Sunday, September 23, 2018

The making of "On the way to the Jollity Fair..." - part 2

Hello! Part 2 is all about the bottom section of "On the way to the Jollity Fair..."

I have been collecting pictures of fairgrounds and midway rides for quite a few years.

Edward Ardizzone is one of my favourite artists. This was probably the first image that I put into the folder for the Jollity Fair. There will be part of the midway featured in the lower section of the sculpture.

Most of the pictures of fairs in my folder are of British origin. I was wanting low key, rural.

This picture is after the bottom section changed direction. The opening with the domed background is 2 1/4" high and 3" wide, definitely not big enough for any fairground ride. The scale for a ferris wheel would have been very small indeed.

The ground on both the upper and lower levels is painted, the hills in the back are looking good, bushes have been added in the lower level.

Here is a closer look at the sky and the brown moulding. The sky has soft hazy clouds streaked through the blue, I liked it but it just didn't work at all. The bottom section dominated the sculpture creating two separate vignettes not at all working as a cohesive unit. The blue sky became history, another paint layer towards a more interesting final surface.

During the process of adding the composition to the top section I made certain to leave small remnants of composition on the exposed moulding. I don't want it to look polished and pristine. The moulding had to look like it was just emerging from the soil or possibly being consumed by it.

I had decided to show stalls with produce and souvenirs. Those two poles were to have a banner suspended between them, it was to be the entrance to the Jollity Fair.

This is the banner. Jollity Village presents the annual Jollity Fair. Originally, I'm talking 10 years ago, Jollity Fair was spelt J-O-Llity Fair. I wanted it to be J-O-L as in Jack-O-Lantern but once on the banner the pronunciation was confusing so that was scrapped. The banner was printed twice, the second slightly larger and then after placing it between the poles I realized this looked terrible as well. The banner idea was scrapped. The poles were to be turned into tree trunks; branches, leaves and limbs had to be made.

A month or so before having to create the two small trees on either side of the opening I came across this flower punch at Salvation Army, I hesitated buying it but decided to anyway. This punch turned out to be perfect for the leaves for the trees. It is amazing but this happens to me regularly. The Holy Spirit puts items that I need but I haven't seen for years and items that I will need but don't realize it yet right where I will see them when I am at the thrift stores. Thank-you, Holy Spirit!

The dark brown soil, moulding, and the blue sky has been painted with various browns and greens, it looks better already. The halo of blue around the opening will be gently brushed and faded into the green background behind the trees once they are finally built. The stack of black cardboard disks by the unfinished tree is the base the ticket booth/puppet theatre will be glued to.

This October 1954 cover for the Christian Herald was one of my inspiration photos.

Slowly but surely the bottom section was changing from a midway to a rural farming fair, these vendor's stalls were the inspiration for the stalls in my sculpture. My fair is much more colour and style coordinated than any normal fair. The artist/designer in me would love to see fairs done this way.

Earlier in this blog post you will remember me mentioning how small any midway rides would have had to be, well that goes for produce stalls and the produce that is displayed on them. What on earth was I going to use for the vegetables, I had nothing. I finally settled on using vintage floral stamens. Each stamen was individually hand painted. The detail in this sculpture is way more than anything that I have created before, I have had an absolute blast.

I didn't want the vegetables to look "real" just an impression, the viewer can decide what they are. They kind of look like squash and peppers or pears, apples, pumpkin and something else.

The tiny baskets are made from a small metal ring glued to a 1/4" paper punch disk of thin card, that's how small these suckers are!

It's interesting that after all of the images that I have collected and the various changes that I have made to the sculpture this one picture that I took at Metchosin Days a few years ago summed up what the sculpture was about. I was recreating the Metchosin Days country market/fair but with input from other design sources.

Two of the finished stalls piled high with the tiny produce.

I love this illustration from an English children's annual. There had to be balloons in the tiny scene.

Here are the balloons, a tiny chair to tie some of them to, and a stall filled with balls and souvenir horns.

The balloons are the plastic tips to sewing pins, the tops to glass head pins are impossible to take off, they would also be to heavy. The plastic head was glued to a section of fine brass wire. I repainted each balloon it's original plastic tip colour and painted a clear gloss varnish on top. A soft grey was added to the string to complete these tiny props.

The chair is a tiny silver oriental charm bracelet charm. The seat is a small disc of card glued in place to hide the open base. A white base coat is under the thin green top coat, the seat is a very deep green.

Souvenir horns are the tips of round toothpicks painted, cut off, and the exposed wood painted. Of all of the props that were made these horns were the easiest and quickest to make unless you consider the balls, they are vintage map pins with no painting required. Some of the pins had cream coloured dots on top, a design bonus.

I happened across the sentry post and immediately wanted a ticket booth/puppet theatre that looked similar to this.

I am so proud of this little structure, it was a pain to make. The roof was originally from a lampshade finial that has been around for quite a few years. The structure was made over a tapered wooden finial. I won't go into the details of finding the position of the stripes and matching the top of the stripe to a different spacing width at the bottom, drawing a curved opening, cutting it out, and then drawing and cutting a curved shelf to be glued in place. Many attempts were made with each small detail and then discarded is all that I will say.

