Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not So Fresh Fairies!

It might be Springtime but I'm still spooky. So what do spooky girls play with during the year's greening? Dead fairies, spider webs, and moonlit tea parties - oh my! Now, are these fairies the ghostly spirits of long deceased sprites or are they the collected corpses of unlucky tinker wannabes? Let's look at how various artists portray the matter... and yes I did find many tackling the oddball topic.

Brassnbedlam's Curious Taxidermy
Some of the most realistic and truly creepy Dead Fairies I've come across are by the Steampunk artist Brassnbedlam. These are meant to look like actual scientific specimens complete with notes. They look a bit gooey and still have some fleshy parts like their ears... ick. I'm fascinated by the psuedo scientific approach to fairies as a candidate for cryptozoology.
To see more of her work on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brassnbedlam/3295328455/
Above is her Welsh Blue Fairy, mummified and mounted in a shadowbox frame with real butterfly wings.
"Speckled English Fairy, mummified and mounted in a shadowbox/ frame with real butterfly wings, made by my fair chap, a lovely handmade creepy and macabre steampunk specimen, a dead fairy and comes with historical notes"
VooDoo Willy's Fairy Art Sculptures
This dark fantasy artist on Etsy produces some of the most interesting pieces I've seen. Each is a one of kind creation from the 'dark corners' of his mind... A keen sense of humor with a heavy dose of gloom has lead to the sculptures below. To see his shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/VooDooWilly

Below: "The Battle"
Below: "Morbid Martini"
Below: "Stopping to smell the roses"
A Well Crafted Hoax?
"A CRAFTSMAN IN England has posted on his website photos of what he claims to be a mummified fairy located in Derbyshire, England. What is unusual about the photos compared to the usual paranormal images, either of live or of dead cryptids (unknown animals) is that there are many of them, in full color, from multiple angles" giving the appearance of realism. Apparently this guy tried to pull off that he had found actual fairy corpses. Ok.

A few days before April 1, 2007, Dan Baines, a 31-year-old illusion designer for magicians from London, posted on his website images of the "corpse" of an unknown eight-inch creation. The unusual corpse was claimed to be the mummified remains of a fairy which was discovered by a dog walker at Firestone Hill in Duffield, Derbyshire. Read more below:

Below is another attempt at fanciful fairy taxidermy, artist unknown.Below is a project page for how to make your own Dead Fairy prop, by Shadow Manor
The Fancifully Morbid works of Etsy artist Fairy Garden:
Fairy Garden's dead fey are a bit more fanciful, with bouquets and tutus. I love her 'Fairy Trap' which uses a large crystal as bait- what fairy could resist! Below are a few of my favorites examples.
Visit her store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/fairygarden
What has happened here? Blame it on the trolls or the ogre?
Above is a fairy trap baited with a tempting crystal! Below, the Sugar Plum Fairy rests so serenely...
Ahh, where have all the fairies gone?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hauntingly Elegant Miniature Interiors: Inspiration & Resources

A shimmering lady in white came gliding down the luxoriously carved staircase, drawn by the smell of rich pipe tobacco wafting from the library. Once, so long ago, it was her husbands... Who is this strange man sitting there in her house, the house she had so lovingly filled with treasures and laughter? Once so long ago. As she circled behind his chair, the gentleman suddenly froze and looked about him. 'Is anyone there?' he asked. 'Why, I am sir', the lady in white answered. To her annoyance, the man seemed to be looking right through her. She reached out and gripped his wrist. With a start, the stranger jumped from his chair dropping his pipe on the floor. 'What have you done!' the lady lamented and a gust of cold air blew the nearby curtains about. The gentlman fled from the room and all was quiet again.

Many times ghosts are said to be attached to the material items they once so treasured in life. I often imagine a haunted mansion of that era being watched over by the head mistress who is unable or unwilling to leave her carefully crafted home. The Victorian middle and upper classes spent a tremendous amount of thought and resources on interior design and furniture.

Below are a 2 examples of my own Victorian inspired spooky miniatures: a haunted mirror and a gothic gargoyle hearth.

I found a wonderful example of ostentatious Victorian interior design. Below are photos of the Linden Towers James Clair Flood Menlo Park home in 1878. Featured are the Grand Entryway, a bedroom, a parlour, and the Dinning Room. To see more photos about this magnifiscent residence and family, visit: http://www.flickr.com/groups/942580@N24/

Looking at this, what type of elements would you need to add to your dollhouse to develop a similiar mood? Patterned wallpaper, ornate molding and columns, patterned rugs, large paintings in gilded frames, intricate doorways, mantles, fireplaces, and lighting pieces... basically a lot of layered bling!

You can find fairly inexpensive molding pieces at Hobby shops and also another overlooked resource, your local Home Depot or Lowes! Check in the cabinetry and molding aisles. There are many smaller pieces that can be adapted to dollhouse scales. Also consider jewelry bits and do a search for 'charms', 'cameos', and 'findings' online. Visit the dollar store for inexpensive picture frames: the smaller ones can be used for wire hung paintings while the larger ones can be glued directly to the ceilings as molding details.

