Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reflections on "Found Magic"

Conditions are becoming nearly perfect for some ice work and I am very excited! Actually, we have had good conditions for the ice WORK many times this winter, but the problem has been the grey skies. I've learned the hard way that without good light, you can't get good photos of ice, so I've had to let a lot of good working days pass by this winter because the light was just too flat and dull to get any good photos no matter how inspiring the sculpture might be. There are so many limitations to this work sometimes!!

But, when it all comes together, then it is all worth it.

I love the fact that light and water are all that is happening here.... at least in the first image. I had the feeling when I was making this house of a Gothic, vaulted room, or possibly a magical hall in Valhalla where the Valkyries retired to after they were done ferrying the souls of the dead warriors from their earthy end. A place of Light and glittering inspiration would be just the thing after a long, dark slog in the muddy/bloody earth planes down below. It is pure speculation of course, but that is what makes this work such fun... to be able to bring one's imagination to the moment and lean into the Quantum flux of pure potential and possibility.

Without any scale references it is hard to tell how big this piece is. That is something that pleases me and sometimes frustrates viewers, I know. So, I can tell you... the portion of the sculpture in the upper photo that is above the horizontal "floor" of the structure is approximately 24 inches tall, to the top of the "roof" but not the top of the spires. Yes, this thing was BIG. I had tremendously beautiful and long icicles to work with and that was a big part of the inspiration for this piece.

Some sharp observers have asked me how I managed to make the round ring of ice which sits atop this crystalline house. I usually give my most popular reply and say "Magic" and smile. And for most folk, that seems to be enough. In truth it was "magic"... but found magic as opposed to intended magic.

I had finished making the piece and the container that I used to make my slurry mix used as "glue" in these sculptures had developed a thick ring of ice all around the inside. To clean the pot up before heading back home I decided to let it float in the nearby lake which was still open albeit very cold.... but the 32 degrees of the water was warmer than the 20 or so degrees of the air. I continued to clean up my other tools and came back to the floating ice-lined pot to find the lining was now loosened up and in a continuous ring. I saw an opportunity.

I removed the delicate and rather scruffy ring of ice and began dipping it carefully in the lake to remove the crusty bits and shape the edge so it was more uniform and beautiful. It took quite a while... but in the land of this very linear material, found curved ice is very exciting. So, I was willing to stand in the lake for another 30 minutes and shape this ring till it had a pleasing proportion. The hardest part was attaching it. This sculpture was so tall that I had to stand on tip-toe right next to it, and reach up as far as I could and then hold it in place till it welded to the rest of the sculpture... about a minute. All the while making sure my bulky jacket did not bump the delicate sculpture and knock it down. But it worked out. And, even more "magically" , there was an unexpected parting of the clouds shortly afterwords so I could finally get some blue sky which had not been seen all afternoon.

This process of working with "found magic" is a big part of what I love about doing this work. Anyone who is an observer of Nature will know what I mean by "found magic". I guess that for me, it is one of the big reasons I get so excited about each season because each has its own quality of potential magic to offer up.

So, before the blistering cold arrives on Friday (when it will be too cold to work the ice) and the clouds move in on Thursday afternoon, there may be some good light for shooting some ice work tomorrow morning.... which means, I may need to work all night tonight under the light of the full moon, if the clouds depart in time, to make something so it is ready to shoot tomorrow morning. If the skies clear, then I'll be tempted to give it a try!

Welcome to my world :-)
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.