Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Mike earned a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. He is nothing short of a Renaissance man; he is an experimenter, artist, scientist, engineer, art collector, inventor, entrepreneur, musician, athlete (he holds a fourth degree black belt in Shotokan Karate), and a sensei (teaching karate at his downtown “dojo” for martial arts).
His work is included in many collections, including the Miriana Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Spencer Museum of Art, Springfield Art Museum and the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky.
I am honored that he was part of the Doll Project last year and that he is onboard again this year. Here is what Mike has to say about his doll:
"My doll appeared at my door in her thoroughly modern zip-lock baggie. She was female from the start, though I haven't a clue how I knew that. She seemed too small to me, the head and body very tightly bundled leaves, as if she could be unwrapped to reveal mummified remains (of WHAT, I wonder?) within.
I've been liking gold leaf of late and had a packet of very fine 23k gold leaf in my box. I tinted her black with sumi, gilded the lower body from the 'belt' down, but was disappointed with the effect. So I began pulling the leaves apart into strips and eventually she seemed to be wearing something like a hula skirt with surprising gold strips on the outside... The inside was way too light in value, though so I mixed up a quart pail of dilute black ink and dipped the lower half in several times until it seemed dark enough. I was sorta thinking 'King Tut' when I ran out to Target and bought a cheap off-brand Barbie-like doll for 'parts'. I cut her plastic face off, gold leafed it, stretched it out. and glued it to the head -- like the death mask on a mummy's sarcophagus. I gold leafed the plastic doll's legs and hands, too, and cut them off with a razor blade and glued them into the doll as well (LOVE hot melt!!!)... Her necklace, before gilding, had been the plastic doll's glittery transparent tiara... I considered attaching fairy wings to her (I gilded some large butterfly wings in preparation), but decided she really needed to rest in a sarcophagus and not fly around.
I made her a box from Spanish Cedar (cigar box wood). I debated whether to 'break' her arms so they'd be at her sides or belly. Ultimately I decided to allow her arms to penetrate the sides of the box. Maybe provoke some curiosity about what's inside?
I have a fast and easy way of making a neat box of any size -- I cut all six sides to size with 45 degree angles, lay them out flat with the outsides up and tape them with masking tape so the sharp edges touch. Then I glue the edges and fold the box together. The tape keeps the joints tight and relatively glue-free -- more tape to complete the closure and get the ends on... when I'm done, the tape peels off and I've made a neat rectangular solid with tight joints -- then I cut the lid off and... Voila!
Before I cut the lid off this box, I decided it needed some legs. I thought about getting a couple of more plastic dolls and chopping off the legs and gluing them onto the box -- that might have been a little TOO demented (and expensive)! I looked around my shop and found a 'perfect' 16 by 3/4 by 3/4 inch scrap of cocobolo (a super-hard and dense Central American wood -- so dense it doesn't float and has a beautiful and very pronounced grain). I stuck it into my lathe and began turning the legs starting at the end away from the drive -- the only tool I used was a very sharp skew chisel to sorta plane the legs to typical spindle-turned shapes -- by starting at the free end, I could carve ALL the legs, end to end, without fear of breaking the very delicate thin areas -- when I was done, the legs were shiny smooth (no sanding or finish needed) and I just cut them apart and glued them to the box with 5 minute epoxy -- 10 minutes later I used my table saw to trim them to standard length so the box would sit flat -- then I cut off the lid... It seemed too plain -- the doll looked a bit sad inside the unfinished box, so I painted the inside deep blue. The doll was lost in the blue, so I painted the inside red -- I liked the texture of the blue showing through the red and more or less kept that in the lid... Then I wanted a shadow of the doll's figure (like a Sudarium) inside the box and I cut a stencil out of copier paper, laid it in the lid and stippled the blue outline of the doll -- I did the same to the bottom of the box, but didn't like it and painted it back out with red again -- the figure showed through a bit... I added the gold leaf to the lid -- the dots etc. Then I thought of the white ink pens my sons Scott and Andy had given me for Xmas. I sat for half an hour and drew inside the box, then on the lid and I thought I was done... But the box needed something... So I gilded the outside of the box with 'straps' to butch it up a bit...
In the end, I was torn between staining the exterior of the box very dark (to contrast with the 'straps' or leaving the unfinished wood showing... Maybe I screwed up when I decided to leave the wood 'natural' -- a darker box might have made the gold leaf really pop -- but... In a few years, the cedar will darken quite a lot, and turn a rich deep orange. Then I expect there will be just the 'right' amount of contrast between the wood and the gold...
She's not very huggable, but I think she's elegant and mysterious (and tons of 23k gold)!!!"