wee small hours / wax of varying states of glass-ness

In Camp 21 - Cultybraggan, Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art, Interesting things, Rambling on December 2, 2013 at 11:02 pm

There’s a lot to write about. I’m not sure I’ll fit it all in, but we’ll see. I’ve not been very good at writing this year have I? Makes sense though, when you live alone there’s a lot of time for writing (and it’s less weird to stay in the study for twelve hours, or something similarly stupid, when there’s only an empty flat). I don’t know what I’m talking about, oh dear.

Friday I stayed awake all night – for the sake of art. But really I’ve probably stayed awake all night for the sake of art before, but staying awake all night in a gallery is quite bizarre. It’s impossible to sleep surrounded by art-things, especially Insomnia Drawings (there’s a weird guilt – how could you sleep when they exist because of not-sleeping?), impossible to sleep in a gallery because…they’re places where you go to feel all awake and inspired and ‘I wanna go make work now!’, or hopefully. Poetry and readings and music and I have no idea what else, I wrote and drew a lot and watched cars go by and stared at drawings and it all merged into this continuous THING. Which was great, there was whisky and tea and croissants, so what’s not to like? But it’s completely ruined my sleeping. I spent Saturday completely out of it and slightly hysterical watching films on the couch, possibly dozed off, saw it was 4 and dark and immediately assumed it was 4am and I’d slept for hours and hours. Nope. If only. Maybe I’ll sleep properly tonight. I stupidly wrote my evaluation for the last project on Saturday afternoon, it probably makes no sense but it seemed like a great idea at the time.

So some sketchbook pages. There’s a picture of me writing on the Fruitmarket page, which was a bit disconcerting to see. I write a load of nonsense in the night. They gave us a red pen and books and a pink notebook! Couldn’t contain my excitement. My seminar notebook is full of circles like that, only thing I can draw when listening to things.





So that was that.

The glass wax. In varying states of glass-ness. Started on Friday with a kinda mucky melting-pot-thing which was terrifying because I’m not exactly good with hot things that might catch fire or something awful, but it melted and I didn’t burn myself – or set fire to things. But the wax got contaminated from the murkiness of it all, and it’s very hard to not get air bubbles in. Glass wax sets amazingly quickly – even when it’s fairly thick it doesn’t take long. So as soon as it comes off/out of the heat it starts solidifying, which makes pouring/ladling…hard.

It’s quite hard to describe because I’ve never seen anything like it. The only wax I’ve used before is for batik and that’s just hot and wax-y. But this stuff is strange. It melts a 115C, but pours at 120-140C, there doesn’t appear to be any useful information on it beyond that anywhere. It’s used in films and whatever as glass to be broken, it shatters easily, very brittle. Even when it’s melted it’s possible to handle (obviously not in the pot, but once it’s been taken out), it can be shaped around things before it sets, squished about. Before it melts fully you can pull a blob out and make beautiful thin threads with it, kind of like dental floss or icicles. It dries clear – when uncontaminated – and smooth and shiny, it sticks to everything. It’s pretty nice really, albeit difficult to work with in some ways.

Anyway. That happened. Some murky wax coated/set/cast/embedded objects. I was meant to be doing cubes of them, but they came out too perfect. Apart from the imperfection of the colour/air bubbles, but y’know. So I was dipping things straight in instead, and using the threads of it.

In it’s magic-crystal-esque normal state


Objects waiting to be waxed. They’re and odd combination of things – things I don’t like, things I love, things found and things bought, things I’d like to get rid of and things I’m entirely indifferent about. And some things that I’d expect to feel something about but don’t. None of that made sense did it?


Objects in cube moulds



A very waxy spoon.



I got annoyed with a cube and tried to see if I could get the objects out (I could), it was amazing to smash up. Seeing as it’s special effects stuff it crunches/breaks in a very satisfying way and without much effort. I keep breaking/throwing things…



The hotter the wax the thinner the thread you can pull from it, and as long as it stays warm you can manipulated it however. Which is how I managed to get it into the jar. The other bit is a piece of glass that was wrapped once the wax was cooling, so it’s thicker and less move-able, so it breaks off incredibly easily. But I kind of like the fragility of them, I’ve broken so many of them. Really beautiful things have been destroyed by putting it down onto the desk or something.




