Here's my final nicho! It's called "Heartbeat of a (Manipulated) Nation." Because I used the glass from a vintage photo frame to cover the nicho opening, I'm having reflection issues (I'm NOT a photographer) in this and some other pics. Below are some shots of just the nicho--before I put it in the piece--so you can get a better idea of what the "heart" looks like.
Below's a close-up pic of the nicho itself, which contains a heart made of paper clay that's been covered in strips of paper taken from a thesaurus. For the paint technique, I simply covered the heart in black acrylic and wiped it back with a wet rag. The background was first textured with modeling paste and then painted with blue acrylic; I then went over it with white acrylic, using a dry brush technique.
Below's a close-up of the left side of the piece and its toggle switch focal point. The texturing was created by laying down a layer of plaster and then pushing in and removing a chunk of corrugated cardboard. The paint is just layers of acrylic washes with some dry-brushing mixed in.
Here's a close-up of the right side of the piece--the nicho itself. I kind of like the way the heart has a speciman-behind-glass feel to it.
I've been on Spring Break the last few days (yeah, yeah, I know, teachers have it soooooo easy), and I managed to carve out a little time to complete some art projects. That said, I'm back to work tomorrow, so this may be my last post for awhile. Below are some pics from "Intertwined," yet another nicho in my seemingly endless series. (Actually, after this one, I only have ONE yet to complete--then the nichos are finished...for now.) By the way, the approximate dimensions of this piece are 6" X 8".
This little assemblage--again, I used an Altoid tin as the "nicho"--was created using found objects, two vintage photos, and a picture from National Geographic (the greenish background in the photo below) that was treated with Citrasolv to give it that wavy appearance.
I thought about naming this piece "Mama's Eyes" for obvious reasons--and I may still do so.
The shot below shows the old cheese grater I used to frame the piece, as well as the texture I achieved around the edges and top of the base.
When asked to encapsulate education, a good friend of mine--a high school science teacher for nearly thirty years--once came up with the following four-word definition (frankly, I think it's an equally good mantra for LIFE): Ask questions; seek answers. His wise words were the inspiration for my most-recent mint-tin nicho, entitled "Seek."
As in my last nicho, I used a piece of "jailhouse tin" that I purchased at my local junk shop. Turns out, the patina on this old piece of metal works well with the purple/blue paint effects I used on the surrounding framework.
In the detail shot below the found-object elements are more evident: paper from a thesaurus (background), a porcelain doll head, an old typewriter key, coiled wire, and a ceramic question mark (it has a pair of sharp pins sticking out of its back) that was probably used on those felt-covered sign boards that used to grace stores and restaurants.
I wanted to include a close-up shot (below) of the texture I created using plaster pushed through a stencil. The painting effects were created with acrylic paint, acrylic ink, and a dry-brushing technique.
Hmm, I guess I've been rather busy because it's been about three weeks since I've posted anything--which means it's been about that long since I've had time to work on any art. A few projects have been sitting unfinished in my "studio" for weeks--grr. Below are some shots from one I just put the finishing touches on last night; at this point I'm calling it "Davy Jones' Locker." I like the whimsy of the sea creature/sea captain; however, now that I've had time to sit back and study it, I'm rather disappointed in my monochromatic color choices. Oh well--lesson learned. As you'll see from the first pic, I used a piece of the jailhouse tin, that I described in a previous post, to frame the nicho.
Below is a close-up shot of the nicho. Davy's head is an old wrist-watch face; I found an eye image, colorized it using colored pencils, and embedded it in resin. His right, tentacled arm was taken from a reproduction of a vintage natural history illustration. His left arm is the real McCoy, so to speak; last summer while on a walk at our local lake, I found it--the owner of the claw had probably fallen victim to a raccoon. (See, sometimes it pays to not pay attention to where you're walking; sure, I often nearly run into other walkers, but I also sometimes score some cool finds!)
Turns out my painting technique (see side of piece below) was serendipitous: I think it kind of conveys a "tentacle" motif, which pairs well with the nicho's subject matter.
Just finished this one. I'm calling it "Fish Eyes."
Below's a detail shot. The eye on the fish is a glass eye off a vintage stuffed animal. The little "floating" eyes inside the nicho were taken from the little pictures in a dictionary. Notice the eyes around the outside; they're taken from an old science text book on North American fish.
I used an old grater to frame the nicho.
While waiting for plaster and paint to dry, I took a break Tuesday and visited my favorite junk shop, JB Knacker. (I always feel guilty calling it a "junk" shop because it's so much more than that--but I'm hobbled by my limited vocabulary.) Anyway, Brenda at JB Knacker showed me a couple of neat, old pieces of metal (brass?, tin?) that she hadn't yet put out on display. The story she told me--and the story someone told her--was that they used to hang in a county jail. Initials ("FT," "ER," "HS," etc.) that apparently corresponded to locations in the jail were stamped into the metal, and pins (think heavy-duty safety pins) that were also stamped with initials were hooked into the holes around the edges. I don't fully understand the concept of their role as jail-house organizational system, but there's one thing I do understand--they're really cool!
At first I didn't have any idea what to do with them, so I bought one because, yes, it was/is COOL looking. Then yesterday it hit me--duh! I'll cut rectangular holes in them and use them to "frame" some of my nichos; the great patina, stamped initials, and rough holes exude folk art, and they should fit well with the texture and color-scheme I'm currently planning for my nicho bases. So I went back yesterday and bought the second chunk of metal. Time to slap on a cutting wheel and fire-up the Dremel.
I discovered a small collection of mint tins the other day. (Making a "discovery" in a workspace as small as mine can mean only one thing: I REALLY need to clean my "studio.") So I came to the realization that I either need to do something with them or toss 'em. What to do, what to do? I thought about simply making little boxes--but where's the fun in that? After all, they're designed as boxes to hold mints--why not re-purpose them? Then I remembered the concept of "Nichos," which I read about in Michael DeMeng's book DUSTY DIABLOS. Popular in Mexican folk art, a nicho is, according to Mr. DeMeng, "a tiny shrine that is shadow box-ish--a little place to put something sacred or devotional." So for the time being, that's my plan--to make nichos. However, given my tendencies, the terms "sacred" and/or "devotional" will probably be turned on their heads--but you get the idea. Below are some shots from the beginning stages: the tins and blank pieces of plywood in the first picture, and the plywood with tin-sized holes in the second picture. Stay tuned to see my progress--or lack thereof.
The (sometimes mad) ramblings of a mixed media artist.