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Champagne For Everyone!

Just can’t believe it. How many years? 15? It has been a long long long project but I did it! A tour de force: of tenacity and endurance. But I had fun every moment I was immersed in the work. But this is it: the last piece, number 16 of 16. There are some details among some of the pieces to be fixed or added to maintain consistency, but essentially the body of work THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won is complete. Here is the last completed piece:

If the Indians Had Won

38 1/4″ X 29 1/2″ X 14 1/4″
Frame: polychrome wood and cast wood putty, wood laminate, feathers, rabbit fur, leather, beads, silk fabric, cotton cording

EWM_07c-framed

EWM_07b-framed

Wood laminate flooring and trim on the roof. Making this pattern and applying the laminate was more difficult than I expected. Actually, the whole project turned out to be more difficult than expected!

Wood laminate flooring and trim on the roof. Making this pattern and applying the laminate was more difficult than I expected. Actually, the whole project turned out to be more difficult than expected!

 

Several pieces of wood laminate in four different woods were given to me by a good friend in Algoma, Wisconsin. He is married to my very good friend and artist, Brenda; owner of the Atelier Studio. A door laminate factory in Algoma was a long important industry there. My friend, a lifetime resident of Algoma, had collected over the years the “waste” trim pieces. He gave me a collection of various woods and I designed this frame to accommodate that gift.

To view the processes, construction and finished work of the entire collection click on “If the Indians Had Won” in the CATEGORY drop down menu to the right.

 

copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, 2013, all rights reserved

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WELL, I thought I could finish all sixteen pieces by the end of the year. Not likely I can manage the last one in the next five days. The Holidays put a damper on my work and caretaking for a mother with dementia, even though I have three 1/2 days a week and some evenings, it is difficult to keep the flow. I really did want to start the new year with an enormous sense of accomplishment but I can still pat myself on the back come February when the THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won project should, in fact, be finished!

Until I can celebrate “the end” here is a look at the next to last piece finished up a couple days ago — well, before Christmas festivities needed attending to (before that, Christmas decorating, before that my mother’s 91st birthday to celebrate, and before that Thanksgiving shopping, food prep, dishes . . . oy! too, too much!).

Here is number 15 of 16. The feathers I found among oak forest here in NW Arkansas while walking my dog. The reddish brown are probably from a Red-Tail Hawk and the black and white from a Cooper’s Hawk. The white weasel tails I have had since the 70′s when I lived with my Aunt and Uncle in the Alaskan arctic village of Golovin (my father’s birthplace). While living with my relatives in Alaska, I learned quite a lot about subsistence living including trapping squirrels (for food and making parky’s/parkas). During the winter my aunt stored moose meat in a shed with easy access by weasels. I had learned in the fall to trap and skin squirrels and thought I would try a hand at the weasels getting into the moose meat. I trapped and skinned the few I caught and saved the furs for all these years finally to become a part of this project. For more on my life with relatives in Golovin, go to the “My Eskimo Family” category.

If the Indians Had Won

Frame front: milk paint on wood, feathers, leather, beads, bone, silk fabric and thread, wool yarn, tin cones, felt
41 1/4″ X 23 1/2″ X 14″

The feathers mounted on the back of this frame is an intact grouse tail. Though much, if not most, of the natural materials for the entire THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won project were gathered by me in the wild, this grouse tail feather/s) I purchased at a booth at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque in 2003.

If the Indians Had Won

Frame back: milk paint on wood, feathers, leather, beads, bone, silk fabric and thread, wool yarn, tin cones, felt
41 1/4″ X 23 1/2″ X 14″

If the Indians Had Won

Frame side: milk paint on wood, feathers, leather, beads, bone, silk fabric and thread, wool yarn, tin cones, felt
41 1/4″ X 23 1/2″ X 14″

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It took three months but the 14th (labeled EWM_11) THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won frame is finished. Some pieces seem to flow with a rhythm and some just take their own sweet time no matter how I push it along. This frame also took on a life of its own ending up in a place I had not initially envisioned.  For one, it finished up much larger than intended. Also, the summer was interrupted several weeks in a row due to a camper breakdown in Ft. Collins (long story), too hot and humid to work outside, and caretaker responsibilities.  I recently attended an artist lecture where the artist claimed to have a catalogue of some 950 pieces.  unbelievable. I am sure he has someone to cook for him, clean for him, do the laundry and grocery shopping, doesn’t or never has cared for an elder parent . . . Anyway . . . . mustn’t spit out sour grapes.

