Thursday, January 10, 2008

Re-working with wax

While in the back of my mind I'm figuring out how to test-catalog Baby Proof (thinking about issues of bib-records vs. item records, copyright infringement, and other library issues), contemplating the next sphere, and reading several candidates for the next book (Water for Elephants? The Road? Extremely Loud and Incredible Close?), I went to Pearl Paint, hoping to buy more wax. Much to my surprise, they didn't have any, so I ended up at AC Moore instead, in the candles making aisle, debating whether to buy 1 lb of pure beeswax for $10.00, or 10 lbs of candle wax for $20.00. Not knowing the difference, I tried to be economical, and bought the 10 lb slab of candle wax. And so the result of a second pith and wax panel was disappointing - the candle wax behaves quite differently, in that it traps bubbles as it dries, and cracks easily. I did have some practical success with figuring out how to pour it in cleaner layers, but the end result was not nearly as pretty. Although you can't tell that from these photos since I forgot to take any real close-ups....

Left - Candle wax; Right - Beeswax

But since I'm not ready to go invest oodles of $$ on pure beeswax, and because I managed to damage both panels by moving them around too much (structural integrity is a real issue here...) today I broke them both apart and re-melted their wax. And then I made this:
It's okay - the combined candle and bees waxes dry much smoother and may even be stronger. This size (about 8" across) and form don't do much for me, though, and I'm surprised to see how much I prefer the 18" square panels - they're big enough and regular enough to let the total organic randomness of the pith be the focus, and to let the patterns in which I laid them out become the larger form.
And now, since I spent all of my 'free' day yesterday hanging out with with Leon and trying to get the car fixed, all I want today is to stay home and focus on studio stuff and folding laundry. but I have to be at work in less than half an hour. And I still need a shower...

6 comments:

Alia in Wonderland said...

I really like the panels because they are large and (excuse my non-art terminology) the way the pith sticks up out of wax is really cool.

The smaller wax piece wasn't as interesting to me because it reminded me of those botanical candles with dried leaves and fruit in them. Pretty, but not nearly as cool and fun to stare at as big slabs of wax!

Alexandra Zealand said...

Nope, don't want to make candles! I'm glad you said that - I knew there was something that really bothered me about the small one, but I couldn't articulate what. That's it exactly.

As to the pith sticking out in the larger panels, I agree that that is much more interesting. I poured too much wax into the little panel because I was hoping for greater strength, but I think that in losing actual visibility of the pith I also lost the sense of emergence and frailty. Which I'm pretty sure is what gives this any emotional resonance that it could have.

Anonymous said...

Alex, I heard a rumor you were worried about copyright. Copyright protects the content of the book "irregardless" of its format (print, CD, braille), font, etc. BUT you are working with, not the content, but the thing, and you're not quoting the content...rearranging it physically yes, but not quoting it.
yr auntie the librarian

Jane Radocchia said...

your father, when consulted about how to hold the wax together, suggested you try short pieces of thread mixed in (for example, cutting off an inch of a fringe and mixing it in) or using screening whose color is neutral and wouldn't show as a form within the wax - ie, the wax would go through the holes and be on both sides.

Alexandra Zealand said...

library-aunt o' mine, that's what I was hoping - thanks for the info!

Mom - tell dad I was thinking in that direction, but hadn't gone that far yet. I'll have to ponder what kind of screen would be visually unobtrusive.

Charlotte said...

I love the large size of the panels. And actually, in the photo is seems like the candle wax lets the color through better. But I imagine with backlighting that's not as true. It reminds me a bit of stained glass windows in cathedrals.