Project Progress

PROJECT PROGRESS: To date, I have collected three gallons of pennies! Will tally them soon. Check here for Project Progress throughout the year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

And The Tiling Begins!

I am just all over the place with this project now! I've begun the tiling with the main tile in the recess of each side of the shrine and with the pennies filling out the recesses and on all the edges of each wall. It's looking great so far! Also working on building the penny fountain... gluing the pennies together one by one. I've tried so many different glues but finally settled on the old favorite: Super Glue. I've already glued my fingers together more times than I can count! Also still glazing the tiles with the epoxy resin and making additional tiles using fortunes from Chinese Fortune Cookies with messages pertinent to the theme of each side of the shrine. Like I said, all over the place.

Except for making the Fortune Cookie tiles, I have to say that this is not the most creative phase of the project. The tiling and gluing is repetitive, tedious, and boring compared to the design phase and even the building and cementing of the shrine itself. Several community members have joined me in the studio (thank you, thank you, thank you!) to work with me... luckily, they didn't find it boring at all! I guess it's all a matter of perception (and how long you've been doing it!).

Special thanks to Dennis Conatser II for making the main  (4" x 4") tile for the Community Side of the shrine, and Alyssa Acevedo (one of my four incredible grandchildren) for making the main tile for the Art Side. And of course thanks to the hundreds of people who decorated the 2" x 2" tiles that will cover the walls (except for the recesses where the main tiles are. I've taken the summer off in terms of First Fridays, but beginning in September I'll be showing again and there will be more opportunities for the community to contribute.

Here are some Progress Pics:

putting the pennies on the edges and around the main tile in the recess

all the edges now have pennies

main tile for the Money Side of the Shrine

Alyssa's tile for the Art Side with pennies filling out the recess
Dennis' tile (not glazed yet) for the Community Side

main tile For the Admiration/Compliments Side of the Shrine

the beginning of one stream of a penny fountain

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cementing Done... Working on Tiles

All four sides and the top of the shrine are cemented and ready for tiling. It was a tedious process, but I learned a lot and felt more confident with my technique as time went on.

Now it's on to the tiling. I've got hundreds of tiles decorated by visitors to my studio on First Fridays plus many that I created myself. The tiles were bisque fired prior to being decorated. Decorations were done with Sharpies, Sharpie Paints, and some were collaged with clip art and other paper images. Since glazes were not used, firing them in a kiln is not appropriate. I decided, instead, to coat them with an epoxy resin to give them a nice, hard, shiny finish. That is what I'm working on now. I'll also be polishing about half of the pennies so there is a variation of colors among them. Once all the finishing and polishing is done, I'll start on the tiling and grouting. The pennies will go on all the edges and in the recesses around the main 4" x 4" tile that defines that particular side of the shrine. the 2" x 2" decorated tiles will go on the other (non-recess) flat surfaces of the sides of the shrine. I'm really anxious to get this new phase started and see what adjustments I'll need to make and how the project will further evolve.

Still to come: Construction of the Lazy Susan and the Penny Pool/Fountain.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Still Cementing....

I've finished coating three of the four sides with cement. One side left plus the top. Not sure yet what I'll be doing with the top. Once the entire structure is coated with cement, I'll be moving on to the tiling.

Still need lots of tiles, so drop by for June's First Friday to decorate one if you haven't already done so. The edges and the receses will be tiled with pennies. The rest of the facades will be tiled. Judging from the tiles I've already received, it will be fantastic!

There have been a few more evolutions. Now I'm considering having the entire structure on a "Lazy Susan" so it can rotate and be visible from all sides without having to sit in the middle of a room. More work, but I think that will add to the interactive nature of the piece and involve the community even further, on the level of viewer as well as collaborator.

Time to start thinking more about the area surrounding the structure where the Penny Pool/Penny Fountain will be. I'm thinking astro-turf. That may evolve too...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lots to Think About

Well, I posted my dilemma concerning the offensive tile (see previouspost) on my Facebook page and on the Facebook page of the Phoenix Remodernists (an arts group I belong to) and I got tons of feedback, suggestions, options, and opinions. Very helpful, yet UNhelpful in that I now have even more to consider.

