning it from pure white to a delicious grey. 

Salt of the Earth #2

Displayed with the ceramic landscape bowls are my Basket rings.


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