I’m in the process of making an Aquatic Tetraptych – try saying that after a few shandies!
When I moved into my flat nearly 18 months ago, I decided that each room should have a specific theme. I grew up by the sea (well, to be specific, I grew up near the beach – Sandgrounders will understand), so right from the start, I wanted to have a coastal feel to my new, landlocked, Yorkshire home.
The hall has become my homage to the sea, and has been adorned in a variety of different perspectives on the theme. I have photos of numerous favourite seaside locations, from Brighton, to Formby Point, to Havana. I have also chosen a gorgeous painting of surfers and bathers diving into the foam, as well as a vintage tea tray which was originally decorated with crushed abalone shells.
There is a long, bare wall still to decorate, which stretches from the front door to my bedroom. There is ample room for 4 A4 frames, so I thought it might be an idea to create 4 different works of art, each in a different creative discipline, having natural water phenomena as the theme. I started on the first two last year, and have been calling the proposed work ‘a triptych, but with 4’ for the last few months. Thank you Wikipedia for teaching me a new word! Actually, I’m glad I only just learned the correct term now, as I think it would have put me off the project if I’d known it sooner. “How about creating an aquatic tetraptych for your hall?” Heck, I can barely spell it!
Anyway, my first project was inspired by numerous examples of wonderfully creative paint-chip art, all of which were introduced to me by Pinterest. As soon as I saw the versatility of the free paint tester cards, available at my local diy store, I knew I’d be having a go at creating something for myself! Cue regular visits to B&Q, collecting as many paint cards as possible each time without drawing suspicion, until I had every imaginable colour. The staff on the paints counter thought they had a stalker.
I chopped up the cards, removing all the text from the chips, leaving as much of the colour as possible. Then came the fun bit: trying out different patterns until I found one I was happy with. I liked the idea of having a graduated change from light, sky colours to deeper, sea colours. I finally hit on the image of a wave just breaking, showing the darker underside as it crashes back into the ocean. Then all I had to do was pritt stick the lot onto a sheet of A4 and get it framed up! It couldn’t have been easier.
The second panel of my tetraptych came about after my Mum mentioned a fantastic ribbon weaving artist by the name of Sally Shore. I have tinkered with ribbons (here and here) in the past, but only in the most basic of ways – Sally Shore’s work totally boggled my mind with its intricacies and geometric designs. In particular, her tri-axial work is simply staggering – this being my absolute favourite. Sally is really one of those artists that makes total mastery of a discipline look simple.
In my half-baked, amateurish way, I thought I’d take a shot as some tri-axial ribbon weaving to depict a sea storm. I had an off-cut of carpet underlay which became invaluable for pinning the ribbons to as I experimented with patterns and tension. I would highly recommend finding a strong, pinnable surface if you are going to try out some ribbon patterns for yourself!
I used wide strips of satin ribbon in a variety of shades of grey and blue, which were pinned onto interfacing vertically, to give the impression of sheet rain. I then had a go at weaving through some whites and turquoises at a SW-NE angle to suggest strong winds, whilst overlapping them with sea greens and metallic ribbons on a SE-NW angle to depict the waves chopping about. I ironed my finished pattern onto some strong interfacing and framed it for my hall. I am not oblivious to the fact that there are mistakes-a-plenty on this artwork – some of the ribbons refused to lie flat, and depending on how many layers they were woven between, some do not have much of a fix to the interfacing, which has meant they have puckered or slipped slightly.
Despite all of this, I love to see this framed on my wall as I walk into the flat after a long day. The metallics sparkle under the spotlights, and it reminds me of the sea, which was the intention when I started out.
So, I have two more panels to make, which are not yet planned. I have rough ideas to make one out of crochet and one out of embroidery, but that’s about as far as my plans go right now! However, now that I have posted about the first half of the project, hopefully I will be spurred on to get it finished. After all, now that the upholstery project is almost complete, I don’t have much of an excuse!