For more than five years I have been working on discovering mediums, materials, equipment and techniques to create the images that are in my head and sketch books. At last all the elements have come together! After adding a butane torch to my studios I have been able to produce more minute and delicate flowers and stems.
Using these methods I have prepared a series of wildflower sculptures to follow closely on the heels of the Tulips Imaginarium series. Miniature pansies, violets, daisies and grasses are being put together in little 4-8 inch stems with hand cut copper leaves the size of your fingernail! Its been a delight and a huge challenge.
Because there is a lot of sanding in painting biscuit ware (or unglazed ware as I call it) there is a fine balance to sculpting the flowers fine enough to be translucent but strong enough to endure up to 6 sandings throughout the many firings. The pansies and violets, no bigger than 3/4 inch were the finest petals to sculpt so far.
These sculptures are like Botanical drawings in Porcelain but with a twist of added nature companions. I look forward to showing this work in May or June. Look for it on this site, Splash Gallery, Olympia, WA or Ghost Gallery, Seattle, WA.
In the Past I have found it so useful to read what other artists and craftspeople make and how they make it.
So I thought I would share the materials I use and where I get them. It has not been easy to find everything I need to make this work and in some cases has taken years to establish where and how to do it. I order almost nothing online as I believe in keeping local stores open.
CLAY BODIES (cone 6)
1. English Grolleg Porcelain from Clayart center in Puyallip, WA:
-used for: Black and White works(like Seawomen series)
-A easier to sculpt porcelain, but with a creamier look. Does not work well with China paints because it doesn't vitrify at cone 6
2. New Zealand Porcelain From Clayart Center:
-used for china painted sculpture
- hard to sculpt, though more plastic than some other porcelains I have tried....and haven't managed to make anything over 14 inches yet
3. Newcomb & Soldate 60 (Laguna): I am just trying these two out for more traditional sculpting
MS-29 Laguna Clear:
I use only clear glaze. My favorite for years was an old coveted jug of pink glaze from Duncan. It probably had lead in it but it was beautiful and easy to use. I now use Black and White works(like Seawomen series) :. But it is chunky and grey going on so its hard to monitor the layers. It is reliable for use with high kaolin porcelain like New Zealand from Clayart center and can be bought in most ceramic stores.
10 sizes of refer tube and wire: Home Depot (bulk ground wire and coils of refer tubing)and Ace hardware(smaller gauges)
Copper Sheet: .008 x 12x18 is size I used for most foliage. I bought the cutting tool and sheets(in 2 thicknesses) at Hobby Lobby.
2 part epoxy(not the gorilla kind)- HD or Ace
epoxy putty-HD or Ace
judikins diamond glaze-hobby lobby and michaels: use for knobs on insect legs
E6000- HD, Ace, Michaels, etc.
Estate sales, china painting expos, Maryland China
High fire Wire and Dremel Parts: I sometimes order from manufacturer or big distributors. I use the EZ lock 320 grit buffing wheels so order a lot at a time.
A friend and I were talking on the phone one night and we joked around about the insects I was making. She lives in Texas and cockroaches and cicadas are common there. Two Insects I don't see much living in Washington.
I was telling her about the cicadas and their pupae I was crafting and didn't think would sell well-especially the Pupae!!!! She mentioned that cockroaches were certainly not a favorite. As we were talking I suggested the cockroaches would be more marketable 'having tea'. She immediatly ordered a set! It made me laugh!
See it was marketable!!!!
I call this studio, STUDIO 2, when caring for my grandparents. My grandparents have Alzheimers and dementia, and I work with my cousin to assist them.
It helps me to continue my sculpture and painting into that environment as well. And yes I cart the porcelain work back and forth sometimes...on the train no less!!
Not only can I continue my studio work, it is good to be doing my thing while caring for them. Caregiving can be a bit stressful. In addition, my grandparents enjoy seeing someone nearby and they enjoy seeing the activity and artwork. I set up with them in the tv room or in the bedroom for more privacy (if you've ever assisted such folk you know one's own space is needed too).
Seen above is the production and fine sculpture work I am working on in this bimonthly batch. The mushrooms are a current 'product' so I make plenty to have in the gallery in Olympia. The tulips, orchids and insects are components from my new series Orchidea imaginarium and for a show in May 2021.
VIDEO GAME ILLUSTRATION
My little brother is working on a video game this year and we are collaborating on the illustrations for it. I do love to sketch but usually only prep drawings for future sculptures or ideas. Its been fun to push the rusty drawing skills out into the open again! Though drawing on paper is definitely preferable to me, I find learning new skills in any area is a great challenge as well.