The bottom section of the sculpture is finished, what a journey this has been. The trees are finished. Some branches were added into the background, they aren't even attached to the trees, they give the appearance of lush full trees. Bushes and undergrowth fill out the bases of the trees. The sky has been softly faded into the mottled green background behind the trees. The vendor's stalls are in place. I am very pleased with how this bottom section turned out, I'm pleased with the entire sculpture.

Metchosin Days country fair is the inspiration for the Jollity Fair, check out this link that I posted in 2009.

The finished sculpture, "On the way to the Jollity Fair...", is available to purchase here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The making of "On the way to the Jollity Fair..." - part 1

I love antique and vintage book illustrations. I recently remembered that I had wanted to illustrate books. Unfortunately, I get very bored drawing, I'm not a two dimensional artist, I visualize in three dimensions and I create in three dimensions, I'm a maker of things.

There is always a story that my sculptures are illustrating. Book illustration from a hundred years ago and earlier would have the main illustration and then off to the side or at the bottom there would be a scene depicting another part of the the story. I have been experimenting with this technique in my sculptures for the last couple of years.

This illustration of Hansel and Gretel is by a German artist, Hermann Vogel (1854 - 1921) and shows what I am talking about. I discovered Hermann Vogel on this blog, I highly recommend it.

Hermann Vogel is all but forgotten now and if I hadn't started following this blog I would never have known about him. He has become one of my top ten artists. His draughtsmanship and the detail in his work is amazing, and there is humour in his work, that is a plus in my books.

"On the way to the Jollity Fair.." was originally titled "Off to the Jollity Fair" and was going to feature a midway in the bottom section, more about that in second blog post about this sculpture.

The body of the sculpture is a small mantle clock case turned upside down. A large base for the main part of the sculpture has been added to what used to be the bottom of the clock case. Thin plywood roughly cut to shape has been glued in place ready to have composition added.

This back shot shows a long strip of wood at the top that will have self levelling hangers attached once the sculpture is finished. The shorter strip of wood above the opening is there to keep the sculpture hanging squarely on the wall and not tipping down at the front.

The composition has been built up and is now dry, ready to paint. The raised pieces at the back, once they are painted, I hope will look like rolling fields in the distance.

The back has been filled in with composition, ready to paint. Black felt will cover the back area touching the wall, so as not to leave any marks.

This top view showing the path and the raised background.

When I was putting this blog post together I realized that the raised areas on the sculpture were very similar to the hillocks in this drawing. I had forgotten this image was even in my inspiration folder, it
 is from an early school reader in my book collection. There are about thirty other photos and drawings in the folder for this sculpture. Once the file is assembled I seldom look at it, the images are sitting in my mind percolating.

Building the tree for the top section was more of a challenge than expected. My treasure trove of vintage millinery leaves and vintage craft leaves were all too big. I needed, about 1/2" size leaves. I decided to punch leaves from my hand painted rice paper. The maple leaves were the obvious choice but I wanted to see what the star would look like. 

Surprisingly, the maple leaf didn't look good at all and the star won hands down.

I had to add a small tail so that I could attach them to the branch wire.

The maple leaves, shown here, and the stars were daubed on each side with orange, red, and yellow paint. This was a lot of unexpected work put into building the tree, but it was worth it. 

The painted stars are transformed from tiny handmade leaves on the left, to individual branches, to larger limbs, to painting the branches. 

The tree has been securely attached to the sculpture, the trunk has dried and is ready to be painted.

The tree is painted, the path and hills are painted with the first of many coats of paint and various debris glued in place.

This is what the paint job was supposed to look like, I hated it. The blue divided the sculpture into two separate areas and demanded your attention. Quite often an initial paint colour doesn't work and the area in question is repainted until it looks correct.

I remember reading in an interior design book that walls look better the more that they are painted, the same is true for any painted surface. I never see mistakes when I'm working on a sculpture; I see opportunity and depth of character developing.

This is another photo from my file that I had forgotten about, my tree looks very similar to these trees.

The baskets turned into another make work project. None of the baskets that are in my stash were small enough or looked correct.

I wanted the baskets to have a rustic handmade look, as though they were made from twisted branches.

Three foot lengths of wire were wrapped with tissue paper and glue. The wire, as it got longer and difficult to manage, was wrapped around my finger to create different size loops. The looped wire was then wrapped around itself so as not to get in the way. The completed tissue wrapped wire was gently undone keeping most of the kinks in place and wrapped around my fingers for storage. I made five bundles of wrapped wire and then wove the baskets.

During the weaving of the basket a lot of the kinks were removed but it gives the basket a very natural relaxed look. The basket is finished and ready to be painted.

I haven't made baskets for many years. I used to use basketry and off-loom weaving techniques to create sculptural forms. I think that I may be making my own baskets more often, I love the rustic look.

This is Cyril at his most undignified moment, waiting for his body and appendages to take shape.

Sparky, Cyril, and Quentin now have their cotton batting bodies tightly bound with crochet cotton. Sparky was originally going to be kneeling.

You may have noticed the tissue that I use for trees, baskets, hands, feet, and anything else that requires detail, is torn up sewing patterns. The tissue paper used in sewing patterns is much stronger than regular tissue paper, so it doesn't fall apart as easily when you work with it. It holds up well when dipped into water thinned glue. I use regular tissue when I want a wad of glue and paper to build up tree trunks or any other area quickly.

The top half of the sculpture with Quentin and his grandsons Sparky and Cyril.

The finished sculpture, "On the way to the Jollity Fair...", is available to purchase here.