Sunday, August 28, 2011

Artists Statement Wankometer

Artists Statement Wankometer

Wankometer creator Phoebe Adams' Artist Statement

Through my work I attempt to examine the phenomenon of parody as a metaphorical interpretation of both Duchamp and Wanking.

What began as a personal journey of Wankism has translated into images of humor and hand that resonate with other performance artist people to question their own silverness.

My mixed media Wankometer embodies an idiosyncratic view of science and art, yet the familiar imagery allows for a connection between science fiction, arts and hamburgers.

My work is in the private collection of David Walsh's second cousin twice removed who said 'this is so Avant Garde!, that's some real Sciency Art.'

I am a recipient of a grant from the Cascades Female Prison where I served time for stealing mugs and tie clips from the gift shop at TMAG. I may have exhibited in group shows at Legs’n’Breasts and MONA, though not at the same time. I currently spend my time between my bedroom and the kitchen.

 Created with “Artists Statement Generator 2000”
This statement registered a wankometer reading of "CR/DD".

The state of the art, technological wizardry of the Wankometer

It started as an idea to create a device that would revolutionise the writing and assessment of artists statements. No longer would artists have to spend sleepless nights tossing and torturing themselves with the question "Did I put enough art-wank in there?".

Wankometer shell construction using the latest wood torturing devices

How does it work? The Wankometer can take a reading of the amount of art-wank and give an accurate art-wank measurement from NN (Fail) through to HD (High Distinction). 

As the amount of art-wank increases the wank-display light starts to emit light and an internal buzzer gives a clear sound indication of art-wank levels as they increase or decrease. The artist needs only to read their artist statements or the artists statement of others for a reading to register on the device.

Close up of the art-wank measurement units of NN - HD

Quite unexpectedly I have discovered that this device is also capable of detecting and measuring ambient art-wank levels in a room, building, artwork and even people! (I pointed it at myself and it almost blew a fuse!)

The amazing wankometer

The Wankometer is currently available only in retro silver Hammerite and uses x10 12 volt AA batteries (not included). It comes with two easy grip handles and state of the art casing holes. 

rear view of the amazing Wankometer

The wankometer was originally created for a UTAS ArtSchool sculpture assignment to make a tool from wood. It has since exceeded its original purpose and has become the "must have" item of any serious fine art student wishing to pursue a career in the fine arts world of the fine arts (as opposed to rough or thick arts). Negotiations have commenced for a scaled down version that may become available soon... it may or may not be called the "iWank".

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How I tortured a baby Huon Pine for Art - My Core Studies "Form" assignment

Huon pine sapling planted in a pot made from layers of Tasmanian native timber sawdust encased in clear resin.

Rationale for the work/  Artists Statement (the required Artwank)

I chose sawdust as the material I wished to work with. The work started with the question, “Can I reconstruct a tree from sawdust?” This question was provoked by uncertainties surrounding supply of native Tasmanian timber for use by furniture designers and artists working with wood. This in turn was informed by the internal philosophical conflicts I am currently experiencing now I have discovered the beauty of this beautiful resource in its harvested form. Philosophically and morally I object to clear felling old growth native timber, yet I am benefiting from this practice by having access to these beautiful timbers for woodturning and furniture design/ making. I’m a card carrying Green, so how do I resolve these issues. Can I resolve them through an attempt at making the most of every scrap of wood I use, minimising waste and perhaps relieving my conscience?

This poor Huon sapling is witness to the disembowelling of a family member as it is turned into a delightful artistic bowl.


Originally I thought this would be an easy process. All I had to do was gather some sawdust, mix it with something, roll it out and let it dry. I wanted to make my own chipboard but chipboard that could retain the grain (tree rings) and be formed into a turnable (on wood lathe) chunk of wood. After failing at my attempt to use a paper mache recipe, I tried to literally create my own chipboard. This process also failed. Then I resorted to embedding sawdust within a clear casting resin mould. This mould is in the form of a pot for nurturing a tree seedling.

