another piece of the puzzle

This morning I stumbled across an interesting talk about the trauma of working for organizations like the NSA or the CIA, or any of their contractors.

It’s not hard to imagine how the effects of that stress might ripple through a family, or indeed a whole world. We’re all pretty much soaking in it.

“I’m illuminating the shaky basis for what we might think are essential transactions in a functional society.”

Richard Thieme

 

shingle-versary

It’s been about a year since I came down with shingles, and my body is celebrating the anniversary by having its first cold sore ever. Of course. Fortunately (and unlike with shingles), it didn’t take me long to figure out what was going on. And I got some of that cream that people put on cold sores, and it’s working.

Other than that, there’s not much to say. There’s a lot going on, but it’s mostly below the surface. I think it’s good to tell our stories. I also think it’s good to know when a story isn’t fully-cooked and ready to be served. Now is a listening time for me, a time of bone-deep change that I can’t understand yet (much less examine in public).

 

them

I’m torn between wanting to protect my growing collection of plaster casts from ogling, and wanting to show them to everybody because I think they’re so beautiful and amazing.

Mostly I skew towards protectiveness, and they end up wearing t-shirts.IMG_0810

her

It’s always interesting to notice when I stop thinking of a sculpture as “it” and start saying “her” instead.

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With this one, it started at the armpits.

middle

I love this part. It’s like a satisfying novel, or a not-too-difficult puzzle. A little bit of work, but mostly just watching it unfold.

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The ends of the wires are still trying to pull away from the form, but if I can just control the next three inches everything will work out okay.

beginning

This is how it always starts: heavier vertical wires taped to the form. Multiple layers of tape, because the wire does not want to stay put.

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Then I go around the hips and attach a lighter-weight wire to each vertical wire. This part drives me crazy. Wires everywhere, trying to poke me in the eyes, making a little shivery sound as they brush against each other.

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Here’s a close-up of one of the little wires wrapped around one of the bigger ones:

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Fussy and barely manageable, like a newborn baby. It takes me a while to get into a groove.

 

 

plaster surgery

Lately I’ve started casting torsos to make a series of sculptures about women’s bodies and the things that happen in and around them. This is gonna keep me busy for the next couple of years, I think.

Just before my last open studio, I sent a message to my mailing list saying that I was looking for more models. I got a whole bunch of replies. Some were just a little curious. Others were very keen to get started As Soon As Possible. I am so grateful to all of these ladies for their courage, their questions, their patience, their doubts, and their straight-up panic attacks.

I’ve not had a single casting session yet that has gone smoothly, and that’s okay. I’m learning so much!

This week, for instance, I was halfway through plastering someone’s back when she told me she needed to leave in an hour. I set a timer, and I was not even halfway done with her front when it went off (half an hour later).  D’oh! I stopped adding new plaster, and got out a hair dryer to make sure what I’d already done was as dry as possible before I tried to take it off her.

While she got dressed, I propped up the two halves with bubble wrap so that they wouldn’t collapse.  I wasn’t too worried about the back. I’d done that first, and it was nice and thick. The front was thin, though, and stopped just above her belly button.

I worried about it all through the next day while I rested my knees. I hurt them a few months ago, dancing with abandon, and now they complain about things like standing for ninety minutes.

Today I went back to the studio and was relieved to find the two halves dry and holding their shapes nicely. They went back together easily too. She wore a bra during the casting, and the straps made it easy to line up the shoulders:

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Today was all about matching up the edges, attaching the two halves, and reinforcing some of the edges. Next time, I’ll have to start extrapolating her lower belly from the parts I’ve already got. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to do it. Probably it’ll involve more bubble wrap, and maybe polyester stuffing and an old t-shirt.

It doesn’t have to look exactly like her. It just needs to look plausibly human. I’m pretty sure I’m up to the challenge.