Monday, March 28, 2011

Mermaid in glass -2

        Here she is all fired and ready! Having decided to change her skin colour to a more suitable colour, she took one last extra run in the furnace, before she was complete. I decided to frame her using a completely contrasting medium, paper! I had a shape cut out of 8mm MDF wood and created the framing for her out of paper mache pulp in the shape of seaweeds and shells, in order to make the mermaid feel more at home I also painted the base wood a beautiful bright sea green, along with a few waves!
       Yesterday she traveled to her new home, and was received with much joy (actually this beautiful wide grin that my niece reserves for something she really loves!! ) She will be gracing the walls in my niece's room after it gets a new coat of  paint( hey she is a princess after all! )

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A mermaid in glass- a work in progress

              Creating a gift that will hold a six year old's attention for more than six minutes is challenging enough, not least when the gift is an enameled mermaid! My six year old hyperactive niece is quite creative, painting, making collages, writing small poems, so I always have to be extremely creative myself while making her gift.
Mermaid with wires fused on to flux base
She has always been fascinated by princess especially the Disney kind! 
              So on her birthday this year I decided to make an enameled panel featuring her favorite mermaid princess 'Ariel', in cloissone enamel.
Hunting for a suitable image was easy enough but putting the copper wires in place took a lot more time than what I had imagined.
I started out by cutting out the outline around the mermaid and her seat of sea rock out of 22 gauge copper and after annealing and pickling it , I washed it, wiped it dry, countered ( a coating done on the reveres to prevent the metal from warping) it, then sifted 80 mesh medium fusing flux on it.
After firing it once (at approximately 750 degrees Celsius)I realized I had not managed to coat it properly, so I cleaned the piece again under tap water with a nylon brush re-countered it and then sifted one more layer of the flux. This time after firing the copper had been completely covered , so I started out with laying the wires. For this I first printed out a scaled image of the mermaid and the rock, sea-weeds, shells, then laid it under a sheet of glass( to avoid the paper from moving and thus shifting my wires). I had a longish length of 18 gu. copper wire rolled out in my rolling mill to flatten it slightly. First I cut to size and shaped each piece as per the design onto the glass, once that was done, the wires were all heated pickled, rinsed and dipped in gum tragacanth( guess I am old fashioned that way , don't yet use clear fire)  Once all the wires were done they were transferred onto the sheet of fluxed copper and fired again for a minute and a half at 750 degrees Celsius.

Mermaid with first layers of colour application
                 The second step was laying down the first few colours, starting with the red since that takes a higher temperature and the first layers of the major areas. It took me about 8 firings to complete the mermaid, but unfortunately did not manage to click pictures of her at every stage :(
         Here she is on the firing rack with the first layer of colours applied, just as she is about to go into the furnace.The most exciting thing about enameling though is watching the colours change as they come out of the furnace, they go from dark red to gradually the hues they actually are. Hope to click pictures of those stages sometime!

        Choosing the right colours was extremely difficult as my enamel colour collection is not that extensive, and for the most part I use locally available colours, which are not always consistent :(
I used a transparent blue which actually had a small amount of a light opaque colour mixed in it for the water and while the shells and the rock are opaque, the mermaids tail and the sea-weeds got a transparent treatment.
         She is just about done now with just the framing done and I shall be sharing her with you in about a day or so, along with the unique framing idea I have come up with .

        So have you had to pick you brains coming up with ideas for your sweet lil nephews and nieces? What are some of the monster DIY's you have undertaken? Would love to hear ideas, ( hey we all have adorable lil kiddies around us !! )

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The raibow colours of holi !!

Holi series- the whole rainbow!! Oil on canvas "8 x 8" inches
                                    © 2011 Nayna Shriyan

            Wishing all my readers a very 'Happy Holi' !!  Today is the day that all the colours of holi come together, as I am writing this post I can hear my neighborhood children having the time of their lives, most are completely unrecognizable having been smeared with so many colours, their parents are surely going to have to hose them down to know which is their kid!!
        Today my painting symbolizes what any street, wall or building lobby looks like, a complete riot of colours. Everybody is coloured, and nobody is spared,and all that do complain get the phrase" Bura na mano holi hai"  !! (meaning - do not mind it is holi today ') shouted at them. Reverllers in their enthusiasm even manage to colour the stray dogs roaming about, it is not unusual to see them walking around with bright patches of pink on their bodies.
         The one other aspect of holi that simply has to be mentioned here is without a doubt a drink called 'Bhang' The extract of this plant (a variety of hemp) is used in various recipes chiefly a kind of milk based drink containing almonds called 'Thandai' Although intoxicating it is widely consumed on this day. In small quantities it is quite mild but in a slightly medium quantities, it can cause some pretty weird behavior ! 
         Festivals in India are always colourful and have a lot of aspects that are unique to them, my favorite aspect is the fact that this festival colours everybody so uniformly that you truly cannot differentiate between the castes, religions or classes of the people. Everybody looks exactly the same- blissfully happy!!
         These are some of my memories that I have been sharing over the past week, along with my expressions in colour.  I hope you enjoyed reading and viewing my work. Would love to hear any unique or funny stories that you may have related to this day. Wishing all a very colourful year ahead  :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Purple flames

