Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter wonderland

I love working with ice. After making the Fairy Ice castle by the lake I decided to try some smaller works. I collected a lot of lovely icicles from the cliffs along the lake shore. I kept them outside until I was ready to work with them. Night is often best as the wind is calm. Wind is not a friend when it comes to working with ice. I put a tub of snow up on a small table outside, and turned on my headlamp. At 23 degrees the temperature was perfect. I used the softly packed snow as a base to build from and to hold the icicles at the various angles till I got others in place. It is tricky work. Sometimes too much weight makes the piece fall apart. But when the rhythm is going well, it is almost as if time stands still... a trance develops and you just "see" where it is all going. I love it when it happens like that.
When it does, the temptation is to stay too long in that effortless flow. Sometimes this is a disaster as a piece can become overworked... bringing a piece JUST to it's completion but no more, is a never ending quest for me.... but how to know when that moment arrives??

After deciding to stop, I must wrap the piece up in plastic to prevent the ice from sublimating (evaporating). The air is actually so dry in winter that ice can vanish overnight if not protected. Sometimes this is a desirable effect as things can evolve into something with incredible delicacy that no human hand could ever manipulate. I like it best when this kind of co-creation can happen. But, with this sphere, I did not want to risk such a fragile transformation. I knew I wanted to place it in the sun the next morning. That night, we got some extra snow and in the morning some long-awaited sun... a perfect setting !
Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.