Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Light Sculptures Made From Dogwood

In my previous post,  From Reeds to Dogwood, I introduced my newest harvest straight from my garden - dogwood. I've started experimenting with this new material as a substitute for reed to form the skeleton of my paper light sculptures. Below are the first three of my latest art lamps, handmade with dogwood:

Creeping - handmade light sculpture art lamp by Simcoe artist Joanne Rich
Creeping, 2014

Creeping was the first light sculpture lamp I made with dogwood. Dogwood may not be as flexible as reed, but it still has some good flex to it. This sculpture started out as several circles in various sizes, later joined together by three dogwood branches. Getting it to balance was not as easy as I thought it would be, but after hours of fine tuning, I finally got the piece to balance. The sculpture is covered with several layers of tissues with paste. As the paste dries, it shrinks and pulls the tissues, giving Creeping it's unique shape. Once lit, my husband said "I feel like it's creeping towards me". So I named this sculpture, Creeping.


Light in the Woods - handmade light sculpture art lamp by Simcoe artist Joanne Rich
Light In The Woods, 2014

Light In The Woods was the second sculpture I made using dogwood. For this sculpture, dogwood is bent just like how I would with reeds, except I didn't cut off any twigs that branched off the dogwood. The result? Once lit, intricate "branching" details hidden inside the sculpture, are finely visible.


Echo - handmade light sculpture art lamp by Simcoe artist Joanne Rich
Echo, 2014

For Echo, I wanted to see if I can imitate the "free-flowing" sculptures I made using reed. I gathered all the dogwood similar in size, and snipped off all the branches. The result is a sculpture that is "free-flowing", but in it's own special dogwood kind of way.

My next project will be making tissues from the milkweeds I collected earlier in Fall 2013. Currently the weather outside is a bit chilly to start my papermaking project, but at the first sign of spring, I'll be out there!



Monday, October 28, 2013

From Reeds to Dogwood

A dogwood bush growing in front of my house.

I take pride that my sculptures are made with natural materials. With support from the Ontario Arts Council, I received an Access and Career Development grant to study papermaking with plant fibers with Akemi at Kozo Studio. Since then I have made sculptures with maple leaves, forsythia, grasses, and even onion skin!

Functional art light sculpture handmade by Joanne Rich using forsythia paper.
The paper on this sculpture, is made from forsythia fibers.


Functional art light sculpture handmade by Joanne Rich using blackberry paper.
The paper in this sculpture is made from blackberry fibers.

When I first started making my sculptures, I used reed to form the skeleton. Reed was the material introduced to me when I first learned how to make my light sculptures. It's very easy to work with. Just soak it in warm water for 10 minutes, and it's extremely flexible.
Reed is used to form the skeleton.

I'm happy using reeds, but it's shipped from Indonesia. It disturbed me when I think about its carbon footprint. Just like our diet is influenced by what's available in our surroundings, I began to wonder if it can be the same for materials. I looked into basket weaving in Canada, and came across dogwood. I've never used dogwood before, but upon researching I learned that it should be harvest in the fall, when the sap is at their lowest. It should be pruned close to the ground, to encourage new shoots in the spring.

Although not as long as reed, it is flexible, and as a bonus, colorful! After harvesting, they are dried before I can use them (I read that they shrink).

Dogword to be used in functional art light sculptures handmade by Joanne Rich.
After pruning. It will need to be dried before I can use them.

You can learn more about this process by following this blog, taking one of my sculpture making workshops here in Simcoe County, or taking a look at the final product in my shop.

Friday, October 11, 2013

It's Harvest Time! Papermaking with Plants — Phase 1

Photograph of a pond surrounded by reeds, and milkweed on shore.

It's that time of the year when I start harvesting milkweed fibers for paper making to use in my light sculptures, such as Solo Pacifica, which I made using the Japanese kozo plant. I'll need plenty since in addition to my own art, I will again be teaching my craft to high school students across South Simcoe and the GTA as part of the Ontario Arts Council's Artist in Education program.

Autumn is the ideal time for harvesting milkweedwhen their growing season is over and just before their pods begin to open. The milkweeds in my garden didn't grow too well this year. Maybe it's because I started the seedlings too late into the season.

With a grocery bag and a pair of garden clippers; my husband, baby and I headed into the woods in search of milkweeds on a beautiful Wednesday evening.



Photograph of very small milkweed plants.
My milkweeds didn't grow too well in my garden.
Photograph of a baby snapping turtle.
We met a little friend. Maybe he'll want to take a papermaking workshop with me!

Photograph of stems cut into pieces small enough for my steamer.
Milkweeds are stripped of leaves and pods. Branches are cut to fit into a steamer.

Photograph of strips of fibre taken from the milkweed stems after steaming.
After steaming, the fibers are stripped from their woody cores.

Photographs of strips of milkweed fibres left to dry on my lawn.
Fibers are dried, then stored until I'm ready to use them.

Photograph of pieces of dried stems in a box.
The woody cores will make perfect kindling for fall bonfires!

Photo of the large milkweed seed pods in a box.
The seeds will be sprinkled in my garden for next year.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Felt Zoo Animal Puppets

Zoo animal hand puppets and plans now available at KR Finger Puppets


Sorry, I've moved things around a bit. You can find a re-post of this oft requested farm and zoo animal hand puppet tutorial at KR Finger Puppets website. 50% of profits from K.R. Finger Puppets will be donated to charity in memory of my son, Kendrick Harding Rich.

If you're interested in my functional art light sculptures, visit my Sculpted Light shop, learn about my participation in the Artist in Education program across South Simcoe and GTA high schools, or take a private workshop in 2014.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Growing Papermaking Fibers — Hollyhocks and Milkweeds

Early this spring, I started lots of seedlings in preparation for papermaking! I've experimented with a variety of plant fibers in the past; such as onion skins, blackberry bush, maple leaves, and grasses. But what I really love so far was hollyhocks and milkweeds.



A little hollyhock growing.

The roots of hollyhocks can also be use as formation aid in papermaking too!



Milkweeds grown from seeds.


It's going to be an awesome summer. I'm predicting A LOT of butterflies!

Homemade Mosquito Repellent



Sorry, I've moved things around a bit. You can find a re-post of this oft requested mosquito repellent recipe at my KR Finger Puppets website. 50% of profits from K.R. Finger Puppets will be donated to charity in memory of my son, Kendrick Harding Rich.

If you're interested in my functional art light sculptures, visit my Sculpted Light shop, learn about my participation in the Artist in Education program across South Simcoe and GTA high schools, or take a private workshop in 2014.

Artist In Education September 2013 – June 2014

A student finishing up her light sculpture at Alexander Mackenzie High School.

I'm happy to announce, with support from the Ontario Arts Council, that I'll will be holding a Paper Light Sculpture workshop at six high schools throughout Ontario.

I will be contacting schools beginning September 2013, but if you have a school that would like to be on my contact list, please let me know and I will get in touch with them.