Crash Bang Bam Boom Tinkle!

Oops sorry about the construction noises. I was playing with a plugin and it kind of broke all my menus. Taking me a bit longer than I thought to repair things. I’m alos working on a new shopping card and theme, stay tuned!

#JDBugs

So I did a couple of these little ladybugs, people love them, and I love doing them. I’m calling them #JDBugs (J for Jasmine, and jaydee as a play on the word “lady”. I have hidden a few #JDBugs around Niagara, but they are also available for purchase. I haven’t set up a serious shopping cart on my site yet, so for now, if you want a #JDBug, please let me know which one you want. I still have to fully price out shipping costs. I’ll post pricing when I have that information.

Cultural Appropriation

Recently, a lot of my Facebook friends have been sharing this story:
Toronto gallery cancels show after concerns artist ‘bastardizes’ Indigenous art

I find myself torn on allegations of cultural appropriation, both in general and in this case. I have a great deal of empathy and respect for native people, and want to be an ally in their struggles.

I’m also often inspired by their artwork, but I’ve avoided it because of those feelings, and the very real fear of being slammed with this kind of accusation. However, I do a lot of Egyptian and Hindu symbols in my art, never thought about it until recently, and have never been accused of appropriation. Why is that?

Here is an interesting take on this subject:

I’m not a fan of everything this YouTuber says, but I think her argument holds weight. After watching this video, and finding the arguments compelling, I have decided that “cultural appropriation” only truly applies when the artist/individual claims to be from the culture that has inspired them. The best high-profile case I can think of that actually does appear to meet this standard is Rachel Dolezal (and I’m prepared to give her a pass as I believe she has good intentions).

If the artist (“PL”) were claiming native blood she does not possess, I’d vote guilty. But there is some gray area in this case for me. Clearly she’s more than just “inspired” by Morrisseau. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of his work can see the resemblance. It’s a bit too close for comfort for me. The gallery should have seen this coming. PL can’t claim to be surprised by the accusation either. She took native studies in school, and she didn’t expect this? It came as a shock to her? Sorry, but something smells there. The publicity has no doubt done no harm to her career. I call publicity stunt.

Soule’s argument of “cultural genocide” though is not only hyperbolic, it’s ridiculous. PL is crediting her inspiration in her artist’s statement. She’s spreading native symbolism to a group of people who might not ever have been inspired to enjoy it. If they enjoy her work, they may seek out his.

There is this idea some (many) harbor in our culture that you have to exclusively own ideas, styles or concepts in order to profit from your work, I call bull on that notion. Just because two people have very similar styles in art doesn’t mean Artist A is losing anything when Artist B makes a sale. The market is big enough for everyone. We already have draconian intellectual property rights, and not only are they stultifying our creativity, an argument can be made that this proprietary approach to ideas is a big part of what is holding the corporate power structure in place, to the detriment of all but a few who have “ownership” over certain ideas, styles, or concepts. This is just another form of that mentality, married to political correctness to give it juice, and distract from the huge holes in the argument.

The Art of The Game and Political Correctness

Garrus Mass Effect SketchI love Mass Effect. I was waiting on Andromeda with tremendous enthusiasm. But I haven’t yet purchased the game. I have been hearing a lot of YouTube chatter about the poor quality of the animations, bad voice acting and dull scripting. Scripting and story telling were the two things that drew me into Mass Effect and without these, it’s just another shooter.

Some folks are saying that one of the reasons for the awful animations was that someone at the top of BioWare decided for political reasons to make all the human characters “realistic” with the end result that they are unappealing at best and ugly at worst.

I am not really convinced that “political correctness” played all that big a role in the problems with Andromeda’s animation. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of diversity … but that could be far better supported by simply adding some secondary characters who are outside the norms. It’s fantasy. As PC as I am I want the main character, male or female, to be hot and sexy. The point of a game like this is to be more than you can be in life, in every way. Nobody at the top tier of a gaming company is ignorant of these facts, nor of the fact that sex appeal sells. This is a business, not a political campaign. If this IS PC run amok, whoever is responsible for it seriously lacks a grasp on reality.

The thing is, nobody knows that better than BioWare. Mass Effect has done great work along these lines in the past. Joker’s disability, volus and elcor, gay characters. I have often brough up Fem Shep as an example of how gaming companies can create realistic and sexy female leads. These characters have all made a huge impact on advancing the cause of social justice, without inflaming the often hot-headed fan-boy gamer base all that much.

