Friday, August 29, 2014

The planning of "50 years all cooped up, what's an egg to do?"

     If you have read the beginning of my blog "50 years all cooped up, what's an egg to do?", you will know why I have embarked on this project. It is for legacy. People will often comment on how many eggs I must have filling my home. Every time I've answered, "None- they've all gone out to galleries to be sold".  Someone asked me if my children had some of my eggs. It was a startling realization to me that I was so busy filling orders, that I hadn't put any aside for my children for later. Granted, they have and will have many of my paintings, especially ones painted of them, but no eggs. At 49, ready to turn fifty in a year, I thought that this would be a wonderful project (and keep me out of trouble). And while I am creating, I might as well challenge myself to see just how far I could go with some of the styles of egg decorating I have chosen, a flexing of my creative muscle, if you will.
     Before I even started the first egg, I knew I had to make myself a schedule, and would have to adhere to it somewhat to be able to pull off this rather ambitious project. 50 eggs in a year, which averages out to be 1 goose egg per week. I have an extra two weeks that I can play around with in case I might fall behind a week. Goose eggs are larger, and easier to put a more detailed design on. The last egg will be an Ostrich egg, the pearl of the collection, and hopefully an allegorical culmination of my life.
     I bought myself a small planner so I could write down each egg for each week. Next, I would sit down and write what each egg would be. I have a running list of all the eggs I will be making, and how I would make them (i.e. medium used, etc.). This list took me two days of brain storming, a week before my 49th birthday (July 16th). I bounced the ideas off my family (some eggs will represent each of them because they are a part of me), friends and some of my art peeps. When I had the list finished, the next thing was to fill my planner. I started with Holiday eggs first, and placed those eggs within the week they fell, i.e. Valentine's day= wedding egg with doves, St. Patrick's Day= Celtic egg, Day of the Dead, Fourth of July, Halloween, etc.
     Next, to break up the list, I placed eggs in ascending degree of difficulty.This took another whole day. Some of the last eggs are Faberge style, which will use a plethora or culmination of all of the techniques leading up to them. The last egg, as I have said earlier will be on an ostrich, and will be an allegorical self-portrait.
Here is the list of the fifty eggs within this series in the order I have laid down in case some of you were curious:

Nautical lighthouse egg            Day of the Dead egg         St. Theresa icon egg
Egyptian egg                             Baker's egg                       Vermont floral egg
African egg                               Sister cameo egg               India egg
Moroccan egg                           Teacup egg                        Celtic egg
Persian egg                                Paris egg                           Medieval egg
Stain glass egg                           Dog egg                            Baseball/soccer egg
Greco-Roman vase egg             Cat egg                              Softball/photography egg
Vermont egg                              Coat of Arms egg              Golf/coaching egg
Japanese egg                              Chinese floral egg             Seashell egg
Inuit egg                                     French Provincial egg       Pompeii egg                            
Greek bas-relief egg                   Celestial egg                     Gothic egg
Aztec egg                                   2nd Coat of arms egg        Steampunk egg 
Etched wedding egg                  Grandma Moses egg          Musical egg  
Cloisonne egg                            Artist's egg                        Portrait egg, husband
Ukrainian four seasons              Fishing egg                       Portrait egg, daughter
                                                                                             Portrait egg, son
                                                                                             Faberge family egg
                                                                                             Self-portrait egg

     Although you know the time table now, I will keep the mediums a surprise until I post them on this blog site. This is another goal that I've set myself. I am also documenting these processes the best I can, and give the viewer insight into what inspired me to do these particular eggs. Most eggs have some personal meaning or connection to me. There are a few where I just have always wanted to try, and now have given myself permission within this time frame to do so, rather than putting it off for "someday". 
     At the end of this project, I am hoping to have a traveling show of this large collection for the year I turn 50. I am hoping to also have some printed material (some info will come straight from the blog) with photos to accompany the show. When the show has stopped traveling, the eggs will be split into two collections, and will rest in a commissioned display case for each of my children and be given to them when they are ready for them.
     So, as you have seen in the 6 previous blogs, I am now on my way, in a concise and hopefully orderly manner so that I may reach my goal. Wish me luck, and enjoy the process with me, won't you?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Egg #6- Tiffany stain glass inspired goose egg from "50 years all cooped up..."