Fortunately, I did have a glorious uninterrupted 8 days in Algoma, WI at my good artist friend’s, Bren Sibilsky,  Atelier Sculpture Studio where I was able to accomplish quite a bit.

Atelier Studio, Algoma, WI

My good friend, sculptor Bren Sibilsky, in Algoma, WI

AtelierStudio_frame

The raw construction. My Einstein hairdo — geniuses who think alike? or just the same hair?

The scroll work is cast wood putty. They designs were taken off an antique sewing cabinet drawer of my mothers. The castings were done with 100% silicone caulking. I’ve described my silicone caulk mold making in past postings.

The finished frame: polychrome wood, polychrome wood casting, cotton fabric, wool yarn, silver foil and enamel paint

EWM_12_front, 40” X 28” X 16”

EWM_12_front, 40” X 28” X 16”

If the Indians Had Won

EWM_12 front detail, with drawer

If the Indians Had Won

Medal detail taken from presidential Peace Medals from early to mid 19th century. The “medal” on this piece says: Peace and Enculturation

copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, 2013, all rights reserved

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Bear Frame Complete

My last post (March 23) showed the process for casting bear figures in wood putty. Four bears were cast for placement on the latest (14 of sixteen) frame for the ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won body of work. Following is the finished piece.

If the Indians Had Won

37 1/4” X 31” X 21” frame: polychrome wood and cast wood putty, ceramic tiles, feathers, wool yarn, bear claws, tin cones, deer antler, beads, sequins, raw cotton, silk ribbon

If the Indians Had Won

EWM_12bFramed back view, 37 1/4” X 31” X 21”, frame: polychrome wood and cast wood putty, feathers, ceramic tiles, wool yarn, bear claws, tin cones, deer antler, beads, sequins, raw cotton, silk ribbon

EWM_12cFramed_blog

Notes: I confiscated the bear claws from a necklace my dad had made with claws, deer antler and leather. The claws were from a kill he had made many years ago. The raw cotton (on top spindles) are from a trip I made with my mother to SE Arkansas in September, 2011. I had never seen cotton fields before and there was raw cotton strewn everywhere along the roads. I gathered a small handful wishing now I had collected more. I tied the raw cotton balls, uncombed with seeds, to the frame’s posts.

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Casting a Figure

Currently I have four ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won frames under construction. One of them is a bear theme with bears guarding both sides, front and back, of the free standing frame. The completed frame will be pictured at some future date. For now this post relays the process I used for molding and casting four pieces from an original clay bear sculpture (7″ H).

There are to be 16 frames in the If the Indians Had Won body of work. I’m working on frames 11-14; the bear theme being one of these. When I constructed frame #1 my intention was not to make them too overwrought. The pieces of work that hang in each frame had already taken many years to complete. I didn’t want to spend another several years on the frames. That plan, however, ended up under a large pile of scrap, plaster and paint. The frames needed to take as long as the frames needed to take. The “frugal” first frame looks rushed and unfinished compared to the evolution of more decorative and complex frames that followed. One of the four (11-14) in progress I mentioned is a redo of that first frame. Thus, my decision to add a time-consuming decorative element; cast bear guardians for frame #12.

Following is the process from sculpture to casting.

If the Indians Had Won, Bear Sculpture, Tamara Ann Burgh

Original sculpture of 7″ bear in wax

If the Indians Had Won, Bear Sculpture, Tamara Ann Burgh

The wax sculpture was divided up into four sections. Each section was then covered with thin layers of silicone over a period of days.

If the Indians Had Won, Bear Sculpture, Tamara Ann Burgh

The front side of bear divided into sections and covered with layers of silicone.

If the Indians Had Won, Bear Sculpture, Tamara Ann Burgh

The bear sections have been layered with at least a 1/4″ thickness of silicone. The sections are now covered with plaster over the silicone. While the silicone remains flexible for easy removal once it is dry, the plaster shell retains the shape for casting.

