New areas to explore – In Depth week 10

So, for most of Spring Break I was in Cuba, with the school music department. The cool thing about Cuba is that, because of the US embargo, they are forced to re-use or maintain a lot of their old technology and materials; for example, the Cuban cars. In Cuba, each family has one car that may have been passed down for generations. The car bodies are from the mid 1900s, but they have newer motors and car parts inside. Going to Cuba let me experience a lot more recycled art, which has led me to find some international concepts about recycled art.

  1.  Conservation
    1.  The item is made with something used or destined for the trash. The item can be used for the same purpose as before, or a new purpose. For example, the car bodies were still cars, but I also saw hats made out of old pop cans. The concept is to give the object/material a second life.
  2.  Art/aesthetic
    1. The driving idea being recycled art: trash for one person can be beauty to another. Finding aesthetic value in trash requires imagination and a willingness to try new things.
  3. Awareness
    1. Recycled art is often used to raise awareness for the “throw-away” mindset we have in more fortunate countries, or the damage caused by the objects we throw away.
  4.  Value
    1. Recycled art is meant to be of equal or greater value than it originally was, whether as an art piece or something practical, like a bag or candlestick.
  5. The technical skill concept
    1. There is a lot of technical skill required for this! Multi-media art requires a lot of broad knowledge about materials and their properties, and delicacy in putting them together.
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My desk + some materials for my jellyfish!

Some more specific things I learned was that recycled art is mostly about technical things, such as shaping and holding objects. It is very important to find objects with the right physical properties – or, create your project around your materials if you don’t have time to search for the perfect material. Wire is very useful, because it holds it shape and can be bent into whatever you need. Flimsy plastics, like plastic wrap and plastic bags, are also useful because they are easy to drape over things and are usually transparent or translucent. An alternative I explored with my mentor was crushing and balling up soft plastics to use the fluffy, layered look they have. Though I didn’t have many other options, I think my mentor has been a really good fit for me. Her background in painting, multi-media art, and practically anything art-related makes it a really good relationship between her and I, because she has a ton of knowledge and experience about a wide range of things – from how to cut plastic to building up paper-mache. Another mentor may have been able to help me go more in-depth in a specific area, like working with paper or metal, but I think that the rag-tag assortment of materials I have fits best with my current mentor.

Other than coming up with alternatives and suggesting them, I ask my mentor for alternatives.For example, when attaching my ribbons to my jellyfish, I discussed many different alternatives with my mentor. I brought up the issue of keeping the tentacles to the outside of the jellyfish, and together, we generated these options:

  1. Placing a balled-up plastic bag in the center of the jelly (similar to crinoline on a skirt)
  2. Attaching tentacles from the top of the jelly to the outer edges (like a tent)
  3. Placing a small plastic cone inside the jelly (wouldn’t be as messy as the bag, but less puffy)
  4. Using a little glue on the inside of the jelly to hold the tentacles in place
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Hole-punches for tentacles.
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Tentacles (made w/ wrapping paper)

The great thing about generating so many alternatives is that you can pick the best parts of each option and incorporate them. For instance, I’m attaching the tentacles to the outer edges to make it more decorative, but I’m putting a little cone (top of a water bottle) inside the jelly to hold the tentacles to the sides of the jelly. This leaves the inside of the jelly still relatively uncluttered, so it won’t get tangled in transport. It also makes it easier to arrange the tentacles, because they don’t have to be glued down.

DSCF2851Now that we’re about halfway through the project, I need to look at my progress. Looking back, I realize that finding a mentor so late into my project has slowed me down a bit. DSCF2856To make up for it, I’m dedicating an hour on Wednesdays to working on In-Depth each week. I’m 3/4 done my jellyfish, and a little over halfway done my space junk mobile. I had two other projects I wanted to do before May. One was in accordance with my Environmental issue project, and represented BC’s power system – A sculpture using plugs and a light bulb attached to a fish. DSCF2858Often, people don’t realize that although hydro-power is renewable, it still has environmental effects that need to be mitigated. The other was a hot air balloon candle-holder. My idea was to make a candle-holder out of the metal cans and wire I have in the shape of a hot air balloon, but I would need help cutting and shaping the metal from my mentor. I definitely want to make the first one, but the second one I think I will leave out of my plans until I’ve finished everything else. From seeing the little trinkets in the Cuban tourist shops, I realized I could also easily make with my strange collection of materials was a wind chime, if I have time. But I already have enough to work on.