Did I resolve the question? Can I turn sawdust back into a tree or at least usable timber? Did I process the guilt issues of using native forest timbers? Is my conscience relieved?

Personally I don’t have access to the manufacturing processes required to produce my own chipboard from my sawdust waste. However as an industry we do. I may not be able to recreate a tree but I can use this precious material wisely and I can lobby for more sustainable methods of forestry. It was a long journey to get to the end design. To create the finished idea of planting a seedling of Huon, or Myrtle or Sassafras in a pot made from the waste material of their parents.

It’s only by allowing the forests to recover from the timber that we need to remove, that the seedlings of the future will grow. If we make the most of the timber we have, use it wisely and reduce our waste there is a chance we can continue to enjoy this precious resource. My artwork is a small step towards nurturing a future for these magnificent timbers. 

Distressed timber. Huon sapling amongst Huon sawdust.

Fun facts about the Huon Pine

Did you know that the Huon Pine (Lagarostrobos Franklinii) isn't actually a pine (Pinaceae) but a Podocarp? It doesn't actually have 'needles' but instead has very small, closely overlapping leaves that are pressed close against its branchlets. Huon Pines are a rainforest plant and have been around for over 135 million years. They are a relic from when Australia was part of Gondwana Land. They grow very slowly, between 1.5 - 2m every 10 years. This makes them ideal for use in bonsai. Huon pines are either male or female not hermaphrodites like most modern plants. They need to live close to water in swampy areas and beside rivers. Their timber is a beautiful yellow colour, smells lovely and is resistant to rotting. They can live for over 3,000 years as an individual tree but in stands (clusters of genetically identical trees shooting off a main root system) they live much longer than that. There is a stand of Huon Pine in a secret area of the Tasmanian wilderness that is believed to be over 10,000 years old. Huon Pines are now protected from felling, however for now timber can still be sourced from old logs on the forest floor, in rivers, old stockpiles and from recycled sources.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I made a plank with two faces! - Intro to Woodwork

Last week we had an orientation to the UTAS School of Art Woodwork Room as part of our Introduction to Fabrication unit.

I finished a rough cut piece of wood using a variety of machinery... in other words, I made a plank of wood.

This blog is a quick introduction to some of the machinery we will be using to make timber picture frames as our assessment pieces.


OHS requirements: 
sturdy covered shoes (preferably steel caps), hearing protection and safety glasses. Never put hands more closer than a foot away from cutting blade. Slide material in from the left. Use another piece of timber to move any offcuts away from the cutting area.

Sliding compound saw

First we cut a large rough cut plank of Tasmanian Oak into smaller cuts using the Sliding Compound Saw. Then we cut pieces of rough cut Radiata Pine to have a go at finishing the rough cut timber.

Uneven, rough cut, Radiata Pine timber. 

Our teacher Jon Hemming demonstrating the correct use of the Sliding Compound Saw


OHS requirements: 
Sturdy covered shoes (preferably steel caps), hearing protection and safety glasses. Do not place your hand anywhere near the blades. Use wooden tools/aids to push timber over the blades. Do not leave the machine while blades are still turning, even if motor is off.

The Buzzer or Plainer

The next step is to use the buzzer to evenly smooth the surface of the rough cut wood.

Jon adjusting the "fence"

You can adjust the buzzer for different thicknesses of wood using the "fence" and you can even tilt the fence to plain off a corner etc.

The Out-feed and In-feed tables are separated by the blades.

Out-feed and In-feed tables are also adjustable. The In-Feed table is always a smidge (less than a millimetre) lower than the Out-feed table and the blades. This is so the blades can actually cut away at the wood. Jon warned us not to attempt to adjust the Out-Feed table unless we know exactly what we are doing as the Out-feed table is carefully lined up with the blades and is usually only adjusted when the blades have been changed.

