I have been traveling for the last few weeks, so while this post is long-overdue, it's also appropriately delayed. I thought I'd give a sneak peek into what I had been working on in the studio. After all, my previous posts about working with sheep casings were ambiguous to say the least! So while these are just experiments, maybe they'll be helpful for others wishing to work with this bizarre (but oh so beautiful) material. I find the best way to learn a new material is to spend hours experimenting with it to see what it will and won't do. Then, and only then, can you introduce it into your process successfully.
Experiment 1: Stuff casings with acrylic gel medium and shredded book pages.
I first tried this weeks ago, for the Incarne installation. However, the acrylic gel medium hardened and became more milky clear so the book pages became more and more visible. What's left now is a sort of long, hard, petrified pod shape. Fascinating.
Experiment 2: Cut casing in middle and wrap around branch
This time, inspired by the work of artists like Emily Jan and Jo-Ann van Reeuwyk, I wanted to wrap the casing around a branch to see the results. The material was hard to wrap, so I had to first let it dry a little before wrapping. However, it was important to not let it get completely dry (the wetness helped it stay in place on the branch). I was happy with the result.
Experiment 3: shape casing around paper cup
I wanted to stretch the material to see how it would mold and take the shape of whatever it's on. So I took a paper cup and wrapped a cut casing around it. Once it dried, I carefully peeled it off the cup. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it took the shape of the cup. I will try this with a balloon next!
Experiment 4: use more acrylic gel medium
Next, I wanted to try more with the acrylic gel medium. So I poured some into a long sheep casing. Then I hung it in my studio in such a way that some gathered in clumps. I wanted to test the durability of the casing and see if I could manipulate the shapes it took on. I was also curious to see how the acrylic gel medium would harden without the book pages in it. I was also happy with the result.
Then I arranged the hardened casing around a branch and hung it in my studio.
I have so much yet to discover, but for now I'll be content with these new insights and continue to craft some ideas in my head about the next body of work I hope to work on very soon!