Sunday, June 16, 2013


I am underwhelmed by the blah background papers I have used for business cards and other printed stuff, so quite frequently I use different background materials that I've either manipulated, painted, or scanned. This one is a collaborative effort from stuff in the old bookcase (a handmade paper book folder), the closet (bits of ripped and torn wallpaper) and the wrapping paper drawer (the cellophane with daisies) which I put on the scanner recently.  I deliberately wanted a very muted background so that my business cards or other information  I want to print would dominate, but still with something interesting for the eyes to rest on when not focusing on the print. 

Speaking of background, I would love to include images of my most recent 'exhibition' piece, but unfortunately there is waaaaaaay too much background in any of the pictures I have of the current piece.  You see, I was invited to participate in a challenge recently at the Red River Exhibition, our city's annual (for want of a better name) FAIR.  It's mostly a carnival of rides, over-indulgence of cotton candy, mini-donuts and other stomach wrenching stuff and noisy, raucous music; but in by-gone days it really was an exposition of stuff hand-made and a small element of that still remains.  I doubt that many people will visit the Boxed 'n Extreme Gallery, but that is where my "School of Fish" is located.

It was a work completed in an inordinate amount of time (a week of evenings)...something I never should have done because I really couldn't do justice to it, but all in all, I had accepted the challenge and so yes, I had to do it.  The instructions were to display a piece of artwork that could fit in a five by five foot outdoor space.  YIKES!  Most of my stuff can fit in a five by five INCH space.  So I decided to make a large mobile type structure.

I know  that cured polymer is not adversely affected by the elements, except for prolonged exposure to intense sun and heat.  How do I know that? Well, when it comes to home decorating, I am basically lazy and once I hang a thing outside, that is its home "for-ev-er" and some of my mobiles have been hanging in our front entryway or on the patio for several years.  Through wind, rain, snow, 40 below and sun.  It rarely gets to 100 degrees Fahrenheit here  or 40 Celsius, so I figured our cool spring heat would not be an issue if I were to construct such a structure from polymer  clay. 

How would it be  hanging was another consideration for this composition.  I couldn't use my normal waxed linen or cotton cording...I was afraid that would succumb to heat (but hadn't tested it so wasn't sure) so I took the high road and opted for the reputable but much costlier Buna cord....for those of you who are unfamiliar, that is the stuff from which they make O-rings and gaskets etc.  It is a rubber like material that's pretty strong, a bit stretchy and well, just THE stuff that's so compatible with polymer things.  I needed at least fifty feet for my five-fish-mobile composition. Of course I didn't have that much and the local distributor had to order it from thousands of miles away.  And wouldn't you know, the stuff I ordered was WAY too thick.  Maybe I should have gone with that line.  Cheap.  Almost invisible.  And as the wife (and daughter) of a fisherperson,  it was plenty available.  In the end, I opted for some thinner Buna that I got on a quick exchange. 

Big signs saying "don't touch" (in a nice way) were printed and laminated.  Good thinking there because it has always been threatening to rain since the "EX" started, and I know we had at least one thundershower.  So far so good.  Everything weather proof.  I even gave the fish themselves three coats of Varathane satin outdoor protection.  (Alas, no SPF 45 for the fish available, and I even forgot to pack some while I was setting up, which meant Miss Pinkie went to school on Friday with cheeks rosier than normal).

The biggest headache of all was when it came to setting up the structure.  Sure...when I am at a Sale or show that's indoors, or even in a tent, I can hang mobiles from my portable clothesrack, suspended from shower curtain hooks.  But those racks have wheels and wouldn't be 'installed'...if you catch my drift.  Moreover, they are pretty flimsy and subject to toppling so the wind element would not be addressed.  We had to quickly come up with a makeshift 'aquarium' of all things that would still make the Ecole des Poissons visible.  Hubby concocted a four by four foot structure, which had to be assembled on site, and for two days, we scoured the roadside ditches for rocks that we could use as a riverbed/base to somewhat simulate a rocky bottom.  (Said rocks also served to weight down the 'container' lest a heavy wind set the box-kite-like structure airborne!)

The entire display is like an open frame with large sides but the final result, (if you don't count the supporting brackets, screws, clamps et al) does look like an open aquarium.  And the fishies...well they are happily turning one way and another in the breeze so that they are visible from all aspects, thus addressing the three dimensional concept of the sculpture component. 

This is all in the name of 'exposure' ... and you talk about background?  I think this is about as much as anyone wants to read or see about the background work that an artist has to do in order to display something.   Will it sell?  Well it really isn't supposed to be for sale.   It is part of a display.  Will I get it back?  Yes, unless some one steals it.  (Which brings me to a whole 'nother' subject (why do people say that) of trying to get insurance on such things.


1 comment:

Leslie Snowdon said...

Hi Pat, I was working as a volunteer for manitoba mutts during the ex and went to see the boxed art. I'm quite sure that yours was one i liked, but i'd like to see a pic of it. is it possible to post one?