Wednesday, December 30, 2009

For the Love of a Friend

It started with a plurk...
The included hyperlink sends you to a silkscreen print of Damien Hirst's "For the Love of God" - mounted, framed, signed, and numbered. I was very aware of Gatt's deep admiration of Hirst's work, so I knew she wasn't messin' around this Christmas.

As much as I adore Gattina, nine-hundred pounds was not within my budget. I needed to find another way. Google led me to the Skull-A-Day project, specifically, project #343 - Pop-Up Skull.

Of course, the paper portion of the skull was only half of the total project, I needed to encrust this with jewels of some sort.

Did you know that during the holiday season, craft stores will offer all kinds of crazy sales? Neither did I. In a matter of minutes, I became intimately familiar with the "papercraft" section of my local A.C. Moore and inside that section, I found rhinestones.

To complicate matters further, the rhinestones were available in several diameters, ranging from extremely-tiny 2.5 millimeter to bling-nasty 5 millimeter. I settled on 3.5 - 4mm: small enough to provide a lot of glitz, but large enough to work with without going insane.

And then there is Swarovski.

"Swarovski Birthday Card". The very idea just seemed SO outlandish - fitting with the overall theme of reproducing Hirst's work. I bought 3 packs of Swarovski crystals to mix in - they really do shine better than the standard rhinestone.

All that was left was the decorative headpiece for the skull.

Did you know that pear-shaped, clear, flat-bottomed crystals are nigh-impossible (yes, nigh) to find? Neither did I.

Long story short, I defaulted to Martha Stewart of all people. She apparently has an entire line of self-adhesive papercrafting embellishments for your stalkerazzi needs. Damn her and her legion of offshore sweatshop workers. She may be a bitch that served hard-time, but for me, she provided exactly what I needed.

The centerpiece crystal had to be sourced from a bead shop: One of those mall-kiosks that
specialize in pendants and make-your-own jewelry. Clear, pear-shaped, just-the-right-size. Excellent. Time for assembly.

Anyone wanting to try this for themselves can download the PDF pattern.

Let me just say that there's nothing like the feel of a fresh X-Acto blade slicing through cardstock.

Once the pieces were cut and scored appropriately, it was time to start gluing. Each piece was individually glued and secured. My only regret is that I did not keep track of exactly how many stones I used for the card, but I estimate around 1,000.

During the assembly process, I gained an entirely new level of appreciation for Hirst, and what he might have experienced in creating his own work of art. At around stone 60, I started having my doubts about the piece. At stone 125, however, my wife called me insane - and that provided all the validation I needed.

The background paper is also from the craftstore's cardstock selection. It seemed stronger and more elegant than regular black construction paper.

While white craft glue was used for the rhinestones, I needed a different kind of adhesive for the large centerpiece jewel. Regular craft glue was too opaque and hot-melt glue was off-color. Fortunately, my 3 year old daughter was caught playing with Mighty Mendit (she's all better now, the glue washed off in the bubble bath). That stuff is highly-adhesive and totally clear - worked like a charm.

After testing the folding characteristics of the pieces, making sure none of the stones were loose, it was mounting time. I used blue painter's masking tape at first - it was low-tack and allowed me to reposition the pieces until I was satisfied with the effect. Once the final positions were set, I glued the tabs down and reinforced them with black electrical tape.

The end result:
After writing my birthday wishes for Gattina inside, I boxed it up and mailed it off - hoping it would arrive intact. When you do something like this, you start having nightmares of crumpled paper and an envelope full of loose rhinestones spilling out onto a hardwood floor.

I named the piece "For the Love of a Friend" in homage to Hirst, but also to convey how valuable I consider my own friendships.

Happy Birthday, Gattina.

Maybe I will do a "Hot For Zombies" Pop-Up book next...