For the new few sessions, I’m going to focus on my jellyfish to get it done, and begin work on the hydro-power sculpture in my own time. Looking back, I realize that finding a mentor so late into my project has slowed me down a bit. To make up for it, I’m dedicating an extra hour on Wednesdays to working on In-Depth each week.

The center of the solar system…. In-depth #6

Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

White hat = information

Red hat = feelings and intuition

Black hat = critical thinking

Yellow hat = values and benefits

Green hat = new ideas/alternatives

Blue hat = organizes other hats; moderator

In the last two weeks of in-depth, I’ve had the chance to further develop my two main art pieces: the jellyfish and the space junk mobile. I’ve had a lot of conversations with my mentor exploring different possibilities for each one, and deciding when to come back to a problem later. For example, we were having  a discussion about how to represent the sun (arguable one of the most important parts) in my solar system. The conversation went a little like this:

Me: “So, my biggest problem so far has been trying to figure out what the sun is going to look like. It can’t be the proper size in relation to the other planets, obviously, but I’d like to make it stand out in some way that obviously designates it as ‘The Sun’. “

Ms. Kirkwood: “Yes. Well, we can definitely make the sun a bit larger than the other planets. To give it a round shape, I could use some of my circles and cross them over each other, to give it more depth. I also think it would be good to show some movement for the sun.”

Me: “That sounds good. I definitely think movement is a good thing, because the sun is always burning and giving off solar flares and radiation, right? It would be nice to have a little globe or sphere for the sun, because most of the other planets are 2D. That would set it apart for sure. What were you thinking of with the circles?

Ms. Kirkwood: “I have some old guitar strings that are really nice, they have this bouncy-ness to them that makes them really fun to work with. (Gets them out and arranges them like so) What if we wrapped a shiny clear material, like this cellophane, around it to reflect light?

guitar string sun, courtesy of me

Me: “Oh, yes I really like the guitar strings like that. Especially how the rings that make it look like the skeleton of a globe aren’t entirely lined up, so they make these great little crescents. The cellophane….I’m not sure. I like how it reflects the light, and it’s plastic, so it’s reusing garbage material, but it’s a little bit too green and pink. It doesn’t remind me of the sun that much. I almost feel like we would want something fluffier and lighter, because the sun is full of gas, and it’s always burning and releasing energy. It would be cool if we found a way to make the material be releasing, or expanding. Hmmm…..I’m not sure about the cellophane, but I really love the guitar strings. How can I attach them to make them stay in that shape?

Ms. Kirkwood: “I usually just tape them together using strong crafting tape. It works well because you can easily take it off if you don’t like it or need to make changes, and because it’s easy to put on and holds very well. If you tape it like this, crossing over one way and then the opposite direction, it makes it more difficult for the tape to get pulled apart.

Me: “Oh yeah, because now it is held together in a way that by trying to undo one piece of tape, the other piece will stop it from moving. Cool! It’s just coincidence that the tape is bright yellow, but I really like how that colour contrasts with the more copper-y guitar strings. (puts pieces together with tape) The two overlapping points are at the top and bottom of the sun if you hold it this way. It’s kind of cool, because it looks like two “poles” on the top and bottom of the sun.”

Ms. Kirkwood: “Yes, it does. Do you have any more ideas about the fabric we could use for the sun? If you want plastic, or garbage-y material, I could give you some kind of plastic-y wrapping paper I had…just let me go look for it…(15 minutes and a messy storage room later) Huh, I thought I had something, but I guess not. None of those more napkin-y tissue papers stood out to you?”

Me: “No, not really…. I don’t know, I can’t really think of anything that seems to fit with the mobile.The rest of it is coppery wire, wood and red plastic.

Ms. Kirkwood: “Do you want to come back on it? We can always work on something else, and come back to it with new ideas later.