Suggestions include using the tile, tossing it, literally tossing it (so it beaks) and including it in broken form, grinding it into dust and including the dust in the grout between the tiles, turning it over and including it as a blank tile as a tribute to rape victims, keeping it out of the project but using it as a coaster at the reception, returning it to whoever made it (not possible.... I don't know who made it), making an adjunct piece from all the tiles that don't fit,

I'm close to a decision, but will let all of the input percolate for a while. Whatever I decide, it will be a very personal decision on many levels (artistic, philosophical, historically, experientially, and societally) and I will not be sharing it. I have several reasons for this: I want the piece to stand on its own and not be overshadowed by the inclusion or exclusion of this particular tile. Plus, I think not sharing the decision adds a little the mystery to the work.

So when it's done, be sure to look for it (or it's absence) in the finished piece!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Artistic/Philosophical Dilemma

What do I do???? Hundreds of people have decorated tiles for this project... most of them showing wonderful talent, great wit, deep thoughts, entertaining personality, and lively spirit. But then there are the exceptions.

One tile in particular is downright offensive. It says, "IRAPE SISTER YOUR." No, I didn't transpose the words or forget a space after the I... that is exactly what he wrote and how he wrote it. There is no design included. So what do I do? Do I include it in the project?

On the one hand, I feel that including it will be as offensive to many who view it as it is to me. I feel it demeans the project and twists what I am trying to say with it. I feel it was not created in the spirit of what was being asked of people; i.e. to decorate a tile that would fit in with one of the four themes of the project: Art, Money, Admiration, and Community. I feel that including it in "my" piece would reflect badly on me.

On the other hand, lots of tiles don't fit any of the four themes. Many are not "artistic." I said that people could decorate tiles and they would be included in the project. I am totally against artistic censorship. and is it really "my" piece?

On the third hand, is this artistic expression or just a prank by an immature person trying to funny or rebellious or outrageous? Are humor, rebellion and outrageousness legitimate components of art? Did I not give people a means to express themselves and be heard?

So, again, what do I do???

Monday, April 30, 2012

Structure Complete! On to the Next Step!

The structure of the shrine is finished and I am in the process of coating it with cement and preparing the surface to accept the tiles that have been decorated by so many menbers of the community when they visited my studio on First Fridays and during Art Detour.

I've been glazing the tiles and they look great! Still need many, many more... so come by the studio on First Friday and decorate one!

I'm ready to let people come in and work on the piece. Since I can only accomodate a few people at a time, let me know when you're available (leave a comment here) and I'll arrange a time with you to meet at the studio. Be prepared to get dirty!!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Covered with glue!

Making some progress.... have cut some more styrofoam pieces for the structure and have glued the pieces Sandi and I taped on day 1. I posted somephotos in the previous post, so check it out if you haven's seen them already. It is starting to look like a shrine! Had a lot of trouble getting the glue out of the tube using the caulking gun. I need to do some hand exercises to build up my squeezing strength! Today went a little better when I cut the a little more off the tip and got the glue flowing a little easier. Still tough though. My hands and forearms are all cramped up. And I have glue stuck to me everywhere!

Luckily I am working with forgiving materials.... mistakes can be addressed and repaired at this stage. After I get the shrine glued together and adhered to its base, I will be using a mixtrue of cement and glue to seal it. Using this mixture, I should be able to patch and build up areas that are not straight or level or smooth so that we have a good smooth, even surface to tile. More ideas keep coming to me as I work... places to incorporate pennies, places to use copper trim. It is definitely a work in progress... not just physically, but creatively!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Construction - Day One

My friend (and mentor) Sandi Whyman joined me in my studio to begin work on the shrine portion of the piece. We cut, scraped, and taped styrofoam for the greater portion of the day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Experiences

I often use a blow torch when I work with resin on my toilet seats and bustiers, and now on the tiles for the shrine. But while using it (and enjoying it!) the other day, I began to think about all the new tools and materials I'm using (and will be using) for this project that I've never used for an art piece before. Here's a partial list:

Sharpie Paint Pens
Graph Paper
Needle, thread, pins, tape measure, and other sewing tools
Doll's Head (this one happens to have long blond hair - with bangs - and blue eyes... coincidence??? See the photo below)
Keyhole Saw
Astro Turf
Caulking Gun
Wire Brushes
And, oh yes, Pennies!

So what do you think.... could this doll's head represent (a much younger) me? Will it add to the autobiographical nature of the piece?

(Not happy with the beret.... will do it over for sure!)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Laying it out

I am so gratified by the number of people who are participating in this project by donating their pennies, decorating tiles, and expressing interest in building the piece with me!

