Sunday, July 19, 2015

Egg #23- Stain glass Batik style goose egg done two ways from the "50 years all cooped up, what's an egg to do?" series

.     I have recently had the good fortune of attending a Pysanky retreat and take classes through Pysanky USA. I had the pleasure of attending a class given by a favorite egg artist of mine, Karen Hanlon. Students came away with valuable tips on how to use two different processes to achieve a similar look, and the pros and cons of each. I will go through both types briefly, but if you would like a more in depth explanation and a hands-on experience, I would invite you to enroll in the class through the Pysanky USA (! You won't be disappointed! (Great place to meet up with people who share the same passion as you, and a lot of fun to be had!)
     For those who wanted to attempt both types of the stain glass techniques, we were given homework. I will show a little of this type of egg, to the point where I had finished enough of it to get a tutorial at the end of the class on how to complete it properly. There were several options for pattern sheets from the instructor, but since I was planning on using one of these eggs for the "50 eggs" project, I decided to design my own (you know me, kill two birds with one stone). The hardest part, for me, was keeping the design open, airy and light, and remembering that it would have to translate as "stain glass" with connecting leading lines. I chose to do a simple rendition of the Vermont State Flower, Red Clover, and for fun, the Vermont State Insect, the Honey Bee. If you are familiar with my work, you will recognize my use of "jewels" in the side light panels. Here is the preliminary sketch for both eggs:

