I’ve been seeing a lot of video footage about the state of the world’s oceans. It is sickening to learn of how polluted they are – how much plastic is in the ocean, how many sea creatures are caught in human refuse, how toxic the waters are. These issues have been floating around in my brain. So it was not surprising that as I put together the elements for this work I saw an ocean wave in the piece of lace trim, kelp in the sari ribbon and sand in the aptly named “dirty sand” Baked Elements embossing powder by Seth Apter.
To be honest, I didn’t start out with that idea. This piece was born out of the play of experimentation. I recently became part of Arnold Grummer’s Papermaking Design Team. As one would expect, that means playing with the various aspects of making paper. One that appealed to me was embossing. After watching the video about how to make embossed paper I wondered if a stencil could be used. Turns out it can!
As you can see in the picture above, I used Gwen’s Ornamental Petals Screen Stencil to create embossed paper. I had made some light blue paper (seen on either side of the embossed piece). Deciding to make a white piece for the embossing, I didn’t change out the water. The result – a blue tint is randomly across the page except for the areas the stencil covered. To make this paper I followed the directions for papermaking and embossing. Gwen’s stencil was laid on top of the freshly made paper, a couch sheet placed on top and books piled on top to add pressure. The couch sheet was changed several times until the piece dried completely. The stencil was then removed very carefully. This was my first attempt at embossing.
The substrate for this piece is the cardboard from the back of a Strathmore watercolor pad. It had a coat of gesso and then the same stencil was applied to the whole background using Craft Smart acrylic paint in Robin Egg Blue. When dry the stencil was laid over the bottom row and stamped with an embossing pad. The Baked Textures Dirty Sand was sprinkled liberally over the area and the excess removed. Watching the heat melt this product was lots of fun. The stencil reminds me of sea stars (though they really have 5 legs), a quartet of conical shells and even octopi (clearly they are hiding every other leg.)
By now the ocean theme was clear in my mind. After attaching the paper to the backing, the wave, e.g. lacy sari scrap, was auditioned. It was sewn to a piece of sari ribbon and attached to the backing. A scrap fluttered out of my pile – turned out it used the same stencil in coordinated colors! Score! It was pasted down to the right. Little leftover pieces of Dresden Trim were added to either side of the scrap. To finish this point a piece of sea glass I have had for decades was attached with hot glue. More treasures from my beach collections were added below.
Green craft wire was used to attach shells that had natural lace added by way of sea bores. These hang in the middle.
A Waziri Pendant – Turquoise Stone was hung on the top, left corner.
Finally, turquoise colored beads were added to finish the piece off.
All through making this piece I was thinking about our oceans and all the creatures who live there. I thought about all the people who have dedicated themselves to saving our oceans. I thought about the technology we have that makes it possible to address this issue.
Our oceans provide us with enjoyment, nourishment and oxygen. Our oceans are an important part of our planet’s health.
They are well worth saving.