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Hands & Gold

August 6, 2014

What happens when hand joints start to age and change their mind about jobs we ask of them? Over the past week, three fingers on my right hand have been abused to the point of massive swelling and some serious pain. Today was the first morning I’ve woken up to decreased swelling and pain. Of course the decrease was due to forcibly taking Tuesday and Wednesday off from anything wire related. No wire bending, no paper abuse, no nothing. I’ve actually been rather cautious with the extra stress I’ve been asking my body to take on. I learned back in 2011 with my first installation that wire work is exceedingly tough from fingers up to my shoulders, neck & back.  I take lots of breaks, vary tasks to diminish repetitive motions, stretch fingers & wrists.  I also work with more flexible materials. Maybe tomorrow I can do a bit more, but I’ll have to evaluate again in the morning.

Wednesday: I tested how best to apply gold leaf and when/how is the best way to wax the piece. I set up 3 tests.

Test 1: involved applying the sticky sizing/glue to the paper prior to waxing. Once the glue was tacky, I applied the leaf and secured it down with a brush. Then I dunked the paper into the wax bath and watched as sections of gold lifted of the  paper and became free floaters. Hmmm. Not the best method. We want the gold leaf to remain on the paper.

Test 2: similar to test 1 but I painted wax on the surface rather than dunking. This was a success! It also helped to be able to wax the back of the page with the brush. The gold blocks the wax transfer through the entire surface.

Test 3: Wax first, then apply sticky glue (which doesn’t want to stick at all to the wax surface!) allow to dry to tacky, then leaf and wax. Hmmm, not a good method. I like #2 the best!

Below are images of test #1. Before wax and after wax.

gold test1 gold test1-2


And yes, the wax does change the gold color. Kind of a bummer that I’ve already waxed all the purple flowers. Guess I’ll have to do the stamens and flower center with gold.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2014 7:09 pm

    That’s really cool! I hope your hands feel better soon.

    • paperstew permalink*
      August 13, 2014 9:40 am

      thank you! they still are having major problems. it’s time to put down the pliers and let them rest!

      • August 13, 2014 9:41 am

        I did some wire sculpting one year, and I know what you mean. My hands were killing me when I finished. I think I’ll just stick to writing for the time being. haha

  2. August 7, 2014 12:46 am

    Those gold tests are very useful – I have never used gold leaf, but have often thought how versatile it can be. A very appropriate dictionary page you have used too! Good luck with the joints – it is probably frustrating stopping and resting, but worth it in the end!

    • paperstew permalink*
      August 12, 2014 10:26 am

      Thanks Anna! My right hand is pretty much done for at this time. The camas production has come to a halt and I’m having to rethink how next to approach this installation. Only a couple of weeks left before it goes up. 😦
      I certainly didn’t anticipate this scenario!

      • August 14, 2014 12:08 am

        That sounds painful Gale. Hopefully a couple of days rest will help a bit. Not the outcome you were looking for!

      • paperstew permalink*
        August 15, 2014 4:59 pm

        Some of the swelling and pain has dropped, but not everything. I did manage to procure an assistant next week to help twist and manipulate wire.
        Backdrop work starts this weekend along with finishing flower pods that were started several weeks back.

  3. August 13, 2014 7:56 am

    People think I’m joking when I tell them that art is a physically demanding and hard profession. I think it’s because there are so many hobbyists who dabble a bit and don’t understand the amount of hard work we put into it. Hope you feel better soon. Do you use Chinese balls? I find them good to loosen up when I’ve been overdoing it.

    • paperstew permalink*
      August 13, 2014 9:29 am

      I do have a pair but they won’t do much good right now. 2 fingers remain swollen after the last weekends work at the coast. Silly me to have been out pulling weeds because it was too much like grasping pliers. I’m forced to be a south paw for the next week or so. 😦
      Art and craft on a regular basis is demanding on one’s body and trying to cram in a big extensive project wasn’t the smartest thing. Live and learn! 🙂

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