Thursday, 30 June 2016

Artist: Meryl McMaster + Studio Visit

This week I had the pleasure of a studio visit from Meryl McMaster, who is currently exhibiting her work at the Anna Leonowen's Gallery as part of the NSCAD visiting artist series. Meryl is a photographer who uses the medium for self discovery, exploring how we construct our sense of self through lineage, history and culture.

Second Self

In her series 'Second Self' which is exhibited in the gallery, the artworks reconsider identity through portraiture incorporating drawing and sculpture. The process of making this work is fascinating and goes through a number of steps to reach the finished piece. First, she asks each participant to draw a self portrait of themselves, using a line drawing where the pen is not allowed to be lifted up off the paper. She then recreates these images using wire, which act like a mask when worn by the real person.  

She is inspired by Alexander Calder, who explored the use of wire in his work through sculpture, mobiles and jewellery. I too, love working with wire, and that is perhaps one of the many reasons why I am so attracted to her work. 

I have been exploring wrapping objects with wire as part of my exploration for 222 Grips for a Stone series. 

copper wire, found coal
Jogging Fossil Beach

copper wire, found stone
Bay of Fundy

copper wire, found wood
urban Halifax

As part of an ongoing exploration, I am interested to see what happens to each of these objects when exposed to heat.

I received some great feedback from Meryl when she visited me in my studio and I look forward to applying it to my work.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Jeweller: Jan Smith + Studio Visits

I had the pleasure of a studio visit with Jan Smith, who is a brilliant jeweller and printmaker visiting NSCAD as part of the University's Artist in Residence summer series.

Enamel Brooch and drawing by
Jan Smith 
Jan combines mark-making in metal with enamelling techniques with fascinating results ending as wearable jewellery pieces. She is based in British Columbia where she also teaches.

Because of her interdisciplinary approach, I found her feedback to my studio work incredibly helpful.  

One of the key things she suggested was to tidy away all the 'conversations' I was currently exploring (I have about 10 different directions my work could go in) and focus on just one of the conversations. This is harder to do than it sounds, and I have 'hidden' half my work behind sheets so that I cannot see it and be distracted by it. There are now about four 'conversations' which will eventually need to be paired down into one. 

This is a photo of my studio before her visit. It looks quite tidy - but within this are too many ideas for me to focus on over the next 6 months.  There is probably a lifetime of exploration within this space, which is why I am thinking of doing a Phd next - but more about that later. 

Studio space before Jan's feedback

So I took Jan's advice and did a BIG tidy up. Ill post an 'after' picture soon.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Shibori - the art of binding fabric

Most of us are familiar with the beautiful effects of the ancient Japanese art of shibori. Fabric is dipped in rich indigo blue with white organic patterns created as a result of the binding and resist methods applied to the cloth.

The Simply Irresistible Dye class have been experimenting with the indigo dye vat throughout the duration of the course. With an array delightful designs to share with the class we all 'ooh and ahh' as we discuss how we achieved the desired affect.

Fabric folded and a resist is formed using wooden sticks

It struck me that the binding of the fabric is also an art form, often under appreciated and overlooked as the shibori fabric (the end result) which is what we strive to achieve.  

The wooden blocks used to create a resist have also been dyed by the indigo and become beautiful artefacts in the process, retaining the memory of where the bands were placed to hold the wood in place.

The lines show where elastic bands were used
to hold the wood in place on the fabric. 

These binding techniques could be applied to my fascination and exploration of 222 grips for a stone.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Dying with Rust

The fun continues in the Irresistible Dye Class I teach at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.   This week we explored dying with rust. Its quite a simple process and it achieves some fabulous results. 

To start we laid down a large plastic bag and upon this we placed our fabric that had been sprayed with a 50/50 water vinegar solution.  

Fabric with rusty huddles from an old loom laid upon it

Then we placed the rusty objects on the fabric and covered the rusty pieces with another bit of fabric. This was all wrapped in the plastic bag to prevent the fabric from drying out, the dampness encourages the objects to rust onto the fabric.

The rusty fabric after a week of soaking

We left the fabric for a week, and the above is what happened in the space of 7 days.

Each layer of fabric reacts differently to the process

Tori displaying her rust dyed fabrics 
For more images of the results of our rust dying visit the Irresistible Dye Facebook page.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

222 Grips for a stone - the imprint of touch


222 Grips for a Stone - unfired cone 6 stoneware clay 
  1. 1
    a firm hold; a tight grasp or clasp.
    "his arm was held in a vicelike grip"
    "a tight grip"
  2. 2
    a part or attachment by which something is held in the hand.
    "handlebar grips"


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