It is the blades that do the cutting. With the machine off, Jon is showing us the blades attached to a cylinder that spins very fast and does the job of plaining the wood surface. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TOUCH THE BLADES. Jon is a professional and knows what he is doing, if you must touch the blades then PLEASE ensure that the machine is OFF and the cylinder has  stopped spinning! 

Jon demonstrating using the first step of correct buzzer technique 
(note buzzer is not switched on)

Jon is pushing the rough cut wood through the buzzer using a wooden pushing device to protect his fingers and hand. Notice too the big yellow guard that keeps you away from the blades. He feeds the wood in WITH not AGAINST the grain so that the buzzer can smooth down the wood fibres.

Jon demonstrating the second part of correct buzzer technique. 
(Note Buzzer is not switched on)

Jon uses his other hand in a ninja claw position to help push down on and stabilise the wood as it goes along the "fence" and towards the blades. When his clawed hand is directly above the blades he lifts it up and replaces it after passing over the top of them.

Jon demonstrating the third part of correct buzzer technique. 
(Note machine is now operating and he is actually plaining the wood)

The third part of the technique is to lift you clawed hand when the wood passes over the blades then replace it when the area you were supporting passes over the blades.

The newly smoothed "facing" of the timber is marked with a "facing" symbol

Now that the surface of the wood has been smoothed to Jon's satisfaction he marks it as a "facing" with a little fishy symbol. The tail of the fish should point down to where you intend the side facing to be.

The thumb fists technique
(Buzzer is switched off in this image)

Jon shows us the thumb fists technique used to push the side facing along the blades. This keeps fingers from getting caught in the blades. There are also wooden implements that look like massive salad spoons with a grove cut out of them that can be used for pushing smaller bits of timber over the blades.

Jon demonstrating the thumb fists technique on the buzzer
(Buzzer is switched off in this image)

Digitally enhanced close-up if the front and side facing symbols

This new facing is called the "side facing". It is marked with an arrow head symbol that connects to the facing fish symbols tail. The face and the side face should now be precisely 90degrees. This can be checked with a "square".

Checking the facings with a square

Finished "side facing" in comparison with rough-cut side.


OHS requirements: 
Sturdy covered shoes (preferably steel caps), hearing protection and safety glasses. Do not place your hand inside the machine.

The Thicknesser Machine

Now that the facings are done with the buzzer, the other sides can be machined with a "Thicknesser". Blades of the thicknesser are at the top, above the tray. The tray can be raised or lowered. The timber is passed though the machine WITH not AGAINST the grain with the facing side down. Jon suggested not trying to take off more than 2mm thickness in any one pass though the machine

Jon adjusting the tray height.
All those funny plastic pipes you see attached to machines are for extracting saw dust.

The Thicknesser has two adjustments. One is the height of the tray and the other is the speed of the blades. The height can be raised or lowered in large increments using the top switch. For smaller finer adjustments there is a tachometer style dial with the height in millimetres  clearly displayed. The lower black dial is the speed adjustment, although if felt like the Thicknesser had one speed and that was grab the wood and shoot it out the other end like a gun. 
Thicknesser tray height adjustment dial.

Now that the timber has been finished we cross cut it into even lengths using the Table Saw.


The enormous Table Saw. 
This saw is worth the same amount as a new small car.

Table Saw OHS requirements: sturdy covered shoes (preferably steel caps), hearing protection and safety glasses. Do not place your hand anywhere near the cutting blades. Use other pieces of timber to shift off cuts. Move your hand in slow motion near the blades. 

Jon shows Sam how to correctly support the piece of wood being cut
(machine is not on in this image)

The Table Saw cutting blade is exposed while cutting. The saw has a series of "teeth" along its edge. These are the things that cut through the timber and hands, so keep clear.

Jon making a cross cut

The Table Saw is of course fully adjustable and any angle can be accurately cut on it. Notice Jon is wearing hearing and eye protection and keeping his hand away from the saw.

