Places of Contemplation

The work showing at the Museum Humanum this August as part of the 2013 Kulturbrücke is about the human experience, spirituality and the subconscious. Throughout time and across cultures humans have felt the need to create religions, spiritual practices, and art to express their subjective and intuitive experiences. For the Musuem Humanum I am exhibiting work that incorporates the archetypal female form with artifact and cave imagery.

Glimmer Glass Art

Artifacts have a life of their own that span many human lifetimes. They can often be the only windows we have into another person’s life and how they understood the world. Can we really identify with a prehistoric person? They may have the very same basic desires for food, shelter, and clothing, and perhaps even self-expression, but their worldview would be so different. Can we ever view their possessions with the same understanding they did? They who may have made it and viewed it as a vital part of their life and survival, and us who hold it up high and revere it as valuable art?

Moving from the objects that people leave behind, to their stories and myths, we find caves playing a mythical role in society. Caves are closely tied with female sexuality and its life giving powers, they were considered to be the ‘wombs’ of ‘Mother Earth’. Mayans believed caves to be sacred, a place where the gods could move between worlds. In my work I use caves as a metaphor for the subconscious, and spiritual dimensions of human existence. With the shift to a secular society, science has replaced mysticism and has renamed the realm of the gods ‘the subconscious’. Spirituality, psychoanalysis, and art are all human endeavors to explore this hidden aspect of our nature.

Using the archetypal female form and its close associations with caves this exhibition explores a common and deep-seated intuitive attraction to these forms and the mysteries they present.

“The Year of the Woman” opens on August 24th, 2013 at 3pm, at the Museum Humanum, Fratres, Austria. Please email criss@crisschaney.com for more information if you would like to attend.

Latex Moulds

Now that my bronzes have arrived safely I’ve started on making the glass section of the sculpture, its in wax at the moment, and I’ve decided to make a latex mould of it in case anything happens to it in the casting process. Once the latex mould is finished I can use it to make wax copies of that shape.

Here is the first layer of latex freshly painted

 

The first step in the process, is to paint two layers of latex directly onto the wax, letting them dry thoroughly between each layer. Then mix the latex with latex gel thickener- follow the instructions on the packaging. I get my latex from Tirant.co.uk. They recommend mixing their latex in a proportion of 10 parts latex to 1 part thickener. Do a few more layers of that until if feels good.

Here, I have filled the shapes the stick into the mould with cotton wadding.

Now here’s where I went a bit rogue, and other ‘proper’ artists might find this a bit distasteful. I needed the little shapes that recede into the wax to hold their shape firm enough so they could stand on their own and if I needed to pour another wax in the wouldn’t cave, or bend with the pressure of the wax pouring in. But I also needed them to be flexible enough to squish when I pulled them out because there are some undercuts in the shape. I looked into a soft foam mixture that I could pour into it, but it seemed quite expensive for the little bit that I needed and I didn’t know if it would work. So I just decided to stuff the shapes with cotton wool and tape them in with packing tape, I did a couple layers of this with more cotton wadding and tape and made the shape as much of a smooth hemisphere as I could. Then painted a couple more layers of the latex and gel thickener, to get the overall mould to a good thickness. Then I just put tape over the latex to reinforce it and also it’s kind of ‘grippy’ and I wanted the outside to be able to slip in and out of the plaster mould easily.

Then I carefully pulled the latex off the mould and it worked a charm.

Finished latex mould with wax

 

With the wax safely removed from the latex mould I will then make a plaster/quartz mould around it, melt the wax out, and put it in the kiln to melt the glass in. And this is where its a bit tricky, as you can see from the pictures, there are negative stalactite shapes poking in to the wax, and where the mould fills these shapes it will be quite fragile. Not only that but the mould in that area needs to be made quite soft, as the piece cools down in the kiln the glass will shrink around that shape and if it’s stiffer than the glass it will cause the glass to crack. Thus the mould in this area will be even more fragile, and in the past when I have attempted this, the tips of the stalactites have broken off.

 

I will keep you posted on my progress. Wish me luck!

Bronze Sculpture Elements Just Arrived

I’m working on a new sculpture based on still pools and stalactites in caves. In it I’m combining cast bronze and glass. I’ve been working on this piece since March and the bronzes have finally come back to me today. I don’t want to give too much away, the piece is nearly done. I just need to cast the glass element that is suspended between to two bronze pieces.

Bronze for Still Pool, landscape Bronze for Still Pool

Some things that inspire my work

Caver staring into still pool in Lechuguilla

I just thought I’d share with you some images and things that I find beautiful and interesting. My interest and fascination with caves began when I saw the Planet Earth episode about caves, a few things really struck me as intriguing, the first was Lechuguilla, it was the remarkably still pools that really caught my eye. It was like looking into an alternate dimension, a perfectly crystal clear window into another world. Perhaps that is one of the reasons they had such spiritual significance for ancient cultures.

Still pool in Lechuguilla