Me: “Sure…maybe let’s work on the jellyfish for a bit.

(We make our way back to the space where we do most of our work. After about 30 minutes working on the jellyfish, my leg brushes a piece of cellophane and causes it to shift and expand, falling a little more flat).

Me: ” Wait, what if we crumpled up a material and put it inside the sun, instead of overtop of the guitar string fame?

Ms. Kirkwood: “Why don’t you show me?

Me: (crumples the cellophane and holds inside of frame) “It would be cool if I could suspend the material in the center of the frame…but I still don’t really like the cellophane. It just doesn’t seem to go with the rest of the project. (…) Could I use those yellow bags you get from No Frill’s instead? They’re a bit fluffier and match with the yellow tape really well.

Ms. Kirkwood: “Sure! That might work out well, because its always good to make objects kind of relate to each other. Then they look more like they fit together.

After that conversation, we didn’t actually get around to suspending the bag in midair. But I, for one, kind of like the way the bag flip and curls on itself like solar flares are protruding in plastic strips, and the reflective, somewhat luminous nature if plastic. I can see that in this conversation, we had a lot of ideas being tossed around. Since art is pretty subjective, most of our decisions about what to do were based off of emotions and intuition, the red hat, or the resources we had available (the white hat). Blue and black hats occured the least, but we often talked about what looked or felt good (yellow hat) when trying out new ideas. Now, off to Cuba, where I’m sure I’ll see some sun that isn’t made out of plastics and guitar strings!

wow... do those sun spots spell out No Frills, or is it just me?
wow… do those sun spots spell out No Frills, or is it just me?

1st Mentor Meeting: Mission Successful

So, I had my first meeting with my mentor last night. I was a bit worried, because we’d never met before and I wasn’t entirely sure what would transpire that evening. But, “only good things” as I told myself, were about to occur. My mentor is an incredibly kind and generous person. She lives within a 15 minute drive for me, so she’s also quite local. When meeting with her, I brought along my space junk mobile and my milk jug jellyfish. She was super helpful with both of them – she lent me some ribbon that would work well with my jellyfish, a large metal ring to hang my mobile from, and a 2mm hole-punch to attach the ribbons. We agreed that hole-punch would work best, because you can’t sew through plastic, and glue tends to fall apart after a while. My mentor usually presents me with different ways to do things, or different materials to use. She tells me why she thought they could work, and then I tell her what I think would would be best to use, and why. Often, her experience is really valuable helping me decide what to do.

Two new things I did were:

  • Pulling apart copper wire
  • Dyeing cheesecloth navy blue

Cool things I saw:

  • six-ring masks
  • dragonflies (my mentor suggested I could make similar dragonflies with plastic bags instead of fabric – I might look into this)
  • birch bark and paper mache holders.

Next time I go over, I’ll ask to take some photos to upload here on the blog! I’m really looking forwards to recycled art all over again now that I’m working with another artist.

In-Depth Week 5: How to be Interesting

Welcome to In-Depth Week 5!

What’s new: A space junk mobile in-the-making, milk carton jellyfish (dedicated to Jeanie, of course), and… mentor contacts?

So, I’m a little behind for this post because on Saturday I was at the Zero Waste Leadership Clinic! It was a lot of fun, and I got to meet a lot of really cool people. I also hear there’s a clean energy clinic in the works, which I’m excited for because of my research project… But, back to the main subject. I got to meet the amazing Micheal Hall during this clinic, and I used some of the “How to be Interesting” tactics to make the most of the short time we had. The most important thing I took away from talking to him was that, even though this may take a lot of time, the best thing to do is to just go for it, and make stuff. One thing he said that I really connected to was falling in love with the material. He uses plastic sheets, bags and Styrofoam in his photos, and when describing how he loved the dirty, gross texture of the plastic when left out in the rain. After spending five weeks on this project, I can see what he’s talking about. The milky, translucent milk jug quickly becomes a jellyfish. The red and tan wheels from kinetic become the dusty surfaces of mars, the gaseous storms of Jupiter.  More pictures in a week or so. Promise.

