Greetings from a balmy South Dakota. Yesterday we had a lovely walk under sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 70s. Can't say the same for today, but we are definitely out of winter and into the spring transition....a weather rollercoaster. Below is a view of the gorgeous sunset over the river a night or so ago. Who could resist grabbing camera, phone or whatever was handy to hold on to such a moment?
Exploration continues in the studio. I revealed in my last post that while making my last scroll using paper and teabags, I realized that I should explore papyrus as a surface. Well, I've made a couple of experimental pieces at this point, to get a feel for how to handle it and how the material responds to ink, moisture, pencil, pen, etc. Although these are not scrolls, they have informed me in numerous ways and I'm not sure the papyrus is the material for me. It is interesting....yet strange. I suppose if I were living in the ancient world and papyrus was the only material available to me, it might not occur to me to yearn for something like the loveliness of handmade paper. But, I know better and I do yearn for paper.
It is a unique surface, with the strips of papyrus laid across each other crossways to form a solid sheet. Many years ago, I recall that I made papyrus as part of a bookmaking workshop. We laid those softened strips across one another and then pounded vigorously for some time in order to have them mesh into a single unit.
This material is quite fragile, so that when I tore the large sheets down to these 11" x 8 1/2" sizes featured here, the strips started to come apart and not surprisingly, it didn't tear cleanly at all. In the top one, I've just used ink, but still the material doesn't quite lay flat and wants to curl, so I may have to attach it to another sheet of actual paper. Perhaps I'm not able to let go of my paper-centric notions! In the bottom piece, I scumbled a very thin layer of white acrylic paint on the surface of the lower half before drawing. Naturally, the papyrus really buckled with the moisture. I did do a little spritz of water on the back of both of them and dried them under some heavy books so they'd flatten, but I think the wrinkling and natural curling is part of the deal. These photos were taken post-spritz and supposed flattening.
I also have to say that, given the tiny marks I am prone to make, those very visible strips did a number on my eyes. Since they are not strictly parallel or evenly placed (I admit that would be quite boring!), I was constantly second guessing myself and feeling the strain in my eyes. Well, I suppose this all sounds like a rant and that I'm complaining, but I think I'm just coming to terms with the limitations and the changes in ways of working that are required. And.....well, working with papyrus makes me appreciate paper all the more. As my husband pointed out, there's probably a good reason that paper took over the world and that we are not continuing to use papyrus as a writing surface!
On another note, above (and below) is a simple little drawing I made that began with the need to use up some gold acrylic paint. I had painted the edges of another panel piece that is being donated to a fundraiser and of course, squeezed out way too much paint. I just grabbed a sheet of this nice drawing paper (ah!!!) that was on the edge of my desk and drew a free form square and used up the paint filling in the square. Somehow that gold square spoke to me about all things precious, so I added a ladle beneath it. The ladle allows us to fill our lives with all the intangible moments that lift us just slightly off the earth, so that the times when we hover, airborne, buoy us up and lighten our load for those days in which we find ourselves simply plodding, one foot in front of the other. We all have our share of plodding, but the secret is to remember the airborne days!
This view captures the iridescence of the gold in a better light. The simplicity of this piece felt just right after working on the papyrus.
So, a scroll in papyrus? Not so sure, but we'll see. It's spring break for my husband, so we'll take a few days off and head up the Minneapolis/St. Paul. Enjoy the rest of your week!