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I'm Not A Machine

I'm Not A Machine

Whilst making 23 porcelain clay pyramids by hand the other day and as usual, failing to make them all look exactly the same, and indeed, succeeding in making 23 pyramids in the end that were completely individual and unique each, it occurred to me that in this day and age, perhaps a part of being an artist is just that - to make original pieces that don't look and feel as though a computer and a clever CAD program made them.

I'm not a machine ...

I find that very soothing, especially as I want to make a work of art in a new modality but often lack in experience of craft and berate myself for it. Well perhaps it will stop now.

Gold Pyramid Symbol Set On Alien World Gameboard

My 23 hand made, personally fired in a small lab oven, then primed and gold leafed, then symbolled Gold Pyramid Symbol Set with its "Alien Planet" game board constitute an original work of art that can't be bettered by machine fabrication of the individual components in a factory in China.

This doesn't mean that I won't strive to improve my technical skills; but at least I can do that now in relative peace and in my own time.

The fact that I'm not a machine and I will never make enough clay pyramids by hand so that the requisite technical skill sets build up over decades so that in the end I can rival any machine in technical accuracy has cheered me up immensely and made me more playful.

So my thoughts turned to something I've always been fascinated with - liquid plastic.

When I was a small kid, I bitched and whined until I finally, finally I got a liquid plastic encapsulation kit for Christmas. Unfortunately, these plastics and their catalysts are tricky and temperamental; you have to measure them out carefully, they freak out if there's too much moisture in the atmosphere, or if it's too hot, or too cold, and basically, left to my own devices without supervision, my poor ten year old aspect back then succeeded in nothing more than making a god awful mess.

This was doubly heartbreaking as the aspect had been so excited and had such high hopes for the process; and also, the elders immediately jumped on the opportunity, declared the aspect to be unworthy of such frivolous purchases in the future and so it never got a chance to have another go or figure out how to do it better.

It occurred to me that I wanted to put time to rights and do some modelling with liquid plastic, for the aspect, as a gift from me to it across time.

I purchased some polyurethane compound and set to work. The first try resulted in a mess again because I didn't stir the mixture long enough and there was too much moisture around; but this time, I didn't give up and had another go.

This resulted in a few fine and perfectly formed little men and a pendant with a few scraps of gold leaf inside.

I can tell you the aspect was jubilant and I felt very happy too.

So I went on to make a cast of my famous Lapis Lazuli Genius Symbol set - each one of those 23 Lapis cabochons is also entirely unique, different sizes, different shapes and different weights, much like my porcelain pyramids, actually. Then I took some of the left over gold leaf, mixed it in and cast the "Aspect Set". It worked perfectly and is absolutely beautiful, well to me it is, another person might not appreciate the fact that they're not perfect.

Aspect Genius Symbol Set, Polyurethane with gold leaf enclosures

I also cast for practice another TGS set in off the shelf heart moulds with gold dust inside.

gold hearts symbol blanks

All those objects sitting on the table, I took some photographs and then amused myself with a little installation - "Sacrificing Yourself On The Altar Of Love" - with the bits I just happened to have cast in the last 24 hours.

Sacrificing Yourself On The Altar Of Love

This is meant to be a joke; the four little men don't all stand up, only three of them; so that's how that came about.

Sacrificing Yourself On The Altar Of Love Closeup

My art is inextricably linked to the other things I do; it's a part of my life and completely interwoven with everything else. I like that.

Aspect Set on a round mirror under a birch tree

And I like the new Genius Symbol sets; especially the Aspect Set, which is so chameleon like and shifts and changes with the light and the weather and the surface you put it on.

Aspect Cabochons Closeup

I look forward to playing some lovely aspect games, and I'm so pleased to have finally given the little kid what she had hoped for and more; she is delighted and happy and so am I.

Silvia Hartmann

Feb 8. 2011

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