This weekend, I got out my graph paper (first time since seventh grade!!!!) and laid out the project. See the diagrams below! The measurements were dictated by what would fit in my truck.... as good a criterion as any, I suppose. 

The base will be 3 by 6 feet and the height will be 3 feet at the tallest point. As you can see from the diagram, there will be a four sided structure. Each side will be a 3-piece shrine (one for each of the four main concepts/themes of the Penny Project: Compliments (Admiration), Money, Art, and Community. The center piece of each side will have an arched recess that will hold a 4 inch square bisque tile decorated to symbolize the concept for that side. The rest of the recess will be tiled with the pennies that were collected during the project.The area of the center piece (excluding the recessed area) and the side pieces will be tiled with 2 inch square tiles that have been decorated by members of the community during my shows and open studios. The tiles will then be coated with a resin for shine and durability and then grouted.

To the right of the shrine structure will be a "penny lake" with a "penny fountain." Remember: each penny represents a compliment to the artist. An artist's palette will be "floating" on the "water" and an artist's head (wearing a beret that I am sewing tonight) will be sticking out of the water. the significance will be open to interpretation... is she drowning in compliments? Bathing in compliments? Just taking a break from making art? There will be a tile path around the lake (also tiles created by community members) and in the open areas (which will probably be astro-turfed) will be some 3-dimensional representations of the four major themes... perhaps a piggy bank, a "thumbs up" sculpture, an easel, and some hand-holding doll figures.

Of course nothing is set in stone yet and the design and ideas may yet evolve into something entirely different.

This coming Tuesday I will be meeting with one of my mentors, Sandi Whyman, who creates wonderful shrines. Under her watchful eye, I'll be beginning construction of Side 1 of the shrine. I want to complete Side 1 myself (making copious notes of all the sub-tasks so I can later delegate them to anyone who is interested in participating in the construction of the rest of the project). Keep watching this space for announcements of open studio dates if you want to be part of making this piece of art happen!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making Progress!

The community response to decorating the tiles for the shrine(s) has been great! I knew the kids would enjoy it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers of teens, adults, and seniors who also participated during my open studio at First Friday a couple of weeks ago. This weekend is Art Detour and I will again be having visitors to my studio participate in this project by decorating a tile if they are so inclined.

The amount of participation was not the only pleasant surprise. Also of note was the quality... there are so many really talented, creative people out there. I, myself, can not draw worth a hoot... so I was very impressed with the artwork on the tiles.

We also got a good start on a list of people who want to come into the studio and help construct this art piece. I will be posting dates and times here and on my facebook page to let people know when to show up.... so keep checking. Or, send me your email address and i will send yo a personal invitation to come out and make art!

Monday, February 27, 2012

A New Way To Participate

Beginning this Friday, visitors to my studio will be able to decorate, with words or pictures, a 2" x 2" bisque tile that will become part of the shrines or the pathways leading up to them. The decoration should address one of the four themes: Compliments, Money, Art, and Community. A tile depicting compliments might, for example, say "Love Your Work", "Good Job," "Beautiful," "Thank You," or something like that. A Money tile might have a Dollar sign on it, or a penny glued to it, or say something like, "Show Me The Money!" An Art tile could have an artist's pallette drawn on, or show a figure standing at an easel, or have a short quote or thought about the nature of art or its function. A Community tile might show people working together or holding hands, or say something like, "Working Together." These are just examples... I want YOUR thoughts! This is a community project so I would love to have the thoughts and pictures of as many people as possible included in the art! Come on out for First Friday and make your tile.

I will be coating the finished tiles with a shiny epoxy resin and using them to create the shrines and pathways as described in the previous post which laid out the plan for the artwork based on my own ideas and the suggestions of others who got on this blog to share their thoughts.

In addition to making a tile, you are invited to come down to my studio and help with the actual construction of the piece. Construction will take place on various dates so that everyone who would like to participate is able. I will be posting the dates here and on my Facebook page as soon as I know them. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's a Plan!

With the pennies collected, the time came to come up with a design. And over the past few weeks I came up with a doozy! Such a doozy, in fact, that I became totally paralyzed and overwhelmed. Needless to say, it was an ambitious plan. Now, after scaling it back a bit, I am ready to talk about it. Nothing is set in stone, so feel free to chime in with your feedback!

