Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Anandamayi and Her Seven Dresses

The Golden Gate Bridge will never cease to be cared for, day in and day out. Its constant upkeep endures, like a heartbeat. Painters will always be painting International Orange, ironworkers will always be replacing corroding steel and weary rivets. What is it about the Bay Area's majestic landmark that inspires such dedicated labor, loyalty, intrigue, and admiration?

Our dear friend Anandamayi Arnold joined fourteen other contemporary artists in making artwork within this very question. Their work is now displayed at Fort Point, in its tribute exhibition to the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary, International Orange. In her own contribution, Anandamayi crafted seven, life-sized crepe paper dresses. The seven dresses now stand in commemoration of the original Fiesta Queens who graced the bridge’s opening ceremonies in 1937, each representing a county that contributed to the funding of the bridge. 
In revisiting this tradition, Anandamayi followed her curiosities to and through each county. She met with residents in each place, inquiring about what comes to mind and heart when thinking of their homeland, and used her findings to inform the imagery and design of each dress.
The dresses will be at Fort point for two more months, as International Orange will close on October 28th. If you have not yet paid them a visit, we highly recommend that you do so!
Photographs courtesy of International Orange,  SFGate and San Francisco Art Enthusiast

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paper Model Tools and Techniques: Clamps

New York City–based artist Thomas Garbutt has compiled a lifetime’s worth of priceless advice for anyone ready to jump into the world of building Pellerin paper models. In this installment of our ongoing series, Thomas discusses the use of clamps.
A Pressing Matter
by Thomas Garbutt

Assembling paper models can be very satisfying. As with most things in life, however, this activity comes with some frustrating downsides. I discussed glues and other adhesives in a previous essay, but the component I didn’t mention is that glues require time and pressure to set up properly. As such, there are many times when two hands just aren’t enough. Every minute you spend pinching together pieces of paper is a minute you could be using that hand to get on with the next step in completing your model. What to do? The answer is simple: Clamp it!
Clamps are one of those tools paper model builders tend to forget about until it is too late. It’s easy to get so absorbed and focused on gluing two pieces of your model together that you forget to plan how you will hold them until they’re dry. Unless you like sitting using your hands for this job, get yourself some clamps.
When it comes to paper crafts, I am a believer in the ends justifying the means, so when I find something that works, I use it. Office supply stores offer a great variety of small clamps sold alongside paper clips, staples, and other tiny tools for holding paper together. In my experience the best such tools are binder clips—they are great at clamping together two pieces of paper along an edge, and they are usually quite inexpensive. The disadvantage to binder clips is that they don’t have much depth.
For large pieces needing clamping, or any pieces with glue further from the edge, binder clips won’t help. You need to think big! Find a book large enough to cover the entire glued area, open it up to about the middle, and insert your pieces to be glued. To keep any extra glue from sticking to the pages of your book, layer wax paper on either side of your pieces. If you don’t think the weight of the book will be enough to provide sufficient pressure, just set it on the floor and pile on a few more heavy books. This technique works best with hardcover books, as their pages tend to slip less as you close the book or set more weight on top.
Tweezers are terrific for holding really small parts. I have several styles in my paper modeling toolkit, mostly with pointed ends for greater precision. One variety even locks in place when pressed together—very handy indeed! As with much of paper model building, experimentation is key. Look for tweezers on eBay, in health and beauty stores, even in thrift shops. Street fairs sometimes have vendors who sell small tools such as tweezers. Keep your eyes open for any opportunity.
Whenever you use clamps, think about how much pressure they are exerting and whether or not they will leave marks or indentations on your model. Binder clips are especially notorious for this, as their grip is very strong and is focused on a single line of pressure the width of the clip. If you think your model is in danger of being damaged by your clip, you can always cut some small scraps of cardstock or paper from the leftover trimmings of your model sheet, sandwiching them around your glued pieces before applying the clamp. Using stiff pieces of solid cardboard will help spread out the pressure so that you get a more even clamp over a larger area.
The best “clamp” I have found, though, isn’t really a clamp at all. It’s the blue tape used to mask off areas during house painting. I must be clear here that I’m not referring to the traditional off-white masking tape. The glue on it is far too strong and will pull off the printing on your pieces if used as a clamp. Find the blue-colored tape—ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape by 3M is an excellent one—as it has enough holding power and can be removed without lifting off the printed surface.
Blue tape comes in many widths. I’ve found the one-inch width to be the most useful. Cut several pieces first, pulling a length of the tape and cutting it into half-inch strips. Lightly tack them along the edge of your work surface so they are easy to grab when you need them. Apply the glue to the pieces you wish to join, and then press the small strips of tape across the seam as needed. The tape will hold the pieces together until the glue sets. There is one important caveat, however: Make sure no glue is squeezed out of the edge and contacting the tape, as when you peel off the tape you will lift off some of the model’s printing as well.
This is the third installment in Thomas Garbutt’s tools and techniques for paper model building. The first two essays covered glues and adhesives and cutting methods. Our interview with Thomas on his experience working with paper models can be read here.
Browse Castle in the Air’s selection of more than 300 vintage French paper model reproductions

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Autumn Classes are Here!

As Autumn arrives with golden light,  crisp air, and crunching leaves; we at Castle in the Air offer you our fresh, full lineup of Fall Classes. Take a leaf out of those students' books in the back to school tradition, and come learn something new in our colorful classroom.  
Try your hand at old favorites such as the Fairy Tale Frog Prince, the Hinged Walnut Box, and the Heirloom Glass Ornament; or sign up for one of our exciting new classes in which one can craft Magical Mushrooms, Hungarian Christmas Stockings, or a Honeycomb Book. 
John Cage tells us that "the only rule is work, if you work it will lead to something," while Picasso encourages us to play and create as children so naturally do. Work and play, play and create. These are our instructions for you this Autumn. Come learn a new craft, come flex your artistic muscles, come use your hands, and return to that sweet place of making and creating. We hope to see you soon.