Behind the Scenes: Fading Vestiges

The main reason I’ve worked towards maintaining a blog over the past few years is that I love sharing insight into the process behind my work. I’ve always been a huge advocate for taking the time to offer others a glimpse into the “behind-the-scenes” of my art practice; I believe educating others is this is the first step towards fostering greater appreciation for craftsmanship, and all things made by hand.

While I currently have a body of sculptural works on exhibition in a show titled “Fading Vestiges” at the Mary E. Black Gallery in Halifax, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some insight into the creation of some of these works. For me, the process of designing and troubleshooting the technical implications of each piece was in most cases, even more satisfying than the finished pieces themselves.

Jewellery workbench in my studio in Halifax, NS

Jewellery workbench in my studio in Halifax, NS

The impetus for my latest body of sculptural works was the uncovering of my childhood flower press which contained perfectly preserved flowers that hadn’t been disturbed for almost twenty years. I became wholly fascinated by the way these flowers now served as powerful markers of time and place from many years past. 

Pressed Flowers found in my childhood flower press from almost 20 years ago!

Keeping this idea in mind, I started collecting and keeping flowers as mementos, and as a sort of visual journal to keep record of new places I explored. In the spring of 2018, during a visit to Newfoundland, my partner and I went on a scenic hike at Bay Bulls. It was still very cold out (wintery weather lingers long into May in Newfoundland) but most of the snow had dissipated. Much to my delight, there was some new growth -signs of spring!- that persisted through the cold. I collected a few flowering sprigs, and tucked them flat inside a book until I could place them in my flower press.

Hike at Bay Bulls, NL, May 2018.


Flowers collected on a hike at Bay Bulls, NL, May 2018.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve continued to pursue a painting practice alongside my jewellery and metalsmithing work. I paint mostly for fun, and for the purpose of reflecting upon and attempting to record memories. When I returned to Halifax from Newfoundland, I created a couple of small landscape paintings on copper sheet that depicted the scenery of the hike in Bay Bulls. I would use these later to create a sculptural piece.

The beginning stages of a painting on copper based on hike at Bay Bulls, NL.

I studied, scanned, and traced the flowers I collected. I created paper models based on each flower, and dissected the models into small components I could translate in metal. Using paper templates of my models, I cut my paintings on copper sheet into tiny parts that could be reassembled into a floral form. I implemented traditional jewellery methods such as rivets to connect each of the components.

Flower paper models

Painting on copper, deconstructed into flower components.

First Thaw, Bay Bulls
Copper and paint, mounted on 20” x 20” wood panel

Many of the other works in the show were inspired by older pressed flowers- the original ones I found in my childhood flower press. Most of the flora in the press were collected from various shrubs, trees, wildflower or weed patches in the backyard of one of the houses I grew up in. My best guess is that I was around ten years old when I went through my flower press phase. I can’t recall the exact moment of collecting the flowers and leaves, but I can recall the scene where they were collected quite well. 

Forsythia blooms found in my childhood flower press.

The piece titled “Spring Omen” features four floral forms based on forsythia flowers found in the press. I really disliked forsythia when I was younger; they always bloomed in early spring- my least favourite season of the year. The sight of forsythia in association with Spring seemed to trigger a sense of restlessness and anxiety in me after a long winter.

The process of creating this piece was very similar to the process described for First Thaw, Bay Bulls. I created paper models based on the pressed forsythia blooms, and used these models as templates to deconstruct a painting of forsythia I created on copper. The components were shaped, formed, and connected using traditional jewellery methods, and mounted on a wood panel.

Painting on copper, deconstructed into flower components.

Assembled components. Paint on copper.

Spring Omen
Paint and copper, mounted on 6” x 24” wood panel.

All of the works in my show “Fading Vestiges” were created using the processes I illustrated above for these two works. The show runs until March 3rd, 2019 at the Mary E. Black Gallery, so there’s still time to stop by to check it out in person. I have a little book in the gallery that contains process images for all the works in the show, so be sure to take a peek if you’d like to see more from “behind-the-scenes”.

Thanks for reading! :)