My original idea was for an outdoor installation that posed such questions as: where would I build it? How would I get it out the door once it was done? Where would I exhibit it? How would I weatherproof it? How would I move it if it became necessary? And on and on. So now, I'm thinking of an indoor, gallery-appropriate installation that will be constucted in sections that can be put together in multiple ways and rearranged at will in interactive ways.

The piece will be made up of four "shrines." Each shrine will address one theme of the Penny Project: Art, Money, Adoration (compliments), and Community. It will contain images, objects and text relevant to that theme along with decor accents including pennies. There will be paths leading up to each shrine paved with pennies and additional words and images, and flanked by related sculptures or other objects. Beside the shrine will be a pool of pennies with a fountain of pennies erupting from it. A beret covered head will be sticking out of the pool and a single arm holding a palette wil be sticiking out of the water. (An artist drowning in compliments? Drowning in money (or the quest for money)? Drowning in the need to make Art (regardless of money?)? Drowning in the gifts and giving of the community (or lack thereof)? Each shrine will contain a "well" that people can add to and interact with. There will be a place in the Community shrine for people to add their written thoughts, wishes, or prayers. They will be able to add pennies to the Money shrine, and compliments (to the art, the artist, or themselves (who doesn't need a compliment?) to the Adoration shrine. Sketches, poems, or other artistic work can be added to the Art shrine.

My hope is that the Community will come out and help with this project and be an integral part of it. Whether you have artistic talent or not, there are a multitude of ways in which you can participate. I will be posting (here and on Facebook) studio dates open to the public and I really hope to see you! If you can cut, drill, sew, write, glue, draw, paint, polish, trace, or just lend moral support, I want you! Please let me know if you're interested in creating art with me!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year! On to Phase 2!

Well, Phase 1 of this project, the collection phase, is over. I've filled three galon jars with pennies and other coins. I've spent a good deal of time thinking about the art piece  I will create from them and who or what I'd like to see benefit from the project. And I've learned a lot:

I've learned that things don't always go as you envisioned they might. I was hoping for, and maybe expecting, a lot more community participation on the blog. I got a lot of buzz initially, but it didn't really go anywhere. People participated by adding their pennies, but were not as interested as I thought they might be in helping to plan the piece.

I've learned that I'm not a very good blogger, or perhaps I've learned that once you've described a project and asked people to participate, there's not much to do or say unless they do.

I've learned that I'd rather throw 100 of my own pennies into the jar than ask 100 strangers for theirs. I've had signs up at all the shows, and I've asked people who I noticed were reading them, but sometimes it was just too crowded, sometimes, I got "move on" vibes from people, and sometimes I just didn't bother.

I've learned that a lot of people don't carry change.

I've learned a lot about patience. At first it was tough not to plan out the whole project, art piece and all, right from the get-go. But I was determined to seek input (if not actually receive it) and to let the ideas percolate for a while without acting upon them, and to not make any decisions until this next phase, the design/construction phase.

It was very interesting to watch people read the signs and info about the project and to see their reactions. Some averted their eyes and quickly moved away... you'd think I was asking for hundred dollar bills! Some got excited and rummaged around their purses/pockets for pennies to contribute.... and then nudged their friends to contribute also. Some were very excited... especially people from out of state who wanted their (insert state name here) pennies to be incuded in the piece. Some gave dollars (one such person first interrogated me to make sure I would convert the bill to pennies and use it for the project... such is the reputation of starving artists, I guess). Many took the information about the blog, but few ever got on to give their suggestions. Most wished me luck with the project and thought it was a good idea. Some thought it was brilliant.

I've learned that it is comforting, in a way, to have a visual representation of the appreciation people have for your art. I like looking at all those pennies!

I've learned that I enjoy taking on challenges. Most of the ideas I have for the art piece will involve me stretching and growing and learning new art forms and techniques.

I've learned that I have the capacity to stick with a long-term project and stay committed, even when I don't perceive any interest from others. It would have been easy to abandon this idea, but I'm going to see it through. To everyone who contributed: your pennies WILL end up in a work of art. What that work will be? I guess I'm going to have to decide now. Whether the community will want to get involved in helping to create it? I guess we'll soon find out. What will happen to that work of art? I don't know. That may be Phase 3, the displaying/donating/selling phase.

So now I'll be trying to get other artists involved with the design phase, and the community involved with the construction phase. I'll continue to blog as progress occurs. If you are interested in helping with any part of this project, leave a comment here. I look forward to hearing from you!