I pulled out my dusty, be-webbed Wacom tablet this month to see if it would do the trick. I have little skill at using the tablet but am learning fast. Its great to have so many talented graphic artists sharing their videos online and this has helped a lot. Above is the test samples I finished last night.
DOING IT ALL....
Between laundry, cooking, sculpting, painting and all its been a good balance. The body needs to shift and get rests in between all these ventures, so it helps to move between them during the day.
In preparation for a Dutch Masters Show at Food Art Collection Gallery in Seattle, I am making tulips. Though at first I thought they would be so much easier than crafting an orchid, they have been surprisingly difficult.
When sculpting in porcelain, I roll the petals very thin but leave the centers heavier for support. During this process I find I have to work quickly to shape each petal and attach before the porcelain becomes dry. Those petals flop around and make a mess of things when just starting out! But each flower I make goes more smoothly and one develops a rhythm.
Parrot Tulips are experiencing another surge of attention and well.....they are spectacular!! I am working on a porcelain batch (see upper right). And the picture on Left is of striated versions, but painted on glaze not Biscuit. Both sets above are only in their first wave of painted layers so the colors will deepen from here.
Originating in Turkey, tulips reached a frenzy of fanaticism in the 15th century of Holland. Though the 'Tulip Mania' lasted a short time, 1636-1637, it probably ruined many a speculative tulip buyer.
The Golden age of Holland, 1500-1700 was awash in wealth and art and tulips! I have been indulging my own obsession with this time period of artistic expression. Every month, painting and sculpting my own wee studies of the flower still lives, and 'sottobosco' the forest floor paintings. If you have been reading my blog, Rachel Ryusch and Otto Marseus Van Schrieck are favorites.
The new tulips on forest floor still lives will be ready in May and listed on this site as well as showing on www.foodartcollection.com .
My favorite Rachel Ruysch, "A 'Forest Floor' still life of Flowers." shown below.
COME PURCHASE NEW smaller works AT A WONDERFUL LOCAL ARTIST COOP
Always striving to produce artwork that is unique and seen no where else in the world. The prices are very accessableAmong my work now showing at Splash Gallery in Olympia, WA are:
- Hand sculpted porcelain mushroom and acorn ornaments that have been carefully china painted
- 'No Kill' butterflies and moths mounted in studio made wood boxes that have 4 coats archival paint with uv and dust protection, and a sturdy hanging wire. (See on upper right a china painted Indonesian Owl Moth)
- Unique and marvelous forest floor still life's alive with butterflies, mushrooms, snails, mosses, and snakes.
- Snake, mushroom and mice figurines
- Amazing and ornate mirrors with minute metal work and porcelain and Crystal details.
If you are in the other states and see this work, you are welcome to contact me at the CONTACT PAGE on this site. I can send close ups of your favorites and if you want to buy, I can take your credit card # and ship most pieces.
Click on a picture below to go to a link on web giving information on the artists' work.
Mutualistic Relationships Of Orchidacea
As I venture on my own Orchid journey, each component I sculpt leads to a rabbit hole of others; blooms, then insects, the pollen, the fungi, the mosses, and more. Often I find falling in love with the subject matter helps to build the work in the studio or visa versa.
The family of orchids is an amazing exploration for anyone, as there is so much more about orchids than their beauty and placement in our living rooms. Darwin found in his exploration of orchids " The contrivances for insect fertilization in orchids are multiform and truly wonderful and beautiful".
Barbara Gravendeel of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands, said that the new studies show how orchids owe their diversity to a series of innovations. In one example, more often than not orchids evolved with their pollinators.
The amazing diversity in the evolution of orchids is partially due to its Pollinia. Like a sticky ball of pollen that is packet-like, it evolution led to unique ways to deliver it. This may have also led to reproductive barriers giving birth to new species. Pollinia is deposited often on the head of a visiting insect.
As I sculpt a tiny sample of the myriad of insect pollinators to grace the porcelain orchids I discover their amazing relationships, uniquely evolved for each kind of flower.
Orchids also have their own supportive links to mycorrhizae. Young orchids have co-relationships with fungi ('fungi symbionts'-cool name!) supplying them with carbohydrates and the fungi with moisture and more. Mosses and other animal partners also cooexist with orchids and make good examples of a world connected on every level, developed to collaborate in order to survive and change.
The journey of orchid evolution is fascinating. I have been reading books like: Understanding orchids:.... by WIlliam Cullina, Fertilisation of Orchids by Charles Darwin, and even The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean.