I’ve had an unwanted break from the studio, it’s really being bothering me. When I had other things that needed to do, pulling me away from the studio where I’d rather work full time (if only I could). Enough moaning and I’ve had a really good day, doing more than I had expected again. Beginning the day wrapping the largest element that would later form the cross-section of a gold mine.
Once that was wrapped in brown paper I was ready to fix them all into position. Taking into consideration the difficulty of blending in each section, leading me to work on the 2nd element sooner than I thought. During this long process I ran out of the brown paper I was using, switching to a much lighter stone colour, which thankfully works OK at this stage as it suggests extra work has been carried out by the miners digging into different rock.
I finished the day making a start on the cave at the bottom, which became to arches (of sorts) which acts as legs that support the entire piece. I’ll be wrapping them up next time and working on the other ends to create the cave effect to. So far It looks far more defined, it’s taken more work to bring it to this level. This piece shows that a lot of progress has been made. I’m considering buying more balsa to work on buttresses for another test (or to add to this piece) which will hopefully show more progress. This piece whatever form it may take is using a lot of material, both recycled and new. I’m leaning towards an animation, which potentially will have more advanced sets since Playing with Plastic (2016) which was more floor based. This relies on more sculptural pieces to explore the work.
Today has been a challenge, one I hope I am meeting head on. The challenge to create layers that connect up. After some research I came across a model miniature that I am using as a reference for my own. I’ve taken a section to replicate in my cardboard style.
Taking the whole side of a box I began to sketch out a rough cross-section to build up a low-relief piece that I knew would keep me busy. It’s been a learning curve, I started out fleshing the roofs of both section of tunnel. I started to realise that I was going to fast, forgetting that I need to get to wrap those sections, I had two roofs set-up before this happened. I stopped to wrap up the first one before carrying on. Then I move on to flesh out the ground that connected with the layer below. Once I had that section in place I was busy wrapping again where I spend the rest of the day.I also added to supports above – forgetting the extra pieces so far.
I knew I wouldn’t finish the piece, with the base still to be added and more construction on the shaft too to begin. I’ll be adding some balsa too in that area. I’m happy with the sloping floor which I hope I can populate with cowboy figures and wagons, just to see if they fit at this stage.
I’ve made a few steps in the right direction now. Taking the base of last weekends model miniature and building underneath it a more cave like structure. I began by drawing up a series of pieces that had a more overtly arched shape. A shape that works quite well when I fixed them to the base and secured. I noticed that once I stood it up right it was top-heavy. I had to think about how to balance it out whilst also maintaining the look of the cave. I had a spare cardboard tube in the studio which I grabbed, cutting to size and butting into position.
Once I knew it was secure and able to stand up I began to wrap it up with brown paper once more. Again it went pretty well. I had enough time to make another base which I began to wrap. Now the step up, I wanted to join the two pieces together making it a whole piece. which was a bit slap-dash in places. I knew that it fitted my overall aesthetic and I could wrap over these parts. The good think about this work that any new additional parts that are created and joined can look naturally part of the whole with the help of the paper. I know that looking at this finished test piece that I could have wrapped it a bit better where the joins are hidden, that’s something that comes with time and practice of making these pieces. I’m also considering that the supports need to look more natural, maybe pieces of cardboard either side. It’s something to take to the next piece.
The next step is a big step is to make it possible for the layers to be connected to suggest that travel between them is possible. I know that can’t be steps, it might be a series of shafts, or could there be a staggered drop between layers. I’m imagining both options right now which need to be research before I make a quick piece like this again. It’s back to the research for now.
The aim of the day was to construct two layers of a tunnel, one, the entrance and a level below. I didn’t quite meet that but I have still made some progress as I can share below. I had a bit of a false start, even after I made a solid start on a new test piece. I got so carried away with making the walls I forgot to add the roof above that forced me to unwrap what I had already done to add that structure. On the wrapping front I decided to buy a roll of brown parcel paper which I’ll now continue to use and distress before fixing into place. My reasoning is that I have used fresh unused boxes in the past for piece so why not here, The paper’s distressed before being used, taking it away from its desired function.
As I began to wrap the new improved piece I had tried out the folded edge method which looked good to a point. The point being that after a few more pieces were added in places, it looked too neat. I was given some advice during the day to added ripped pieces, which I adapted to fix on top to appear more natural too, which it does.
I tried this method out on the next piece, the base and potential ceiling of the next layer, It worked really well, so I decided to return to the top half which really changed the who look of the piece. I felt it would be patchwork, but honestly it adds more authenticity than I imagined.
