Monday, July 5, 2010

Cardboard Quilts: Creating the Bases, Too

My Dream House Revisited, 1967 and 2007. Cardboard quilt on plywood, 32 x 24 inches. Click for the details to be seen more easily.

M Y   A R T — Cardboard quilts. Hmmm... What?

As much as I love working on wood, and I do love the look and feel of my wooden bases even before I start to work my art onto them, sometimes I do something a bit different. I like to create the base for the images out of corrugated cardboard squares. I have access to an unlimited amount of these pre-cut squares, which are used to pack books from my publisher. They are just thrown in the recycling bin, so I have some of them saved for me from time-to-time, for my own recycling, as it were. 

I lay them out in a single layer, in the size and shape I want. Then I glue in a second layer on top of the first, in an alternating, 'brick-like' construction, so that two edges are never on top of each other, to add strength. Then I replicate the first layer on top as a third layer, which again, doesn't allow two edges to lay on top of each other. Then I glue (or screw sometimes) the entire 3 layer 'sandwich' to a 1/4- or 1/2- inch plywood panel backing, slightly smaller in size than the piece so the plywood's edges don't show from the side. This further strengthens the piece and allows me to install the hanging hardware. I "allow" or encourage the pieces to warp slightly, bending either outwards at the edges to create a slightly concave piece, or the opposite way to create a slightly convex piece. I think it adds a great look to my work to not have them completely flat on a wall, like most framed piece of art one usually sees. I never frame my pieces by the way—I work the edges completely along with the rest of the art. Because of this construction method, and because my art is frequently cut up into squares and reassembled, I've come to call them cardboard quilts. 

This piece, My Dream House Revisited,  uses a drawing I started in 1967 when I was 10 years old. I drew it out completely in pencil, on thin cardboard like the back of a drawing pad, and then didn't quite finish drawing over in colored magic markers. It shows what I thought would be a great house to live in back then, a pseudo Tudor split level, with a mid-century modern 'vibe' to parts of it, including a wrought-iron fence and some evergreen trees. Instead of scanning the piece and the using the printouts, as I do usually, I actually cut up the drawing itself into squares. I reassembled those squares on the cardboard base, and then added further squares of color in both paper and paint. 

I also scored the surface, dragging a pointed dowel up and down in a grid-pattern, indenting the cardboard slightly in preparation for the next step. This step involves adding wall-joint compound to fill in the cracks between the cardboard squares, almost like grouting a tile surface, but the white compound also slightly fills in the indented gridwork. I use this grid motif a lot in my pieces by the way—as a metaphor for government and 'big brother' and all that—you know—living under the Grid and all that... 

I finished off all of this with about 10-12 coats of clear water-based polyurethane so it will never yellow—oil based polyurethanes and varnishes will amber over time—a look I've used from time to time in the past. Starting a couple of years ago though, I realized I didn't really like to leave the yellowing or ambering up to chance—if that's the look I want for a piece, I tint the paint itself. 

Back when I was doing group shows in various art leagues around here, this piece won a prize, though I can't remember exactly which one, lol. I've entered 7 juried shows and won 6 awards, including a First, a Second, a couple of Honorable Mentions, and a couple of 'Name' awards. "Name awards" are those given by a company or business, or a benefactor in the name of someone [usually dead]. Those art leagues all turned into 'who do you know,' 'what do you do' affairs though, with everyone stepping over everyone else to get noticed. After a 25 year career kissing ass in the publishing world, or trying to, it's me we're talking about, hahaha, I'll be damned if I'll do that at this point in my life. Here is this piece hanging in the 2008 Guilford Art League Fall show. I shun the 'limelight' so much that for the press photos of the winners after the reception, I turned my back and only let them shoot the back of my head, lol.


One of the last group juried shows I entered, 2008. I won something... but can't remember what.

15 comments:

  1. CASEY, I DON'T KISS A// ANYMORE EITHER. IT ONLY TOOK ME OVER 70 YEARS TO LEARN THE LESSON. I'VE ALWAY BEEN THE GIVER NOT THE TAKER UNTIL ONE DAY//// I WON'T GO THERE.I DO KNOW EVERYONE'S NOT PERFECT BUT IF YOU'VE SAID YOUR I'M SORRYS YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT A PERSON HAS TO DO. I'D TURN MY HEAD ALSO. JUST LOVE THIS PICTURE. ALWAYS WANTED ONE OF THOSE IRON FENCES AT THE END OF A SIDEWALK LEADING TO THE FRONT DOOR. COOL

    GRANNY

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  2. thanks! we all have to get through the day, and our lives, the best we can, without hurting anyone, or anything, in the process. that's what we all should try for anyway! i'm amazed at how many people don't feel that way.

