Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meltdown, or Working with Reclaimed Materials

I love working with recycled stuff. Right after encaustics, it's my very favorite thing. I have a show up this month at 100th Monkey Studio Gallery - I'm the featured artist in their Recycle Reuse show this month.

Of course, the thing with reclaimed materials is that they are, by their very nature, unpredictable. Take this assemblage I made, for instance. I used a cigar box, an old plastic trophy part, dowels, wire, some old maps, a craft store cardinal - all pretty standard, right? And I used two of my favorite glues to put it together - E6000 (a glue recommended for use with plastics) and Mod Podge.

Now, you may notice something a bit odd. Something that led to the phone call I got yesterday. From the gallery. "Ahem, Bridget, your assemblage is melting." My first thought was that the E6000 and the styrofoam in the middle of the craft store cardinal were not getting along well. But no. The stem of the trophy was collapsing.

Now, this is something every encaustic artist dreads hearing. It's rare for a well-made encaustic piece to melt under normal circumstances, but in direct sunlight in a car window in Arizona while you go have lunch, well, things can happen.

It is, however, a phone call that one doesn't expect to get about an assemblage that doesn't include any wax.

I went over to the gallery today, marked the piece as "Not for Sale", examined the way the E6000 was dissolving the plastic of the trophy into a melty goo, decided I actually like it better with the trophy dipping at an angle, did a quick fix with hot glue, and walked away thinking "Lesson learned."

Then, I remembered that I had found two of those used trophy parts at SCRAP when I bought them years ago, and had used one of those trophy parts in a piece I'd completed back in 2007 or 2008.

A piece for a different show at the SAME GALLERY.

A piece on which I had used the SAME GLUE (E6000) to glue the SAME TROPHY PART to a wooden box. A piece, you will notice, that has remained distinctly UN-MELTED.

Next time, I'll try putting it together with rivets.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Art and Healing: Part One

A little over a month ago, a friend of mine died.

It was sudden; she was relatively young and had seemed to be in good health. Just the week before, she had given a dance performance. Her death was a huge shock. It was incredibly painful. And most of March is just a blur.

One of the first things I did, a way of coping, of dealing with it, was to make art. In partnership with another good friend of mine, I decorated boxes to be given to her husband and her two daughters, boxes to hold mementos.

And I started working on a few other pieces. Some encaustics. A portrait of my friend and an image of a nest, the bird gone. The image of what's left behind.

Putting them together, they seem to tell a story. A story that helps. At least a little bit.