I think that the problem now is that this takes imagination, and a small investment in human-based talent. It seems there is a vacuum of these qualities right now at EA and BioWare. It’s about allocation of dollars. Certain executives only see value in technological solutions. They will spend ten times the amount on some new rendering platform than they would have spend in getting artists to touch things up, and writers to create a compelling story line for such a character. I’ve worked for a large company where we were always fighting against this mindset. Spending money on tech = good. Spending on salaries – bad. Even when you could ultimately save money by a factor of ten, long and short term! This mindset is also betrayed by the poor quality of the voice acting talent this time around. Either way, I’m not buying this one until the patches come out, and maybe not until it considerably drops in price as well. Unless anyone out there wants to offload a used copy on the cheap (laugh).

What is Orgonite?

Neo-Selenite may possess similar qualities to “orgonite”, but I find it more effective, calming and more gentle on the system, especially for hyper-sensitives like yours truly. This video focuses on resin-based orgonite, but it is a pretty good overview for anyone who wants to know about the properties of orgonite or neo-selenite (aka “plasterite”).

Review: Mold Builder by Castin’ Craft

Mold BuilderMold Builder by Castin’ Craft is a liquid latex rubber mold-making compound readily available online and at major craft stores. I’ve been using Mold Builder for years now, and I think I’ve finally mastered it. The more I use it, the more I like it. It’s a reasonably-priced product with a wide range of possible uses.

In order to create a mold, you can sculpt the original, or use something existing you want to make a mold from. I find it works well with Plasticine, most hard plastics, glass, metal, polished wood and seashells (among other things!). It takes a very detailed imprint. You just paint on Mold Builder, let each layer dry completely, then paint another layer. I find between 5-10 coats is sufficient for most smaller pieces. The more coats you do, the harder and less flexible the mold will be.

IMold Builder Samples find Mold Builder works best with small plaster castings. For larger pieces, or pieces that don’t have a wide, flat bottom, it will usually need some kind of support or platform. It’s really flexible, but that means the heavier your casting material (like plaster), the more important a good support becomes. Without a good support, you may end up with a deformed casting at best, or a sloppy mess on your floor at worst!

I make supports in a variety of ways. In some cases, the original can become a support. I have a small traffic cone and a pyramid-shaped candy container I made molds from, and I use the originals now as a support. I had to cut the cone though, in order to get the casting out. So I’m going to try doing a two-part plaster support. You can also use Plasticine, clay, sticky foam balls, sand, plaster or resin to make supports.

The small rock molds on the left have plaster supports. The large one near the bottom was done free-hand, with thick plaster on a silicone mat. The square-shaped supports were done using Lego forms or small boxes to create a well. Lego is a must-have tool for a model maker! You can create wells the exact size you need. I de-mold the original first, then press the empty mold into the wet plaster, using my fingers to get the mold into the right shape. If you don’t take out your original first, you may find it hard to de-mold.

Resin Mold SupportYou can also reinforce your larger molds with bandage gauze. I haven’t tried this yet, but I have some larger projects I may test it out on. I would give several coats before using the gauze, just to be sure I got a nice imprint, and work in small patches so the mold doesn’t deform while things are setting.

The one-part support on the right, for a large stepping stone mold, was made from resin. It is shown from the top and bottom. I cut strips of felt, and dipped them in resin, painting two extra coats on to fill in open areas. It was messy, and when I first did this, the resin support had a base, but I found that it was difficult to remove, so I cut out the base with a Dremel tool. You may have to experiment with different pieces to discover what kind of support works best for you.

This two-part support on the left was made from plaster. I made one half free-form, then let it set. I used carpenter’s tape to coat the open edge, then laid down the second coating of plaster. I keep the two sides together with rubber bands, and use a disposable cup to hold everything upright (I hope to provide a video tutorial when I get a chance). I have heard that you can use Vaseline instead of the tape. I’m going to try that, and will update this post when I do, Taping the support was a bit of a challenge.

It is best to let your finished mold dry out for a while before using it, especially if you are using resin. If you are just doing a quick prototype, it will be sufficient for resin, but doesn’t give the nice perfect smoothness of Castin’ Craft’s Easy Mold Silicon Rubber (which I also enthusiastically recommend). I LOVE the “blue goo” as I call it, but it’s pricey. I only use the blue goo for projects that I know I will use a lot. Let the mold dry out between castings too, especially if it is a larger plaster piece. Some of the moisture from the plaster will leech into the mold, and you’ll want it dry and fresh before doing another cast.

Downside: Mold Builder smells like ammonia. But I am “scent-sitive”. It’s not overwhelmingly strong, though. It can develop mold-like spots over time.

Upside: More affordable than many alternatives. Easy to use. Water-based cleanup. Really flexible molds.