If the Indians Had Won, Bear Sculpture, Tamara Ann Burgh

Once the plaster is dry, the silicone and plaster sections are removed from the original clay sculpture

If the Indians Had Won, Bear Sculpture, Tamara Ann Burgh

The flexible silicone and plaster pieces have been cleaned and cleared of debris. Wood putty is mixed in a flexible rubber bowl and poured in a honey consistency into the mold.

If the Indians Had Won, Bear Sculpture, Tamara Ann Burgh

The wood putty castings are left overnight to harden. The pieces are glued and putt-ied together and ready for sanding. Wood putty in a tube is used to fill the inevitable imperfections.

You can read about the body of work THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won on my website http://www.tamaraburgh.com/If_the_Indians_Had_Won.html

copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, 2013, all rights reserved

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Frame #1 Redo

Last time I posted pictures of the latest three frames in progress for THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won. They are frames 12, 13 and 14 (of the 16 total frames). A fourth frame is roughed in and is a redo of my very first frame — first frame ever as I had not done woodworking before nor used the power tools I’ve accumulated over the last few years. My power tools have grown from the original chop saw and drill in the making of the first frame to a table saw, router, drill press, band saw and various other tools and equipment.

I was so proud of the first frame, but knew in the back of my mind that in the process of constructing 15 more frames, I would probably see the first one as exactly that: an amateur first attempt. It was also made with limited tools so my decision making and choices were limited. So the inevitable happened. A decision was undoubtedly made. No excuses. I had to remake the first one.

Frame 1 Tamara Ann Burgh

The original frame wrapped in plastic atop a shelf.

Frames evolved into more "confident" appearance. There is also more interior space for the pieces. The original frame and hanging art look crowded to me now.

Frames evolved into more “confident” appearance. There is also more interior space for the pieces. The original frame and hanging art look crowded to me now.

The “first frame redo” has more interior space for the hanging piece of art. Pictured below is the fame’s initial shell.

Frame 1 Tamara Ann Burgh

The initial base construction for the frame #1 redo

The piece to be hung in this frame is a Northwest Coast inspired piece. Therefore, in keeping with the more elaborate frame decoration the frames have evolved into I chose to carve separate panels to attach to the flat sides of the frame’s shell pictured above. The carving process and roughly carved pieces are shown below.

Frame 1 Tamara Ann Burgh

Tissue drawing to scale for the two roof carvings

Frame 1 Tamara Ann Burgh

One side carved to attach to the roof. Shells will be inserted.

Frame 1 Tamara Ann Burgh

All sides (to be attached to frame base) with roughed in carving.

I enjoy the carving process. I used NW Coast carved boxes for references and thought it would be “simple” to imitate. Not so. They are much more complex than on first viewing. It crossed my mind to nix the carving as mine would be seen as amateurish: the problem I initially am fixing re the first frame . . . and then I attempt to fix it by doing something I’ve not done before, carving. Doesn’t make sense right now, but I do have a sculpture background (add-on, not take-away). There is no turning back now and I will not, I will not, I will not, do it over AGAIN.

copyright Tamara Ann Burgh 2013, all rights reserved
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Winter = a crowded studio. My woodworking tools and the bulk of my equipment is outdoors much of the year, but with the cold, I’ve had to haul it all inside — and it has gotten pretty crowded in my one room studio. I spent the fall months roughing in four frames/shrines of the remaining six (16 total) for the body of work titled THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won.

“Roughing in” requires the use of chop saw, jig saw, router, table saw, drill press, power sander and jig saw. These tools require space and make a lot of noise. The plan was to get as many frames basically constructed so I can spend the cold winter months sanding, refining, molding and painting. The molds I’m working on for frame details will be the subject of my next post. In the meantime, I’ve quite a lot of sanding to do while squeezed between equipment, wood and 1/2 finished frames/shrines.

Band Saw, Router and frame #14

Band Saw, Router, roughed in frame #14 tucked up against the table saw.

StudioJan2013_2

Frame #13 with molded pieces ready to be sanded and placed

StudioJan2013_4

Work bench with Drill Press and Chop Saw tucked under bench. Not so convenient.

StudioJan2013_5

Half finished frames/shrines #1 (redo) and #13

StudioJan2013_6

A crowded studios while temps outside are too cold to work in. Numb fingers from frigid temps don’t work well enough to run power tools.

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copyright 2013 Tamara Ann Burgh, all rights reserved

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