Sunday, February 3, 2008

History of Art (Helmets)

Paper Moon Studio

I thought I'd take a break from shoveling out the art studio to go on a bit about the art helmets featured in the previous post. What causes an otherwise sane person (hmm... that might be a stretch) to create a papier mache/mixed media art helmet in the first place? And why should we care?

papier mache and mixed media art helmet by Melissa Lanitis Gregory

To begin with, let me just say this: the Chinese were the first to make papier mache, and they used it to make helmets that were USED IN BATTLE. (Alot of varnish?) Pretty amazing. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief: these art helmets are (mostly) for decoration.

I didn't start out to make art helmets. But one day, my son turned over one of my papier mache bowls, and stuck it on his head. Okay, he's seven... these things happen. But then my friend's 60-something Russian mom? There was something going on here. People just wanted to put things on their heads, apparently. So, I make art helmets now.

This latest batch was completed under a deadline, so I finished all three of them in about two weeks. Things were going great until I decided to add pastels on top of the acrylic paints; they need a spray fixative (my acrylic varnish smears them) so I frantically ran to the college bookstore (only source for art supplies here) and hurriedly applied a thin layer under less-than-perfect conditions. It didn't work, but you'd never know unless I told you. Oops. I just did.

The best part about completing these, though, was when I delivered them to Riverside Studios last week; Lorien, the jeweler, came in and immediately stuck "My Viking Valentine" on her head. She turned around with a big smile on her face.


Read an article about the helmets at the Tahoe Arts & Mountain Culture website.


Kristen Schwartz said...

Cool history tidbit.

You changed your blog look!

melissa lanitis gregory said...

You sound surprised! Actually, I think I may have started with a color combo similar to this one...
did you find this easier on the eyes? I could use some feedback.

I re-read that info I found about the helmets, and they did, in fact, use alot of layers of laquer to make the helmets strong.

Kristen Schwartz said...

Was it beetle lacquer?

Actually, I'm experiencing some color vibration as I read this. I will look at it again tomorrow to doublecheck. It's late and I've been doing a lot of close-up detail work - my eyes may be tired.

melissa lanitis gregory said...

I know nothing about beetle lacquer, but I must say I'm intrigued! Please let me know about the color issue.