An artist that I especially like for such a project is Jim Coates! He produces handmade high quality moldings from his own designs. These can be purchased bare or prepainted. His line includes picture frames, fire places, mantles, and columns. His work is beautiful and well priced!
Examples below are available at: http://stores.ebay.com/JIM-COATES-COLLECTION

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Influence of Assemblage Art on My Approach to Miniature Making

I would describe myself primarily as a miniature artist that works in assemblage style and one of a kind repaints (with the occasional dabbling in twig furniture when a fairy tickles me). Most of my spookier fantasy pieces are of the first category. Assemblage art may be defined as 3 dimensional visual art formed from everyday ‘found’ objects. The creative expression is found in the manipulation, alteration, and placement of many individual pieces into one final composition.

As a student of art at Kent State University in the early 90’s, I had a very hard time finding my niche. To the delight of my mother, I was accepted into the Roger Silverman School of Fashion Design. However, having neither the money to buy fashionable clothing nor the inkling to sew, I moved onto the Fine Art Department. I dabbled in Graphic Design and Painting. I joined a rural guild for Spinners and Weavers. I took classes in Art History and became fascinated with religious and indigenous art. Finally, I changed my major to Cultural Anthropology and kept my art as personal therapy rather than trying to make a career out of it!

I was creating very large paintings that incorporated natural fiber, sand, and drift wood. I was also making collages blending ink illustration, found objects, and magazine clippings. At some point, a customer labeled me ‘mixed media’. My work was becoming increasingly three dimensional, which seems to be the difference between collage and assemblage. Below are examples of my collage work which moved into altered book art.

For side money, I began painting fantasy and futuristic gaming figures and building terrain pieces in 28mm. This pushed my ability to see creative uses for everyday objects and also expanded my knowledge of clays, glues, faux materials, and texturing. When I rediscovered my childhood dollhouse in 2004 and began working in 1:12 scale, I had a euphoric ‘Ah-ha!’ moment. This is IT! However, I was all by myself in the hobby for nearly four years and so applying what I gleaned from the occasional miniature magazine with my previous artistic experience. My background in the fantasy gaming world is probably why my work looks a bit different from much of the cleanly crafted scale dollhouse miniatures.

I love Demeng and Kuski!
Although they are not miniaturists, there are two outstanding assemblage artists that have greatly inspired me, Michael Demeng and Kris Kuksi. Demeng’s book ‘The Secret of Rusty Things’ was like a long awaited secret tome detailing the magical transformation of trash into elemental art. His work is crusty, aged, earthy, and filled with countless bits of pseudo-sacred folk imagery and the modern world’s cast off ephemera. I especially love the stories of how he finds his materials.
Visit http://www.michaeldemeng.com/

In contrast, Kris Kuski’s work is glorious, ephemeral, a bit creepy, and often appears to float. Thousands of spires, figures, and gothic motifs are painted in pale colors, mimicking the remnants of classical marble figures. He creates fantastical assemblage temples, vehicles, and whole cities. He also will surround a large archetypal being with countless smaller writhing figures. You could look a hundred times at his work and always find new details that were previously unnoticed.
Visit http://kuksi.com/

Why do I love assemblage style? To begin with, it is cost effective and promotes recycling of broken items and ‘junk’. Then the artist is faced with the challenging puzzle to put all the bits together into one single cohesive piece. Finally, the great joy of an assemblage artist is the ‘Hunt’. I am always on the lookout for a treasure, a rare and interesting bit to use. It is a style that suits an intrepid collector’s mentality. Needless to say, such an artist must have an organized system of storing all their stash. I can keep this a bit under control because I work in miniature… I only have one room and two closets full.
As an AIM member in the Fantasy, Myth, & Magic category, my offerings range from Gothic inspired spooky to Elvish fantasy themes. I’m constantly on the lookout for interesting twigs, wire scraps, vintage watches and cameras, unwanted action figures and broken toys, costume jewelry, and holiday decorations. I’m frequently seen at thrift shops and dollar stores. My family must restrain me at the sight of a yard sale. Here are a few of my favorite miniatures made in assemblage style.

A Brief History of Assemblage Art:
The origin of the word (in its artistic sense) can be traced back to the early 1950s, when Jean Dubuffet created a series of collages of butterfly wings, which he titled assemblages d'empreintes. However, both Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso had been working with found objects for many years prior to Dubuffet. They were not alone, alongside Duchamp the earliest woman artist to try her hand at assemblage was Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, the Dada Baroness, and one of the most prolific, as well as producing some of the most exciting early examples, was Louise Nevelson, who began creating her sculptures from found pieces of wood in the late 1930s.

In 1961, the exhibition "The Art of Assemblage" was featured at the New York Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition showcased the work of early twentieth century European artists such as Braque, Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Picasso, and Kurt Schwitters alongside Americans Man Ray, Joseph Cornell and Robert Rauschenberg, and also included less well known American West Coast assemblage artists such as Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner and Edward Kienholz. William C Seitz, the curator of the exhibition, described assemblages as being made up of preformed natural or manufactured materials, objects, or fragments not intended as art materials.


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