It's time to take a break from manufacturing polka dots. That statement will make more sense later on but I want to start with something else. Retail guilt! I believe this attitude was born from working in an art supply store for years and watching the vast amounts of hugely over packaged stuff coming in (mostly manufactured in countries with questionable labor practices) and going back out destined, at least an unfortunate amount of it, to become un-biodegradable garbage once the customers were done mucking about with it.
As a result I have become almost maniacal about avoiding the purchase of any kind of art supplies. I confess that I do have stores of accumulated stuff to use up but to add to that stuff it is just much more satisfying to seek out and re-purpose materials from the junk shops than it is to buy manufactured goods. More and more I am moving toward what could best be described as “food grade art”. Not readily biodegradable because the beeswax could conceivably last for centuries but at least non-toxic and largely made from recycled materials. I think my karma is slowly but surely healing.
This latest series I am working on is all about process and technique. Several facets are coming together in these pieces. First the attitude reflected in the first paragraph affects the choice of materials and is best summarized by the statement “I have everything I need” (a recurring thought/affirmation) the question then is “what can I do with what I have”? I have been experimenting with a variety of techniques that incorporate the use of magazine ink, toner and found object print transfers, collage elements etc and all this has lead me to return, in thought process, back to my years as a potter during which I did endless tests for glaze and surface treatments. I used to do these on test tiles approximately 2x3 inches. This is how I approached the issue of chalk paint samples in beeswax.
I don’t think you can see it in the picture but the paint formulas are printed in the side margins. I really enjoyed making this piece so I had to think a bit on why I found it so satisfying and again I came back to pottery. You would think that the endless acts of repetition that are a very large part of a potters life would be unbelievably boring and there were times when that was true. Most of the time though, the simple rhythm of doing one repetitive thing at a time, changing from day to day and week to week, was a meditative exercise and hugely satisfying because I could see the result stacked up on the shelves. The act of rolling and cutting clay for the test tiles then measuring and mixing the formulas to coat them was a study in Zen and it often lead to some very interesting discoveries. A similar approach will allow me to study endless variations of technique in miniature and avoid creating too much garbage. The “tiles” are so lovely I can think of a dozen ways to put them on display. Thus the prints on polka dots. I can't wait to start putting them together.