          Today on the day of the holi puja as I sat down to create today's painting my friend suggested using a palette knife and creating fan like floral images to stand out against the geometric background. While I started out intending to use her suggestion, I realized what came out was not exactly her idea but rather an image of holi that has been with me since my childhood !
Holi series -Purple Oil on canvas, "9 x 6" inches
© 2011 Nayna Shriyan
         Apart from the colours used in having a blast on the day of the holi festival, my other memory is of gathering along with all the tenants of my building in the compound for the holi puja. For about a week or so in advance the teenage boys in the building would be involved in the task of gathering dried twigs, leaves a few logs of wood, and of course lots and lots of dried grass. All of these would be piled together much like the image I have used here and then bricks and small stones would be placed surrounding these materials.
In the evening at the designated the holy hour all the members from all the households would gather around the 'holika' (as it is called and the burning of the said holika is called 'holika dahan') A small puja would be performed, mantras chanted, flowers would be offered and then the holika would be lit. Then everybody would offer prayers, flowers,coconuts and of course the all important 'Puran Poli'. After this prasad or part of the offering would be distributed to everybody.
I will never forget the excitement I would feel at the time because it meant that the very next day all of us kids would be allowed to go completely wild and drench each other and smear colour on each other and generally play in the water something that was just not allowed any other day !!
What are your memories? do you remember the smell of fresh Puran Poli ( or any other sweet that was traditional to you ) being made or do you remember being enchanted by the dancing flames of the holi on fire?
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Friday, March 18, 2011

A 'Green'Holi

Holi series- Green Oil on canvas "9 x 6" inches         © 2011 Nayna Shriyan
Today, I simply had to go green, not least in keeping with the green revolution taking place even in the way that holi is being played in present times. While traditionally only gulaal was used as the favored colour, along with buckets of water, in recent times, the use of chemical based colours had become quite rampant. Apart from causing harm to the reveler's skin, these are also harmful for the environment.
               As people are becoming more and more aware of these issues, the use of  herbal colours that are eco-friendly has increased. Now colour extracted from flowers, for pinks, reds, oranges and turmeric for yellows are being used.
               There is one more tradition involved with holi that reminds me of the colour green, the army, although this particular army dresses a little differently :) I am talking about the Sikh community of the state of Punjab. During this time, the Sikhs celebrate a festival called "Holla Mohalla." On this day, the Sikhs perform worship rituals for the holy "Guru Granth Sahib" the holy book that is worshiped by them. The evenings are reserved for a show of military strength , by the "Nihang Sikhs", who are a part of the army started by the Guru Gobind Singh. The Nihang Sikhs display their skills by holding mock battles, sword fighting, archery and horse riding exercises.The Nihangs also splash colour on the spectators and then everybody join in. Stories and songs about the life of the ten Sikh " Gurus" are recited. Truly a most exciting way to celebrate holi !

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Orrrrrrrrrrrrange!!! just makes the colour seem more yummy dosen,t it ??

Holi series- Orange, Oil on canvas "9 x 6" inches                                © 2011 Nayna Shriyan
So many of the Holi traditions revolve around Lord Krishna, that colour swirling around a central point was the best way for me to express my thought !! As the legends go Lord Krishna was quite dark by complexion and his beloved Radha extremely fair. He would complain to his mother as to how unfair this was. His mother tried to mollify him by asking him to go and colour Radha's face, and as he did  so, colouring her to look just like him, that is how the practice of holi began. Whether that is true or not, the whole country uses the excuse of holi, to colour each other and then miraculously each one looks exactly like the other !! Beautiful isn't it? :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pink and Red - the colours without which Holi would be incomplete

Holi series- Pink & Red, Oil on canvas " 8 x 8" inches                                  © 2011 Nayna Shriyan
Today I would like to share a most unique holi tradition with you . In the north eastern part of India lies the beautiful state of Manipur, in this state holi is called the 'Yaosang' festival, and the way they celebrate the festival is by by building bamboo huts called 'Yaosangs' are built by the side of the roads. The priests place the statue of Lord 'Chaitanya' inside and these are then worshipped. After the rituals are finished, the huts are set alight and as the huts burn, the people gathered around let out chants of 'Hari Bola' and 'He Hari" basically praising the god Krishna. Once the huts have burned down the holy ashes are smeared on people's foreheads and also the doorways of  the houses. People then celebrate by showering each other with gulaal. Gulaal is the traditional colour used during holi by people all over the country, it is a glorious deep pink much like the central portion of my painting for today. Well I couldn't resist, after all who would play holi without a generous helping of 'Gulaal" :D
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Growing enameled trees in my studio

Blue tree bowl, vitreous enamel on copper ©2011 Nayna Shriyan
Continuing on my recycling spree, I shaped these two large (compared to the earlier bowls) bowls and decided to go completely abstract with them. I twisted the wire and was trying to get a dark base below the horizontal wire and a lighter colour above. Well that is what I was thinking but enamel colours do have a mind of their own !! When the bowls came out of the furnace, not only had the colours slumped down around the edges of the wire but also around the twisted wire, looking exactly like trees!! I decided to go with the flow and added a few more sprinkles and voila! two trees were looking up at me :)
Green tree bowl, vitreous enamel on copper                      ©2011 Nayna Shriyan

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A splash of Blue !!