A lone picture offering... I'm thinking of making this a mobile!
A lone picture offering…
I’m thinking of making this a mobile!
Courtesy of Me
Close-up on space junk surrounding Earth, courtesy of Me

Did you know that  the space junk problem we have will only get worse as time goes on? The junk currently orbiting our Earth crashes into other space junk and creates tiny, high speed fragments of debris. Contrary to what I would assume, smaller fragments still mean considerable danger to ships; even tiny flecks of paint can cause considerable erosion on the outside of spacecraft. Windshields and windows are especially susceptible to this.

 

Anyhow, this week’s topic of discussion is how to be interesting. Although the people I’ve been contacting about mentorship haven’t been able to find any artists to mentor me, they’ve come up with a few ideas and two mentor contacts I can pursue. We’ve been doing a lot of emailing back and forth, and while I realize that this isn’t a great replacement for talking in person, I think I’ve been able to incorporate some of the tactics Edward De Bono mentions. For instance, during my emails, I explored the idea of wearable recycled art . Port Moody is having a competition for Wearable Arts, and the awards are being given out this February.  I’m keeping my eye out for the cool ideas I’m sure will be portrayed, but I also know that the materials I have are not suited, nor high enough in number, to cover a person’s body. So I don’t think wearable art will be much help. The Zero Waste Leadership Clinic I attended on Saturday also held opportunities to share personal stories, facts and figures to further engage in the conversations we were having. As we discussed the dangers of one-use plastics, one thing that Mr. Hall said at the clinic really stuck with me: ” You could be buying a gelato, and you know those little plastic spoons that come with your ice cream? Well, you drop that on the ground when you’re done, and boom! One thousand years.” What he meant by this was that plastic took 1,000 years to naturally degrade, but the way he brought this fact into the conversation certainly made it more interesting, and more tangible. One instance in which I modified an idea to make it more acceptable to me was when emailing about mentorship. It was suggested I attend the Port Moody Wearable Art Awards, but as it is a little bit expensive, as no one else in my family would like to go, and as I most likely would not be able to talk to the artists (it is a performance and awards ceremony), I decided to check out some of the other options I had, and check back on the pictures and artists when the event was over. This way, I can still see if there are any artists whom I could talk to about mentorship, but I can devote my time and my family’s time to other priorities. In my case, I hope to finish a project around the same time the Wearable Art Awards are going on.

Which leads me to my next dilemna: I need bracelet clasps and chains. Unfortunately, these things are only tossed out when they break, which renders them unusable to me, so I’m going to have to buy them. Because the whole point of this project was to reduce waste, I really don’t want to buy anything. Right now I only need one clasp and a piece of crafting wire, so I’m going to check out Urban Source, which is a store in Vancouver that sells art materials that would have otherwise been thrown out. For example, they take film, leather scrap, cardboard, and lots of other materials that have been discarded by manufacturers. Now, their stock changes all the time, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find what I need. If I can’t, then I’ll have to buy things the regular way, either from the dollar store or Micheal’s. However, hopefully when I go over there I’ll be able to find what I need and snoop around about their workshop sessions – you can book instructional workshops, but seeing as it’s just me, I might just see what tips I can get from talking to the people at the store.

 

I’ll probably post again this week/ weekend with pictures of what I’ve been up to. See you next time on In-Depth 2015.

Meet Up With the Mentor (In-Depth Post #2)

Today was truly a beautiful day. After the torrential downpour on Friday and Saturday, the sun was peeking through the clouds so my dad and I decided to take the dogs to the beach. Here are some photos from the walk:

 

I really like my red rain boots

I really like my red rain boots

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Barnet Marine Park’s off leash area is beautiful in January and June

It took about 5 minutes to finally get her to look at me, I think she's camera shy

It took about 5 minutes to finally get her to look at me, I think she’s camera shy