     The egg was divided into quarters (the side light panels being a little thinner than the panels that house the flowers and bee). There is a top and bottom medallion where I've placed a stylized top view of red clover and leaves. There are two small bands that separate the top and bottom caps. Now to draw on the goose egg.
     I used a hard lead in my mechanical pencil, and lightly sketched out all sides, top and bottom. I added "leading" lines to connect the design as if it were real stain glass. I kept the design open and simple (which, as some of you know, is a challenge for me, since I tend to like a lot of detail and fussy work).
     Once finished sketching, I use a " extra-fine" tip for my electric kitska and use regular tinted wax to be able to see where I am waxing on the white egg. This will be the type of stain glass egg that will be waxed over once again with a highly opaque black wax that will stay on top of the egg...but that is much later in the process, so bear with me.
     The other challenge that I personally face, is the color choice. I would like to keep the colors in the pastel range, so that the whole look of the egg is light, airy, and gives the illusion of being illuminated. I tend to be a little heavy handed with color (not that there is anything wrong with that, but in this case, I will try something different). I will be using all PUSA dye colors, and if you study that line of dyes, you will notice that several of the color families have a light, medium and dark version that make for great shading choices (ah...Shading- that's a wonderful technique taught by another gifted instructor offered through Pysanky USA retreat as well). I start with the top of the egg and use Shocking Pink (one of my favorites) and Mauve and a small touch of Grape. I let that dry, and then wax over the entire section.
     I continue working my way down the egg with the same colors. Once dry, I will eventually wax over each section to protect it.
     Still working with the same colors, I add a little tinge of Ice Blue to the mix for the wings (another favorite color of mine).
     After carefully painting in those sections, I now wax over them to protect them. I will move onto to other sections with different colors.
     Next, I brush in Neon Green (another favorite) and Christmas Green to shade with (my new favorite)...see how nicely the two work together, and the shading remains clear, and not muddy?
     After all the greens are painted and dried, I wax over those areas. The waiting sometimes takes longer than the "doing"...
     Next, Primary yellow shaded with Mushroom (love that golden ochre color for so many things).
     I decide to also carry over the golden yellow combination to the bejeweled side lights, and bring all of the other colors over too. This makes for a cohesive and unifying look. Sometimes limiting your palette makes for a stronger statement.
       I continue to add the colors that I started with, shading with a light and dark version of each, letting each dry before waxing over the sections. I love the greens in this panel.
     The last colors to go on this egg are Peacock (love that color!) and Patina. The will be the background colors and the jewel in the center of the side light.
     Here are the two colors on the rest of the egg...
     I wax the entire egg over, coat with a little olive oil to help the wax "slide" off in the oven.
     Here is the egg once the wax has been melted off. It looks nice as is, but it is not finished! Our leading lines are white! I lightly spray with Golden MSA solvent-based acrylic varnish a couple of times. Yep. You heard me. I varnished it. Two more steps after that to complete this type of stain glass egg. We now need to add the black "leading" lines on this egg, and give one more coat of protective varnish.
     This is the point that I stopped working on the egg and brought the "homework" to the PUSA retreat to make sure that I could finish it properly. The instructor gave us each chunks of the heavily pigmented black wax to finish the outline with. This wax can be found through Pysanky USA (ask for Jim Hollock). Now comes the crazy but really cool part! I am going to trace over the white lines with the black wax- AND the black wax will remain on the egg as a raised leaded line! Cool, huh?
So, the trick is to go slow and steady (remember, slow and steady wins the race)!  I used the "fine" tip kitska, which is a little wider than the initial white lines that I used the "extra fine " tip on. This will help me go over a little more easily in case I waver, a little. I will have a little more latitude with this size line. Look how nicely the black addition of the lines "pops" the shaded colors out! Well it was pleasant looking before, how much more depth it has! I continue to take my time (and let out a breath every now and then) and wax over the rest of the white lines.
     Phew! That took quite a while, a steady hand, and a lot of patience, but so worth the effort! Here is the re-waxed egg with the black leading lines. One last and final step for this process- one more coat of varnish. This time, it will be a water-based varnish to protect the wax raised lines. This is necessary to "seal" the wax, so that it does not remain tacky and sticky. I use the water-based version of the Golden Acrylic Varnish (a product I already have in my studio), and I have the liquid form, so I just do my regular dip. Karen used a standard water based varnish to finish hers. She also had some very important tips that went along with this part, so if you want a more comprehensive version of these directions, I will suggest for those of you who can, to take the class! So, there was one form of the stain glass egg. Here comes the next, but in a slightly abridged version that some of you might be more familiar with...
     So...back to the class at Pysanky USA....Karen had prepared eggs for all by dyeing the goose eggs first with the new PUSA Black Velvet dye (yup- bought some of that too!). I love the opacity of this new black dye...she had also divided some of the eggs for students...I had her do mine too...but went back to my original sketch, and sketched it out on the black egg with a silver quilter's pencil (I already had that in my egging arsenal). Karen had suggested a white polymer pencil, which is her favorite to use (I think they also have that in the store). I changed the egg very little from the original design. I like to use a glove when handling the black egg, so as not to transfer the black all over my sweaty little hand. Next comes the wonderful tip of using the white opaque wax from PUSA, instead of the black tinted wax, which to me is so hard to see on the black egg. This made things so much easier, it is now a staple in my egging supplies! I start to wax and trace over the bright silver lines. I use a "fine" tip and go slowly. I am a little afraid to use the "extra fine" tip, as I know that I will be acid-etching the egg back to white, and my concern is that it might thin some of the lines more, or with too aggressive scrubbing, may remove or weaken them all together. We shall see...
     After waxing over all of the black leaded lines, I etch back with "The Works" toilet bowl cleaner. This was provided at the class. I normally use Acid Magic, but, when in Rome...I gently abrade the pigment and cuticle layer of the skin with a soft toothbrush, and then give the egg a rinse, pat dry, and let it dry out and rest for a bit. After about 30 minutes, I give the egg a quick plunge into vinegar and pat dry. This reopens the pores of the shell and allows a stronger dye color to take over the shell, otherwise you may get a pastel version of the color, which might not be what you intended...
     Now we are back at the part where we have the leading lines waxed in, and I start to brush in colors and shade just like the first egg. This is where the two processes are similar. I am sorry that there are no photos for the above processes, but I was a little consumed with actually being "present" in the class, and didn't have time to document the process...but here at home, is where I pick up finishing the rest of the egg:
     Yes. You are wondering why the waxed leaded lines look gray instead of black? It is the tinted white wax that makes it so. Underneath, I will assure you that there is a nice raised etched deep black line that you will see when it is unwaxed. I continue to drop in color within the compartments, and wax over each to protect if from the next adjoining color. I used the same colors as I did in the first version.
     The last color is the golden yellow combination. That too is waxed over.
     You can see the two eggs are pretty similar in design. Remember, the one on the right is the "black wax left on" egg. The egg on the left must still be unwaxed in the oven.
     I line a paper coffee cup carrier with paper towels to catch the wax drippings. I give the egg a rub with a light coat of olive oil to help the wax "slide" off. I place the whole thing on an old cookie sheet and place in a cold oven. I heat the oven to 175 degrees F. I walk away and let the oven do the work for me. I return in 15 minutes and use toilet paper (much less abrasive than paper towels) and blot and gently wipe the wax residue off. I return to oven one more time for another 5-10 minutes, until the egg no longer feels sticky.  I let the egg cool down. Now it is time to finish this egg by varnishing. I use Golden Acrylic MSA Hard Solvent based varnish in liquid form and do a dip. I let dry side by side with the other stain glass type egg. Here are the two below:
     Both eggs have been varnished and are drying on floral wire stuck in floral oasis foam covered with wax paper and paper towels to catch the excess drips. Can you tell which egg has the black wax left on, and which is the etched egg? If you guessed that the egg on the right was the first egg with the black wax outline left on, and the egg on the left was the egg that started black and was etched back, you are correct! You know your techniques! Karen gave a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of each during the class. When you try both, you will be able to decided for yourselves the merits of each. Here are the two finished eggs:

The egg on the left in this photo is the wax left on, and the egg on the right is the etched back egg. Which do you prefer?

     Ultimately, one egg was chosen to represent the Legacy collection. I chose the wax-left-on-egg, which in this case, had finer lines, and seem to be a little more delicate. I hope you have enjoyed the process of this "tale of two eggs". I certainly had a great time discovering not one, but two ways to create this lovely objet d'art! A big shout out to Karen for making the class so much fun!

1 comment:

  1. Both methods created amazing results! Thank you for sharing the process!