Monday 14 January 2008

Pierced paper - pinholes

Heather Smith Jones: Pinhole detail

You'll not believe it but this is the massively shortened version of this post! Shortened all the more by our loss of internet connection at the weekend which meant half my pics and links were lost. I'm afraid I can't face doing it all again so it's a bit heavy on words rather than images. I'd also hoped to show my own work too but I've not been well enough to go hunting through cold storage rooms so instead there is a long rambling attempt to describe my own ties with pin pricks in art, which you may prefer to skip and just head straight to the people I'm posting about.

My own pierced work began in the traditional way, using pin pricks to transfer the outline of a design onto paper or fabric. Ideal for repeats on a lot of my papercuts, marking the start and finish points but leaving room for the blade to vary with each separate cut so that every layer is subtly different. I like difference.

Practice cut from one of my sketchbooks 1991
A teeny tiny bit of piercing in there
(sorry, all I had available to show)

That's one off-putting thing (for me) about laser cutting - the exact sameness of it all.
I also used pin pricks to mark out the designs for my thread and string works and though I loved how it looked, Iwas too focussed on the planned piece to fully appreciate that the pattern on it's own was enough (dammit, I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had, those thread and string pieces took weeks, months at times).

Piercing as a permanent part of the piece happened accidentally at college when I had a sewing machine (still have it, a hand crank Singer) whose thread snapped a lot. Working by candlelight & streetlight with pale thread on pale papers, I didn't always notice until I had finished, but I liked the pierced lines that were left, and began using them in my mixed media work and papercuts to create texture and emphasise contour or pattern edges. Also they are great in bookmaking and paper folding for creating perforated folds, or tear offs.

My favourite use was in my lighting to bring miniature pin pricks of light to the work (light play has a big role in many of my pieces, and you know how I am about that goes double for small lights, the tinier the light the more I love it). But I never used it as the primary source of the image itself. My lighting was usually 50% was stitched, 50% pricked, but it was the light itself that was the star of the show, not the pin pricks in their own right.

That's why I am
so enamoured of the pieces below where the pin prick takes front of stage. Works where skill is required to place each prick in the right place because it's place is important. When I dig out my old pieces you'll see that my placing was very free-form (like so much that I do, I hate to feel like the piece is telling me what to do). So I really admire the patience, the obsession, that goes into the making of the works shown below.

Heather Smith Jones: Formation VI

I'm especially smitten by the work of Heather Smith Jones who's talents I only came across a few months ago (big thanks to Susan at Artstream) and who, among others, I will be doing a collaboration with this year based on my stash of papercut books from the early 90's - very exciting :0)

My own pricks push into the paper leaving a crisp hole on flat paper. The beauty of Heather's (and to some degree some of the others) is that the back becomes the front so the punctured paper protrudes creating subtle but definite shadows that make the marks jump of the page. She has brought so much skill to the practice, perfectly controlling the degree of protrusion to get just the right effect, then occasionally reversing the direction of the prick to give a different look that only emphasises further the miniature 3d qualities of the protruding pricks. I love, love love it and it's as much about imagining the time and patience of making as it is about the beautiful final result.

Ok, enough rambling, let's look more at their intricate lovely works and I strongly urge you to visit all the sites to see the pieces full size as the tiny pictures I have here do not do justice to the intricacy of these pieces. Let's continue with Heather...

Heather Smith Jones:
Wallpaper pinhole project (ongoing 2007-'08)

Just a taster of her lovely pieces, you should see what she does with
words and how she's beginning to combine them with collage and thread (which relates perfectly to my books for the collaboration). For more check out her beautiful blog which has many links to her other work (she does beautiful drawings and watercolours, this is my current favourite), her Wallpaper Pinhole Project is a true labour of love, her work to buy at Artstream, her Flickr pages, and her new collaborative image a day project with Alicia Alferman - Noticing Project., which I love because I'm all about the little details that most people don't notice and it's great to see other people's noticings.

Moving on, Catherine Bertola is another favourite of mine who's
cut found wallpaper work you may have seen before...

Catherine Bertola: If Walls Could Talk
via Workplace Gallery

Perhaps you've also seen her amazing 'After The Fact' dust drawings (2006), dust has never looked so good. Shown below is one of her anatomy pieces, pinprick knickers!..

