Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Egg #7- Grecian vase inspired goose egg

     I've always been a fan of Greek and Roman architecture and art. I knew I was going to have to attempt an egg with this theme within the collection. While I have been to Rome, I have never been to Greece. I decided with all of the wonderful vases that you see in Museums, this would be a good place to start. I also was going to attempt some figures on those vases. While looking fairly simple line work, I can tell you that they are not as easy as they look. Especially when you are trying to translate a modern portrait to that of one you would find on one of these vases (and I have done a fair amount of portrait work in my life as an artist).
     My family and I have been to the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art in New York several times. We were just recently in Chicago for a family vacation, and one of our stops was the Chicago Art Institute. We spent the whole day there. Among the amazing art work and treasures, what in front of my wandering eyes did appear? Some really fine examples of Grecian vases:

     I gathered some photo references. There is not a great variety of color, as you will note. Black, and a couple of shades of red earth, and every once in a while, some whiting. I loved the decoration and embellishment of the upper and lower half of the vase. In the neck of this vase, there is a very stylized up-side-down version of "egg and dart". I decided that I would like to use that on this egg. Here is a traditional egg and dart design:
     I decided to put the traditional one at the top band of the egg, and the more stylized version on the neck of this vase on the bottom band of the egg, but invert it, and here it is:
     Of course, I'm not getting all of this on a small band on the bottom of the egg, so the design will have to be simplified in its most basic form. Next was the task of choosing my models. In my original design for the large middle band, I had wanted to use four models, and they would be the four family members in my family; my father, mother, sister and I. First, I chose my father's photo:
     Yup. A little stern looking, and I liked the profile. I swear that is a Roman nose if I ever saw one!So the original intent was to mix the Grecian style with some Roman figures, and using my father as a model for my Caesar. (This is the same guy I feed every Tuesday, a little something sweet with his coffee). I won't bother to upload the other photos. We'll just concentrate on this one.
     What? A green egg? Is this a mistake? No. We are starting with a dyed green egg (PUSA asparagus), and then we will dye PUSA Licorice on top of that. This will give us a beautiful dense black, rather than just dipping it in plain old black (thank you to Jim Hollock for this tip).
     Next, I measure off how wide the middle band will be, and break it down into 1/4" horizontal bands. After connecting them with a silver quilter's pencil, I mark off 1/4" vertical bands, giving me a 1/4"x1/4" grid so I will be able to fit my design in.
     I have drawn a wide band at the bottom of the egg and filled it with my simplified, stylized egg and dart design.
     I have drawn the traditional egg and dart design on the smaller top band and started to draw in my father's portrait, using only outlines of shapes, giving him a toga and a laurel of leaves fit for any Caesar.
     As you can see, I have started to wax over the silver lines. This is very difficult to see, and you will want to have a very good light source. I am using a fine kitska instead of an extra fine. I will be etching with acid after, and don't want the lines to float off the egg.
     After etching the egg back to white with muriatic acid, I polish and neutralize the egg with a slurry of baking soda and water. Then the egg rests for 30 minutes. I give it a quick dunk in vinegar to reopen the pores, and dip it into PUSA Navajo clay for 2 minutes. I then wax in the bands and the figures, leaving the background for another color.

     I finish up with UGS Brick, wax the egg, and then unwax in the oven. I was pleased with the color combination and the embellishments, and even my father's portrait I thought was spot on. I was not happy with how the other stylized portraits turned out. I will not be showing anyone the other side of the egg, lest I assault some of your delicate and artistic sensibilities. So....it's back to the drawing board with another version of this egg. This time, I will just draw Grecian style pottery and vases...let's hope the second time's the charm!
     Here is the second egg, done the same way up to the point of the drawing. You can see that I have started to draw vases, plates, cups, and pitchers. I have used the same two egg and dart patterns on top and bottom. Here we go again...
     And here is the second egg, getting its first waxing. Not very easy to see, so it is slow going.
     Once everything is waxed on the black egg, it is time to etch back with Acid Magic. I dunk the goose egg in and carefully and gently scrub back the black and the cuticle with a Mr. Clean White Magic eraser. I find that it is less abrasive than a toothbrush at this point.
     I scrub the egg gently with a slurry of baking soda and water, and rinse. Notice that I am wearing protective gloves on my hands while using the acid.
     Some of you may recognize that this is the start of one of the types of Stain glass egg. We will be using the black outline, but have two more dyes that this egg will be dipped in. No hand painting of dyes here...
After letting the egg rest for 30 minutes, I give it a quick dunk into vinegar to open up the pores.
     A two minute dip into PUSA Navajo clay it next. I will now start waxing over the bands and some of the vases and object.
     I have left some open spaces in the pottery and in the banding for the last and darkest color to give a little contrast and interest.
     Next, a 3 minute dip in UGS Brick for the final color. I will let the egg rest, and then wax over the entire egg.
     It's a little slow going. Covering the entire egg with wax, I find, helps with preventing color transfer from one area to the next.
     Here it is, in the oven, getting unwaxed at 175 degrees F. It took about 15 minutes, a coat of olive oil and wiping gently with soft toilet paper. Yes. You heard right. It is gentler than paper towels, and there is less of a likelihood that you will have color transfer.

Here is one of the vases on the egg, and a few other views:


     The last step is to give the egg a couple of dips in Golden's MSA Hard Varnish with UVLS. One last thing that I wanted to remind some of you who are just beginning. You will make some mistakes along the way. Even a seasoned egger like myself will create eggs that I might not be satisfied with.    My advice to you is to use this as a learning experience and try again, or revisit the design some time down the road, and do things a little differently, just as I have shown here. Never give up, never surrender! I hope you have enjoyed the process I have shared with you. I will have to show my father his portrait on the egg when he comes for his coffee and a little something sweet on the next Tuesday morning. All hail, Caesar!

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