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Once home, I was able to quickly clean up a bit before my mentor Kylah arrived. Kylah is the sister of one of my mom’s co-workers/friend, so our meetings are probably going to be at each others houses depending on the week. When talking about what I’m going to learn about and when, we agreed to meet on Sundays for about an hour and a half or so, and during the week send each other songs we’d like to work on or interesting tutorials via Facebook messenger. Our personalities really clicked so we pretty much has the same ideas and views on things, so there wasn’t really anything to disagree about. After that, Kylah helped me on a few of my strumming technicalities, played along to a few songs and attempted “chucking”

Chucking, is essentially strumming but also muting the sound at the same time. So when you strum, it’s like flicking the strings and then laying your whole hand over the strings. A really helpful video is this one:

 

Annnnnnd here is my attempt at chucking just now, plus consider that I did just learn this today…

 

I’m really loving this instrument, and am excited for what’s to come!

In-Depth 2015 Post #2!!!

IN-DEPTH NIGHT IS ONLY AROUND FOUR MONTHS AWAY NOW!!! Where did the other month go? Time is running fast! Before you know it, the night of In-Depth will be just around the corner! Don’t freak out, don’t be scared, and definitely, don’t procrastinate!!!

My In-Depth: Acoustic Guitar

My progress so far hasn’t been that great, to be honest. First of all, I tried to get a mentor at the band at Glen Pine Pavilion, last Saturday (Jan. 17), but I didn’t succeed. Unfortunately, I misread the time of the band’s practice and went there a little too late. Tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 24), I am going to go to Glen Pine Pavilion’s band practice, in hopes of finding an acoustic guitarist willing to be my mentor. My mother has already helped me contact the leader of the band, and he said there were plenty of guitarists who would love to be me mentor. Second of all, writing the integrated essay about my In-Depth has taught me new things. I now know about how to become  a successful beginner acoustic guitarist. You need to have the right guitar, the right accessories, and the right skills. Third of all, as to my goal of trying to practice everyday, I have been slacking off a few days already! Although, the days when I have been practicing (4-5 days per week), I have been practicing for around fourty-five minutes. I still have no idea what I should be practicing. All I’ve been practicing are the really basic chords: G, Em, D, A, and C chord. Fourthly, if I want to continue playing the acoustic guitar after In-Depth is over, then going out to buy guitar accessories would be helpful. I have been looking around for the right guitar accessories that will help me succeed. Those guitar accessories include a guitar tuner, pick, capo, strap, metronome, and a tape recorder. So far, I only have a pick, which is saddening, but I will get the rest eventually. Lastly, I joined a band, called “Dysfunctional Eagles”, with Timothy, Kody, and Elyssa. Our first practice/meeting is going to be tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 24).

 

Now onto the “How to Have a Beautiful Mind” portion of this blog post! (Since I don’t have a set mentor yet, I haven’t been able to see how we agree, disagree, and differ. So, most of this will be what I assume will happen. Sorry!)

How to Agree: Most musicians or music lovers can get along with each other because they all share the same passion for music. I assume my mentor and I will agree with each other because of that same reason. I’m pretty sure my mentor has felt what I feel now; the determination and motivation to strive for the best I can do. And hopefully my mentor will help me accomplish that! :) I believe we will also agree because I don’t like disagreeing with anyone. I only want to disagree with it is necessary and ideal in the situation.

How to Disagree: I predict that my mentor and I wouldn’t disagree much; that could be because I like incorporating any idea that I think will be helpful into my adventure. However, a situation where my mentor and I could disagree would be when I set a goal and my mentor thinks I should do it completely different. Yes, I will take the mentor’s ideas in consideration, but this could still be something I will disagree to. Also, my mentor and I could disagree if the learning pace is too slow or fast; if I’m learning something that seems unnecessary; and if I was wishing to learn something else.

How to Differ: Being a musician/music lover, my mentor and I could differ by our taste in music and what the outcome of my finishing result would be. My mentor and I could differ by our taste in music because one person could want to play classical music, when the other wants to play Jazz. This can also lead to disagreeing; however, it can be a good thing because I can end up learning how to play all different styles of music. My mentor and I could also differ by having different visions of how my outcome of the finishing result would be.

 

That’s all for this blog post! Stay tuned to read more about my acoustic guitar adventure :) I wish everyone good luck with their adventures and hard work!

thanks for reading

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