I've been making good use of the dry weather and working outside cutting and sanding new stones. I need to make a sizeable collection of work for Yorkshire Sculpture Park by the end of June. As I've mentioned before, part of this work will come from new designs inspired by the grounds and the exhibits at YSP - which is currently Jaume Plensa.
As well as writing about my YSP collection, I will document creating finished pieces from the initial stages of cutting blocks of resin into stones. For the benefit of people who are unfamiliar with my work, I've interspersed images of finished pieces throughout this post to give an idea of how the resin looks when it is polished and mounted.
Whilst juggling my baby steps blog writing and progressing my YSP work, I've been thinking about my first experience with resin back in college. Our 1st year plastics tutor Sarah Thirlwell asked us to bring in a selection of interesting organic or manmade items to use in the demonstration she was to give us all. After a last minute lunchtime scarper to Fred Aldous and a rivel through the scarps draw, (apologies Sarah), I was good to go.
Sarah showed us the basics of mixing resin with the hardener and we all plopped our chosen artifacts into the clear resin, with varying degrees of success. Mine was one of the worst by a mile. My best efforts were two army action figures simulating a sexual act, followed by 'The Swan Lake Massacre' - feathers, sparkles and netting shoved into an ice cube tray filled with resin. Ground breaking.
Over the following weeks I focused on experimenting with colour in my samples. My Art & Design background is in printed textiles where colour is paramount and I noted that all the resin and plastics work I researched were (for my taste) lacking subtly of colour and mostly straight from the pot. My second goal was to introduce another element to the resin which enhanced my design, rather than becoming the focal point of the piece. I wanted to work with the material (resin), rather than relegating it to a supporting role i.e. see how lovely Aunty Vera's hair/teeth/favourite object d'art looks encapsulated in resin. This thought is the one which has continued to inspire me ever since.
After 6 weeks of 15hrs per day, I managed to produce my first resin bangles and designs which I still use today. I also required two courses of antibiotics to clear up an infection which had developed in my thumb - sanding injuries exacerbated by resin dust, sintered metals and blood, sweat and tears.
|One of six designs. The shape for these came from drawings I made of |
|A later incarnation of one of my early Japanese stencil designs - neutral colours,|
sintered brass inclusions and for the first time, a subtle use of pattern
Throughout this 1st yr college project, we discussed our successes and failures - our samples and eventually, our finished pieces. The predominant feedback was how difficult a medium this was to work with because so many things had gone wrong for so many people, from melting plastic cups of resin through to resin that refused to set. Our course tutor had been constantly telling us that we must strive to find our own unique style, method or process. I figured that resin might be worth further investigation, because it was clearly so challenging.
|Blocks of resin in the unpromising early stages|
Above is a block of resin after an appointment with the belt sander removing the top layers of resin and sintered metal residue, (so that I can make out the pattern and some of the colours underneath). Below, the same block has been sanded further and the alluminium and silver can be seen within the tree pattern.
|Tree design - this evolved from a drawing I made of the tree which is situated|
outside my studio window
|Bandsaw and belt sander outside in the garden. My faithful companion, Bonny|
is lying in her favourite spot, watching me work
The pictures above and below show how the blocks look after they have been further sanded. At this stage I then decide how best to carve these up by drawing possible stone shapes on the surface.
|Cutting up the larger resin blocks into manageable pieces|
|This is a cross section through the resin slab, showing the many different layers|
within a block
After I've decided how a block is going to used, I cut around the pen marks using a bandsaw. The pendant below is similar in size to the stone cut out above.
Obviously the colours seen here are nothing like those of the original stones (although I have done several blocks in their more neutral colours). When I'm making blocks, I might use bits of fabric, paintings or photographs to inspire the choice of colours used on any given day.
|Jane Dzisiewski: Izar design - pendant and ball chain|
|A selection of stones after first sand|
|Jane Dzisiewski: Tree and Japanese Stencil design|
|A selection of stones after first sand (belt sander)|
|After second sand using Dremel|
|After second sand using Dremel|
The design for the brooch below, evolved from the piece of crocheted silver set within the resin. I made a drawing of this, which I then used to create the decorative silver back as well as the block of resin, from which I cut the tear drop stone.
|Jane Dzisiewski: Crocheted Stone design - brooch|
For the next two weeks I will be sanding and polishing the stones I've cut, as well as producing work for an exhibition at Manchester Craft & Design Centre called Constructions. This is a unique show highlighting the different methods, techniques and processes used by some of Manchester's designer/makers. Contributors are Eve Redmond, Lucy Harvey, Sadie Blythin , Janet Worrall and Deborah Zeldin O'Neill.