Since I first saw Karen Margolis’ wire sculptures created by joining together the curves of hundreds of circles, I knew this exercise was going to appeal to me:
Joining Curves: Karen Margolis
I love the way her ‘columns’ are neatly constructed from multiple circles of wire, each individually coiled, painted and attached to its neighbour. Creating the components alone must have been a lengthy, painstaking process. This type of making really resonates with me, it represents commitment and dedication. As I look at the structures I feel a sense of calm, I think to myself how much I would enjoy making something like that and how soothing the repetitious nature of the task must have been.
It is fortunate that Margolis salvaged the transparent paper on which the units dried as the residual prints have formed beautiful, informal patterns of colour which when displayed hanging alongside the constructions compliment them beautifully. Again, this struck a chord with me, I often save the ‘clean up pieces’ and the table protection from my own work. I feel the unpredictable and random combinations of marks and colour accidently produced by a project are really valuable. They are much more painterly and dynamic than my controlling nature can create first hand. I believe they add an exciting element to my work, it was great to see Margolis identify this also and find a way to incorporate this part of the making process into her final installation.
Curves that Touch and Leave Gaps:
In this exercise I tried to ensure that I drew each sample as I made it. I have found drawing provides an opportunity to pause and really look at what has been created. Maybe this method provides ‘thinking space’ allowing previous research and new making to percolate and feed through into the next sample?
For example: after making this sample I could see that it appears lighter and more experimental than what I have produced before, although it still contains repetition and grid-like elements. It was only as I drew it I began to appreciate the sense of fluidity and movement that I suspect came from earlier research into Louise Bourgeois.
The next sample was somewhat disappointing. The weight of the metal rings made the units heavy, the fine crochet cotton seemed inappropriate when stitched at this scale: more suited to a delicate application. The joins I made to link the rings together were uninspiring and the arrangement made it look like the plastic that holds a pack of four beer cans! I forgot to photograph the finished sample before I used it on the Gelli Plate which is no great problem because it was so boring! I managed to produce a few interesting prints from it so all was not lost, I particularly like the one photographed below where the block of four rings has been repeated. The simple use of circles on rectangles, curves next straight lines and the slightly haphazard way the grid falls apart at the edge once more remind me to invite imperfection into my work.
Bare metal was used in the first sample, providing a very united effect. I wanted to combine different textures so decided once again to wrap the hoops individually before joining. I didn’t like the combination of a fine crochet cotton and heavy ring, so chose to I decided bind the hoops with strips of torn calico. Initially, I thought this would provide soft a base in which to stitch the circles together but thinking about the tearing exercise from Part One and my efforts to achieve a different finish on the edges and surface I sought a different join. I eventually selected strips of thin copper, intending to use the patina as a dye.
In my drawing I tried to capture the weight that this sample has, the broad strips of copper suit the solidity of the piece although they are loose enough that some movement is still possible. This is important because the slight shifting of the circles distorts the alignment of the grid, adding character.
I soaked a small piece of copper/calico in white vinegar and waited and waited and waited for something to happen! I knew I should get a greenish-blue but absolutely nothing happened! Eventually the solution evaporated enough to allow air to reach the copper and- boom! the patina developed. I should have researched this method in more detail first; I knew I needed vinegar to create a greenish-blue tinge but I submersed the sample as I would when dyeing with rust. Apparently one should soak the object in vinegar and salt for a short period and then remove it to a humid area, allowing oxygen to do its bit. Who knew?! (I bet you did Inger!)
I like the texture and colour of the distressed copper and sure enough the fabric has absorbed more colour along the edges. I now need to soak the sample above and see what happens (I am only slightly hesitant – I don’t want my entire submission to smell of vinegar!
I then used smaller rings, wrapping them with DK yarn before joining them with strips of leather secured with a stitch of linen thread. The leather strips are simpler in proportion to the copper joins above but now the hoops are a smaller scale they look rather clumsy. I really enjoyed making the sample. What excites me most is that I did not adhere to either square or hexagonal stacking formation, I used a combination of both. Some rings have more joins attaching them than others, this has created an uneven surface that reminds me of Margolis structures more than my other samples. I probably would have made this larger, it felt like it had the potential to grow and spread but the miscalculation of the thickness of the leather deterred me- any more than four joins on one ring and the colour and texture of the yarn wrapping would be hidden.