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Addie Fitch Wonders If She Can Borrow Some Sugar From You

   by Zack Distel for Re-Invent a Work of Art (2013)

Inspiration Piece: Illustration from 'Such Things Happen', a short story from "Scary Stories 3: More Tales To Chill Your Bones" by Alvin Schwartz

Inspiration Artist: Stephen Gammell

Since the illustration is a black and white pen and ink drawing, I wanted to keep the entire sculpture grayscale. The sculpture of Addie Fitch, the witch with her walking stick and cane were made with a wire armature and sculpey clay. Her clothes and hat were made from the canvas cloth. The buttons on her coat were made from the friendly plastic pellets. The modeling clay was used to make the crows and the tree, along with a wire armature. The rope was deconstructed to make Addie Fitch's hair and the grass, as well as her shoe laces and string to hold her buttons. The path on the ground and the soil for the grave were made with pieces carved out of one of the wood blocks that were ground up in a coffee grinder and mixed with black paint. Another chunk of wood was used to make the gravestone. The flower on the grave was made with a small piece of cardboard from the box and a piece of wire. The ground plane itself was made from torn up pieces of the box. I used the shredded newsprint with the paper pulp technique, shown in one of the Tip videos to make the ground on top of the box to give it texture. And a small piece of wire was used to make the nail that was driven through the X in the carving on the tree.

As far as a background goes, I didn't want to put it in a natural environment, since I wanted to keep everything grayscale. Instead, I chose to use an overhead projector to overlay the story as the background and I liked how it projected shadows onto the screen behind it. The color comes from the poor quality of the projector, but I thought it looked cool.

Though I know the illustrations of Stephen Gammell are not "famous works of art" like those of Picasso or anything, and that you won't find them in any Art History books, they and the stories themselves have always been an inspiration for me as an artist since a very young age. And although the illustration depicts only Addie Fitch, the old witch, I wanted to add other elements from the story to create an environment for the piece. I included the black walnut tree that had a carving of her with an X on her heart with a nail going through it, which, in the story, is what inevitably killed her. I also added a grave for her cat that had been killed, which is what made her so mad. It was an accident, but she insisted, "You'll be sorry for this, Bill Nelson." It was then, as legend foretold, that she would torment Bill. His cow stopped giving milk and his otherwise healthy dog suddenly dropped dead. Legend had it that if Bill drew a picture of her on a tree and drove a nail into an X where her heart would be it would stop her from tormenting him. She would ask a favor of him and if he obliged, the nail would lose its power and she would go on tormenting him and she would stop if he refused. When asked if Bill could lend her some sugar, he declined and each day he would drive the nail in further and refused the favor again and again, until she finally died. The doctor said later, "She was very old, maybe ninety. It was her heart of course."

Lastly, an element of the sculpture that was not a part of the story was the addition of the crows. I added them because they symbolize bad luck and death.

Though I know the illustrations of Stephen Gammell are not "famous works of art" like those of Picasso or anything, and that you won't find them in any Art History books, they and the stories themselves have always been an inspiration for me as an artist since a very young age. And although the illustration depicts only Addie Fitch, the old witch, I wanted to add other elements from the story to create an environment for the piece. I included the black walnut tree that had a carving of her with an X on her heart with a nail going through it, which, in the story, is what inevitably killed her. I also added a grave for her cat that had been killed, which is what made her so mad. It was an accident, but she insisted, "You'll be sorry for this, Bill Nelson." It was then, as legend foretold, that she would torment Bill. His cow stopped giving milk and his otherwise healthy dog suddenly dropped dead. Legend had it that if Bill drew a picture of her on a tree and drove a nail into an X where her heart would be it would stop her from tormenting him. She would ask a favor of him and if he obliged, the nail would lose its power and she would go on tormenting him and she would stop if he refused. When asked if Bill could lend her some sugar, he declined and each day he would drive the nail in further and refused the favor again and again, until she finally died. The doctor said later, "She was very old, maybe ninety. It was her heart of course."

Lastly, an element of the sculpture that was not a part of the story was the addition of the crows. I added them because they symbolize bad luck and death.

 


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