Failure. A taste of something. Failure. Failure. Failure. Breakthrough.
We had just left After Dark and I had been driving for over 9 hours. My hands gripped the wheel tightly and my mind was churning. I was thinking about my work in a completely new light. I had such a clear vision of my photographs transferred onto reclaimed pieces of wood.
The wood would be an active part of the image and each piece would be unique. I remember getting goose bumps just thinking about it.
And then a year passed. I avoided working on it at every opportunity, diverted by more "pressing issues".
Two months ago that all changed. I started researching transfer methods and ordering supplies. There was a lot to figure out: the method, the mix of chemicals, and the type of transfer sheets to use. I had more failures than successes. Heck, all I had was failures. I spent weeks attempting transfers onto simple wooden planks with no luck. Time and again the image would not stick to the wood.
I was just about to throw in the towel and write it all off when I achieved a partial transfer. It wasn't much, but it was enough. In retrospect, I have no idea how I managed this as the transfer sheets I were using at that time were actually guaranteed to NOT transfer. Yup. Explains SO much.
It took more nights of failing, failing, failing to narrow in on what was wrong (the transfer sheets, maybe?) and order the correct supplies. I wrote about my breakthrough in my blog post aptly titled, My First Successful Wood Transfer.
To say there was much celebrating and drinking of wine would be an understatement. But this was just the beginning of a much scarier journey. It meant I now had the basic skills necessary to begin exploring what I really wanted to do in the first place.
So I did what any sane individual would do, I put it all aside and did my best to not think about it.
I found myself making sly little excuses to avoid anything to do with wood transfers. I'd like to think that my newfound insights into the power of Resistance brought me back to the table, but no. It was my friends that kept sending me time-bomb emails, quotes and poems.
I found myself with nothing better to do one day, meaning I was just bouncing around the social media, so I forced myself to sit down and research wood suppliers. The next day things were a blur of motion as I found myself in a local showroom loading my arms with scraps. They were actually happy to sell this stuff to me! Crazy!
I stacked my treasures in the kitchen, much to the joy of my partner, as where else does one store 25 pounds of assorted lumber, and I set to transferring my favourite photos to the prepped and ready lumber.
Oh, the horror.
I've had my printer going strong and steady for the past few months and have grown used to my images appearing quite sharp and even sexy on rag, fine art and other papers. Only now, I was printing on darker substances with their own personalities and the results were nothing short of awful.
So I created some space and I sat. As luck would have it, I was having conversations with my art friends Doris, Mandy and Jon so a few things were top of mind for me. First, I had to connect my purpose to this initiative. Second, I needed to sit with the medium and what I was feeling. Third, this was supposed to be a scary but amazing journey, so I had to stop with the expectations and just push ahead.
So I re-prepped my wood, and selected three pieces that were speaking to me.
I then went back to work and focused on what was at the heart of what I am trying to accomplish. A word came to me and then an image flashed into my head. This was not an image I ever expected to be working with. It was of Pat Miller's wonderful pig Sturgis.
I carried the wood pieces into my office to sit with them and it wasn't long before everything started to come together.
I don't have a great photo of the final piece yet... this is just a quick shot from my iPhone and before I've even pulled the piece out of the transfer blocks, but this is what came to me over a year ago. I haven't perfected it, but I've found the path.