Liam and Sam listening intently to Jon's instructions.
(machine is not on in this image)

Here ends our introduction to the Woodwork area. 

This week (on Thursday) we will be starting our picture frame project... did I mention that a couple of weeks ago my Metalwork teacher Stuart, chopped of the tips of some of his fingers? He's going to be OK and I miss him heaps. Anyway, due to this unfortunate circumstance, I still haven't finished my Metalwork project of making a stool... but I do have until the end of term to get it done.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Self Portrait Single Colour Linocut Project

Today I got to rub ink and paper all over my face... well not my actual face, although that would make an interesting and slightly toxic experiment for core studies... I digress.... My first Printmaking theme (as a first year) is the dreaded self portrait. That's when you get to indulge in the narcissistic pleasure of exploring who you are in a visual format. Artists though out history have immortalised themselves on canvas, paper, stone and cave walls. This semester, it is my turn. Rather than spitting paint onto my hand, gazing into a mirror or calling up my sprit guide for a totem vision, I decided to use the latest technology and choose a photo.

the image I chose for my self portrait was taken late last year

The guidance we have been given in lectures asks us to explore aspects of who we are. To key into ideas of culture, gender, age, sexuality etc. Naturally, I chose the sexuality angle as it's a big part of who I am, being a bit of an activist and all. It didn't take long to find a picture I felt faithfully expressed who I am. I wanted to capture an intimate but non-threatening every day moment that any couple might experience. I wanted to look proud, defiant and maybe even a little smug. I liked this image because it captured the moment I was looking for.

tracing out using a graphics tablet

The next step was to break out the Wacom graphics tablet, open the photo in Photoshop and start figuring out which lines to trace. The whole time remembering that this image has to be a single colour (black) print on white paper and there's no gradients or shading.  How do you draw those bags under the eyes without making yourself look like a Granny in the process? The key is to not draw everything you see. You have to select the right amount of wrinkle or figure out how to give the impression of age without looking like a shrunken chip packet. The same process you would need to go though if you were looking in the mirror and drawing yourself. The image is going to be made by cutting grooves onto a piece of lino and then using it like a upside down stamp so you have to remember that cutting is not as easy as drawing with a pen or pencil. Note: It helps to make the photo layer slightly opaque so you can see your lines better over the top. I also used a few layers (one for my hair, one for my face etc) incase I made a massive mistake and wanted to delete a section.

tracing this image into Photoshop took about 2 hours

When I had figured out what to trace and how to make that hair of mine truly messy like spaghetti I added some shading lines as these always look awesome in a linocut. These types of lines remind me a bit of a topographical map (a map that shows elevation represented in line). I might play with this more in the future. I could use the lines to really emphasise shape not just shade.

The next step is figuring out how to transfer the image onto the piece of soft linoleum or "lino".

the print out has been placed face down onto the lino with carbon paper between

I printed out the A4 image on a standard ink jet printer and grabbed some A4 carbon paper to transfer the picture from the printout to the lino. Now here's the tricky part. You've got to remember that whatever you cut into the lino is going to be reversed when it prints. I put the carbon paper carbon side down onto the lino then placed the flipped face down print out on top of that. So the whole thing didn't wriggle about I lightly taped the carbon and printout to the lino securing it in place. Now when I draw over the top of all this I know the carbon paper is going to leave a mark on the lino.

use a hard pencil for a better mark from the carbon paper below

With the right lighting you can see the printout though the back side of the paper. Ideally use a hard pencil such as a 2H or 4H but HB will do the trick and draw over the black lines and fill on your print out. As you re-pencil these lines the carbon paper makes an impression on the lino below.

penciling over the image took about an hour

Now that the image is penciled over its time to check and see if the carbon paper has done its job... and massage your hand and wrist because an hour of that really hurts when you're not used to it!

The original image, the lino transferred image and the used carbon paper. 
Notice the reversed image.

