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 2002
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.