Friday, April 13, 2018

Steampunk Subway Portal

Art Deco designs make me sigh with happiness. There's something so magical about structured and mathematical, yet so curvy and fluid at the same time. The Art Deco stencils designed by Gwen Lafluer for StencilGirl capture that magic.

Like many of my art pieces, this Steampunk Portal emerged as I went along. I started with no plan other than to experiment with some of the Art Deco Stencils. I started by painting a big piece of heavy watercolor paper in one of my favorite colors--light aqua--and once it was dry, I used some molding paste through the two Art Deco Bookplate stencils. The one on the right became the piece I called "Yearn - Dare" which you can see here. The one on the left became the "Steampunk Subway Portal."
Gwen's Deco Bookplate stencil pair was printed with molding paste onto a painted aqua background.
My worktable, covered with various deco stencils and prints.
The effect of the white molding paste on the aqua background was pretty, but I knew it needed more. So, I took out my Derwent Inktense Blocks and added more color. They go on like a chalky crayon, but when you add water, the colors pop, intensify, melt, blend and get really delicious.
The first few strokes of Derwent Inktense Blocks were applied to the painted, stenciled design.
Once water was added, the Inktense colors intensified.
More color was added with the Inktense blocks until the design was ready for embellishment.
I added shades of indigo and moss green and brown until I had an effect I liked. Then I set about deciding how to embellish the background. I had a set of Tim Holtz compass coins that had been in my stash for about a year, and one was just the right size and color for the center circle of the design. I auditioned some of Gwen's Turkmen Jewelry Parts and Dresden Trim to see what would compliment the compass coin.
The chain was too long and the Dresden trim corner pieces too small on this "audition."
The big Dresden corners were gorgeous, but too bold for the background, and they overpowered the central elements.
A smaller piece of Turkmen jewelry was too short and bulky for the background.
 I liked the long chain with a dangling diamond-shaped end-piece, but it was a little too long. I also liked some Dresden corners that I had cut from a bigger piece of a Dresden Medallion, but they were too shiny. I decided to grunge up the gold corner pieces with Seth Apter's chalk paints, and once the paint was dry, added a layer of black ink.
A Dresden medallion was cut apart to make the deco corner fan shapes.
Chalk paints and black ink gave an aged effect to the Dresden corners.
 I felt that the Turkmen chain was too long and considered cutting it. But even if I cut it, dangling it from the center of the compass seemed too boring. I didn't really want to cut it, so I decided to anchor the coin with a large brass brad and then wrap the chain around the top of the coin. I used some thread to stitch it in place and a little heavy gel medium for extra holding power.
It seemed to need words, so I found a Rumi quote that I had printed on a clear Avery mailing label, carefully trimmed away the excess, and adhered it to the top and bottom. The words are: "Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray."

Once the words were on, I knew I was almost done, but still felt it needed more. I put away my art supplies for the night and slept on it.

The next day I was thinking about how to finish the piece, and realized it was looking pretty Steampunk. It also occurred to me that it looked like a magical door or portal. As I was riding the subway on my way home from work, I realized that a few months before I had taken a photo of the sign in the station of my new work stop--149th Street in the Bronx--and that the photo would go nicely with my work-in-progress. The colors in the photo were greenish and old, and the mosaic tiles, the design of the sign and the font--as on much of the old signage in the NYC subway system--are authentically early 20th century.
Subway sign over the tracks at the Bronx 149th Street station
I shrunk the photo down to the right size and printed it, then cropped it so only the number showed. My color printer was a little off and it looked dull printed on ordinary copy paper, so I covered the little sign with some of Seth Apter's Baked Texture Beeswax embossing powder, which greatly enhanced the image. I also edged the little sign with sepia archival ink and added a touch of Lumiere gold paint, then used heavy gel medium to adhere it to the stenciled background design. Last, I strategically added some little square brass brads, which echoed the mosaic of the subway sign and complimented the deco geometry.
I realized that the NYC subway system really is my daily portal. I get on the subway every weekday morning by going through the lobby, and then through the basement, of the gorgeous Art Deco Chrysler Building. So,  I have my "aaaah" moment of beauty twice a day as I am going to work and coming home. During my commute, I love looking at all variations in the designs and colors of the old deco tiles signs along the way, which makes what could be a long, boring ride a little more interesting.


ann barnes said...

Linda, this piece is so wonderfully done! I think the colors over the paste and background created such a perfect patina to support the compass coin and Turkish piece! Gorgeous

Gwen Lafleur said...

This is gorgeous Linda - I love seeing the process for how you work through a project, and the finished result is awesome! That quote is perfect, and I love the way you tied in your subway stop too!

Kate Yetter said...

This is so lovely! Those stencils are amazing with the metal accents.

Lynda Shoup said...

Linda, you have done it again! This is a gorgeous magical door. I feel so strong a pull to it. I wonder where it might take me.... I have really been enjoying your posts which show your process. I learn so much from them. You are making explicit those decisions we all make, but do without that clarity. Fabulous. I want to make my own door now.

Jackie PN said...

WOW!!! How cool is this! Now I would love to see what magical steampunk world awaits us on the other side!
Beautiful dear Linda!
Jackie xo