Start, somewhere

Draining water from the rusted fire pit with its amazing mandala pattern.

Draining water from the rusted fire pit with its amazing mandala pattern.

I’ve been thinking about how you start a project, A blank piece of paper, a blank canvas, a lump of clay. These materials are inanimate, yet spend time with them and they talk to you through your senses. There is a touch, a smell, a look, even a sound which whispers a way to begin.

Today was collaboration day when two artist friends, Tara and Robin and myself got together to continue our exploration of paper, clay and print. It was print day and we sat around and talked a bit about printing. Where to start? We had paper we had already made on the first day of our collaboration and we had already had fun interacting with clay on the paper on our second day together. So now on day three it was how and what to print.

We met at Robin’s house and in the centre of her new Japanese inspired garden there was a metal fire pit which had the most amazing rust patterns on it, almost like a mandala. After we drained off the water, we tried to print the pattern, not very successfully. We tried many different ways, some more successful than others. We let the paper dry and retired inside for lunch and further discussion.

I had brought my new (secondhand) mini etching press with me and we tried out different combinations of cardboard plates, making marks and printing onto the rusted paper. Between that and mono printing simple shapes and lines, we had some useful print outcomes.

We started the day not knowing where the making would take us, embarking on an interactive dance with the materials themselves. This method of starting where you are and with what you have to hand is an organic form of creating art. There is no pre-planning, no pencil sketches or looked for outcomes. It is all experimental. This is part of the joy of creation, you never know where you will end up when you start, somewhere.

The purple ink on the rusted orange paper looked great.

The purple ink on the rusted orange paper looked great.

Heather Matthew