Merry Christmas and Happy Painting!
Hey there Doll Collectors! An old year is ending and a brand New one is about to begin! I’ve been celebrating this annual renewal (for a whole month now) by renewing and reorganizing the very foundation of Enchanted Doll – My china painting palette. It holds a special significance to me. Read its creation story to learn why.
The act of creating a new paint box was both, practically necessary and symbolically important to me. It was necessary because I needed more room for my growing arsenal of china paints, while my old paint box has become an over-crowed and confusing mess over the last 10 years of use. But it was also a symbolic act, because it represents a reformation and a renewal of Enchanted Doll at its very core. I hereby proclaim that 2016 shall be my year of dolls! Happy New Year!
My new paint box had to be multi-level, air tight, orderly, user-friendly and of course, attractive. Unfortunately I know next to nothing about carpentry, so the box turned out a little bit, um…unorthodox. It’s crooked and uneven in, well, virtually every dimension, but surprisingly it works well! I am, after all a big subscriber to the “Fake it, ’til you make it” philosophy. Or in my case, it’s usually “Fake it, ’til you ruin a bunch of stuff, waste a bunch of supplies, and eventually make something” philosophy. It’s a somewhat destructive approach to creation, but much of the time it’s the only way to learn making something.
Using basic math skills and a high speed sanding wheel, I put several channels into 3 sides of the box to hold 4 layers of suspended glass sheets, which in turn will hold my pre-mixed, paint-ready china colours. Many ceramic artists still use simple porcelain tiles for mixing china paint, but it seems like a very archaic and wasteful method to me, because of the non-drying nature of china paint.
Once mixed with oil media, china paint doesn’t dry on its own and can stay a wet goo for years, so at the end of each paint job one must either discard the wet puddles of mixed paint or try to store them somewhere-somehow until the next doll, without contaminating and smudging it on everything around it. And that is the general conundrum.
A more optimal solution seems to be to keep a mixing surface in an air-tight paint box to protect it in the long run from dust, hair and skin debris, thus reducing the need to mix new batches of paint for every paint job and minimizing waste and hassle. Also, keeping a full palette of pre-mixed, paint-ready colours on hand is very liberating and helpful during the painting process, as opposed to having to mix every new colour one intends to use in any given project every time from scratch. That’s why a neat china paint box wins over one-time-use mixing tiles.
Of course the box is also a more costly solution than tiles, as it requires an initial investment of time and energy to construct it, but the convenience of long term use and the neatness of paint-preservation are just so worth it. If I could have bought this box somewhere, I definitely would have, but the absence of such a product on the market had forced me to manufacture it myself. It was such a headache, but like I said, totally worth it.
Once the wood frame is complete, I move on to cutting glass. Several times over. The glass store is closed by the time I realize I’d mis-measured and ruined ALL my available glass, so I’m forced to harvest it from picture frames. I take my least favourite frames off the wall, remove the glass and toss the rest. It seems like a very expensive and wasteful way to procure glass, and sure, I could wait until morning to go and buy more of it from the store, but that would delay the completion of my box by at least 12 hours and I want it finished taaday, dammit! So, goodbye picture frames.
Then, many painful little cuts later I have my glass sheets cut and filed down. Time to engrave them!
The reason I decided to engrave squares into my mixing glass sheets, is to permanently segregate colours from each other, prevent cross-contamination and label them. In the past I tried labelling my paints by writing with a permanent sharpie on the glass, but eventually that disappears and the colours become anonymous, runny messes. Engraving, however, doesn’t come off. It provides a permanent means of labeling and separation. The grooves around each square channel any run off oil medium away from other colours and into a closed circuit, thus keeping order for many years and making clean up easier.
This is my old box and the new one side by side. The first one is a picture frame I found in the trash in 2005 and adapted for painting when Enchanted Doll was still very young, and the second one I made specifically for that purpose in 2015, for its 10 year anniversary!
And that’s why making this paint box holds such a strong symbolism of renewal to me – When I was young, making dolls came purely instinctively and thoughtlessly, but over the years it has matured into a thought-out, deliberate choice I make every single day over and over again. The first box ten years ago was a random lucky find that set me on this course, but the second one bares the full weight of my intent and commitment to it.
This paint box is my Year’s End epiphany, from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.
I hereby proclaim year 2016 to be the glorious Year of the Dolls! I wish every one a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Wish me happy painting!
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 24th, 2015 at 11:59 pm
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