I've always loved stain glass. I even tried my hand at it. It was a little too fussy a craft for me, but still admire the people that can do it, and do it well. Like Tiffany, of course. It didn't stop me from trying to capture the look of the medium, however. I have done a series of watermedia pieces that give homage to the art of stain glass. Here is one painting below:

This painting was done on 300 lb. cold press watercolor paper. The amazing thing about this painting, is that I was already thinking about resists, much like the wax batik resist that exists in the making of Pysanky (Ukrainian eggs). The black leaded lines were painted in first with a mixture of watercolor/goauche and permanent making fluid. Once dry, the leaded lines "resist" and repel any type of watercolor wash that you lay down. You are free to float washes right up to the edge of the line without worrying about accidentally getting an unwanted color into the channel next door. This also allows you to bleed colors together and let them go at will within the confines of the black lines. You may also drop clear water into the middle and watch the pigment push to the outer walls, leaving a glow in the middle. This gives the piece the luminous look of stain glass. If I could do it with watercolor, why not water-based dyes, and a raised black line that would in effect do the same thing?
So, here is my attempt at a stain glass egg, with wax lines that will stay on the surface of the egg. It will be a grand experiment, and as my egg and art peeps and I had the discussion of whether we research, implement or just decide to "fly by the seat of our pants", this is what I was referring to.
I start by dividing the egg into eighths. I draw a curve from the top of each of the upper compartments, hit the equator line in the middle and curve out to the bottom compartment, giving me swirls. I then take a circular paper template with 1/2 "circles and start building up the grapes in a conical shape, from large to a small point. Each time I add a single grape, I give the egg a quarter turn and place the next circle adjacent to the last one I drew, and keep rotating the egg with each course. Eventually I will end up with four bunches that are similar in size and placement around the egg. This takes a little patience.
I'm sure some of you have this in your egging arsenal.
You can see that I have almost completed all four bunches of grapes.
And now to add stems that connect each bunch of grapes as if they really were leading lines keeping all the stain glass together. Drawing was done on an acid etched egg with a .05 mechanical pencil and 2H lead.
Next comes the leading lines, done with a black wax from PUSA. This wax will go through my kitska and stay on the egg. It will become part of the raised design and will not be melted off later.
I purchased this handy little wax melter with metal cups (also from PUSA), placed it on a stone tile and popped the black wax in to melt it. I also purchased a special metal dropper that you can manually fill with the melted colored wax and fill the kitska rather than dunking it in and having to wipe the excess off (although that works too, if you like).
The picture above shows the black wax outline of the grape bunch and the stems. I use a fine kitska, and double up on the stem lines a bit.
After waxing over all of the lines with the tinted black wax, I use UGS scarlet, and hand paint in the first base color of one of the bunches. This will be similar to glazing in watercolor.
Finished blocking in that color. Letting it dry until I can safely handle it and go to the next bunch.
I've now started to block in the green grapes with my favorite color, PUSA Neon green.
I do the same for the concord blue grapes( UGS light blue) and the purple grapes (PUSA mauve).
Starting to fill the background in with PUSA Fern green.
After the background dries, I wet a q-tip or you could use a watercolor wipe-out tool, and back out some highlights in each individual grape. I do this for all four bunches. Sounds tedious, I know, but it is worth the effort, I promise!
Now comes the fun. Shading the sides and underneath each grape. For the green, two shades, PUSA Asparagus and Violet. That hint of purple will be carried throughout each bunch of grapes, making for a cohesive look.
The shading may look a little heavy-handed, but I am also taking my cue from the vibrancy of the Tiffany glass. The colors are strong and bold. I also happen to like to paint in watercolors the exact same way!
Here's the part that might be a little different. I will now carefully paint over the section I have just shaded with Polymer medium gloss to seal in what I have done so that nothing smears or smudges. I let it dry about 30 minutes and move onto the next section.
The next bunch to get shaded is the red grapes. I use UGS red and dark red, and shade underneath with UGS purple.
Once finished, I will seal this part too, careful not to get any of the polymer gloss medium on any other part of  the egg which has not been shaded yet.
Here are the concord blue grapes getting their shading with UGS royal blue and dark red and a little purple underneath.
And sealed with the polymer gloss medium. One bunch left to go. Purple grapes.
There are the highlights, and I used PUSA grape, followed by UGS Purple, Royal blue and deepest shading with dark red.
And here it is finished, and waiting for a seal as well.
Next is the shading on the stems. I use PUSA mushroom, and chocolate kiss. Then seal those areas.
I shade on the PUSA Fern green with UGS yellow near the top, and pull it down to the bottom of the compartment, and then take a brush full of UGS light green and work up from the bottom and fan it out and blend it towards the middle. I do this same exact thing for every background compartment. The bright yellow on top makes the panel look as though sun is shining through, and gets darker towards the bottom. After it all dries, I seal those compartments up with the polymer gloss medium as well. And here is a four-part view of the stain glass egg before varnishing it with a polymer acrylic gloss varnish with UVLS.

