The Samarium Chronicles: Chapter 3

A boxful of samaras, or maple seeds.
A boxful of samaras, or maple seeds.

I have thought quite a bit about my options for the Radical Elements piece since I posted ‘The List’ of possible materials.  My research has taken some interesting turns, including making some aerodynamic origami (check out the video here–the cats love it, but I don’t think it is going to make the final cut.).  Two or three options are ‘percolating’ in my brain about how to go with this project.  They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but I am thinking of them as distinct at this point.

One way is go is with a play on the word Samarium.  I choose this element because of my samaras series and my use of maple seed (maple seed = winged tree fruit = samara) imagery in my work.  With this option, I could, for instance, make handmade papers from maple seeds, and use techniques borrowed from my textile work (screen printing, foil, etc.) to make a paper samaras quilt.  I like this option, though I know nothing about papermaking.  A paper piece like this that ‘references’ a quilt could be really beautiful.  It also seems a bit simplistic–if not boring–to just use papers instead of fabric, layer them and stitch with raffia or something similar, and call it done.  Issues I must consider are the archival properties of handmade paper, durability, and hanging issues.

Another way to go is to borrow materials from the ways samarium is useful (with none of the maple seed imagery).  That would be in nuclear fuel rods (they have a gorgeous blue glow), audio equipment (headphones and Fender guitars), cancer treatment (both curative and palliative), the motion picture industry, and magnets.  This option has all kinds of possibilities.  Backlighting with blue LED lights…stitching with guitar strings, film strips, and IV lines….Cds layered on steel with magnet ‘stitches’…to name just a few.  With this option, I have to think about power, archival issues, and test magnet strengths, etc.  Also, I would like the final work to be beautiful, on some level, and avoid a messy, disjointed conglomeration.

Another option that is ‘percolating’ would involve an interactive component.

I reconnected with a high school friend who studied paper engineering.  Several online connections will send me springtime samaras, and another harvested a fall crop for me in Washington state.  There is more research to be done.  In the meantime, I am enrolled in a one-day papermaking class with Catherine Nash.  Should be fun…

I will keep you posted.  What do you think?



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