The next big project for the installations was to doccument them in video. I have long wanted to get my work out to the world using video, and this project, because of its scale and complete non portability was a perfect place to start. It also helped that there was a clear start and it finished within a super reasonable amount of time. The down side of course was not having decided to make a video until the project was nearly complete. Fortunately we take tons of pictures and video as a regular practice in our art making so there was more than enough material for the twelve minute piece Gabe and I put together.
As I said the video was decided on after the piece was finished so while there was more than enough documentation there were things that I just didn’t have. For some of that we staged shots, for the rest it was left out. A process that wont be repeated since we now know that video production will be an integral part of our work form here out.
The film was make entirely with iPhones and my mac book. The computer worked great but the limit with the phones is one that will have to be overcome, especially mine which has a very limited memory which required uploading all the pics and videos once a day to clear the memory to take more. Despite all the difficulty we put together a great video.
Since the production of this video I’ve made one myself so that I might learn the program and participate fully in the production of future projects. This video documents the erosion of the images on the panels over the last couple weeks
Finishing the Horse began with research, as usual. What we wanted was a stucco recipe that had both clay and concrete. I know this is a sound practice because I used to mix stucco for my professor Vicky Hansen and she used both, but I could neither remember that recipe or find one on line. We wound up making our own from a recipe I found online that was intended for restoration of historical buildings. While we wanted portland cement in the mix,we were looking for very little. Enough to increase durability on a difficult surface but little enough to avoid the surface becoming brittle and hard to repair. We used these two web pages primarily in our investigations.
We based our recipe off this recipe from the about.com page:
“Materials for Soft Brick Mortar and for Soft Stucco“
5 gallons hydrated lime
10 gallons sand
1 quart white, nonstaining portland cement (1 cup only for pointing)
Water to form a workable mix.
(Koch and Wilson, Architects, New Orleans, Louisiana, February, 1980
To incorporate the clay we replaced half the aggregate (sand) with the unrefined brick clay we acquired for the project.
Refining the mixing process was difficult, eventually we decided to mix half batches because we needed the mix to be rather heavy so it would stick to the underside of the sculpture, also applying the stucco wire was super difficult on such a complex surface so there were spots that were nearly impossible to get the material to adhere. We used straw to help fill in those spots which helped considerably.
Once we had the mix right it was just a whole lot of work to get the piece finished. We applied a second coat to the surface to fill gaps and smooth it a bit a couple days after the first. It was on this second day of stuccoing that we hatched the plan for the video.
Some ponies are bigger than others and this one is a baby clydesdale. Also, completely fantastic, so fantastic in fact that we decided it would be a horrible tragedy to cover it entirely with actual horsiness, so we have opted to cover the strauture with the adobe material and not fill it out with straw muscles. Its is a great decision for art but the added work in applying the stucco wire is a big deal. We got about half way through it today. Im still hoping to finish this piece and install it tomorrow but I am also teaching a bit this week. Fantastic for my life but difficult for all that must be done in the studio. You can see here that it also got a thin coat of paint. This was applied to slow the rot of the wood inside the clay.
The Insurance agency also moved a bit in the last couple days. I should have the structure finished inside and out tomorrow or Saturday. Ill post pics then.
Sometimes great art depends on great partnerships. Gabe Wolff pushed this project into the realm of greatness today with his design and build of the internal skeleton of the life size free standing horse we are building in the coral outside our studio. In my mind I imagined some lashed together twig construction as I have very little wood working skill and was thinking that the clay would provide most of the structure of the piece. Realizing I was out of my depth with the project I asked for help. The best move all day for sure. Gabe spent most of the morning designing and then piecing the structure together and all of the afternoon on the build.
Here he is testing the designs ability to bear weight. This is half of the structure. The other half is mostly built and will be tied together tomorrow and then I will use my twig idea to build a rib cage and hips to hold the volume of the body, it will then be covered in chicken wire and then covered with the brick clay.
The play set also got some play. I am leaning toward an insurance agency play set. It seems the most absurd choice.
Today was a busy day that had me focused on all three installations for the workshop. I started this morning with fresh documentation of the horses on the iron panels. We had some rain last evening and the south side of the coral changed significantly. The first pic was taken when the clay was still wet from the rain and the full shot was from this morning after it had a chance to dry out. I love the changes to the images. The rain drops have given the piece a feeling of great age that I would love to preserve. I have considered many possible techniques but may also just let the rain have its way. i do want the images to be a part of the documentation for the next work and so do not want to loose them entirely, I will continue to look at the issue through the coming week.
