After weeks of scratching my head and hours of lying in bed at 2:00 a.m. problem solving, I have finally finished three of my scrolls. It really is all about the presentation. I finally came up with the solution to present them in an uncomplicated manner, one which shows off their beauty but doesn’t take over the message.
So what is the message? Well, it starts with the “ingredients”. I start with rolls of Japanese rice paper, a very delicate and fragile base. Add to that steel dust and white vinegar and a complex and somewhat random chemistry experiment begins. Japanese ink finishes off the experiment with a little zing and voilà!
The making of these scrolls began one day when I was tired of making the kangaroo and thought I would search my studio for things I could play with. When I am creating, the first question that comes to mind is…”What happens if I…”? I knew that rust would stain paper and fabric, I knew that rust is accelerated by acid (e.g. vinegar) and I really liked painting with Japanese ink because of its unpredictability. Steel dust was all over the floor, Japanese ink and rice paper were upstairs and a gallon jug of vinegar was under the sink in the bathroom. All I had to do was put them all together.
So here are the things that I love about these scrolls. I have re-used all the dust on my floor which should have been swept up and put in the trash bin. I was able to use simple chemistry to create something (without ever having taken a single chemistry class). I found I could express the idea that something that is culturally “ugly ” (oxidation) can be used in a beautiful way. And finally, I found a way to show that art can be fragile and strong at the same time. That is the message. I hope you like them.