Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Memento Mori Pendant...

Finished Memento Mori Pendant by Andrew Thornton
I've long been fascinated with reliquaries.  There's something about the veneration that happens when something... whether a little finger bone or an ordinary object... is placed in a frame.  It's a declaration. It says, "THIS IS SPECIAL!"

Resin Raven Skulls
A few years ago, I ordered these miniature cast resin raven skulls from Europe.  They've been languishing in a box in my studio for far too long.  I wanted to actually use them and I thought that this was the perfect opportunity!

Unpainted laser-engraved wood pendant by Andrew Thornton
With the laser, I've been dreaming up ways that I can push the capabilities and work more sculpturally.  There's definitely learning curves, but I think I'm making progress.  I guess the key to working three-dimensionally with the laser is to think about things in terms of layers.  It's not so different from learning Modernist drawing philosophies and collage.  (Though re-learning Photoshop and Illustrator can be a bit frustrating at times.)

Memento Mori Pendant before clear resin
I still have kinks to work out and the creation of this piece was a whole lot of trial and error, but I'm happy with it and I'm learning a lot.  It has definitely sparked more ideas and I want to shirk all my other obligations and just play!  (I won't though, as tempting as it may be.  I'm using it as a reward system for finishing other projects that have been waiting in the wings.)

To capture the raven skulls, I took my drawings and transformed them into a pendant frame, layer by layer. Once I had all the pieces fitted together, I painted them and played with various surface treatments. (Though I kind of dig the natural wood look. But maybe it's just because I'm smitten with the look of laser-engraved wood right now.)  Then... once I had the finished frame, I adhered the skull and then poured resin.  In hindsight, the resin has its pros and cons.  In the pros category is that it has a watery, optical feel.  It also protects the little skull.  (Though since it is recessed, it's pretty safe!  But if I wanted to, I could rivet on a piece of mica and channel my inner Daniel Essig.  If you don't know his work, you should check it out!  CLICK HERE to take a gander.)  In the cons section, it deadens some of the effects I worked to achieve with the surface treatments AND since the skulls have a lot of negative space, air bubbles can get trapped easily and often.  Also in the cons column is that if you're tired and not paying super close attention, you can mix up the opaque resin with the clear resin and you end up with a highly venerated blob.  At least it's a SPECIAL blob!

Special Blob Pendant by Andrew Thornton
Normally folks share all their glorious triumphs, but sort of gloss over their mess ups.  But in an endeavor to be real... here's photographic evidence that it's not all rainbows and kittens in Studio Thornton.  Luckily with the new laser, my mess (which in the privacy of my studio is pronounced with an "f" and ends with an "uck" sound) ups aren't quite as earth-shattering, as I can make another in short-order.

Back of Memento Mori Pendant by Andrew Thornton
To finish it all off, I laser-engraved the words, "memento mori" on the back.  It means, "remember death".  But really, it means remember LIFE!!  Live life each day to its fullest and try always to learn more and do more and be more.  Death is also not the end.  When the Death card is drawn in tarot, it sometimes is a welcome card.  It symbolizes the  end of one phase and the beginning of another.  It's a harbinger of transformation and change.  It embodies letting go... and flying free.

I think I'll hold on to this little gem for myself.  But if you're interested in one, contact Allegory Gallery via EMAIL or convo us through Etsy and make sure to specify that you're curious about acquiring a Memento Mori Pendant and I might be able to whip one up for you.

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