Friday, April 1, 2011

Hopelessy Addicted - my new love

A few months ago my friend Tom Anderson sent me information about The Landfill Art Project. Founded by Ken Marquis, The Landfillart Project is an international effort inviting 1,041 artists to create fine art from a reclaimed hubcap. The goal is to create a traveling show of 200 of the hubcaps and to publish a book on the project showcasing all one thousand forty one completed “metal canvases.” The book and traveling show will publicly portray the global art community's effort to positively impact the environment through repurposing metal waste into great landfillart.

If you've been following my blog you know that I have recently become obsessed with the beadwork of the Huichol Indians and have been beading my heart out creating lamps, bowls and boxes for the past year. I was so excited about this project I wrote Ken right away and got my hubcap the next week. 

I started by filing in the center Thunderbird logo impression with epoxy resin so I'd have a smooth surface to work on. Once that dried I filled the area with a mixture of pine pitch and beeswax and began the beading process. Each bead is applied one at time, embedded in the wax with a tiny awl.

Clearly, it's a very, very time consuming process, but I find it meditative and relaxing. Time flies and hours pass in what seems like minutes. I started in the center and as I finished each area I stopped and let the piece show me where to go. Even when I paint, I'm not the kind of artist who can sketch the final piece out ahead of time. I let it unfold and as I complete each phase I live with it for a day (or sometimes several) until it shows me what to do next. 
 It took over two months to get the center done. Once I finished the honeycomb floral design it took several days of sitting with it to envision the black and white border with the purple flowers and then figure out how to make it work with beads. It took another month or more to finish the border.

First I tried an orange edge around the black and white area, but after about an hour I could see it wasn't working so I had to remove all of the 200 or so beads I had just applied, then I reapplied the wax and tried the olive green line. I loved it, and as soon as I finished it I saw very clearly what the rest should look like.
By my estimate there are over 6,000 beads in the finished piece. Here are some close ups:

Now comes the hardest part - sending it away. 
I never expected that after spending months with this labor of love, I'd find it so hard to let it go. Each day I plan to pack it up and send it to Ken, and each day I think... I'll just enjoy it on the wall for one more day. I mean, really - it looks perfect there, right?