Reflecting at the finished work for the day I have come further forward, However much I have the aesthetic down, the overall construction is not quite there, I need to build it up more like a tunnel, even with a ridge on the base was not enough. It needs to be more rounded above. Yes it’s narrower but it’s not looking like a tunnel really, it’s getting there slowly which is what I am taking away from this weekend in the studio. Next time I’ll take my decisions from the end of today and apply then to the next layer, building under this base with a more rounded tunnel and an improved base for that too.
After an unwanted extended break from the studio due to illness I made a much needed return which has been very productive. I’ve done more than I had expected to do which is always a bonus. I was greeted this morning by a nice donation of cardboard from another studio holder, something I am accustomed to, but not to this degree. A number of flattened boxes with a lovely note.
So I began where I left off, the structure that was essentially a tunnel on the corner in between two walls of cardboard, ready to be fleshed out during the day in preparing for brown paper to be wrapped and fixed around the cardboard frame that was built up. I’d had to say the hardest part was constructing the framework for the ceiling of this tunnel. I had already cut away the majority of the ground to allow me easy access to eventually add the brown paper on top.
The wrapping itself was pretty easy going, I think I’ve improved since I made the rocks for my animation a few years ago, being more precise with where I fix it in place. Even fixing to the framework. My only concern with the paper is that it comes in strips which naturally have harsh or even torn edges which spoils the illusion to a point. I don’t really want to reveal that. An early thought is to fold over these edges to create something new in the texture of the rock faces. My only concern is that I will be soon running out of brown paper. My only option is to constantly reuse as much as possible. I do have a roll of parcel paper, however it’s unused, so not at the point where it can be recycled. It’s something I would have to purchase new to use for different purpose. I’ll have to make that decision when I’ve exhausted my current supply.
Moving on I also made a base – the ground of this tunnel, complete with a mound to create something more natural to look at. Making use of my most recent donation I pieced two leaves of the boxes together and drew out the area that needed to be wrapped up, with a mound and section of another on the side. I finished the day by bringing both elements together to complete the desired piece. I’ve got the right scale, it needs some improvement and I also need to reduce the width of the piece so it’s more like a tunnel not a cave, which can be more expansive. I’m saving something like that for later when I know what I’ll be making for this piece. Now it’s just about understanding how to make these pieces before adapting them to the concept which needs to be research more before going further. I know I need to look at the notion and drives behind the policy of Manifest Destiny and seeing how an alien translation would look.
As my most recent work is winding down I’ve decided to push my making even further – tunnels. Well that’s part of the reason, as much as I want to see how tunnels would look on a large-scale. Another major reason is to flip the idea that is explored in the film and comic book Cowboys & Aliens, looking at manifest destiny which was the basis for the White Western expansion and forced removal and relocation of Native Americans. Without getting too political in this post, I wanted to further look at how the flip of the coin in both print and film looked at the Aliens belief in their own manifest destiny over the planet, putting the White man on the other side of this ideology. However in both book and film they win the day and the status quos restored, progress is allowed to carry on. I want to see how it would look if the Aliens did win, they were able to communicate for reinforcements who arrived and enslaved human kind.
I’m jumping forward a few years to look at the possibility of a group of White man or Cowboys hiding out in an invade United States, just another section of an invaded planet. I’ve not even thought about that yet, focusing on that role reversal instead. So today I’ve made a start on how things might look physically. I’m learning a new side of my practice again. This time very confined spaces – tunnels. I can already make exterior rocks that can be moved about for animation. However I’ve not made anything on a large-scale or higher detail with this technique.
Today I made a test piece that was the entrance to a tunnel, using as plastic cowboy toy figure again for scale as I hope to use them in the final outcome. I also started working with cardboard tubes to begin with as I flesh out the tunnel, which was completed with strips of card at the base of half a tube. Before really beginning to flesh out the walls and legs, which were later wrapped in brown paper. It worked really well, even taking my time as I wrapped the paper around. The only trouble I have at the moment is working in the tunnel to cover it. I know eventually it would be darkened or blocked off.
Before I left I made a start on a more elaborate piece that was looking at the inside of a tunnel, meaning a roofs needed. I could only make a rough start on the piece, drawing in walls and supporting pieces. I have decided to cut this piece out to be solely the walls on the base. This is where it’s starting to get complicated, the removal of most of the base allows me to construct a ceiling that can be more effectively worked. I know if I build something intricate it will have to be built in sections to allow me to complete them to a good standard. Sadly I was called away before I could take any photo’s of this piece. I’ll be back in the studio soon enough to hopefully complete the piece and improve on the overlapping of sections that I know will come with time.
It’s been a long and trying day in the studio. I came in wanting to set up all of the model miniatures ready to document ready for submissions. However I was hit by a two technical issues, one clearly my fault, the other I just can’t understand. So I need to by more kit than I had already planned to ensure that these 4 can be working together.