I really had fun with this grand experiment, and I hope you've enjoyed this journey with me!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Egg #5- Persian inspired goose egg

I've decided to create an egg with my version of a Persian- runner that is. I have seen eggs done with Persian medallions centered on the egg, and they are quite beautiful. I decided that I wanted to do something a bit different. I had seen several examples of eggs that seem to have a saddle back division with some sort of cloth with fringe on the bottom. There are usually two of them, and they are set on the egg opposing each other in different vertical directions. Two of my fellow egg artisans Amelia Randich and Luba Petrusha have identified this particular pattern as older one, and the cloth in fact is a ritual cloth or Rushnyk. Thank you both for your help! I decided that I liked that division, and that I would created a Persian runner, rather than a prayer cloth.

The first step is to dye the egg with PUSA peacock dye. Then I divided the egg in the traditional saddle back division. I calculated from the center of the runner how many courses wide I would need to make the pattern that I've chosen to make sense. I drew a small grid on either side of the vertical middle dividing line and brought my top runner to a point. I did the same for the opposing side and underbelly of the egg as well. Because of the complexity of my design, the runners ended up
 touching each other on the points on the side. In most other eggs with this design, there usually is an airspace between the two. I was okay with having them touch on the corners, rather than re-figure the math (lazy, I know).
I am starting to draw in more detail with my mechanical .05 pencil (2H lead), doubling up lines, drawing braided tassels on the points of the runners and flowers within each of the tessellated compartments within the runner (repetitive interlocking designs).
Now I start waxing over the pencil outline of the runner with a fine kitska tip. I plan on etching soon after, so I will save the extra fine tip for later.
I've now added stems to the flowers that reside in the compartments, as well as the stamens.
I switch over to my extra fine kitska and outline the leaves.
I continue to wax the veins in the leaves and tendrils, as well as the segments within the borders and finish up the tassels. After, I dye into the next darkest dye, PUSA Patina. I wax in the inside of all leaves and the border of the runner, and the tassels.
Onto a quick dip in Acid Magic, and a gentle scrub with the original Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I then mix a slurry of baking soda and water and gently scrub onto the egg, neutralizing the acid and polishing the egg. I let the egg rest for approximately 30 minutes to close the pores back up. Then a quick dip into vinegar and a quick dip into PUSA Shocking pink.
Now to start waxing in the petals on the stamen.
This is slow going. It has taken a lot of patience to wax every petal on each three- stemmed flower. And turn it over to it's opposing side and do it all over again.
Next, a dip into UGS red, and wax over some of the compartments. I will use four colors for this, so I am paying close attention to a repeating color sequence, but also notice a pattern when I do this. Visually, it was easier than writing down the courses and which color comes next when all four courses are not visible on the egg. Can we say "Right Brain"? I know some of you know what I mean! The next color dye bath is UGS Dark Red. I wax over those sections as well.
Say what? How did we and why did we get back to white? Answer? Cold water rinse with a "Simple Green Cleaner" spray. Rinse well and let rest 30 minutes. Why? The next color courses are blues, and if I had dyed over the dark red, well, I would have probably gotten a dark purple/black. I want a light blue and a navy blue, and the final color, black.
See how nice and vibrant the UGS light blue is on a back-to-white egg? That's what I'm talking about, people! I wax over those compartments. Two more colors to go and we're done! Next step, dye the egg with PUSA darkest blue, wax over that, and than UGS black as the final color, and wax over the entire egg.
Here is what it looks like all waxed over. Now to unwax in the oven.
I place the egg on a cardboard drink holder lined with paper towels. I rub a little olive oil on the egg to help the wax "slip" off.  I place it all on an old cookie tray and put it into a cold oven. The oven is set to 175 degrees and I close the door and walk away and let the oven do the work for me. I revisit the egg in approximately 10 minutes and wipe away the wax. I continue to return it to the oven, and take it out again until the egg no longer feels sticky.
And here is the finished egg. I am really pleased with the color combination and the overall design of the egg. And I have checked off a new division to try with my own spin on it.
The very last thing to do is to photograph it and give it a quick dip into a glossy varnish.
 I hope you have enjoyed this journey with me on this magic carpet ride!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Egg #4- Moroccan inspired goose egg

