Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hunting, Gathering, Creating

Cabinet photographs from a yard sale
Some of the photo cards have elaborate designs on the back

My hunting and gathering urges were satisfied (for a while) last Saturday! I hit three garage sales, and got a lot of cool stuff for just the amount I'd set aside. Even got a couple of freebies.

More cabinet photos from my new stash

I have such mixed feelings coming upon a large collection of these old photographs. I always wonder how people can let go of their old family pictures, even if maybe they aren't sure who all the people in the photos are. I'm lucky to have lots of family photos of my ancestors on both sides. Some are original and many images are on a CD my uncle put together. It's impossible for me not to wonder about these garage sale photos and to imagine stories about the people in them.

Pages from my great-grandma Mary's photograph album. I'm not sure who the couple on the left are. The baby on the right is one of Mary's children who later died in infancy. She had six children, three who died as babies, and three who lived long lives.

A "look at" doll I got for 4.00

When I was a child I had lots of dolls who looked like this one, though mine were usually bride dolls. Apparently my relatives and family friends who gave them to me in the 1950's wanted to prepare me for my future, as they saw it. The dolls were elaborately dressed and coiffed. My mother called them "look at" dolls, hoping to preserve them in the same state they came in. Of course it didn't work. I played with them, undressed and redressed them, made alterations to their clothes, and once performed a haircut on one. I regretted this last action as soon as I'd done it, and was prostrate with grief for a good half hour.

Below is an old lantern I found at a second hand store. To me this lantern embodies the concept of Wabi-Sabi.

I have the fortune, or misfortune of living close to an antiques mall. Look at the bargain I found earlier this week! (Below)

Vintage electrical parts cabinet for the studio

The "larger" drawers. Perfect for holding widgets and rivets.

I found a few electrical gew-gaws in these smaller drawers and promptly used them in art pieces.

I've been having fun continuing to play with my book projects from Art Unraveled. I'm making progress on the Petite Vintage book from Traci Lyn and Marylin Huskamp's class.

One side of my fabric accordian book.

I printed images of family photos on iron-on paper. I then ironed the reversed images onto muslin. Then I added the images to the book with Steam A Seam. I'll be adding more embellishments on this section before moving to the other side of the book.

You know, I have to admit I haven't really gotten the thrill many mixed media artists express from fabric and notions. I sewed a little in the late sixties, seventies, and early eighties. Once I became a painter and expanded my horizons I didn't miss sewing at all.

However, making this fabric book has changed all that. I still don't want to sew clothes, but working with fabric, ribbon, and notions to make a piece of art feels exciting! I actually went to the fabric section of JoAnn and picked out some remnants and trim to add to my book and felt a pleasant frisson at being close to fabric again. I even ordered some vintage rickrack on etsy. Rickrack, yet! I haven't seen that up close since I was a kid. But now...I get it!

Vintage journal closeup (I guess it is now a photo album)

My great great grandparents embellished on the page. He fought in the Civil War and I knew their daughter in law well--my great grandma Nellie.

Another great-grandfather, Benjamin

Finally the City Inspectors have pronounced the plumbing and electrical work in my new studio to be Very Good. Now the rest of the work should go pretty quickly. We're still aiming for mid-September for completion. The great thing is that I have already started to work in there. I have never had a decent set up to do encaustic work, and as a result, have done little of it lately. Now that there's new wiring in the studio I was able to set up my encaustic station. Finally, enough outlets and plenty of room to move around. The old cabinet and counter arrangement that came with the garage worked great. I can't express how much better I felt working in there!

Plenty of space and outlets

The Portland chapter of International Encaustic artists is having a "jam session" retreat this Saturday. We're gonna spend all day playing with encaustic. I volunteered to do a demo on using 3-D elements in encaustic. Now, this is something I've done very little of, so I knew if I had to demo it would force me to get experimenting. I was able to use some of the electrical gadgetry I found in my new old drawers in the pieces below.

First Experiment

This as yet untitled piece contains: encaustic medium and paint on wood, fabric, vintage photo reproduction on muslin, a vintage British bus ticket, text from a favorite book, what I think are fuses, a fancy metal mini hanger, an image of a vintage hot air balloon, some electrical type cord, and vintage watch parts.

Hey, Nonny No

A Shakespeare (if it is indeed he) lid of a small mints tin inspired this piece which also contains: encaustic medium and paint on wood, silver colored copper wire, fabric trim, an old necklace I found around the house, a solo earring, and a blossom of Queen Anne's Lace.

The Medium

Encaustic medium and paint on wood, a vintage electrical thingy, repro. of vintage photo, and a round plastic thingy with a bit of oil paint over it.

Next, I want to try putting more layers of wax on the support so that I can explore embedding an object deeper into the wax. I'd be doing it now, if it wasn't so darn hot! (No fans in new studio yet, alas.)

Coming up....Art and Soul Portland, and Portland Open Studios...


Dayna Collins said...

I can't even begin to leave a comment 'cause I'm so enthralled with what all you shared! Great garage sale finds. I love the electrical drawers. Dolls (swoon). Finally, your encaustic pieces are lovely.

afoolishmaven said...

the encausticx are quite lovely

wish you were on the east coast

Buena Onda said...

Hey Serena, I'm so happy to have rediscovered your blog. It's a good way to keep up with you since I never see you. The new studio looks great and I know that a lot of creative energy will be unleashed. Hope to see you soon. Allan

Serena Barton said...

Thanks to all commenters, near (Dayna and Allen) and Chrissie(far.)

Chrissie, what beautiful book pages I just saw on your blog. Allen, I miss you too. Promise I'll get over to Onda soon.