Hokusai's Wave

   by Dana Chodzko for Re-Invent a Work of Art (2013)

Inspiration Piece: The Great Wave at Kanagawa

Inspiration Artist: Hokusai

The wave was a challenge when I looked at the materials. I knew I needed the largest material to build the armature, so I started cutting ribs from the cardboard box with a utility knife, and from the piece of plywood with a jig saw. I glued my skeleton together and used a bandsaw to cut the blocks of wood for the face of the wave. I kept adding and gluing the small curved bits of wood. After soaking the veneer wood in water, I used the wire to tie them to gallon paint cans to dry in arcs for the back side of the wave, sometimes using clamps and tape to help them dry as I created the planes. Because I wanted the work to be solid and durable, I reinforced the inside with the hot glue stick and a few pieces of dowel rod. I was attracted to the natural materials. I deconstructed the rope which had potential for the water spray on the wave. I decided the shredded packing material would work for the Mt. Fuji part of the small emerging wave in the foreground and the rest of the spray. I had discovered in my research that Mt. Fuji in the background of the painting was also reflected in the wave – a trademark of Hokusai. At this point I was worried about the glue, my main adhesive that I would also need for the paper mache and rope froth, but amazingly I still had 1/3 of the bottle. So I shredded the paper mache with a blender adding water and a little glue. I heated up the chavant clay in the end to fill some pockets on the back of the wave that were breaking the overall surface unity. The green foam was wrong, the sculpy clay, too small and white, and not enough small beads for my needs.

I liked the game aspect of the project with its specific rules and perimeters. My friends and family were intrigued by my enthusiasm with the process over the months, and I suspect that some of them will get a kit next time. I am forever inspired by the teaching/learning exchange that happened when my Native Canadian student stumbled across your site while researching another project and I decided “awesome I have to do it”