Morocco. This is the one place I'd like to go, ever since I was old enough to ask my father about the photographs in our family album that chronicled his travels in the Air Force before I was born. I haven't been able to find some of the photos that I remember seeing, so here are some photos of the two places he's been.
Here is a place in Rabat, where my father and his fellow Air Force friends got on the bus after flying over from the states. It's just about right, except the photos of this place he had were in black and white. They still set fire to my imagination, though. From Rabat, the boarded a train and traveled to Casablanca.
 The thin, handsome guy with the blue-green eyes, third from the right is my father. They took the "cheap" train, my father said, and proceeded to spend the rest of the trip in the bar car.

So, for a short time, they soaked up the culture. An example, one of many, of the beautiful geometric tile work found in Casablanca. Then it was down to military business. Some great pictures of my father and his bunk mates having a little fun. Not to military personnel were harmed in the photographing of these images! :)
An M.P. always has to be prepared for anything!
And clearly, my father always was. He is still skinny today, even when I feed him something sweet with his coffee every Tuesday morning like clockwork! My father would often tell me of the sweet Mint Tea he drank while there, and the coffee as black and thick like syrup. From the pictures and the stories, you can see now why I am still intrigued. I will get there someday! For now, I will let my imagination, my Moroccan cook books and the photographs of my father inspire me.
To start, I received this wonderful book from my family by Dover publishing. It's a great reference for getting started with Geometric Arabic patterns.
This was the pattern I chose to draw on the goose egg. It also looked to be the simplest since this was my first time. The goose egg was then dipped into PUSA mushroom dye, and a quick dip into UGS gold so that my initial outline would not be stark white. I wanted the feel of grout lines, thus the light brown/gold color.
The pattern was drawn on my goose egg with a .05 mechanical pencil with a 2H lead. I then waxed over the lines.
Rather than dipping the entire egg into the two colors of Turquoise dye (PUSA peacock and patina), I hand painted the dye and let some of the dye pool at the edges so that it would look darker, much like the glaze on the Moroccan tile, uneven in places, but beautiful and interesting. The middle tile is PUSA blue blazes, which I had to paint over several times for it to be blue. Remember that the blues and turquoises are going over a gold/brown will never be pure blue because of the color that is reflecting underneath. Much of the tile work I have seen are in blues, greens, turquoise, mustard yellow, brown and white. I tried to capture some of that with the color combinations I have chosen.
After waxing over all of the turquoise petals, I turn my attention to the triangles left in the Hexagons. I dip the egg quickly in vinegar, and scrub with a Mr. Clean white magic eraser (I feel it is softer and more gentle than a scrub brush) so that I get truer blues without the brown/gold underneath. I rinse the egg, and start hand painting the two shades of blue dye into the triangles, again, letting the dye pool near the edges to that it looks like slightly uneven glazing.
Almost finished with the darker of the two blues. It will have to thoroughly dry before I wax over those parts.
And here is my Moroccan treasure after the unwaxing. I hope you've enjoyed reviewing the process as much as I have enjoyed making the egg. Lastly, I will have to show my father, of course, and get his opinion over a cup of coffee and something sweet!