Seeking Transparency

For our Saturday afternoon drop-in session to experiment with cyanotype, or sun prints, participants brought along an assortment of things to try out on the photo-sensitive paper. Beads and seeds, feathers and flowers fresh from the garden were laid out and placed under the UV light bed for exposure.

Creating compositions using a variety of materials.

The most effective were often the most transparent or delicate items. Mary brought along a tracing on acetate of grasses she had made for a lino cut, and this worked beautifully, with small skeins of wool for clouds. Experimenting with double-exposure techniques added depth and interest: netting placed over the exposed grasses gave the effect of light rippling through them.



Rosalind, who is a wonderful illustrator, began to draw her designs on tracing paper, adding photogram items such as glass beads to enhance the composition. The tracing paper also adds varying tones.



Glass bottles from a flea market became ghostly alchemist’s wares. Sally’s double exposure using feathers and dried hydrangea flowers was also magical.





Art and Transformation: Tending the Secret Fire

What do I want to create? I know something wants to be born, but I don’t have many clues yet. Not many signs or tracks to follow. I look at other people’s work. I collect images and ideas that resonate. I collect pieces of wood and tiles and slate from skips. The studio fills up, takes on a lived-in feel. Now there is a space, there is possibility.

Instinct tells me to build layers so that whatever wants to can emerge. I use tile grout and tissues and glue and wax. Build strata. Make texture with glue and material.

Drawn to the mystery of transformation, the artist-alchemist transforms herself during the creative process and achieves new insights through her work.

I apply heat to initiate alchemical transformation. I scratch and scrape, trying to find doorways in, or perhaps to solve the riddle that will open the doors.

At first the work keeps transforming and won’t stop until it is finally destroyed. Keep going. Don’t give up. This is part of the process.

Some days despair crackles at the edges. Doubt seeps in about ever finding the gold.

In a dark place, I read:

– Søren Kierkegaard

I go back. I breathe and pray and try to stay out of the way of the process.

Trust. It will flow better as I start to work consistently.

The Secret Fire. The flame at work in the laboratory of the soul. Alchemists must tend it well if they are to have any hope of transformation. Nothing melts or evaporates or circulates without fire, or desire.

So, one piece at last reaches a point that I can name it, identify it. There is no beginning or end, just a pause as between breathing out and breathing in again.

Maybe, over time, getting closer and closer to what the flame cannot consume – that is where the alchemist’s faith lies.