Friday, September 26, 2008

Flashes of Art Inspiration come from letting your thoughts flow

Yesterday I shared my 'happy accident' that inspired me to step out of the box with my sculpture. But that wasn't the only flash of inspiration I, it was a VERY good day :)

So, one of the elements in my piece was a set of bagpipes leaning against a gravestone. (If you want to know why I'd want that then check out my Work in Progress). I'd already gotten all the pipes done, all that remained was the bag and inserting the pipes once formed. So I didn't quite have a clear picture in my head of what I wanted...references either showed it blown up while it was being played or sadly deflated in a resting state.

Like me, I figured most people don't know what bagpipes really look like, and the thing that most worried me was people wouldn't know what they were unless I inflated the bag (meaning I'd form it as a solid roundish object). But that's sort of been a thorn tickling the back of my mind. It didn't really satisfy the vision of the pipes being at rest. 

So I had a hard time getting into the thought of doing this next step. I even thought about taking the day off to think on it, which essentially was a good idea. Usually it's not good to procrastinate, but it's worse to plow into something without a plan and ruin the whole thing. 

So the first step to letting my thoughts run was to take the stress of needing to get it done away. Hard to think when you're stressed. I set the pipes, and the piece I planned to affix them to, out in front of me at the computer so I could look at three different reference photos and also look at the geometry of the main piece and where the best positioning would be for the 5 (yes, count them...five!) pipes. My original thought for how it would sit wasn't quite right so I tried to play around with it, but it was hard to picture it without the bag in place. 

So then one of those stray thoughts popped in as a sigh...'gee, I wish I had a tiny little water skin (wine skin) to use to position these'. 

Then that thought progressed to thinking about modeling a solid piece based on that shape.
But then I thought, it still won't have the right form, this would be at least partially deflated just sitting there, the rounded form is going to throw it off. 

And then that thought made me think about how I could fold a thin piece of the clay to look like flattened material.

Then came the thought that 'gee, too bad I couldn't blow it up like a balloon and then let it partially deflate'.

Well, at this point thought became action. I just had to jump up and run over to my work table and quickly roll out a very thin section of clay in the round. Then I gathered the ends together and tried to blow it up. ( table is viewable from the front picture window...wonder if anyone caught me trying to blow clay into a balloon and what on earth they thought?)

Well, the gathering was too loose and it wouldn't hold air, plus there was just too much clay at the gather and a round shape wasn't right either. It seemed like such a ridiculous idea that I just smooched the whole thing and put it away. I walked back to the computer but my infamous stubborness kicked in and turned me right back around to try a new approach.

I didn't even know what it would be until I rolled out the clay. This time I'd rolled it in a rectangular shape. 

So the thought came...hmmm, too bad I couldn't just sew the shape together.

Then the thought, even if it was material how would you get the right shape?

Then I thought, idiot! How do you think they make the original cloth bags to get the shape? It's just a long slightly shaped rectangular bag gathered at the end. And you don't even have to sew can just press your edges together! 

So at that point I shut the voices in my head off :D I just folded the thin piece of clay over and took a razor to loosely cut a pattern. I then pressed the edges together on the two sides and then gathered the top into a tube. (oooh, promising! said the voices)

I was purely ecstatic  when I blew into it and it inflated and then just deflated a little when I removed my mouth. I immediately inserted the chanter, which goes in the end of the bag and sealed it to hold the shape. I did all this with the most delicate touch I could possibly do...I didn't want to deform either the bag inflation or the edges. I smoothed the edges very carefully to where a tiny touch of sanding would give it a seamless effect and immediately affixed it to the main piece. Then I inserted the rest of the pipes. 

I had to leave the top ends not touching anything because later I will be hand weaving a cord around them (geez, that will be maddening...each area I have to tie the cord around is no bigger than a thin jewelry cord itself and I only have about 1/4 inch space behind it to work with).

Anyways, as soon as I got it fastened as well as possible I put it in to bake. And during the wait is when I tried to solve the dilemma of a base, which I talked about yesterday. 

Here's the result of just letting my thoughts lead me to a great solution....

The piece is unfinished, so bear that in mind...there will be tinting, coloring and writing enhanced before it's over...and of course it needs it's Jammins' character added and everything placed and firmly affixed to the base.

I don't know if people will know or even care that this is hollow inside and invested with the artist's breath, and I know the photos don't quite capture the fullness that the real piece has, but I'm sooooooo happy with it. And as I do these things, like yesterday and today, I think how much value that things like allowing your mind to be analytical and free flowing at the same time can be to an artist. Yet no one tells you quite how to do that.

So I hope by sharing how it worked for me that it might lead you to new and innovative ways of creating your artwork.

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