I’ve made some lucky art finds recently. First is this fantastic woodblock stamp. It was on sale in my local Oxfam charity shop, for next to nothing. There was a tag on it labelled anthropomorphic which I only understood after taking its photo. But what is this creature with the huge staring eyes and pointed nose – or beak? Is it a bird, is it a mouse? A plane? An alien from outer space?
This is a lovely object in its own right. It even has a metal hanging loop on the back and I shall certainly display it, along with the other woodblock stamp I bought, a few years ago, from the V & A shop, in London.
I was attracted to this block because the round shape of the carved bits reminded me of cells and the art project I’m developing – Below the Line.
I’m searching for as many ways of representing cells – and seeds – as I can lay my hands on. And so I was delighted to come across the second of my recent art finds.
It’s an embossing gadget. You pass a piece of paper through the rollers by means of the key on the side and it comes out the other side embossed with the design carved on the rollers. In this case – circles. There were two of these little machines just lying gathering dirt and dust at the back of a shelf in my local art shop and gallery, Frances Iles. The other one had stars carved into the rollers, which didn’t interest me. There wasn’t any price on the one I wanted, so I hinted for a deal and managed to get it for – £1! I’m a good customer …
I fed a piece of stencil parchment – which is quite thick – between the rollers, to see what would happen. It wasn’t difficult – you just turn the key. I’ll try different papers. I can see me running copper/metal sheeting through, and adding watered-down paints, to see how they catch and pool in the indentations made by the rollers.
These two cheap finds – gifts I’d like to call them – each create pattern and texture by pressure. I’ve written already about this in a previous blog – that it came to me that all form, pattern, texture, arise as a result of pressure brought to bear. A force of some kind is exerted, enough to bring about change.
The carved woodblock creates change with a blow – by stamping; the embossing gadget – by squeezing. Stamping and squeezing – both are pretty aggressive acts. It made me think of how I bring about change in my daily interactions with others, the level of aggression – stamping and squeezing – I bring to a given situation. How well do I judge the degree of aggression needed to effect change? Do I even think, or just react? Are the changes I am trying to bring about, necessary and sane?
Food for thought.When I use these two tools, I’ll try and use them with all this in mind. And I see that the true gift in these objects, isn’t the objects themselves, but the opportunity for greater mindfulness that came with them.
How mindfully do you use your gadgets?