Catherine Bertola: Prickings,
Anatomy #10
Via Axisweb. click
here to see full size

Catherine Bertola: Prickings,
Anatomy #10 (detail)

I came across
Celio Braga through his bead work but it was his carved paper work that I truly loved as it was similar to my papercut explorations...

Celio Braga: Untitled 2004, cuts on paper
(listed under 'carved drawings' on his site)

Like Catherine, he has also worked with pinpricks and the piece below is again similar to mine in that he's working with the line to emphasise the image it accompanies and there is also a little embossing (oh how I love embossing)...

Celio Braga: Untitled 8 2002
(listed under 'drawings' on his site)

I'll let you do your own exploring of the links above, and here a few others if you're really getting a taste for this type of work-
Catherine Garvey Macmahon: Mappings 2004
Leslie Yagar does very organic perforations and drawing on rice paper.
• Siân Bowen works with both pin pricks and laser incisions such as her
'Gaze' series 2006 and she touches on some of the historical background to piercing in her V&A weblog.

Finally, this one's not piercing at all, it's acrylic on paper, but it has such a pierced look I popped in in the mix anyway cause I like it. I've always had a thing for paper towel patterns, they're like the doily's poor country cousin, not as fancy, not as pretty, but honest and sturdy with their own simple beauty.

Lisha H Bai: The Earth Friendly Paper Towel Series 2006

Part of my 'All things white and beautiful' postings, a visual snowscape of creativity and observations in shades of white through January.


heather smith jones said...

Cally- I cannot believe this post! You are immensely generous and I am honored at the amount of work you did here to describe your work and that of others. It's a beautiful and cohesive post. You have quite an art review blog here. I enjoy coming here to fill up on the artists you feature. Thank you for all your hard work and for sharing with us.

Anonymous said...

it does look like snow and we got the real thing here last night...almost a foot of it...I live in New England near Boston and it looks really pretty. We loved visiting Scotland a few years husband grandmother was from there and his middle name is McLean, so we had to find the family ancestral home out on the isle of Mull, we drove up to John O"Groats and spend 4 days in Edinburgh. Please stop by and say hello.

lisa solomon said...

ok - totally totally smitten w/ heather's work. beyond smitten.

and the paper towel pieces.
oh heck. they are all good [as a fan of the pink prick i know you'll empathize with my enthusiasm]

more paper towel art for you [of a different variety, but]


Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post! I've loved Heather's work since I started blogging and it is nice to see what others are doing with similar techniques as in her pinhole work. I really enjoyed seeing the differences that other artists bring to the paper. ;) I'm very glad I came here today!

Susan Schwake said...

oh cally, thank you for such a generous mention and highlighting the beautiful work of heather! it's wonderful beyond belief!

karin said...

Cally, you really make me laugh with "massively shortened version", but wow, it's so worth taking time and reading this. I love Heather's work and know now that you're doing similar art pieces, how great that you collaborate!

Pigtown*Design said...

These are extraordinary! Thanks for sharing them, Cally.

Hope you're feeling well!

Ruth Singer said...

I've been enjoying your white posts very much, but I love this one particularly. I'm a big fan of Catherine Bertola and am kicking myself for not applying for a mentoring opportunity with her last year. I was too busy to think about it, but it would have been fantastic!

mansuetude said...

this is a wonderful post--all the wonderful thought and design of its narrative is so well done!

Love the whole thing...its like reading a magazine article...those pinhole undies are just too lovely! {smile}

Some of the carved paper reminds me of a photo on Andrea Tachzy's site... her clay obviously have a passion for this topic. Thanks.

Unknown said...

I found myself holding my breath reading and devouring this post. I adore all your work and Heather's and all the artist you have shown.

Beautiful and inspiring...

Unknown said...

Cally thank you so much for your blog! I really enjoyed reading your post and found it very funny to find an accuaintance of mine-Celio Braga-on it. We studied in the same school but he finnished in the year I started.
I really liked your works as well!

A said...

thanks for your great post, i just stumbled across heather smith, and wanted to learn some more so i google-d her and your post came up. very informative, and now i know about a lot of other artists that i love. thanks for your thought! i'll be sure to check back with your blog in the future.

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