Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Alchemical Curiosity Cabinet - Interior

I spend many hours experimenting with my chosen 'alchemy script' photographs to get the look I wanted for the interior of the storage bookbox.
The original photo's and documents are quite grey in appearance, as you can see here below.

I had something different in mind, more sepia or brown. So I changed the picture in PhotoScape, a program on our PC a bit like Photoshop, to create a Sepia look.

I then created a digital collage from several pictures with the idea of creating my own designed 'scrapbook' paper.

Although it looked alright on the screen when I printed it out it was more like pinkish brown, which I didn't like. It also seemed to lose the kind of authenticity I was after. I really liked the inked script of the original 17th century documents, written with a quill.

During one of our meetings at HALS we were introduced to the Archives Conservator Jeff Cargill, an incredible knowledgeable guy, who explained us a lot about how they conserve the documents.

One of the things he showed us was a document in which the ink had created a chemical reaction 'eating' the letters out of the paper. (When you click on the photo, you can see it better)

Although in itself a fascinating topic for further textile/stitch exploration I wanted to do something with ink.

A while ago I had bought a bottle of Walnut Ink Crystals for staining and distressing fabric and paper, giving them an antique look. I still hadn't used it, so I started some experiments with that and liked the look of it.
I ended up inking several A2 size good quality paper, which I then cut into a series of A4, ready to put through my printer. It sounds really straight forward (and it is) but I spend quite some time working out how many papers needed a horizontal/vertical orientation of ink movement on the paper.
Think wood grain in relation to the script fitting in the cabinet - all becomes clear in the end....

To get a 'pure' walnut brown I needed to get rid of the 'colour' of the original photo's, so I manipulated them in PhotoScape into 'grayscale' with further enhancements of sharpen, brighten and contrast,

 so they looked like this.

 They were then printed onto the walnut inked hand cut A4 papers, ending up like this.

After that I sprayed them all with hairspray and left them for a few days.

In the mean time I prepared the bookbox by lightly sanding it on all surfaces and applied a primer (Colourfix). I also cut two 'shelves' from mount board and primed these. I further cut some balsa wood square strips and died them with walnut ink.   Then came the scary fun bit of cutting the papers to size and gluing and sealing them with ModPodge into the box.

Et voila

an 'alchemist' cabinet containing pages of alchemy documents written by someone of the Wittewronge family in the 17th century

Curious for more?
Watch this space.

1 comment:

Gina said...

I'm curious.... I'm watching! This is such a fascinating project.