    I'm melting today, by the way, lol. Fans can't keep up with the heat. Can't wait for sundown tonight.

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  3. IT WOULD PAY TO GET A WINDOW FAN.

    GRANNY

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  4. RUN COOL WATER IN THE BATHTUB AND SIT IN IT ALSO PUT A WET TOWEL AROUND THE BACK OF YOUR NECK. IT DOES HELP. JUST KEEP DIPPING THE TOWEL IN COOL WATER.

    GRANNY

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  5. yeah. It never lasts long up here though, a week or two of a hot streak. I'll ride my bike to the beach after 6 and get the cooler breezes. I have an AC sitting up in the attic, but it's heavy and old and only cools one room at best. I hate to use the electricity and close off a window. I'll get by! : )

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  6. your cool towel trick reminds me of something John Fairchild told me once. He was the big fashion publisher in New York. He's the one that first pushed "hot pants" in the early '70s, and wrote a book called 'Chic Savages" which looks like you can buy a used copy at Amazon for a penny, lol! He found me sweating profusely in the bathroom one day at work, and told me run my wrists under cool water for a minute, and it helped!

    his book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Chic-Savages-John-Fairchild/dp/0671683349

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  7. WOW! LOVE the quilt art..have read your process and will re-read it so I can get a better feel for the way you create this...actually, it makes me think of the handbags I create...I know, that sounds odd, but I cut and add and sew and "build" them and each one is the same but different from the next...don't you love the feeling of creating it and bringing it to life and then appreciating your own creation?? I personally don't think that is narcissistic, but it's just that we know the feeling of creation and the satisfaction of accomplishment.
    I hope the air will cool for you. May I ask if this is a family home you live in? It just sounds wonderful..the gardens, the memorabilia, etc...
    Hoping you had a cooler evening...]
    mare

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  8. Mare: I'm having trouble posting your comments. I keep getting an error message from Blogspot. This has happened before and it soon clears up. I've read them though! I think it's fascinating that you make handbags. I'd love for you snap some pix of them and post them on your blog or you can email them to me. my email should be in your comments box. i love all forms of creativity!

    i'm not in my family home now, well not for the last 8 years. Lots of drama and tragedy, many long stories, but i'm in a great old home anyway. i have an apartment that spans 3 floors and is about 2500 sq feet in a 150 year old house, although portions are more than 200. I live alone with a few ghosts. I've been carrying around all of my 'stuff' for years and years. i never let anyone in the family throw anything out and kept it all in storage until I found this huge place. I'll try to post your comments again in the morning. thanks!

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  9. I just turned off "Comment Moderation" to see if that clears up the problem. I'll try this for a few days, I've never had to "moderate" a comment anyway, lol.

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  10. Still can't get Mare's comment to post. here is is from my email notification:

    WOW! LOVE the quilt art..have read your process and will re-read it so I can get a better feel for the way you create this...actually, it makes me think of the handbags I create...I know, that sounds odd, but I cut and add and sew and "build" them and each one is the same but different from the next...don't you love the feeling of creating it and bringing it to life and then appreciating your own creation?? I personally don't think that is narcissistic, but it's just that we know the feeling of creation and the satisfaction of accomplishment.
    I hope the air will cool for you. May I ask if this is a family home you live in? It just sounds wonderful..the gardens, the memorabilia, etc...
    Hoping you had a cooler evening...]
    mare

    ReplyDelete
  11. same thing, comment from MareJohn:

    Am perusing your older posts and came across two loves in one post..NYC (never been and dying to know more about) and Lincolns (had a 1988 Lincoln Town Car signature series...loved it)
    Off to read more entries..
    mare

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  12. I missed this when you put it up. I absolutely LOVE the fact that you went back to something you started as a child! I think of all the creative energy I had when I was little and how it took me to near middle age to realize how fundamental the creative process was to my own happiness; and how happy it has made me to realize that the fantastic imagination rolling around in my head (that sometimes still feels like a little boy's) is so key to expressing my own vision.
    Great piece of work Casey.

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  13. thanks, Ish. I like going back to earlier work. I have another piece that I started as a 10 year old, chiseling out a bas-relief rendering of a little cat sculpture I had. My dad started me with the chisel after I drew the cat on the wood, but I did most of the carving—very basically. A few years ago i did a paint treatment on it, sort of Pollack-like in its chaos and it totally completed it. I haven't figured out the best way to photograph it, since you really need to see the carving too,

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  14. hey, like your stuff, just wondering if you sell your works.

    thanks.

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