Monday, August 18, 2008

evolution of adhesives and grape stems

I got an email last Thursday from Cynthia Connolly - who runs the Ellipse Art Center - letting me know that gravity has been pulling on the grape stems of my piece, and that the adhesive bonds are breaking in some places. Not having my kit of various glues and epoxies with me at work, I headed over to CVS on my lunch break and bought a tube of an Elmers super-stinky silicone type glue, called Stix-All. It has the disadvantage of drying pearly, for which I had rejected earlier silicone glues, but at this point I just wanted to get the piece fixed ASAP, and wasn't so worried about the more detailed issues of glue appearance. So I headed over to Ellipse that evening, and I think the Stix-All worked pretty well. I'll be volunteering in the gallery on Wednesday afternoon, so I'll be able to check on the piece then. I'm also starting to think that the pearly look of the silicone is less of a problem - the glue spots really do just disappear when you look at the piece - than the brittle nature of most of the other glues I've tried.

But, there's a practical issue that I've been ignoring for a while with this piece, and it's probably time that I dealt with it and moved on. In trying to treat the grape stems for preservation (and as a aesthetic hold-over from previous pieces), I've been dipping the stems in wax before trying to assemble them. Which is good for keeping the stems from getting too brittle, but adversely affects my ability to glue them together. Obviously, I was obsessed with the act of building the sphere, and didn't think this through far enough. So my next technical step is to either continue to work with the waxed stems and try to build the piece using floral wire (a suggestion from another ArtDC.org member), or to start all over with new stems, and not treat them with anything before I try to glue them together. I'm still waiting for more critical feedback before deciding where to go with the piece - hopefully I'll get some of that on Wednesday, when I'm at the gallery.

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