Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pinhole Distractions

I have been working on the big volcano book this weekend. All the parts are cut out and painted. I made several tests to see if I could hinge the parts together with cloth. I found that brushing Imperial batiste with Polyvinyl Acetate glue made it pretty tough. It doesn't unravel, and is easily painted with black gesso.

I am also distracted by this:

It's my oatmeal box pinhole camera. There are instructions here. My son is coming for a visit next week. We usually have "Art Camp" during the summer visits. This year he wants to make pinhole cameras. I have been wanting to try a pinhole, but didn't want to bother with the time required to turn the bathroom into a darkroom. However, since there will be two of us, the scales were tipped. I also went to Flickr and found an incredible number of fantastic photos taken in pinhole cameras of various kinds. Just search on "pinhole" or "homemadecamera." Here is my favorite

There is something so appealing about making such a low tech camera. I'm not technical and can't remember all those photography rules. So the thought of no lens, no filters, no whatever really appeals to me. When I went to our local photo store, (Kaufmann's on 25th in San Mateo), the guys were so nice. I thought they would think pinhole photography was too funky and weird. But one guy was very helpful finding small packages of chemicals and paper. He told me that lots of people do this for art projects. Another guy told me how great the Holgas are, and to check out Pinhole Journal. A customer in the store told me where to get black-out material. When I called Freestyle to get the rest of the supplies, the woman on the phone was so nice and enthusiastic. She told me about her matchbox pinhole, and Holga photos. (If you haven't heard of them, Holgas are $20 plastic cameras. They have light leaks, the back can fall off, and they take very atmospheric photos. Check Flickr for these, too.) I feel like I've stepped through a camera lens into the pinhole world. People are instantly friendly.

Looking at all the pinhole photos on Flickr gave me a real energy boost. It's fun to have a new interest, I feel charged up and excited about it. I think it will feed my creative energy in general. I can use the photos in collage, and already have some plans for my fern book. There are so many things to explore and try out, I can get excited about something and get completely off track on my art projects. So right now I'm trying to restrict the photo stuff to the evenings.

Who knows how these photos will turn out. I did find this calculator, which I hope will help. I'll post photos next week if anything is at all presentable.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Metal Techniques Class in Palo Alto

Above: "It's not broken" ©2005, 7 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches. Found objects, fabricated. I made this altar for a Bay Area Book Artists concept exchange. I used wire, nuts and bolts, and glue to attach things.

I will be teaching a class in the Cubberley Jewelry Studio in Palo Alto, beginning July 12. We will make metal books using jewelry tools and techniques.

The class will cover basic metalworking tools, including:
Shears – used to cut simple shapes from some materials
Jeweler’s saw – used to cut intricate shapes from most materials
Files – handy for cleaning up edges of metal
Flex shaft – good for drilling small holes for rivets or tiny nuts and bolts

And cold connection techniques, including:
Three styles of rivets (tube, ear post and wire)
Small nuts and bolts
Jump ring bindings
Spiral bindings

Patinas for copper
Textures on metals

With these tools you can cut shapes from metals, book board and plastic. These shapes can be used as book pages or they can be attached to metal, plastic or book board pages. You can also attach many found objects to your pages using the cold connection technques.

The student gallery on my web site has work by previous workshop students.

The class meets Wednesdays, July 12 to August 9, 7 to 10 pm. We will meet in the jewelry studio at Cubberley, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, room # F-7. Minimum of 8, maximum of 15 people. $96 for Palo Alto residents, $110 for others, $15 materials fee. Go here to download the adult schedule as a pdf, and for information on registering. You can also download the adult classes section by going to the workshops page on my website.

A Huge Volcano Book

Above is the left "wing" of my big volcano book. I have been cutting out the pages this week. The material is Davey board. I'm using a jeweler's saw with an 11 inch throat and a number 3 saw blade. The saw is fairly coarse and it tears the back side of the details. I need to paint Polyvinyl Acetate, a very strong glue, on the edges. I can both glue down the little tears and make the edges a little stronger with the PVA. I'm bothered by the big bushy fern in this picture. It looks out of place to me, but it won't be too hard to cut another one. Maybe I'll just put a clump of grass there.

This is the center panel, the big volcano. I can't wait to see this one standing up. It's 32 inches high!

Here's the right hand "wing." Only one more panel to cut out. There will also be an accordion fold book in the center. After the panels are cut out and the edges are re-inforced with the PVA, I'm painting them with black gesso. I love this stuff. It's very expensive if you buy it from an art supply store. I got this from Nova Color. A gallon is $27. I can't remember what the shipping was, but it was a good deal. The downside is that you need to transfer it into smaller containers, unless you're going to use it up quickly. Luckily I had some dish soap containers around. It's thick and goopy but goes through a largish funnel okay. If you do this, wear some of those disposable painter's gloves. And do it in your garage if you can.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A metaphor for life

Above: Passport, 2005 by Teresa Eaton, mixed media on canvas: acrylic, handmade paper, hand-sculpted polymer clay face, copper leaf, wood, fabric, thread, found objects. 12" x 12" x 2.5"

When I first met Teresa Eaton, I liked her immediately. She is, of course, a nice person. She is also straightforward and very real. And she is very open about her struggle with breast cancer. Here's a quote from the KPFA Crafts and Music Fair site:

"Teresa Eaton gives new life to things that are dying…a metaphor for her life."

"When diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer five years ago, the Santa Clara artist decided to make a radical change in her work. Today, she’s making large, mixed-media collages created from worked and reworked paper, items collected from nature and recyclable items. “I credit the excitement for starting this work for bringing me back to the living,” comments Eaton."

Teresa is very sensitive to her materials. Objects are arranged according to some internal pattern that conveys a sense of order coming out of chaos. Looking at her work, I feel every part has a secret and important message encoded in it.

I admire Teresa so much because she is open about her experiences. She is a tremendous inspiration to me, and to many other people. I think big life events can wrench out of artists a big change in their work. Or some new connection with a desire to create. It's as if, facing death and looking at it square on, we need to make life. It's precious, it's fragile and it's incredibly beautiful.

I am very sad to say that Teresa's breast cancer is back, she is undergoing more chemotherapy right now. I'm thinking good thoughts for her, she is a lovely person. The world is full of beautiful things she has created.

Here are some links to her work:

KPFA Crafts and Music Fair
The Human Artefacts Exhibition (scroll down to see an image that enlarges when clicked)
8th International Collage Exhibition & Exchange

Sunday, June 04, 2006

You can always cover it up

This little box had a few splatters of white paint on it. Can you tell which ones they are? I have been meaning to put stars all over this box for a long time. This past week I didn't get much art done, but I did fix this box, and another one like it.

Here's a quick scan of one of the books that goes with the box. I originally made an edition of 9, each with it's own box. There were two left. I sold one book during Open Studios. The woman who bought it asked me to collage on the box, so I decided to do both boxes at the same time. When they were done, I gave her the choice of either box for her book. She liked them so much she decided she needed both books. So even though I didn't have much time in the studio, I did get a nice sense of accomplishment.