Some extra bonus uses/tips for Mold Builder:

I use mold builder as a resist in my watercolor and acrylic paintings. It appears to be exactly the same compound as commercial paint resists, but is thicker. You can water it down with tap water if you like the consistency of commercial paint resist products, but I actually prefer it as it is. Much easier to remove, and works perfectly. I have found it works slightly better on acrylics if you let them dry first, you might get the odd smudge if you remove it too quickly.

Stamp making. I have made small stamps for my resin and plaster projects. There are a number of ways you can do this. For my plaster stamps, I carve the design into Plasticine, then fill up the cavity with Mold Builder. I use a small cutting from a discarded mold as a little handle. You could do the same with more intricate patterns in wood or linocut, then glue the resulting stamp to a block of wood for support.

You can use it as a coating to protect electronics. According to Castin’ Craft, Mold Builder is a natural non-conductive rubber, it should work just fine as an insulator/wire coating. So if you are embedding LEDs into a sculpture and you want to protect your electronics from the elements, you can coat them with Mold Builder.

Cut up and save any molds you are not using, cut off any extra flashings. You can use these bits and pieces to reinforce the base of a mold that needs support, or use them as filler for wider empty areas.

Mold Builder won’t stick to most things, that’s part of the point of it … but as a temporary emergency patch for a leaky boot or sink it would be perfect! I can think of quite a few uses for it around the house to stop assorted leaks.

 

Review: Outdoor Gloss Lacquers/Varnishes

Wood Test Block for Varnish & LacquersI decided I’d add some reviews of art materials to my blog, as I often share tips and ideas on Facebook and social media. I’ve been testing different varnishes. My favorite overall is Liquitex High Gloss Varnish. It is a waterbased acrylic, and if you paint in multiple thin coasts, there is almost no drippage. One layer merges seamlessly with the next. On small pieces, clear nail polish works well. Spray lacquer is messy, stinky, toxic and leaves a lot of drippage.
I have this little wood block I have painted and left outside for 2-3 months, and as you can see, the nail polish holds up well. It is harder to see on the Mod Podge, but it’s completely washed off. Not a trace of it left. To be fair I only had indoor Mod Podge to test. Also hard to see with Dimensional Magic, but it’s cracked and has gone a bit cloudy (I love Dimensional Magic for small jewelry pieces though, but does not take water exposure well at all). The lettering under the spray lacquer has faded but that may be a chemical reaction. The paint has not. But the Liquitex blows them all away. Between 3-4 coats is optimal. You can’t see the gloss too well because the angel of the shot doesn’t catch any reflections, but it is as good or better than the nail polish.

The goldish-green patch is colored nail polish.The space between the Dimensional Magic and Liquitex has no coating. There is a tiny bit of fading, but not noticeable so far. I’m going to try something similar on a plasterite piece, with different kinds of paint as well. I will add to this review as my testing advances.

I won’t be testing other spray varnish at this point because I like the Liquitex so much, and because I find spray paints and lacquers too messy to work with. But I’ve heard about marine varnishes, and may give them a try if I can find a local supplier. For now, Liquitex is the hands down clear (pun intended) winner.

My Favorite Artists: Leonid Afremov

Leonid Afremov

First Snows Paperweight

First Snows Moon-Shaped Plasterite & Resin PaperweightFirst Snows Paperweight – handcrafted moon-shaped resin and plasterite paperweight, with embedded maple leaves. 4 x 2 x 1 inches. $30.00 USD, includes shipping in USA and Canada. Please contact me for an estimate for shipping elsewhere.




Jade the Beaded Mannequin

Jade, the Embeaded MannequinI know I haven’t posted any new beaded art in a while. That’s because I have been working on a huge project. Jade is a life-sized mannequin that was commissioned by John Bead Company. The tropical embeaded design was a collaboration between myself and John Bead’s Creative Director Fernando DaSilva. Fernando presented the tropical theme, and gave me the specific motifs to use. We worked together to refine the design as I worked down Jade’s body.

“Represent the lusciousness of a tropical land,” he said.  “After you submitted several sketches, I was impressed on how well you captured my vision and make it into reality.” It took more than a year to fully complete this project, thousands of seed beads, and hundreds of hours doing the beading. Jade the beaded mannequin has already seen more of the world than I have, I think!

It was a real pleasure to work with Fernando and the staff at John Bead and I hope to do it again! If you are in Toronto and you have never been to their warehouse or the Outlet Store, it’s a beader’s paradise, at 20 Bertrand Avenue, Toronto. Visit www.johnbead.com for hours/directions. The warehouse is wholesale only, but their Outlet Shop is open to the public, and if you are a bead fanatic like me, you will love it.

Let me know what you think, and please feel free to share this link if you like my work: http://blog.johnbead.com/?p=9493