Friday, August 29, 2014

Urban fantasy mould making

The Canberra glass works had lots of school groups doing the tour today. Always fun to see such enthusiasm from the young ones, and amusing the attitude of indifference from the teens.

Amongst chatting to tours I made another piece and then made moulds. I love seeing the positive and negative space together.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Urban fantasy series and new clay

As well as trying out a new clay, which I like (thank you Ede Horton), I'm starting a new series of cast glass sculptures based on the genre fiction of 'urban fantasy'. Urban fantasy is a sub genre of fantasy fiction, where instead of magical lands in far away places, the enchantment occurs in contemporary, real-world, suburbs and cities. Some of my favourite authors in this genre are Charles de Lint, Kim Wilkins and Helene Wecker. The 1990's TV series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' is a good example, though a different format.

Today I have been shaping the 'location' aspect, fragments of urban landscapes. The front of the pieces will have different mythical beasties in silhouette sandblasted on the front.  These are for a group exhibition in Melbourne, called Silhouettes.
for this piece I imagine a Griffin

A jackalope for this one
and a pegasus for this one

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Kate Forsyth 'spotlights' my art

Kate Forsyth is one of my favourite writers. Author of the Witches of Eileanan series, 'Bitter Greens', 'The Wild Girl' and most recently 'Dancing on Knives'. Kate's novels are inspired by myth, folklore and fairytale and she writes for adults and children. I loved the 'Witches of Eileanan', a full on fantasy tale on a different world. Full of faery creatures and dragons, enchantment, love, betrayal and magic.

My other favourite is 'Bitter Greens', a retelling of the Rapunzel tale. 'Bitter Greens' cleverly braids together 3 stories. I love the complexity of the storytelling. There are for me 3 levels of reality / realism / fiction:
One strand is historical romance, a real woman by the name of Charlotte Rose de la Force, we follow the events of her scandalous life in the court of Louis 14th that lead up to her writing "Persinette' the forerunner to the Grimms' Rapunzel. Another strand is the retelling of the Rapunzel tale, a fully rendered version of Charlotte Rose's literary fairy tale. Not real, but a tale already living in our popular culture consciousness. The third strand is pure imagination and tells us the story of the Sorceress who imprisons our Rapunzel. All the stories entwine naturally to create a rich, immersive read.

Kate has also recently published a book called 'Two Selkie tales from Scotland' with illustrator Fiona McDonald. How perfect!

So take a look at Kate's 'Spotlight' on my work here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Look what arrived in this morning's post...

A signed copy of Jack Zipes' latest book The Golden Age of Folk and Fairy Tales arrived in my letter box this morning. As you can see I have a fair collection of his work already. Very happy to have another to add to my bookshelf.

Heidi of the wonderful Surlalune website comments that "Jack Zipes is currently the most prolific editor and author in fairy tale and folklore studies".

and from Five, an interview discussing Fairy Tales and Zipes' top 5 books informing his view on the relevance of Fairytales.

Jack Zipes is Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota and is very happily retired from the corporate university. He was the co-founder of New German Critique, a journal of interdisciplinary studies and was editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to Fairy TalesThe Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature and The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Children’s Literature. He was also the founder of Neighborhood Bridges, a storytelling/creative drama programme in the elementary schools of the Twin Cities and is the editor of the Princeton University Press series, Oddly Modern Fairy Tales.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Depths & Shallows Artist floor talk

Our exhibition is winding to a close tomorrow, but before it ends we (Spike Deane, Emilie Patteson and Alexandra Frasersmith) are having an artist floor talk today at 2pm. M16 Artspace.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Plasmodesmata commission and cat

Working on the design offerings for a commission based on plasmodesmata. Thistle doesn't care.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hand or Footprint Casting Tutorial


Making a plaster cast of your hand print or footprint is another way to look at the casting process. Easy, because you just press your hand or foot into clay leaving an imprint behind, a bit like when you leave a footprint in sand at the beach or a boot print in mud. Then you fill up the ‘hand or foot shaped space’ with plaster. When the plaster sets and hardens you have a replica of your hand print.  

 So what do you need? And where can you get it?

  • Something to cast in that is big enough for your hand or foot. A shallow dish. Plastic and foil are good because they are flexible...or try as I have  and use a silicon cake mould. I got mine from the op-shop.

  • Clay or play-doh from your craft store

  • Plaster also known as plaster of Paris. You can buy small amounts of plaster from Hardware stores (like Bunnings) or craft stores (like Eckersleys). I get through a lot so I buy mine in 20kg bags.  There is also light weight plaster you can get from craft shops.
  • A container to mix your plaster and water. You can use a jug or a small bucket.
  • Water 
  • Spoon or paddle pop stick for mixing
  • To be safe wear a dust mask when scooping or pouring plaster powder.



Time to start!

Make a smooth layer of clay or play-doh in the bottom of your 'casting dish'

Press your hand firmly into the clay. You may need to push your fingers in further with your other hand or get a friend to help.


Remove your hand and see the imprint left behind

If you have a deep dish like mine, you won't need to fill up all the space with plaster. To remind my self I mark a line to the thickness I want. 
  •  Making the plaster. Follow the instructions on your packet! Some products can be different.

  • I always add plaster to water. Pour some water into a jug or bucket and sprinkle the plaster onto the water. You can see it dissolve into the water. When it stops dissolving and you can see plaster on the surface, you can stop adding. Then stir your plaster (using a spoon or paddle) mix gently until it's the consistency of a smoothie or pancake batter.

    Pour your plaster into your dish and tap the sides of your container to encourage any bubbles to rise to the surface.
        Now you need to wait for the plaster to set. Plaster, as it hardens goes through an 'exothermic' reaction. That means it produces heat. As the plaster sets, it starts off cool then it heats up and then cools again. Once it has cooled after heating you know that it is almost set and ready.

a warning...Don't submerge your hand or foot in a container of plaster while it is setting. Because of the exothermic chemical reaction (the plaster generates heat) your skin can get burned if it is surrounded by a thick layer of plaster.

When the plaster is set, remove your mould. Peel and clean off the clay.

And now you have a plaster cast of your hand! 

Let the plaster dry thoroughly for a couple of days and then you can paint and decorate your cast. Or drill some holes so you can hang it up.  Have a search on the Internet to get your imagination flowing.