Sunday, January 31, 2016

Oh so much going on!

Greetings Everyone!

  It's hard to believe the entire month has whizzed by and I've not managed to put anything down in the blog. Sadly, you all are getting the short end of the stick because the fact is I HAVE been writing...a LOT!

  I've been contracted to write a book about Faerie houses, building them mostly though there will be other pages devoted to inspirational images and background information. The actual process of making this book has been alternating between fun, trying and down-right elusive! It really does take two brains to write this book and sadly, I have only one!

 In the past when I did my work, I'd get into a grove of sorts where the challenges and inspirations of the work itself would take over. I'd enter a "wordless" space... (that concept is hugely important as we'll soon see) and the hours would fly by as I would make my creations. Yes, my left-brain was very much engaged because I'd have to think very rationally and strategically about what I was trying to accomplish technically as I built my little houses. But, and I never really realized this until this book project, the part of my brain that speaks in words was NOT a part of this process of building/creating.

  This has become abundantly clear because the book I am writing is all about verbalizing how I actually do what I do, make what I make and craft all the crafty bits that go into these houses. The process is this: pick an element (door, window, roof etc) to make...then begin making it but before I get very far I have to STOP! Take some photos, write some words, then get going again...and then STOP, take some pictures, write about what I just did then go a little further. It is maddening!!!  Added to the challenge is the realization that I have not shot in indoor lighting situations (it is a whole new world and a very difficult one at that) so that gives me pause and makes me check my work several times before I can proceed with the nest step.

  I need to keep the whole tutorial to about 8 succinct steps...but wait, I've never broken these processes down into "steps" before!  I've just forged ahead... stopped when I got tired, hungry or needed to move my limbs a bit. So now I have to guess where the natural steps in the process will be and catch them in photos and then find words....clear, simple words to efficiently say what needs to be said to describe what I'm is proving to be much harder than I EVER would have imagined!

 I did have to get some new camera gear and lights and other bits for the studio shots and now the camera no longer looks small and friendly but more like some bit of menacing technology from an alien world...see what I mean?
But the good news is that now the initial shock is over and the break-in process is well underway, I can actually develop a rhythm, but it is a much slower one than simply making these creations. But I have a deadline so I have to get much faster and more focused so I will complete the project in time....hence, it feels like I have very little spare time for writing here in this blog. That I do regret.

There have also been some personal milestones; someone who had a huge influence on my life has made her transition to the next step in her journey. I want to write about it and will, but the emotional components need to be a little further in my rear-view mirror. But the past 4 months had a lot of deaths of loved ones (six in 4 months is a lot of letting go and saying good-bye) and it has been difficult to get my mojo back. So I've been just chugging along but at a slower pace. Sadly, the holidays were a total bust for me, but thankfully my family was feeling the same so we all let the calendar pages turn over with only small sighs of wishing we could must more holiday cheer...but sometimes just getting thru the day is a good day.

On another front, I'm very pleased to announce that I've been invited to create a very special object for an important conference on Industrial hemp that will be taking place at the end of this month. You can read about the program here:

The Faerie house that I am building for the raffle is going to be really special because except for the base, and for the lights, I hope to make the ENTIRE house out of hemp and 100% hemp products!  I've been gathering my materials for several weeks now and will go into greater details about them in my next blog, but for now I can show you the base and some of my sketches just to let you in on the process if you want to come along for the journey.  

The hemp papers, twine, yarn, stalks and fibers that I've gathered and that growers have kindly donated (BIG thanks to Joel at Vermont Hemp Company ) are now all here and I've been examining the plant materials especially for inspiration. The first thing I've realized is that the plant is very robust and grows strong and straight, for the most part, so the house will need to reflect some of those qualities. But, they are also rather fragile for my construction purposes as I plan to use a lot of paper for this construction so I decided to begin building my structure on a solid base to give the piece some stability and mass. I chose a very blonde Cypress root for the upright part of the base and a special slab of Buck-eye hardwood for the horizontal base. These two pieces of wood should compliment the hemp materials nicely in terms of colour and solidity. I love the upward movement in the Cypress root.
Here they are as they will be fitted together soon:
The hemp house is going to be a tree house of sorts. I wanted to make something that was unconventional and seemed to defy gravity a bit...looking a bit rebellious seemed like a good attribute to try and bring into the piece!  I made some sketches here:

 But these are just ideas... everything can change once I get going and see what these materials can and cannot "do" for the design. I can't wait to get started!  I'll keep you posted on this project as best I can. If you want to buy a raffle ticket for the house, you can do so here:!raffle/pyxfm

(PLEASE NOTE> that photo they are using is NOT the house they are raffling ...the house I am building right now will be the prize! )

That is all for now... I gotta get building!


Carolyn said...

So sorry that you have been dealing with so much loss. I can imagine the frustrations of stopping mid-stream to photograph your work in progress. I imagine it can really disrupt the flow. Thanks for sharing your work.

Sally J Smith, Environmental Artist said...

Thank you Carolyn for your thoughtful response. Yes, the process of writing for this book is a very different activity from just CREATING! But it is good to stretch oneself from time to time!

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.