Studio Diaries 04

Since the two days of Big Heat that I sat out at home in studied motionlessness, I’ve been at the studio daily. It’s still hot but I have Bestie, and I’m extra motivated by the boxes in progress and one abstract piece that came during my trip – the one I prepared more indigo paper for. Today I’m putting the final piece on it, and unusually, I remembered to document its making so I’ll be able to make my first offering of a Reel to this most capricious of deities, Instagram.


I have also all but finished the Box of Virgo. Taking the photos is taking a few days, for reasons that will only be visible once I’m at liberty to show it to the world, but I’m absolutely enchanted by what I came up with. Also in progress right now is Gemini, with four more in the queue, so I can’t slack. I can only fully engage with one box at a time because I need to hold the different strands of its story in my mind where they mingle and give rise to ideas I can implement in the physical world. This can’t happen if I try to think of several boxes at a time, though there’s a good deal of “mechanical” preparation work I can do on others while the main box is fermenting (such as giving them a good clean).

I’m nevertheless making a very late start today because my day started with a trip to iTV studios to shoot a segment about the exhibit at the Woolf Institute last month. We were only very briefly on air but we had a lot of laughs while waiting, and it turned out a friend of mine was at the same moment shooting his own segment in the garden, so that we ended up in the same episode. I mean what were the odds??

What could be drying under there?…

This hot dry weather is a gilder’s nightmare. Mordants dry faster than you can work with them, and reactivating is mission impossible as you can’t lay the gold fast enough after breathing on the stuff. I only need one large dot in raised gesso and boy is this going to be tricky. Particularly as I have to switch off the fan for the entire duration of having the gold leaf out. For anyone who hasn’t worked with real gold leaf: it’s so thin that you can’t even breathe in its direction. A heavy sigh will quite literally send a leaf flying, after which the only thing it’s good for is grinding into shell gold. The very idea of forgetting to switch the fan off before taking out a gold book simultaneously entertains and terrifies me.

Detail of the finished piece: Where the Worlds Meets

But it turns out my undoing was simply the ambient temperature. It was nearly 30ºC with the fan off, and the result was that the only thing the gold was interested in doing was adhering to the gilder’s knife and absolutely anything else that would have it. I managed in the end, but not with any dignity.

And I managed to put together the dang reel too. I am officially reeling.

A penny for your thoughts...