Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Egg #3- African inspired from "50 years all cooped up" series



     When I think of Africa, not only do I think of the wonderful collection of animals, such as lions, elephants, monkeys and giraffe, but also of the diversity of people, tribes, their artwork and batik textiles. This is an early photo of my son, who is sporting a wonderful hand-made batik and embroidered hat called a kufi that we had purchased at Disney's Animal Kingdom in the African Pavilion. He wore it all year long (even to school) until it was threadbare.  I have always loved the simplicity of design and repetitive tribal elements. I thought it would be fun to put my spin on a goose egg with some of those elements. I wanted the egg to have a carved wood look as well, and thought this would be a great challenge for me. I consider it a mixed media piece as it uses inks and acrylics to help achieve this look.
 I have also admired photographs and African art depicting beautiful women with heads wrapped in turbans. I thought I might like to make an image of a strong and beautiful African woman the centerpiece of the egg.

Because of the size of the part of the egg where my African woman will reside,  I will use the photo for reference for the idea only. I will draw my own simplified silhouette of a woman in a turban and make it my own. I will also add earrings, and draw them heavier and horn-shaped, more like the gauges that the teenagers are wearing today.
I've drawn the silhouette profile of my African woman with a turban wrapped around her head. It has many folds and drapes, and the knot is in the front instead of the side. I have given her braided cornrows on the temple, and a large pass-through earring as well as several strands of beads. She is framed in the medallion with a twisted border that has some spotted and striped elements to depict animal markings. The medallion nestles in the middle of a wide horizontal band, flanked by two sinuous trees that wrap around to the back.
I now draw four stylized and very angular animals on what becomes the back of the egg. Here you see a lion and a giraffe. They have an exaggerated block-print feel to them. It reminds me of primitive carving on wood. Hopefully I will achieve this effect further as we go.
The bottom of the egg is a circular medallion with the drain hole. I take advantage of the division of eight triangles on the bottom and build a mask within each of the sections, and make sure that the design is simple and looks primitive.
There is a square nestled in the circular medallion on the top of the egg. I have divided the square into 4 more smaller squares and left the simplicity of the design as if it were wax batik fabric. The smaller border designs below came from Photoxpress files. For a small monthly fee and $1.00 per download, you may use designs with permission.

These are pretty simple, geometric designs. I have often used triangles and squares with multi-directional basket weaving of my own making. Dots and circles and crosshatching  could also be used. Basically, anything that looks like primitive doodling.
As you can see, I have started to wax the outline of the design with a fine tip kitska, being careful to draw slowly so the wax has a chance to deposit properly, otherwise you might get a thinner line than you want. You will see why that is important later.
Waxing the stylized monkey and lion, and the right side of the tree branches from the side of the portrait.
I now wax the giraffe and the elephant and the left side of the tree that hugs the center medallion.
The top is simple. I will wax lines in each of the square compartments in opposing directions.
I have plugged the drain hole with a waxed plug, and added lines to the face mask to give the illusion of rough carving.
I have now started filling in with more line work on the frame that surrounds the portrait, waxed in the turban, and the upper and bottom smaller borders and the gnarled tree trunk and limbs.
I have added some "beef" to some of the angular outlines of the animals. This is important, because I will acid-etch the egg with Acid Magic (muriatic acid). I will not be dipping the egg into any colored dye. I only want a raised outline so I can work with acrylics and inks after.
And the top of the egg and it's band is entirely waxed over.
It is hard to see, but the egg has been dipped in acid for about 30 seconds, and gently scrubbed with a white magic eraser cleaner to remove the first layers of shell. I then mix a slurry of baking soda and water and gently polish the egg with a soft toothbrush to neutralize the acid. I rinse the egg well, and let it rest for a couple of hours, in this case, I left it overnight. If you run your finger over the surface, everywhere there is wax is raised. After letting the egg rest,  I unwax the it. I rub a little olive oil over the surface of the egg, and place it into a paper egg carton lined with paper towels into a cold oven. I heat the oven to 175 degrees F., and walk away. I come back in 15 minutes and gently wipe away the excess wax with toilet paper (it is gentler than scratchy paper towels). I have to close the oven door and leave it in a little longer and repeat the process until the egg is completely unwaxed. I let the egg cool.
Next comes the fun and experimental part. I take a cotton swab and dip it into Walnut Ink and rub over the shell, then wipe the surface with a paper towel. This removes excess ink and pushes it into the cracks and crevices in the egg. It accentuates the raised parts of the egg.
I continue swabbing over the egg with the walnut ink, and wiping it off the surface leaving the stain.
I want the finish to be darker and more polished like wood. I mix Golden Acrylic transparent burnt umber with a gloss medium additive and hand paint over certain areas, and add more medium to the paint to extend it for lighter areas.
You can see the back of the egg is nearing completion. I like the mottled look of the lighter areas and the dark areas where the ink and acrylic paint collected within the raised lines from etching.
The last step is to add a little gold to the egg, not a lot, but just enough to give it a little more interest. I wanted the egg to look wooden with a little gilding. I mixed Schmincke's water soluble gold powder (which already has gum Arabic in it) with a little of the clear acrylic medium. I paint the earring and the beaded necklace with it and let it dry. I then dip the egg into Golden's Hard MSA varnish with UVLS in gloss. I think it gives the egg a highly polished wooden egg, don't you?
Front of the egg after varnishing. I am pleased at the outcome, considering I haven't tried this technique before.
Turning the egg to let you see the little monkey and the lion...
Another quarter turn to show the giraffe....
And one last turn to show the elephant and some of the gnarled tree.
And egg #3 - African inspired egg finished! Hope you have enjoyed the process!












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