Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Source

Today I have chosen something quite experimental.
It is a medal, but not this time made out of traditional materials - eg bronze, silver, aluminium etc.

It was in fact made at a time that I was experimenting with various casting resins.

Like most artists I love experiments - I think it is one of the definitions of an artist - in my humble opinion of course but I did say most artists very carefully at the start of this sentence.

Speaking with other artists we often admit that it is the same as playing. We try things out but not always with a complete end result in mind. We just try out the medium and see what it can do. Or we mess about with a technique or in this case the boundaries of what a medal actually is.

We ask questions and then we answer them, but not always in a serious way. Often we play with the answers, playing with the words and through them, the ideas.

We love to push boundaries and see how far we can take things, whether it be the subject matter or the paint. We love to mess things up and then tidy them out again and it is even more fun when they don't tidy out quite right! That is when you get something new and exciting. We often refer to this state as the 'Happy Accident' I just love happy accidents. Some of my best work has contained several HAs or even been a complete HA!

Even as I write this I am playing with the language and trying out ideas in my head about the meaning of being an artist. It is funny how important that is.

Now you might think that I am digressing at this point, but if you look at the title of this piece which is called 'The Source' you will understand that what I am speaking about is a source for inspiration or technique in my work. So rather cleverly, just when you thought that all was lost and I was totally entangled in my tongue, I have brought everything back home again. Without so much as a glimmer of an accident happy or otherwise.

So, as you can see 'The Source' is cast from polyester resin

I tried another clear resin at the same time. Urethane. Now urethane was unarguably a nicer sort of resin to work with. It has very little smell so you can use it indoors and do not need a mask. However, it is not as easy to cast without very expensive, large equipment, such as a vacuum. It is very hard to cast a piece without bubbling occurring. There was some other problem too as I cast my mind back, but I can't quite remember what it was. That was very frustrating indeed and very expensive as yet another casting bit the dust

Polyester resin on the other hand is absolutely lethal. The first time i used it I had no idea and my studio and home were reeking, not to mention the fumes I inhaled! On that first occasion I remember having a small drink when I had finished my work - honestly it was not much - not a whole bottle or anything! But by gum did it take effect! i was swaying and wobbling all over the house afterwards. So the next day I went back to the shop and bought one of those space masks with great big filters on either side and a mouth and nosepiece that sinks into your face to create a seal. Wonderful! I look like a battle scarred warrior when I take it off as it presses great big grooves across the bridge of my nose and down my cheeks. But it is definitely a necessary evil.

I learned a lot about the resins at that time - obviously I forget bits, but another thing I do remember is that when i was casting a larger piece in polyester it turned slightly yellowish as it cured. I solved that in the end by mixing in less catalyst as that was making it heat up too much and literally burning itself and causing the discolouration. Interesting huh?

Ployester also tended to react with the new silicon mould that I was casting from and left a tacky surface. That can be solved apparently by cooking the mould gently in the oven for a length of time. I cannot remember exactly why this is, but there is some residue left in the new mould after making it that has to be laid to rest. But in the end I never actually got that far with them before moving house and as all my equipment is now in storage it will be some time before i do any more experimental casting again.

So, to get back to the actual medal (eventually) I poured the medal into a silicon mould I had prepared with a printout of my image made on a printable overhead sheet. Tadaaaaa!

I am not sure if the photo here shows the medal to the best advantage, but it is difficult sometimes to photograph such things.

Something really nice came out of this medal though, as i took it with me to a BAMS conference that year and one of the other artists took a real fancy to it and asked me if I would do a swap, as I had admired one of her own experimental medals. I was thrilled to pieces because I love Nicola Moss's work - I always have and now i own one of her medals too.

I cannot find her website right now but you can see one of her medals on this link

and may I say once again that far from getting off the point I have once again brought today's theme full circle when I tell you that when i was speaking with Nicky she was wondering whether to call the above medal 'The Source' so there!

No comments: