Souvenir

/ˌsuːvəˈnɪə/
noun

  1. a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event.
    “the recording provides a souvenir of a great production”

A project this semester revolved around the idea of a souvenir, we were tasked with replicating an object, preferably something we made ourselves. The Project revolved around methods of replication, and reproducing, which as a printmaker is something I consider whenever I’m making work. My main studio class was actually called out of the matrix and saw us consider the way our prints are made, and how we can make that central to our practice.

After considering the topic only briefly, the day to propose our inspiration snuck up on me. I looked around my room and tried to figure out what souvenirs I could find, but I’m not a big collector of ‘things’. One item that was quite abundant though was little sprigs of lavender, during out lockdown walks my partner would snap lavender from a bush to smell on the walk. She would always bring them back to my house, sprinkling them around the room like she was preparing for the most one note potpourri.

My first instinct was to just start creating lavender sprigs from wax, it seemed the simplest place to begin. Because I thought it would be impossible to make an imprint from lavender given how soft it is, I figured trying to carve out a clay mold might be the best option. From a printmaking perspective this process is interesting, as with print there is always the matrix that we create to generate the image. In this process you’re creating a matrix in clay, to create a matrix in wax, to work into the final product through casting.

Each sprig is slightly different, you might notice the runt of the litter from my first attempt at a mold. This random difference in how the objects are treated after the mold gives each a more organic look, from working with print there is a certain forgiveness for irregularity that I’m well accustomed too by now, and even seek out when creating.

To build on this concept I thought about the uses for lavender and expanded to herbs in general, again my partner had just left inspiration lying around. I found a small pipette bottle of hers with rosehip oil inside, after getting permission I transferred the contents to another bottle, cleaned everything out and began trying to replicate it. First I got some two ingredient putty to mold the opening of the bottle, my goal was to make the top and bottom not only separate, but functional. I tried to squeeze in the putty as tight as I could around the opening but it proved quite difficult. Nonetheless as you can see below, the original lid does fit onto the wax bottle.

I finished the rest of the bottle off with pink sheet wax, and it was a fairly straight foreword process. Unfortunately when it came time to mold the lid, I broke the mold before I got a successful wax from it. Thought maybe there’s some kitsch value to a sterling silver bottle with a plastic lid. Either way the tactile fun part of this work would survive, either the satisfying coarseness of metal on metal, or the decadence of draining liquids from a silver bottle.

Some other directions I went can be seen above, one method I tried was to warm up pink sheet wax, and mold it over one of the blue wax lavender sprigs. I did this same motion up and down the wax, finally wrapping it over, trying to imitate the shape of lavender. While this looks less like lavender, there was a really nice frailty to it, and it would be difficult but satisfying to cast, though I suspect a lot of the wax would buckle or burn out. The second idea I followed was similar to the bottle, a tactile object, and related to plants and medicine. I made small mortar and pestle’s, one traditional and attempting to be accurate, and the second playing around with the concept. I enjoyed this, I think it’s really fun to create smaller functional items, and make them really decadent.

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