September 19, 2013

Cutting into Copper

Some of you may remember that one of the things I loved most about my time in Evanston was its proximity to the lake shore. I became all but obsessed with making it to the beach in time for sunrise every day and was rewarded by witnessing a panoply of the most stunning vistas imaginable. Coming from Salt Lake City--a valley edged in by mountains--I wasn't used to seeing the sun break above a flat horizon. From this vantage, sunlight travels through a substantial amount of atmosphere and is scattered into displays of brilliant color that often change from minute to minute...the deepest reds, purples, and yellows thickening one moment and then vanishing the next. 

Each morning brought new surprises... 

...especially as temperatures dropped and the water began to freeze. Though one of my biggest worries before moving to the Windy City was its legendarily harsh winter, the excitement of observing lake ice actually made me jump up and down whenever sub-zero temperatures were in the forecast...

Don't worry, there is a reason for my nostalgic indulgence.

About a month ago Rob and I were wandering through the Ginko Gallery, a local art shop and studio, and I was startled to see among a stack of random art supplies...a whole sheet of bright new COPPER! I hadn't found an opportunity to exercise my engraving muscles in quite some time, and visions of ornately scrolling designs instantly began sparking through my imagination. I asked the cashier whether this was something they regularly stocked, but apparently it was kind of a one off.
My lucky day!!!

We bought it right away. 

The 6 x 12 inch sheet, prepared and cut by Chicago based K&S Engineering, sat on my desk for a few weeks as I allowed ideas to bubble and churn. A concrete vision finally took shape for me this morning, and I spent some time today experimenting with materials in preparation for the real thing.

At the very least I first had to make sure I could still handle a graver. There is no eraser for engraving. Every line is as permanent as a tattoo. It would be so PERFECT if I started in on my masterpiece and instead just scratched the whole thing up. Fortunately, I still had an old battered piece of copper I'd picked up from a machine shop at NU...perfect for practicing! Then I gathered up my sharpies (yep, that's right...even on the copper), scrounged around for some old nail polish (I know...this is getting a little ridiculous...and by the way what am I doing with such a crazy shade of RED in my collection...I'll just let you wonder:), and finally started in.

My creative mood was helped along by a playlist of "drawing music" that included Dawn of Midi's new release "Dysnomia," and LaMonte Young's "Well Tuned Piano."  I'd only made it through the first two and a half hours of the second selection when my project was complete.

I haven't decided on a name for it yet, but the scene clearly references my morning trips to Lake Michigan's western shore. I'm planning on elaborating upon this idea in the future, and might decide on a title for the series then.

Here are some up close views. One thing I've always loved about engraving is how it shimmers with every change of light...

To help preserve the copper's ruddy sheen, I lacquered over the top of the whole thing with two coats of clear polish. I eventually hope to mount the piece, but at the moment its dimensions are 6 x 12 inches.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, WOW! It's exquisite! You probably want to keep that around you for inspiration! You still have such a beautiful touch.