Today I decided to use the colour blue apart from being a personal favorite it is also a colour that is associated with Lord Krishna. The legend goes that Krishna was the one who popularized the second day of the festival of Holi where he would drench his gopikas with water and colour. 
Holi series-Blue, Oil on canvas "9 x 6"inches                                     © 2011 Nayna Shriyan                              
To this day, the holi celebrated in Lord Krishna's village of Vrindavan is the most unique. Legend has it that Lord Krishna visited Barsana the village of Radha on the day of holi and teased her and her friends. The women of the village took offence and chased them away with sticks(lathi) . To this day the tradition is followed, men from Vrindavan visit Barsana to play holi and they are beaten with sticks, in the presence of the villagers, nobody gets hurt though!! As I was creating this painting today, I had this mental image of seeing colour splashed on walls, roads every which where after Holi, and tried to achieve that effect. I certainly had a lot of fun creating this painting and it has made me look forward to the big day even more :)
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Colour me Yellow !! the Holi series

                 On the 20th of March this year, the whole of India will be drenched in colour!! On this day we celebrate the festival of Holi, if you have never heard of this festival before, then join me this week as I take you on a colorful journey!. This week leading up-to the festival of Holi, I will be creating one painting each day ,with only one colour per painting. I will also be writing about some of the many traditions that abound in this diverse country of mine.
Holi series-Yellow Oil on canvas "8 x 8" inches                    © 2011 Nayna Shriyan
In Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra and also my hometown, Holi, like quite a few other states is celebrated in two parts on two days. The first day is the puja or the worship day, this day we light a bonfire called 'Holi' and offer coconuts, flowers and of course the most important 'Puran Poli' to the holy fire. The second day is when everybody drenches each other with colour. This tradition of lighting 'Holi' each year is centuries old. The story or legend as one might take it says that there was once a King called " Hiranyakashyap" who was of the demon clan and an extremely proud and powerful king. He thought himself to be above the gods, whom the humans dared worship and so he had declared that anyone that worshiped "Narayan" also know as Vishnu would be punishable by death. As luck or fate would have it "Hiranyakashyap" had a son called Prahalad . Prahalad was an  ardent devotee of the god Vishnu and would keep chanting " Narayan Narayan' throughout the day. This angered the King no end and he tried many ways to kill his son, but Prahalad would be saved by the gods each time. Finally the King's demon sister 'Holika'  who had the boon of being fireproof offered to sit with Prahalad on her lap in a huge lit bonfire. But as the gods would not allow Prahalad's death, it was Holika who burned to death while Prahalad stayed unscathed!!
Thus each year the bonfire is lit and it is called Holi !! This particular bonfire stand for the victory of good over evil.
               I have started this series with the yellow colour, because for me the bright yellow colour always symbolises the begining of spring, which is what the month of March stands for. Though traditionally in India Holi marks the begining of the summer season. Well lots of 'yellow' sun anyways :) I am thinking of using the usual primary and secondary colours, but would love to hear about any other colours that would look good in this series, it is the festival of colours after all !!!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

From Dishes to Bowls!!

           Having decided to de-clutter, I was going through some of the junk in the kitchen, when I happened upon some old copper plates. These plates are usually used in worship rituals, but  I found that we seemed to have a large number of them, lying around, (way more than required)!! Guess someone goofed and went on a shopping spree!! 
Rose bowl , vitreous enamel on copper               ©2011Nayna Shriyan

             Being a metal-artist to the core, my first thought was can I use these? Of course the natural answer was -Bowls! I decided to convert the dishes to bowls, while I had previously been working on similar projects with my gulmohar bowl and blue and pink bowls, I wanted to take these to another level. So I filled them with some pitch and before I knew it there were two flowers beaming up at me :)The bowl with the white flower was inspired by a delicate white flower that grows in my little balcony garden, and the second one a beautiful single red rose!.These two bowls are different in the sense that I have repoussed them before enameling them.
White flower, vitreous enamel on copper     ©2011 Nayna Shriyan
Here's how they look post enameling.  So what do you think? Should I have left them repoussed or does the colour bring out a better look in them?Although this way they can be viewed differently from both the sides. I am planning more bowls but I am waiting to hear some opinions before I go and repousse them !