Turning and Burning
March 16, 2010
Entry Details

# 895
Bill Clark
Bakersfield, CA
Dimensions (inches):  
  Width:   See Text
  Height:   See Text
  Depth:   See Text
Materials:   Maple, Shop made pyrography iron and branding tip, Flex shaft carving tool with shop made tip for texturing, Gesso, Krylon Matt Spray, Various metallic acrylic paints
I have often wondered what Marco Polo brought back to Europe after his travels to the East.  I imagine he viewed many wondrous sights and found numerous treasures to collect from his journeys.  For me, this set of three lidded containers represents some of the Asian/Oriental themed treasures Marco Polo might have collected on his adventures.  These are the qualities I was striving to attain with this set entitled “Marco Polo’s Treasures.”     

This set is a result of following the original oriental theme I started working on 1 ½ years ago, yet greatly refined through lengthy experiments with pyrography, textures and the application of color.  My original pieces did not display any added color or texturing other than pyrographic branding.  Wishing to follow the original series theme yet refine and add to the aesthetic appeal and overall balance of design elements, I embarked on a series of design experiments.  I worked with texturing, airbrushing the beads and finally developed a technique of layering colors to add a metallic look to some of the elements of the set.  After experimenting with many ideas and producing several prototypes, I settled on the current design.

I started with detailed drawings and scaled the pieces so the tallest container had the smallest diameter lid.  The other two were graduated with the shortest piece having the largest diameter lid.  First, each piece was turned and hollowed.  Then the inside of each container and lid was fully sanded and finished before continuing.  Next, I impact-compression-textured the rings, lids and handles that later would be colored.  The bottom pieces were then branded with a tip of my own design.  As you can imagine the branding took a considerable amount of time.  It’s a very slow and intense process to carefully place each repetitive brand.  The branded areas were then cleaned, sealed and covered with black gesso, and a second coat of sealer was applied to insure a uniform black matte finish.

The most difficult procedure to work out was the application of the color to the impact textured areas.  I spent a great deal of time developing the application technique.  Once I was satisfied with the results, I experimented with different colors as well as the sequence of application to achieve the desired metallic effect I wanted.  There are six different colors layered on the textured areas of the set.  A close look at the colored finish reveals a subtle collage of metallic colors that are reminiscent of metal that has been gently heated by a torch.

With the textured areas colored, the beads that separated the branding from the colored rings on the lid and the handles were painted.  Again the color choice was critical.  I wanted a color that would separate the different features of the pieces yet not standout or distract the viewer’s eye from the overall balance of the pieces.  I worked with several standard airbrush colors but wasn’t satisfied with the result.  I finally started mixing colors until I found what I wanted.  I then had to mask off everything except the beads so I could airbrush the mixed color.

The wide brim and slight concave slope up to the handles on the lids, along with the modified calabash shape of the bases, all contribute to the Asian/Oriental theme.  Once the lids are removed the vessels reward the viewer with the finely natural finished interiors of the bases and lids.  The tallest piece is 6 ¼ ” tall; the middle is 5”; and the shortest is 3 ¾”.

Judges Comments
Andi : Everything about this set has visual impact. The branding is consistent throughout the series. The contrast of the black with the colored band draws the eye to the group as a whole, but also to the individual pieces in the set. The nicely finished interior brings the viewer back to the reality of the wood as the medium. Nicely done!
Graeme : Wonderful work. Nice grouping and progression of sizes. pleasing forms. Great attention to detail. Subtle but effective use or colour and texture contrasts well with the simple well finished interiors. Great imagery in the story also.
Molly : The forms of each of these three vessels are quite pleasing. The various features are well proportioned, and designed to highlight each design element. The branding pattern is unique and original. While there are many elements (color, beading, texture, branding), none overpower or detract from one another.

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