Saturday, June 6, 2015

Natura abhorret a vacuo

This piece, called "Nature abhors vacuum", was made for a competition organized by one of Polish jewellery making schools. The theme was vacuum/emptiness (Polish word "pustka" actually can be interpreted in a lot of ways). It felt really inspiring and it made me think about the idea that vacuum is like the priciest jewel - so rare, with a life so short - immediately "destroyed" by Nature. I wanted to catch this feeling of temporariness, constant movement, that hostility and greediness of Nature. Beautiful, but blind, thus scary. And this little jewel of emptiness, in the very centre, just for a blink of an eye. When I look at it, it also makes me think that sometimes emptiness is even more precious, because it's a reminder of something that was there. And filling this empty space, which is inevitable, is like loosing something again. So why not to freeze that moment - even if only like this.

This piece feels quite sad  actually, on some level it's simply about death, or maybe I am just in a little bit dark place right now. Anyway, funny feeling - I think it's the very first piece in my life I am truly in peace with. I am deliberately not saying "happy with". It's a different feeling. I just wouldn't change anything.

Enough of serious talking ;-). Let me show you a few photos I took while making this pendant. First, as usually, I made a sketch which later led me through the whole process. My sketches are not super detailed. I just want to catch a feeling, general idea etc. I just need to know what I meant.

I wanted the pendant to have a lot of volume, to create really sculptural look, but obviously, because I decided to work with silver (PMC Sterling in this case) I didn't want to use too much of the material. That's why main elements are openwork or empty inside. By the way - I took this photo also because I liked the way how I accidentally positioned these three "worms" - it made me think about an idea for another piece.

I attached my three, empty "worms" to the backgroud and started working on building the whole composition, details etc. It's not so clearly visible in this photo, because there is only a slight difference in colour, but sometimes, when I want to see how something will look like, I make it from polymer clay first, and place it where I want it to go (these three fangs), just to test the idea. Sometimes it's convenient to put an element made of wet clay in the right place quite quickly, while it's still elastic. That's why it's nice to know beforehand what I really want to do with it ;-).

First textures and some new elements... And of course my very favourite tool - scalpel blade. No, the flowers are for something different ;-).

Some carving, slip painting, drilling, filing, forming wet clay... I just use whatever technique I need to use, to get the look I want.

More and more details. I wanted to create totally different textures on each element, to get this feeling of abundance in Nature. But I didn't want to end up with any kind of a sweet-cute-Nature-flowers&peace look, rather something more primordial, predacious, but still with this kind of a flow which makes you think of an inward movement.

Then I moved to the center of the composition. I thought about colonisation, uncontrolled growth, Nature filling every possible space. And the thing is that I even don't mean Nature only in terms of biology and the Earth. Do you know how difficult it is to find perfect vacuum? Well, it's actually impossible. This is how rare this "gem" is.

And here is the pendant ready for firing. Because it was made of  PMC Sterling, and I still have some problems with distortion in case of rings, I was afraid that something so complex might change its shape really badly in firing. I took a piece of ceramic paper and cut out an opening inside it, so when I placed the pendant on it, the bail fitted into the opening (and to the carbon beneath paper) and the pendant lied perfectly flat. I also stuck little bits of ceramic fiber inside empty elements and supported some raised parts that could droop. Stainless steel mesh cage went on top, to prevent pieces of activated carbon from getting in between parts of my pendant. Then of course more activated carbon, and the whole thing went into the kiln. It sounds more complicated than it was ;-).

Honestly I was even a little bit surprised how well it fired. There was no distortion at all. At least I didn't see anything aparent - the "flow" was still there. I was super happy when I saw it. Then some oxidation and finishing, and it was done. This time it was pure metal clay technique piece. Nothing else.

So, here are a few more photos :-). The results of the competition weren't announced yet, but honestly, this was just an excuse to make this piece. I guess this is what all competitions are about ;-).