by Susan Devine Fridley for Re-Invent a Work of Art (2013)
Inspiration Piece: The Nightingale
Inspiration Artist: Hans Christen Andersen
My love of the art of 'story' goes back to my fond memories of my mother reading myself and my siblings to bed. In tribute to those memories and how the love of story contributes to who I am as an artist I will use a favorite by Hans Christen Andersen called 'The Nightingale' as my inspiration for this years challenge.
The nightingale has the most famous and colorful song of all the song birds and is reputed to be able to restore health and happiness to those who hear its voice in the night woods. In contrast it is also one of the most overlooked birds because of its drab lackluster coat of dusty brown feathers. It is its song that brings it to the attention of the king and he cages this fine fellow so he might enjoy what was once freely given. Sad but what happens to a caged bird? You will find many truths in this fine tale and learn the source of 'a little birdie whispered in my ear...'
I wanted to bring the story off the page and as it is set in ancient China I have chosen the scroll to be my canvas. I had to create paper pulp from many fiber sources within the 'box' including the box. The tassels are from unraveling my canvas and this is also a source for thread to string my jeweled beads of clay and sculpey. If you look carefully the long black beads each have the three Chinese characters for the word nightingale carved into them.
The branch is paper strips wrapped around wire armature and my flowers are from the friendly plastic pellets. The moon is crafted from the floral foam, and the wire support structure is reinforced with plywood and more of the clay to give counter weight to the scroll and bird. Inside the scroll ends are the dowel rods and the last of the clay, the weight acts to balance the bird and wire to perch all atop my Jeweled stand.
Paper pulp included the ungessoed canvas that was left over once it was unraveled to make the four tassels on the scroll-rod ends and used to thread together clay jewel like beads on base (jewel tones achieved with nail polish). I also put cut up jute twine, and gessoed canvas into mix. The pulp was used to make three sheets of paper aprox. 11 x 20 inches, two were melded together with water and careful manipulation to make the scroll itself and the third was ripped into strips to cover the armature of the branch the nightingale is perched on.
The nightingales wire skeleton was filled with handfuls of the pulp squeezed together shaping it and removing excess water, then small bits of the cardboard (glue soaked paper mache) giving shape, stability and color were carefully layered onto formed bird. Then the completed bird was heated in the oven at about 200 degrees for four days to thoroughly dry out the water: minus time for pizza and such, of course.