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.

1 comment:

  1. Love your work! I live in a very rainy area surrounded by water, ocean and lakes, rain forest's. I have made similar things but there is so much moisture in the air, the paper quickly gets soggy. Is there a certain paste you use that is moisture resistant?
    Thank you for your time!