The palette is derived from walks that I have researched as part of the poet's landscape of inspiration. I am using the primary colours to create the palette of the walks (visual & tactile). From the primary colours, I mix them until I feel the colour has matched my experience in the field. I wait a minimum of 15 days to record the colours. My sketch pad is consulted but it is not my main inspiration for colour mixing. It brings me back to the memory of place and from there I resonate with my visual and/or tactile perceptions gathered on the walks. I may mix organic fragments from the walks collected in my boots or clothing as part of the texture of the palette.
The ceramic palette was a transfer from the colours derived from the canvas palette after the visual and tactile walks. Ceramics has its own challenges with colour transfer due to the firing and glazing process. The ceramic palette had to be tested with precision for future combinations and reliability. The test tiles were pre-made in both red clay and white stoneware. A white slip was applied on part of the batches to test colours on a white background. Others were left with their natural colours. I also tested with a strip of glaze on each. I began with a tri-axial blending with the primary colours to create 21 new colours. I also created a 2-colour mix for additional colours. Primary and some secondary colours were used to start the process of combinations. The last procedure was an improvisation of combinations after all the colours had been created.
After evaluating the long process and high temperatures from the kilns used for glazing the ceramics, I realized that the process would leave a significant environmental footprint. I opted to find an alternative for the palette of the landscape. New ceramic roof tiles were sought from a building material warehouse and the natural colours were attractive by themselves. I began to create another form for applying the palette with cloth. Burlap and sailcloth were the first testing materials for Machado and Wordsworth. The sacks for legumes were made of burlap and combined well in terms of hue with the red roof tiles. Sailcloth was an adventure to find in order to acquire the right texture for display and painting. I tried two different styles of cloth in two colours (golden beige and white).
The materials I have selected are directly related to the poets in time and space due to their inspiring landscapes. I have chosen the roof motif for the four poets (Wordsworth, Whitman, Machado and Snyder) for this new research project on tactile perception.
Wordsworth wrote some his most profound poetry including Prelude near Grasmere and the Lake District. This area used slate for its roof tiles. Wordsworth wrote about this roof style and how it fits naturally into the landscape in a guide to the lakes.
Whitman's house on Long Island used cedar shingles for the roof and I was able to track down circa 1840 shingles in an antique material shop. Cedar is bug resistant and quite long lasting for due to its water resistance.
Machadotravelled for his job to different regions and his poetry was inspired mainly in the Andulsian and Castillian landscapes. In almost every region of Spain the red roof tiles are to be found, even in the mountain village of Valsain. I was able to attain old tiles from the Puerto de Sol, the center of Spain, from a historical building under remoldeling. The roof was being replaced and yet old tiles (100 yr. old) were interwoven with the new tiles to appear vintage since the building was a historical site protected for cultural heritage.
The process of each sculpture requires a transformation to apply the palette of the landscape derived from my walks in Nature to the sculpture. This type of sculpture built out of heritage artifacts pushes me to experiment with a variety of materials and their specific process to attain a sculpture that resonates with the poet and the final 3D poetic canvas. How each material is transformed has been a journey in itself. I used the Flaneur method to find the materials once I was in the area. The transformation depends on how the material will respond to the method of transferring ideas of lettering, palette, and form mounting. Lettering and colour application is a major consideration.
The tin roof cover presents a challenge for design considering the first test of a lettering technique to be applied. I envisioned cutting out fragments of the poems on the tin. The water jet-cutter was tested first as to incorporate the last state of the art technology. I wanted to find out the feasibility of creating lettering for back lighting. After several steps in the process, I have reservations about the environmental footprint of using such technique. I will try the hand tool hammering technique, too. It may enable me to be closer to the material and understand it better, as it takes a long time to hammer letters. After visitng old craft stores in downtown Madrid, I found a hand tool run on only 12 V with a diamond head ball point cutter to engrave ceramics, slate and metal This was a unique adventure to solve the challenge returning to a smaller handicraft mode. The pen-like instrument was easy to handle and simulated a brush for fine lettering to match the elegance of the poets.
The ceramic tiles are to be made by hand and colours painted on to them according to the palette. Firing temperatures and glazes were also a variable to test. I had some concerns about the lead base glazes considering the environmental footprint. The high tech kilns use high amounts of energy for a small production and also were concerning to me. The Spanish ceramic studios are smaller and more craft based, whereas the English ones are designed for high tech production due to their historical international output on par with Chinese production. Lettering on ceramics presented its own challenges. I tried four ways: 1) by hand tool, 2) pressed letters (2 types), 3) decals and 4) hand painted.
Porcelain moulds for this project were considered to immortalize the roof materials and their shapes. I tested the two styles of moulds (hand, and slip). 1) The slip mould was created first with a plaster casing sealing both sides of the tin roof piece. After the mould was dry, slip (wet porcelain ceramic) was poured into place. A sophisticated blending machine with a sieve was used to achieve the finest slip. 2) The handmade porcelain replicate of the tin roof piece was created from a slab of porcelain rolled out and pressed into the plaster mould. Both had advantages and disadvantages. The slip mould gave a finer result after days of drying. The handmade mould was delicate but easier to create as less machinery was needed.
Finally I decided to try out using real Spanish roof tiles instead of making them. I visited several building material warehouses until I found the right size and quality. I began to engrave them with the diamond hand cutter. I also tried to directly paint them after engraving. However, in the end I have enjoyed the minimalist sense of the true colours of the ceramic tile and opted to try a combination with cloth. I began to look for different cloth types to fit the poets and their environment. I started with burlap for Machado. The result was interesting to allow a flexible play with the tiles and cloth stips. I was able to find sailcloth for Wordsworth taking into consideration the Lakes District. Painting on cloth was completely different from applying on paper or directly on the roof tiles of slate or ceramics.