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Over the summer and fall last year I constructed stands for the ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won frames. I sometimes refer to them as shrines. You can see a number of the 14 total finished and under construction frames/shrines in previous posts under “frame construction” category. This has been more than a decades long project but I believe my evolving vision of the work will eventually aesthetically pay off. When I finished the last of the frames/shrines last Spring, I popped a bottle of champaign thinking I had reached the finish line but when I envisioned the work in a gallery setting, I realized the stands had to be incorporated into the whole work. Groan. Not finished yet.

The Enculturated White Man

Two of 14 stands completed and ready to paint.

Upon completion of the 14 stands, I believe once the stands are sanded and painted, I will be finished with this project and am ready to open another bottle of champaign. But something is unfinished in this never ending project. I had to remember the theme of the work is about Native Americans, the First Nations, winning the Indian wars, Indians conquer invaders and retain their land and home in the new America. Over the years of construction of this project, I left America behind. I had to bring America back into focus. My solution was to make US flag themed table cloths for the stands.

The Enculturated White Man

More stands ready for sanding and painting. Stands are 42″ high.

Researching and gathering samples that were necessarily cotton and/or wool and/or silk, I chose cotton gauze for the red and white stripes as it was thin and would drape well. For the blue table top I chose upholstery weight cotton velvet. I am embroidering stars in cotton crochet thread on the velvet therefore dressmaking cotton velvet would not have worked as I would need a hoop but the hoop would leave marks in the velvet. Upholstery weight velvet can be successfully embroidered without backing, a hoop or needing to be stretched. I was fortunate to stumble upon upholstery weight from an online fabric store.

The Enculturated White Man

Flags Under Construction

For the entire project I over dyed almost all of the store purchased threads and material in order to age them; knocking back the brightness. Sometimes this was a challenge. The red and white gauze flag material, for instance, is 50″ wide and 10 yards in length. The red was washed twice in hot water making sure the red color was set. I then soaked the yards and yards of material in a dye bath made from the mullein plant. The white gauze was so bright white, I soaked it in a cold mullein dye bath for an hour or so.

I am embroidering 46 stars around the edge of each table top in white cotton embroidery thread also dyed in the mullein dye bath. With 14 table tops and two pieces hanging on the wall with flags, that’s 736 stars total. The work is meant to represent early 20th century America. The flag had 46 stars between 1916-1918. I had to use skills from my old keylining graphic arts days before computers to configure 46 stars equally spaced around rectangles of varying sizes. I am embroidering the stars re instructions found on needlenthread.com.

The Enculturated White Man

Embroidered stars on upholstery weight cotton velvet.

Finished flags and stands will be posted eventually. Maybe THEN I really will be done!

copyright Tamara Ann Burgh all rights reserved, 2015

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Tassels For a Finish

My last post declared I was finally done with the ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won project. I lied a little. Of the 16 pieces there are six in need of some finishing touches. Half way through the construction of the standing frames, I felt the pieces needed a soft touch added to the outside to compliment the extensive needlework on the interior matted pictures. I began at that point to add tassels to the outside corners. Which meant the first few needed to be revisited with the addition of a tassel or other visually soft decorative element. These decorative elements are also meant to invoke spiritual mystical elements. Maybe my next blog will address the creative intuitive process of the spiritual in the whole project.

This blog pictures the making of the EWM_09 frame tassels. My approach is organic. I did not have a finished picture of the tassels. I wanted a skirt, body and cap. The tassels skirt is cotton DMC thread and cotton embroidery thread. The color choices were hit and miss. The finished skirts shown here are the second set as the first set of mostly pink was not to my liking. Since this frame is a Pueblo theme, I thought to make the caps from an adobe mixture. And since I live in Arkansas, my adobe mixture is an improvisation of red clay-ish dirt, sand and a red sculpting wax.

If the Indians Had Won

The frame in need of tassels hanging from the lower roof corners.

adobe mix

Making the “adobe” tassel domes: red sculpting wax, sand and red dirt. I mixed the two dirts and sculpting wax in a tin can on a hot plate. The four finished caps are to the right. Sorry the picture is blurred.

Tassels, adobe

The cotton threads skirts are attached to the tassel bodies. Again, sorry for the blurred picture.

tassels, adobe

Finished tassels. 18″ High. Cotton threads, wood with milk paint, bead, “adobe”, leather

 

 

copyright Tamara Ann Burgh all rights reserved, 2014

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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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copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, 2013, all rights reserved
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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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