Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Final Project

The last project of the semester is always an independent study where we can do whatever we want.

First, I think some information about me is necessary. I'm somewhat of a hypochondriac. Not totally, but only because I know what's going on and I have the ability to talk myself out of whatever I think I have. I'm not really concerned about germs and colds and normal things like this, ohhh no. I become terrified that I have weird things, like receding gums and tetanus. When I first began taking metals, I didn't get a tetanus vaccination because the doctor said I really didn't need one, since I was working with non-ferrous metals. Even though I do come into contact with steel in the form of tools and such, the doctor still said I didn't need it. But I spent the whole semester convinced that I had tetanus. Any time I got a little cut or scrape, I would freak out and go to the health clinic on campus. I remember one night I couldn't sleep because I kept thinking my knees were locking up, then I would jump up and run to the mirror (which i wouldn't have been able to do if my knees were in fact locking up...I realize) to see if my face was doing the weird muscular contortions that are associated with tetanus. I finally went to the doctor and insisted I get vaccinated just to ease my mind, and I still freak out sometimes and have to remind myself that tetanus innoculations are good for 10 years. When I eat fish, I have to consciously remind myself that I do not, nor have I ever had an allergy to fish or seafood. I begin to freak out and think my throat is closing up. I manage to control it, and I eat fish all the time, but there's always that moment where I have to stop and just have a conversation with myself.

When I was doing my undergraduate studies (in Psychology), I took a class about sensory perception with Dr. Scharff. I loved that class and I thought it was so interesting! The whole class was about the senses and the brain, and how they interact. We spent over half the semester on vision alone. It was so fascinating, but terrifying at the same time. So many things can go wrong with your vision, and sometimes (well, before we started all this testing when children are young) you could have one of these disorders your whole life and never realize it's abnormal. I spent the whole semester worried about my vision. I called my optomitrist so many times that the nurses would just stop transferring me.

So I thought it could be really interesting to make a pair of glasses that would show people what it would be like to have Hemianopia or Visual Neglect (two different names because you can experience this visual problem from two different sources). My hope was that people could see why they should be as terrified of these disorders as I am. I didn't want to just cut the glasses out of sheet metal because that would look cheap and be too easy. Even though I only had 2 weeks to do this, I decided to make the entire glasses a hollow-constructed form.

I patinated the front to indicate the point of trauma, and it ended up looking like an old, stained mirror. I don't mind that because I feel like it goes along with the idea of something being wrong.

The inside of the glasses is lined with sterling silver that I etched with nitric acid. I used designer glasses logos and cut them in half to help indicate to the viewer what will happen when they put the glasses on, but also to help intice people to put their face close to the glasses to look at the fine detail.

I put three coats of wax on the glasses to help keep the copper from getting blotchy like that, but I guess in this case that just wasn't enough. I will have to go back and sand off the blotches and re-wax.

I've decided to do a whole series on these weird things that scare me. I'm excited to see where it goes.

Door Knocker

Sorry, it's been forever since I posted. Finals time is just not a nice time!

So our third project was to make a door knocker. I've been doing a lot of work out at C&R Kutt Bottle, which is a non-profit glass recycling organization. It's basically the only way Nacogdoches has to recycle glass bottles. They are comprised of a very small group of people, originally branched from a church project, that collect wine bottles and use them to make all sorts of things like sets of drinking glasses, wind chimes, tea lights, christmas ornaments, lamps, everything! It's so cool. They sandblast designs on them, and they decorate things by gluing on tumbled bits of broken bottles. Their mission is to use every bit of the bottle, so we're working on uses for corks and bottle tops, and they tumble any broken bottles to make various sizes of glass bits that are no longer sharp. All the money they raise goes straight to Habitat for Humanity. They've been doing this for 2 years and have raised over $6,000 for Nac. Habitat so far. Last year Habitat was able to build 2 houses instead of one, due largely to this organization. So we've been going out there a lot to help make this stuff, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate glass into a metal piece.

When the doorknocker project was first introduced to us, we had been talking about abuse a lot because there had been some kind of abuse seminar in the student center. They made contact with my professor to talk about future ideas for collaboration between metals and this seminar. So anyway, we had been talking about tieing it into our art for a few weeks, so I decided to make abuse the focus of my doorknocker (since I had no ideas at all). I wanted to make it a door knocker that keeps you from knocking, like a person recovering from an abusive situation might not let future people in so easily. So there are magnets in all the forms that repel each other. Unfortunately I did not think about having to stabilize the knocker, so it just flips around and hits the form anyway. I'm working on stabilizing it with some tubing.

