Lochinvar and I are gearing up for the Fountain Festival next weekend (yikes!), so we’ve been in sprint mode since Monday. I have finished up the last of the pieces for the show and Lochinvar photographed them and listed them on the website. Today I am writing artist statements, printing price tags, hemming tablecloths, and gathering paperwork while Lochinvar assembles the booth in the garage for a trial run. (Occasionally, of course, I have to go out and kibitz about where to hang specific pieces and give my creations a critical once over in the bright light of day.)
One of the items I am writing today is a process page that shows how pieces are created. I think people often don’t consider all the small steps necessary to create a piece of art. They say, “Oh, it’s a decorated bottle,” as if someone waved her hands, did a dance, and magically transformed a dusty dumpster dive piece of trash into an artful treasure by sheer will power. People don’t seem to realize that bottle took elbow grease, inspiration, a myriad of materials, a good deal of time, and a host of steps to make. Other artists that I have seen at shows combat this mentality with an explanation of their process and materials, so I thought I would give it a shot, too. Here goes:
Hi, I’m Jenny and I rescue things: discarded bottles, old candy boxes, beat up toys, hand-me-down trays … all of these items (and many more) live in my studio stash waiting to be reimagined into something new. (To be honest, my work space sometimes looks like the Island of Misfit Toys with odd pieces of stuff scattered about in various states of becoming.)
While some of my art is completed on conventional mediums like canvas and card stock, I’m much more interested in the trash-to-treasure process, so here’s what it looks like for something as simple as a discarded bottle.
Most of my bottles come from the trash, though sometimes people give them to me. Other items come from yard sales and thrift stores. (Half price day at Goodwill is always a treat!) “Junking” for hidden treasure is one of my favorite pastimes.
Of course the first step for any item is a thorough cleaning. Labels are removed and grime is scrubbed off.
Next, everything gets two coats of gesso to create a paintable surface and block any colors or blemishes that did not come off with cleaning.
The bottles (or boxes or toys, etc.) get two to three coats of paint. I am partial to indoor acrylic paint (the kind that goes on walls) for this step because it is durable and sample sizes come in lots of cool colors. I also use plaster of Paris to create my own chalk paint for this step.
Some items get acrylic craft paint, which usually requires extra coats. The type of paint is dictated by the material it is going on.
After the base coats are dry, every motif that’s going on the item has to be created on paper, card stock, wallpaper, sheet music, book pages, etc. using a variety of inks, paint, pencils, and pastels.
Once the elements are done, they get a coat of fixative to seal the work and add a subtle sheen.
Next, the elements are applied to the item with a variety of adhesives (depending on the materials) and craft or fabric paint and glitter are added to the edges.
The final step is attaching embellishments like beads, rhinestones, and costume jewelry. It can be tricky to get the embellishments to stay put while the glue dries.
Once everything is glued in place, the final product is ready to be signed and photographed for the website.