Sunday 8 May 2022

2022 Topic 07: Specimen Jar {by Keren Baker} with Tracy Scott stamps


Hi everyone, it's Keren Baker with you today, and I'm here to share with you a dimensional project exploring the relationship we have between feeling contained and how we contain ourselves by the choices we make in our lives.

With our topic being about specimen jars it was originally suggested I could look at creating an art doll from a jar. The idea of drilling into glass to connect little jars to create a doll had me scratching my head or the other option was how I could incorporate the jar without simply just placing the doll inside. I had the choice of Tracy Scott's lovely stamps and her newest ones with the wedge design had the potential for art doll clothing. 

To start off, I thought about how I would tell the story and grabbed a combination of different sized jars, all the colours I wanted and a couple of extra stamp sets to complete the project.

I thought creating the art doll would be easy. Just draw a sketch - I wanted her to be tall, willowy and slightly different. I cut her out, sewed using a smaller stitch (really important if you're tugging it around when stuffing) and then turned her out.

Right- don't do what I did. You really need to make a doll in pieces and then attach for ease. This was so tricky trying to turn her. Once done- she looked exactly like an American Footballer linebacker! She needed a face and I found one the perfect size in MN36 but she had a hat and hair so I needed to create a simple mask to stamp through.

Once partly stamped and partly stuffed I had to make her look a little more lifelike. I liked her legs and arms being unstuffed so left them that way. I had to pick some wool and sew the hair...which would you have chosen?

For adding colour to her face, I experimented a little and found that Prismacolor pencils work beautifully with mercerised cotton. Just add thin layers of colour just like you would for any other project. She needed a crown and a way of cinching in her neck a little. I searched for the tiniest stamps and found the perfect candidates in MN112. I coloured them with Copic markers, trimmed them out and added them to a hot pink crown made from wire.

Now I had my basics I had to make some decisions about how I was going to communicate my idea, so I went to the specimen jar next. It was designed for sweet treats but it was to become her (I named her Willow) self-made prison. I wanted her to feel trapped by her surroundings but actually she was freer than she'd imagined, she simply filled free parts of her life with things that cluttered her space and ironically those things that she chose were trapping her further.

I had wanted to use Frosting Glaze with the glass specimen jar and originally thought I'd stencil it but wanted to use the TS069 floral set to add a little texture to the look and get the viewer to look a little more closely. To add the Frosting Glaze I simply brayered it onto the stamps and pressed the stamps without using an acrylic block so the stamp hugged the curves of the glass.

You can add colour to the glaze, but I wanted a very subtle finish. It's hard to capture in a photograph, but this will give you an idea.

Willow was looking a little chilly so I grabbed some more white cotton and a bunch of paints. Here's the queen Willow with all of her colours. AquamarineBougainvilleaCeruleanMustard PicklePaua ShellSouthern SkiesSquid Ink and two of Tracy's new colours Haze and Lily The Pink.

When painting onto fabric- it's helpful to lightly spray the fabric or add a little water to the paintbrush before painting. What is brilliant is the ease in which Fresco Finish Chalk Acrylics lay down on fabric and even better, how the fabric is still wonderfully pliable afterwards.
I tend to use Stazon ink with fabric (unless I was using alcohol markers) and then iron it to make sure the ink is properly set. I did use a stamping platform to make sure I got a blacker image as the fabric tends to suck the ink in initially.

Looking carefully at the photo above, you'll see that there's a little bleeding. It's an easy fix- just allow the area to dry and then add paint over the top to correct the 'damage'. I loved the scalloped edge and wanted to keep it. I was going to add this layer onto a circular piece of fabric so added some Bondaweb which meant I could cut it out without the edges fraying. In the end I simply stamped another 4 wedges and sewed both stamped panels together to create an almost circle. At this point I realised that her shape, the pointy toes and the fact I'd almost created a poncho reminded me of an Irish dancer, so that was vibe I continued with (forgive the pink ballet shoes- I know Irish dancers wouldn't wear those).

I needed to group the individual elements to make sense of what I was trying to do. Willow's complication is that she clutters her life with all the things that don't matter. She gathers 'stuff' and buys so many things that weigh her down rather than free her. The things that really matter aren't ever 'things'. So I wanted to use tiny jars filled with 'nothings' to crowd Willow inside the jar.

I wanted to use the beautiful labels set by Gwen Lafleur EGL17.

Stamping on glass is easy. Stazon is your friend again and the easiest way to transfer ink is to roll the mini jars along the stamps maintaining a downward pressure whilst you roll.

I wanted to add white Stazon inked images plus the new printed tissue paper from PaperArtsy, secured onto the jars using Matte Glaze- one layer under and one on top of the tissue paper. Allow to dry.
Here's how they all look together.

Here's Willow, crushed by the things she purchases and consumes.

The last thing I had to do was add a little tag to the somewhat bare specimen jar lid. I added an acetate tag using TS069 flowers and EGL17 tags. I'd used up the left over paint from the painted fabric onto some Smoothy Heavy weight cardstock and then stamped and added Prismacolor pencil details. I finished it off with a few beads.

I really love creating art that makes me think whilst I'm creating it. It is well worth reflecting on what we purchase, consume and what we hold onto in our lives that weighs us down. How would you artistically express the tension between what we buy to enjoy, what we overconsume and what holds us back from freedom?

Keren x


Etsuko said...

Wonderful project Keren!! The queen Willow appears happy, even if she is trapped in a jar. because you packed the little jars of 'nothing' together--That's great idea and story. The image stamped with Frosting Glaze on the glass jar is so beautifully captured. I love how your to capture a subject. xx

Anonymous said...

You are amazing Such a thought provoking project and such intricate work Judy G

Kathi said...

Wow! Wonderful project. I love the art doll and those wonderful little bottles.

Your theme resonates with me because sometimes my stash of crafting supplies overwhelms me.