So the knocker (that I realize looks like an avacado) slides along the track so the knocker can choose which form to knock on. 

The forms represent the stages of recovery, from very messy to almost whole. The designs are sandblasted onto large tumbled-glass pieces. The glass is held down by the copper circles, which are laid onto wool fabric yo-yos. I chose yo-yos because a lot of quilts used to be made with them, so to me it's a shape that represents comfort and family. Plus it's pretty. 

I patinated the copper with heat to go along with this idea of gradual transitions, so the forms change color from a goldish to a deep orange. The whole thing is mounted on an old kitchen cabinet door. I need to age the door a little more, but I think it works well with the idea. Plus the hinges at the top make it very easy to mount.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Third Semester Metals-part 1

Ok, almost caught up to real time! So Fall 2010 (aka...now) brings my third semester of metals class. I feel like I've been doing it so much longer. Even Lauren (my teacher) had a moment the other day when she realized how "young" I am in metals. This semester I've really been trying to push myself both in learning new techniques and also in terms of content. 

So we jumped into our first project head first. Lauren had us suggest various content fields, like "love" and "culture". Then she had us each blindly choose 7 techniques from a hat (all techniques were ones that were previously covered) and two content fields from the hat. Our assignment was to use at least 5 of the techniques and use our content fields in some way to kick-start our sketching (which I don't really do...sketch). 

I use my sketchbook more for verbal ideas. I tend to write paragraphs and ideas, so I do sketch in a way, but it's not usually pictures. If I need to "sketch" an idea, I usually do it in air-drying clay or paper. I seem to have an easier time "sketching" in three dimensions. 

So I decided to push myself to use 6 (instead of 5) of the techniques. I wanted to explore the idea of identity, so I thought it would be nice to try and create fingerprint type shapes with each different technique. Since I was using 6 techniques, I went with a cubed form. It turned out pretty nice. I still have some finishing issues which I hope to fix over the christmas break. 

My techniques were-hollow construction, married metal, overlay, fold-forming, roll printing, and piercing. I also experimented with using solder to make a fake married metal side. The chain is a bought chain, but once I get better at chain making, I plan to make my own chain. The fold-form side (the side on the right of the bottom picture) is my favorite. It looks like fabric. 

Our second project was to make three rings that represented plane, volume, and line. They could associate with each other or not, as long as there was one ring for each element. Oh also we had to set at least one stone using a bezel setting. I had plane and line figured out pretty quickly, but unfortunately every idea I had for volume would have had to be cast, which isn't something we were doing this semester. Finally I decided to do a ring based on a school of fish after watching one of the "Planet Earth" episodes. I waited really late though, so I'm not completely happy with it, but it's ok.

This is my plane ring, though it could easily be interchanged to represent volume. It is comprised of three fold-formed leaf shapes that are tension fit together so they don't come apart. This was the easiest one. no soldering, no riveting, just hammering. There are two silver leaves with a copper one in the middle.

This is my volume ring about the school of fish. I drilled holes in the metal before I rolled it down so that the holes would become oval shaped. I hammer textured the metal, polished it, then sanded the top so the hammered divots would be shiny spots, like fish. This is the ring with the stone. I used an amethyst cabochon and I reverse bezel set it (which means I set it in from the back).

This is my line ring. I like to call it "Mondrian has a bad day" because I was inspired by a conversation I had with someone about Mondrian. His work is a series of white canvasses with blue, yellow, and red squares on it. It's the stuff people often look at and go "this is art??" He used the squares to represent the city of New York and so I thought this was appropriate to show the difference between NYC in the early part of the 20th century, when Mondrian was painting, to now. This ring caused me the most trouble and headache. I cut each  rectangle out of rectangular tubing (NO, I did NOT make each single rectangle!) and soldered them together, one by one. It took forever. Then I spent a lifetime filing out the inside of the ring to be a circle, since it was all jagged from the varying lengths of tubing. It's cool, but I have no desire to do it again.

We just finished project number 3, but that will have to wait for another post!