And then I started gluing stuff, ‘cos why not. And suspending things in water and sticking teeth in jars. Again, why not? I love those types of jars, they’re great. The sand is sand I picked up when I walked north in April. The shell is from a beach in Berwick somewhere. I like sticking everything together, they were kept quite separate in my room. But in the list form and as wax-things everything is just there and it doesn’t matter so much anymore. It’s nice.




I bought a wax melting thing on Friday, came on Saturday, so I was using that today. It has a temperature control (but no temperatures, just numbers…it goes to 135C so you can kind of guess though), it’s shallower but having less sides means I can’t burn myself all the way up my arm. It works anyway, I was using that today and the glass came out clear and lovely. I didn’t pour anything, I’m guessing that to not have the air bubbles you’d have to pour like you would with resin (so tip the whole pot from a few cms above the mould and at an angle I think, I don’t know might have made that up, I read something about some special pouring technique with resin). But the things I want to pour into now are quite small, bottles and tins and what have you. So it’s easier to grab it and stick it in by hand/bradle/ladle/stick. I’m kinda happy anyway, although it’s the sort of happy where it’s ‘I’m starting to get fed up with working on this, I just want to play with wax and make thread but I can’t exhibit bits of shit thread I’ve made because they’re impossible to keep whole’. But there we go.















I don’t know what I’m doing with them, or why anymore. They’re objects that stand out for some reason, and I’m either protecting and preserving them or making them completely useless. Or just playing with them. All of the above. I…I just want to handle them I think, to ‘know’ them all again. Because I decided to keep them for a reason, but keeping them for so long I don’t know why anymore. I’m talking crap again. I’ll sleep soon, promise. Not knowing is good and all that, but hard to justify for actually talking about what you’ve done…

But that’s those. I bought a spice rack for them last week, I’ve been keeping objects on it in the studio and rearranging things on it as I make them. Nice to have around. I’m backing it with graph paper at the moment.









Ehm what else. There was a castle trip this afternoon for Cultybraggan stuff (a free castle trip, might I add). Which was good, I hadn’t been before. But kinda just wanted to be in the studio so didn’t stay overly long, some interesting bits and pieces (weird uniforms, nice posters, good quotes) but I’m not really a huge military kinda person so hard to stay overly interested in killing people and guns and whatever else. Some bits I’ll probably end up using, not quite sure where that work is going. Maybe I’ll write about that tomorrow, got caught up ins ewing things the other day and morse code and survival. Bit strange. Good views up that castle though… you can see our studio.






I think that’s everything, oh dear this is long. There’s another out of site project thing, but I think doing two is probably too many, and it’s Wed-Fri, I have exhibition set up on Thursday and I’m in the shop Friday. It’s all mapping and everything exciting like that, so annoying. Hm. Mid-session review a week on Thursday, no idea how I’ll show things for that but it can’t go any worse than the last one, and exhibition on Thursday… Stuff to do. Fake bacon to think about eating.

‘oscillate between extraordinary […] and the ordinary’

In Edinburgh, Interesting things, Rambling on November 16, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Mark Dion talk was really lovely, it fitted so well with what I’m doing at the moment which is perhaps the main reason. (But still, can we just take a moment to go ‘ahh I was in the same room as Mark Dion’? Yeah, okay). Quotes and snippets then some rambling.

Pre-talk overheard things:

  • ‘If you go to Saint Margaret’s you have to go somewhere else as well’
  • ‘That’s where Andy had his exhibition…’
  • ‘He’s not doing it the way I thought he would.’
  • ‘absolutely compulsive’
  • ‘like a magpie, you know.’
  • ‘if I was younger and had the money…’
  • ‘disgraceful to be honest’
  • ‘not very on top of things’
  • ‘you’re coming on your own aren’t you? You’re gonna have some fun…’
  • ‘it’s cheap as chips’
  • ‘these places all over the place’
  • ‘German efficiency’
  • ‘hotel with no drawers’
  • ‘all we did on Friday was fill out a bloody form.’
  • ‘are you on the list?’
  • ‘there’s going to be several spouses wandering round on their own.’
  • ‘it’s all rubbish’

And snippets… So much niceness. Perhaps because it all got written in my super nice Moleskine sketchbook that’s only saved for special occasions but I got all excited and wanted to make stuff again. Which is good! (But instead of making stuff I’m sat here writing about wanting to make stuff, which isn’t quite as good, but needs to be done).

