Monday, February 18, 2008

I amuse myself

Art-making, as I said in a recent post, can often involve as much engineering as painting. Art-making can also take you down some extremely odd paths. To wit:

This past week I had a book out from the library called 500 Handmade Dolls: Exploration of the Human Form (somewhat mis-titled, as quite a few of the included pieces can hardly be called "human") and got inspired to make some paper wings for a doll. I had a bunch of pieces of kraft paper (which in my last art-making experiment had been soaked in a bucket for varying lengths of time to discover the optimum soaking time for getting rid of sizing before the paper started to disintegrate) and they were nice and crinkly, but I wanted them to be softer, more translucent, more leathery-skin-looking. Like grease-soaked paper. I mentally reviewed my available list of oily substances: cooking oil? would get nasty and rancid. Jojoba oil would not turn, but no way was I going to waste expensive jojoba on an experiment. What I had on hand that I thought would grease up paper nicely was petroleum jelly-based skin cream.

So I took a section of paper and a wide flat brush and the tube of goo and started painting. Unfortunately, it didn't want to sink in, and I realized that it is usually helped along by the warmth of the skin, so... into the microwave, at 40%, for about 20 seconds. Then it was *too* greasy, so I folded it into another piece of brown paper and burnished the whole package with my hands. What I was left with was two pieces of flexible, slightly translucent, slightly oily brown paper. In retrospect, maybe I should have colored the paper before I greased it up. I think it may still take textile paint pretty well, which is translucent itself. Will post pics of the results later. In any case, my sister suspects I am a loon for this kind of pursuit.

Edited 9-13-08 because I finally remembered to put this pic up. I cut two pieces of copper wire the same length and folded them simultaneously into wing-ish-shapes (rather than shape one and then try to match it - never had much success that way), then covered them with the oiled paper, trimmed to shape, folded the edges over and glued them in place. Still haven't tried painting them, but one of these days one of my creations will cry out for oiled brown paper wings and I'll be ready!


KatDoc said...

you call that art? in my house, we call it "making a mess." you, ma soeur, are a Gavia immer (Common Loon)

Love ya,


Lisa said...

Of *course* it's "making a mess." Why do you think I do it? So I can indulge my inner five-year-old (the one who says, "Ooh, buy me a can of frosting and a box of graham crackers for lunch!") and pass it off with "I'm creating art."

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think you are creative and inventive. ONe must be to get to where one is going.

I have used olive oil to "grease" shells so that you can see the color better. It soaks in and so far hasn't been noticiably yucky. It did the job.

Peggy Payne said...

About art as engineering: a fairly well-known sculptor I know says he thinks art is a blue-collar job.

I'm a writer, so can't really speak to that, except to say that the "glamour" in the arts does tend to be in the eyes of the beholders.

The processes are really pretty much a matter of doing the work and then redoing it and keeping going and not giving up.