All said and done I have had the time to get everything done that aimed to do, Sundays are pretty good to allow me to get more done in the studio. I have to now consider the possibility of now adding an audio element to these pieces. After an interesting conversation during open studios yesterday.
I could be adding (if only to see what happens) audio only elements to the videos that are projected, I could add the opposite of pairs audio in each piece to see what happens. Whilst also having an audio version of the videos should play on their own. I’m interested to see how this works as it allows the spaces to be completely filled, not just to projected in a carefully chosen area. I know that I can’t try too many more ideas as the piece is fast approaching its conclusion. Testing many more elements would be too much at this stage. All said and done this is an idea I can’t ignore.
I’m going to have a busy week now writing submissions now.
As I approach this years open studio I have really been starting to take the safety of these pieces of seriously. As stable as these pieces are when I’m testing, they are not with the public, and I know they can if knocked…fall. So I devised a method of adding triangular feet to the base of two of them. These two are the Unforgiven pair, which I’ll be testing out this coming weekend with the public.
I came into the studio, starting the day by adding a few more coats of paint to the new additions which are now in place. I also applied fresh gum-tape to further secure the plinth. I’m surprised I had enough to go around and still have plenty left over. The opportunity to finally see this large piece projected into was too good to pass up.
I was then freed me up to focus on further stabilising the model miniatures for the public. I had an idea for triangular legs, but I knew I needed to flesh them out at this scale, so I decided to sandwich them out with strips are cardboard inside two triangles. Repeat that method 3 more times and hopefully I have made a piece more stable for the public. Only time will really tell as I make a start on the other legs for the other pair next weekend before I do another test with all again.
The real test in this Saturday, if things go to plan I will be a step closer to bringing this piece to a close and exhibition ready.
After taking a much needed day off this weekend to recharge I returned to the studio where I spent most of the day. The fourth plinth is now up.. again. After tearing it down, amending the tracking also to accommodate the lack of cardboard (yes I’m running short of the right cardboard). I had to redraw the tracking to ensure I had enough to make this plinth work. I went as far as pulling it altogether and drawing up where the cables to/from the projector will run into the plinth. I’ll be securing it further next time.
I spent half my time adding coats of paint to the saloon bar and raised projector platform. I felt that by the end of the day that I feel more at peace with this addition. It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do. I think it was the jarring of the cardboard in such a white space that made it stand out and feel alien.
I also carried out a minor structural adjustment to the saloon. I noticed last week that the wall with the doorway was wobbily. I knew that it had to be reinforced, first I thought a piece at the top, which I learned only did half the job. Even re-gluing the base of the walls wasn’t enough. Later in the day I decided to add a longer piece that ran the length of the gap on the exterior, this did the trick. It practically hides the intruding wall/door and making a flush wall again. It’s something I’ve learned for future internal model miniatures with similar walls.
Next time I’ll be adding the finishing touches to everything I’ve done today and also edit the re-timed videos as they will be used in the exhibited pieces. With the annual open studios on 21st April, I’ll be testing a few of them out during the day to see how they stand up to an extended length of time. I’ll be on hand to check on how they are doing.
After 4 days straight in the studio, I’m tired. I’ve completed all I set out to do – to fix the projectors into the four model miniatures. I’ve removed the need for horrible tripods, which looked horrible and also created a real hazard in the dark. Having removed that I’ve now got everything attached or concealed to each piece, whilst hopefully they will be fire safe too. They are all secure and well ventilated allowing them to project the slow-motion violence into the spaces. They may no longer consume them. but they are more intimate which can only add to t he miniature aesthetic.
Onto today’s piece I quickly set on where the project would go, It wasn’t going to be hidden in the double bed. For once it was going to be suspended well raised above and attached to the a wall. The fixing had to be right for everything to work, otherwise it would be loose and dangerous. I was careful when even trying the projector in its final position. Angling and support were the first things to get right. The angling was achieved and ensured with five pieces of lattice that sit below the shelf.
Once those criteria were met I moved onto securely holding the projector above adding ventilation and allowing easy access to the ports/buttons. Once this was sorts I could fix in place, and work on the hidden pocket that concealed the media player within the plinth. I finished the day by returning to the first model miniature and hiding the supports in the bar, boxing out the bar before I got the paint out to begin work on the new features that I want to be seen as part of the pieces, whilst others will be left bare. I’m still not happy with the structure I made yesterday, it maybe completely redesigned before it’s fixed in place. Even though I have begun painting it, that won’t stop me.
Next time it will be all about making the new plinth and carrying on the painting of the new pieces which then allow new tests to be carried out.