  • ‘promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas’
  • ‘our relationship with nature is always mediated by language and culture’
  • ‘plays the role of the naturalist’
  • ‘knowledge and poetry are not in conflict’
  • ‘the cradle of science’
  • ‘the death rattle of the magic tradition’
  • ‘world in a box’
  • ‘objects radiate out’
  • ‘a lot of crawling through attics’
  • ‘things that hadn’t been seen as having value or worth collecting, but someone hadn’t thrown them away…’
  • ‘this museum makes the National Museum here look like a Tesco’
  • ‘a floating laboratory’
  • ‘a temple to the sea’
  • ‘the best art and science had to offer’
  • ‘absurdly wealthy people’
  • ‘a museum of a museum’
  • ‘my obsession is always “how do you turn a museum inside out?”‘
  • ‘very focused on a cellular and molecular level’
  • ‘finding things the university didn’t know they had’
  • ‘as soon as you discover them they become impossibly valuable’
  • ’200 years of sometimes misery…’
  • ‘an intelligent interrogation’
  • ‘simple, but agile…’
  • ‘objects that are like those objects but not those objects’
  • ‘things that bear enormous weight’
  • ‘all we have is the description “red stick”‘
  • ‘oscillate between the extraordinary […] and the ordinary’
  • ‘quite close, quite intimate, with a number of the objects’
  • ‘gains knowledge through an encounter with a thing’

Rambling, ehm. I think I have some vague idea for what to show for the exhibition thing we’re actually going to plan this time. Which is strange, because I think it’ll actually look like an art-thing instead of a thing. It involves going to get a plinth and perspex box made up, but I should be able to do that this week and it’ll be done in time (I mean, it’s three weeks away or so…surely that’s enough time?) and then a couple of small perspex boxes too. I want to try setting stuff in resin – I’ve found all the stuff I’d need on ebay – so it’s visible but inaccessible and the things I’d set would mostly likely be crap to start with. So things I’d throw away would become something I can’t throw away because it’s an art-thing, it’s an endless cycle of not throwing anything away… I might set more important things, things I don’t want to throw away, too just to see what that’d be like. It sounds like so much fun though, because you can set different layers of resin in one mould and get loads of stuff suspended…ooh fun. I think I’ll order that tomorrow. Hm.

I did a little drawing of a plinth. Just in case you don’t know what a plinth looks like. I’ve got a bit obsessed with boxes too, so I want to make some boxes out of stuff.



Embracing the crazy-collector-lady-ness of it all and going for as museum-y a display case as possible. I don’t know if it’ll be things/objects in it or things set in resin or lists or drawings, but I think boxing it in is kinda important.

I’m sat surrounded by empty boxes and some full boxes and boxes of things that need to be listed and it’s weird. It’s change but not change – although I had to make it change, so I moved my desk so there was some purpose to clearing it (I can now look out of the window as I work and it’s a lot better). It’s a weird time to pack everything up – not only because we don’t move out until the summer, but because the fourth flatmate is having to move out at the start of December and we’ve gotten a new one coming in, so there’s going to be a flurry of packing and moving and I’ll have packed my room up for no logical reason. A bit weird. Maybe it’s the trauma of moving all over again…heh. It’s quite nice having empty shelves though.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep things in boxes. Although I found a box this afternoon that I hadn’t unpacked at all because it was just useless things, and having not seen that box since June/July it was lovely to sit down and look at everything. The trouble is I didn’t throw anything out when I was packing then because it was all a bit ‘must keep everything, must not leave anything behind’ and now I can’t get rid of the piece of pasta shaped like a bike or useless bank things on bits of plastic because I’ve just found it again. So I probably won’t get rid of anything if I unpack again in a few months. But then maybe I will, because I’ll have lived without it for that long when it’s right next to me, just hidden.

I really don’t think I’ll get rid of any books. They’re too beautiful. Who knows. I think that’ll do for now.



In Camp 21 - Cultybraggan, Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art, Rambling on November 15, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent somewhere, which probably isn’t so bad. The sound and video things I was doing weren’t really going anywhere, and there was a bit of an artschoolitus moment (it’s been going round…), which was mostly an intermedia crisis (official term there). I hadn’t listened to the sound things for a week or so, and they now sound better, but they weren’t really going anywhere. And the video things were just frustrating.

