Turning and Burning
March 16, 2010
Entry Details

# 882
Jason Nemec
Burnt Hills, NY
Dimensions (inches):  
  Width:   5.75
  Height:   7.25
  Depth:   5.75
Materials:   Holly, Aniline dye, Shellac, Dry pigment, Microcrystalline wax
This vessel is the first in a series of pieces representing specific memories of my past. I got my inspiration for this piece from the tree this vessel came from. This wood is from a huge Holly tree that had been in my grandparents' backyard since long before I was alive. I grew up playing around this tree and picking it's prickly leaves out of my bare feet.

When the tree started to split and become unstable, it had to come down. I eagerly claimed a 6-foot section of it's trunk. When looking at the wood, and deciding on the direction I wanted the piece to take, I felt like I needed to use it to articulate a memory from my youth.

While studying the fine, subtle, swirling grain, I was reminded of a summer evening in a farm field in Charlton, New York in the late 1980s. Tall dewy grasses all around and Aurora Borealis flashing in the sky.

I set out to remember the different types of grasses and leaves that would have been around me and I planned to dye the piece a deep midnight blue in hopes that the ripples in the grain would be highlighted by the dye and form bands of light like the bands of light I remember in the sky that night.

After turning and hollowing the basic shape, I carved three feet out of the chuck tenon so that it would lift off of the surface it sat on. I then covered the vessel with pyrography in the shapes of grasses and leaves. I brought the lines down onto the feet to create roots going into the ground.

I masked some of the leaves with shellac and dyed the piece with sandings between coats. After the dye dried, I applied several coats of shellac to seal the pores of the wood.

I remembered the way that the light would highlight the edges of wet grasses and I wanted to show this by filling the burned detail with a lighter colored pigmented wax. I custom mixed turquoise and ultramarine dry pigments and mixed them with a good amount of clear wax. I rubbed the colored wax into all the burned details and allowed it to dry before buffing off the extra.

I wanted the piece to glow from the inside as if it was holding some kind of invisible energy. So I left the inside quite rough so that it would accept more pigment and therefore brighten into a deep hue.

I lightly wiped it down with spirits and alcohol and french-polished the surface with dozens of coats of custom-mixed blonde shellac.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to look at my piece!


Judges Comments
Andi : The narrative about the inspiration really helped me to understand the decorative elements. However, even if I didn't have that narrative, the piece tells a story all on its own. I like the way the burnt lines were highlighted with color.
Graeme : A beautiful piece, nice story, form and colour. Good attention to detail.
Molly : I like the carving of the feet on this piece, although there is a bit of an impression of tippiness given the ratio between the dimension of the feet, and the widest dimension of the vessel. If the feet were slightly wider, it would appear more balanced to me. The execution of the pyrography and highlighting of the grass is well done. I particularly like the density at the base growing more loosely, and free as the grass reaches the rim.

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