How to build an original S.A. Smith


April 30, 2013 by smithartonline

The piece “Transformation” is included in the Pasadena Society of Artists exhibition in the Pasadena Main Library during the month of May. I am presenting an overview of the construction process involved to create one of my boxes.

I cover the surface with a fabric. This part of the process takes the most amount of time and can be the most irritating, but it is necessary. Years ago, I painted directly on the wooden surface. Later, imagine my reaction when I noticed the painted surface was cracked (you can probably imagine some of the words which came immediately to my mind). I should have known that wood expands and contracts with changes in the weather, while paint does not. It was one of those common knowledge things I forgot. This was a problem encountered by Russian icon painters of old and I found that they figured out a solution: cover the panel with a canvas. I used their solution and, after ten or twenty years, have seen it is a good one. In this case, since I covered the entire surface with an acrylic surfacing material, I covered the base with Hosho paper: in Korea, the mask makers cover the wooden base with a mulberry paper and then glued fabric over the whole piece. It seems to work, so one cannot really argue with success.

Another unusual aspect of this work is that the base has been pieced together with individual boards. I will generally use a solid surface, but these times are such that it is necessary to adapt my construction techniques to using materials at hand. Down the road, based upon some successful experiments, I will consider using Ampersand board. It provides a good consistent surface and is, from what I have read, archival. It even appears stable enough that a fabric covering is not needed…but the jury is still out on this one (check back in ten or twenty years).

Here is a photographic documentation of the process.

1 Base

2 Covered Seams

3 Built up forms

4 Base Color

5 Insert

6 Final

The final work measures out at 10.5 X 12 X 2 inches. When motivated, and all the pieces fall into place just so, I can make up a constructed box in a week and a half to two weeks…of course this assumes everything is going well and the Muse is in a helpful mood.

Blog End two JPEG

One thought on “How to build an original S.A. Smith

  1. Corey says:

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