So yeah. I got told to do something I enjoy. I love organising and sorting and colour coding and making lists, so I’m sorting everything I have here in Edinburgh, packing it all into boxes and making a really huge list of everything (in minute detail, naturally). It’s fun, but really really strange to be packing things away and not moving. I’ve only got a few boxes packed at the moment, and only the things I actually need will be kept out, but I’m going to keep everything packed as long as possible. Because unpacking things from storage after several months was brilliant, I’d completely forgotten things that I even owned. And the, very tenuous, original point of this was throwing things away. If I keep things packed for long enough, when I unpack I’ll be able to throw things away that I don’t actually need. Which is the majority of what I have.

The super massive list is already on its fifteenth page, and I don’t know where so much of this stuff came from… Scary. I like being surrounded by stuff, I love objects, but it’s kind of claustrophobic to be sat amongst it all every day. I cleared a space in my room this afternoon to teleport things away and standing in the empty space was weirdly happy, I could spin around and not bump into the clothes horse or a bag or a pile of books or work. Unsettling to see the rest of the room though, because it was a bit on the chaotic side.

Anyway… teleporting. The sound isn’t mine, because my voice recorder is M.I.A, and came from here and here. (Direct influence of living with people that – picking out sound effects for R’s projects is always fun). I’ll probably make my own sound up at some point, because it doesn’t seem quite right yet. But there we go. All my stuff just magically disappeared.

My research is good fun at the moment (but when is it not…), I spent last night looking up Dr Who intro themes and TARDIS noises, there’s a website that has everything! And then watching the Brian Cox thing was totally research too… He says beautiful more than I do.  I’m embracing the bad-but-good sci-fi look. And also the fact that I’m (apparently!) quite direct, evidently a Slytherin trait. Once I’ve finished the super massive list I’m going to play about with a bit, start making it less factual and more fictional, write myself into someone else. I might do a mock up of a mail order style catalogue thing of my possessions, so if you ever needed 1 ball of orange string made from plastic bags or 1 moon on a stick (for a prop, a show, a piece of work, anything) then that’d be filled out and sent to me and I’d send out the thing. I just want forms, really. How sad.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 15.44.49


It’s fun having to describe things in the most succinct way possible. Especially because I have pieces of work in my room and it’s quite hard to describe a lot of them in one line. Like the chalkboards from a first year exhibition, where I got people to roll dice and pick a book and a line and write whatever that was onto the blackboard, so they are described as ’2 blackboards covered in chance writing’, which was the shortest way of saying that. But some of the things sound kind of poetic, or just plain absurd – like ’1 medicine bottle containing 5 bells’. And there’s odd combinations of things next to each other, objects that’d never otherwise be in the same place, because the list is just being written as I get to things rather than categorised just yet. So there’s toothpaste next to books next to records next to paint and so on. Quite strange.

And I’ve just noticed zooming in on the zoomed out images looks a bit like those morse code drawings I was doing for a while. Mm pixels.



Cultybraggan stuff is almost entirely drawings at the moment, because I’ve been stuck on the other project and focusing on essay writing… so some drawings. I’ve got kind of focused on paranormal things, Glasgow Paranormal Investigators went and did an investigation there a few years ago and supposedly heard things in German and English, which is kind of interesting because when we went it really didn’t feel…sinister in at all. But it wasn’t night. And there are a couple of people that want to stay there overnight, so maybe I’ll do that. I don’t know. It’s also weird that my great great grandparents actually lived in Comrie…didn’t know that until I came back. So I might write a few letters and see if anyone can remember them there, that’d be strange.




Hmm. What else. Apparently I have a tutorial on Monday with Sara Barker, which is a bit… ‘agghhh must become coherent!’. Tomorrow there’s a Mark Dion talk (oh my god, excitingexcitingexciting) at Talbot Rice. Hm…kinda everything I think. I need to write a statement thing for my exchange application, before the week after next. Prague still gets first choice, but for some strange reason (I’ve completely forgotten why now, I think it sounded nice) Belgium made it onto the list and very possibly Iceland. Oh decisions are hard.  I’ve got essay to write and tea to drink and a long and complicated article about John Cage’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra to read.


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