At this point it was really late so instead of torturing my hand further I decided to hit the hay and cut out the image the next day in printmaking class. 

UTAS School of Art Printmaking Studio
(the black press at the left rear of the picture is apparently over 150 years old!)

UTAS School of Art Printmaking Studio
(this image only shows about half of the studio)

So the next day I get to class at 9am say hello to our tutor Michael Schlitz, and get down to what I think will be a quick cut out session... well, 4 HOURS LATER class finished an hour ago, I've wagged the friday art forum and I emerge from a pile of lino shavings with RSI and slight dehydration ready to do my first proofing print. We're not using the presses today. Today it is printing by hand with a special tool a "baren" that looks like a mens round hairbrush but with ball bearings instead of comb and a burnisher. Apparently one of the best burnishers to use is the bottom of a common everyday dinner spoon. Usually you use a baren for woodblock carving (which is the first non assessed exercise most people were doing) but I was cheeky and carved my lino first. I just wanted to get my first assignment done as there are 3 to do in 5 weeks!!! 

my lino cut (after inking because I couldn't wait to print)
this took 4 hours to cut out

I was so pleased with my lino cut. Particularly with the texture of the lines. I cut it out mainly with a medium V groove cutter but did use a large U groove on the big spaces. Michael had shown us how to sharpen our tools and during this process I learnt how important a good set of sharp tools can be. I managed this print with a dodgy, cheap partially blunt set but made sure I sharpened them after class because I almost cut though my lines a few times!

But making the lino cut is just the start of the printing process...

To print you "ink up" a roller by rolling out the ink onto the bench with a roller, then when the ink is the right consistency you roll it onto the lino. Then you place your paper on top, place another bit of paper on top of that and start rubbing with the baren and burnisher! 

So what was the result?

Here it is (drumroll)... the moment of truth... on proofing paper...

print 1

print 2
print 1 & 2 side by side (double the Phoebe!)

original image for comparison

Naturally I was delighted with the result. It turned out even better than I expected. I loved the texture lines in the background. I think the band of black on the top and bottom, which was purely unintended actually enhanced the print and I really enjoyed how each print is ever so slightly different from the other because of using a baren instead of the press. I learnt the importance of sharp tools, having a break and some ideas on using texture more in the future. I look forward to printing the design onto some Japanese mulberry paper (this is what michael recommends for baren and burnishing printing) and using it on the press with some heavy european paper next week.

The only thing to do was put the test prints into the drying rack and start thinking about the 2 multiple (2-3 colours) colour self portraits i will have to do next!

my first proof prints on the drying rack. 
(It can take a couple of hours for the ink to dry).

I'll post the final good paper prints under this text on this blog when they are done but like me, you will just have to wait for another week. 

Now that was epic but really rewarding. Loved it! 

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The theme of my first assignment for Core Studies is light. The aim is to "capture light" in a faithful, unexpected and intriguing way.  I've played around with a few ideas and methods but heres the stuff I'm most proud of. So far my Core studies journal is 30 pages long and it's only been a week!

Miracle Brand Light Products

The Light Capture Unit (top and front view)

Light Capture Unit (back view)

Light Capture Unit Instructions (on back of packaging)

Rainbow in a can (front view)

Rainbow in a can (back view)

Rainbow in a can (label design)

Here's how these ideas evolved in my journal. I do have 28 other pages of ideas but most were really lame ones.

I created the light play cage but it turned into a cat toy...

Core Studies Unit Description
"Core Studies in Fine Art and Design is an introduction to fundamental themes, concepts and principals common to Art and Design practice. You will find that Core Studies compliments studio majors by developing a common formal language and conceptual framework between all visual art and design disciplines. Core Studies focuses on successful ways to develop any Art and Design project and encourages you to use a wide variety of different media and methods to explore these processes."  (Page 2, Unit Outline: FSA111 Core Studies in Art and Design 1A 2011)