I did begin the next piece, by taking delivery of a couple hundred pounds of unrefined brick clay. For the second installation of the workshop I will stay in my coral for a simulacra. I am planning to use the environment that already exists and build a large free standing horse. I pan to build an internal frame and cover that in wire and cobb the surface with a mix of the brick clay and straw. The piece is a complete unknown as I have never done several of the proposed steps for the piece. Likely this means it will evolve a great deal as I get into the work and find my limits, time being chief among them. I hope to have this piece finished this week.
Finally I moved my main work of the workshop off the drawing board and into clay sketch mode. This piece is based off the Snake Mountain toy that was part of the He-Man Masters of the Universe toys form the 1980’s and 90’s. I have been obsessed with making play sets since May and am finally ready to give this a try. I lack almost every critical element to this including the all important narrative rules for the world but I am willing to let them evolve as the piece does. I have the scale, which is driven by my tiny kiln and I understand my plans for installation which will be 30 second commercials for you tube. Stay tuned…this might be fun.
an injury to my shoulder during the studio move delayed the start of the install until yesterday, but as usual with forced delay, it gave the project a couple days to mature in my mind and became richer for the extra time. My initial plan for the work was to paint free hand directly on to the panel using the pics of the previous days as rough guides, but most important to my vision of the way I wanted the piece to look was that the panel itself provide the “dark” of the drawing. After much deliberation and discussion I decided to go with a lesson from Gabe in stencil making and apply a single horse using a hand drawn and cut plastic stencil.
The next step was to prep the clay and practice. Fortunately I have been playing with making my own casting slip and so had some grolleg kaolin porcelain slip already slaked down. I only had to thin it further and mix it silky for the “paint” consistency that I wanted. Practice was inside the studio. I wanted to understand hanging the stencil and how much clay would be enough without flooding under the plastic and ruining the image.
The plan continued to change as I worked. After deciding to use the single horse stencil I still planned to paint accent on the panel to accompany the horses. I found the texture of the brush stroke in clay on the iron so beautiful however that I scrapped that plan in favor of fully painting the fence except where the shadows of the horses held the original color. Working out the details of the project took most of the day and I would up painting these into the night. It rained on and off while I worked so there is some water marking on the clay. I was concerned that It would really rain and I would not be able to document the work in the day as I had planned but no rain at the farm was for once a good thing.
Today was all about preparing the corral for the work. The last horses moved out of the barn late last week so the spaces need much attention to be people ready. For the out door spaces we level, spread lime, then cover that with sand then wet the whole thing down to keep down the dust and seal the lime in a bit. The lime can burn skin and eyes but is important in killing bacteria and virus in the soil that may be living on the the horse poops. This has the added benefit of keeping the smell in check. After just 8 days on the barn makeover, the horse smell is barely detectable.
The other part of today was to begin to prepare the images for the installation. My plan is to paint horses on the iron panels of our corral in porcelain slip. The horse pictured here are in mare motel further east on the farm. All the enclosures were made in the same style of welded iron panels, that enclose the studio as well. My intention is to leave the heavy shadows created by the bars in the images of the horses on the panels. This will serve to abstract the images further and connect the current and previous uses of the space, threading the space together further.
Its true that when things begin to change there is an adjustment period, as ideas and possibilities are explored. It feels like I have been chasing a series of dead ends as I have been seeking a new studio space with my studio/business partner Gabe Wolff. We finally feel like we have settled into a space that will work. Thanks to the generosity of my mom and step dad we have been “put up” in a barn on my parents horse farm. The barn has been used primarily for foaling mares which my mom no longer does for her clients so she was willing to give up a couple stalls to our cause. We have been cleaning and moving with great energy for the past week and today I really could feel the work space beginning to come together. The total move in will take many more weeks but the essentials are in.
Corresponding almost perfectly to this happy event is the beginning of the summer installation class with my professor Linda Ganstrom. The new location has suggested many wonderful opportunities for work but for my first I will be working on a Rapprochment installation in the corral outside our main stall.
i may work on two of the three pieces for the workshop in this space. Since installation is an art of space and time, being able to make art in this space at this time would be a bit magical, it is an intersection of many rich threads of our lives.