My mother not only has a vast selected of frottage-friendly carved, embossed and textured surfaces, she also has some wonderfully perforated implements, whose featheriness lend themselves to imagining fanciful birds. Once again, I return to the phoenix motif for this flight of frottage fantasy.
Year of the Snake
My mother has a lot of stuff. A. LOT. Most of it ornate or decorated in some way, shape or form. Since my eyes were opened to the wonder of frottage, I have gained a new appreciation for mum's 'stuff' and on a number of visits I have fantasised about a frottage 'residency'. My fantasy finally became a reality over the Christmas-New Year break of 2022-23 when I spent a week at my mother's idyllic country home. Armed with my trusty Derwents and mulberry paper, I got to work rubbing everything in sight, though I've barely scratched (or should that be rubbed?) the surface of the many surfaces at mum's. Once again, I returned to the snake motif, for which I am developing quite a fondness. Maybe it's because I was born in the Year of the Snake?...
Teaching printmaking online during lockdown to students trapped at home with no access to printing facilities is hard enough, but having to teach reduction linocut in these circumstances takes the challenge to a whole new level! Particularly as many of the students in the class were not printmaking majors and didn't have the cash to splash on expensive tools and ink for a one-off course. With them in mind, I wondered whether it might be possible to learn the reduction technique by using frottage rather than ink. One would still need to set up the registration block, and carve away each successive layer of lino only, rather than rolling up each subsequent layer with a different ink colour, one would take a rubbing with a different coloured pencil. It seemed feasible in theory but, never having come across an example, I felt a duty to attempt it myself, if I was going to ask my students to have a go. Much to my astonishment, not only did it work, it worked really well! (Yep, I printed a copy by hand as well. With a spoon. Should have made a frottage edition!)
Wistful weaving from wrapping
This piece came about when I was asked to run an online art workshop for the Lithuanian community (yep, COVID times) and had to come up with something that was both easy to explain, and promised easily achievable results for the participants from their homes. Frottage to the rescue! I had originally scrounged the plastic packaging thinking I would use it in creating collagraph negatives, but turns out it's terrific for frottage as well. The weaving design was chosen for the ease with which it could be mapped out and also for its Lithuanian reference. With borders closed around the globe and no idea when we would be able to travel again, this was my way of 'returning' to the motherland.
Snake in the glass
This was my first serious foray into frottage, in the early dark days of lockdown 2020. Its serpentine form reflects my recent fascination with the snake, following on from my time in the Baltics and exposure to Andrus Kivirähk's fabulous re-imagining of Estonian folklore in "The Man Who Spoke Snakish", as well as Lithuania's fable of Eglė the Serpent Queen. There is a particular snake, the žaltys, which is revered in Lithuania as a protector of the home, and encouraged into the kitchen with saucers of milk. It seemed appropriate to create a snake frottage from my own kitchen surrounds.
I have a soft spot for vintage implements (and vintage items in general), partly because I try to avoid buying anything new if there are second-hand options available, but largely because vintage items are usually better made and more beautiful. The long, thinness of these implements suggested feathers to me, so I embarked upon a frottage that suggested the tail feathers of an exotic bird - a phoenix reinvented from the histories of burnt dinners.
Forays into Frottage
In these posts you will find artist statements along with behind the scenes snaps of frottage works in progress.