Reliquary of an Apiarist

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"Reliquary of an Apiarist" 13.5h x 10.75w x 3.125d”

My contribution to the small works exhibition, “Swarm” at Sidetracked Studio in Evanston IL, is this new Dankquart Collection piece, “Reliquary of an Apiarist.” It’s a mixed media piece; an acrylic on panel painting edged in composition gold leaf, mounted in a wood frame, with polymer clay sculpted bees, suspended in a resin filled brass cup.

One of the characteristics I like to include on these reliquary pieces is a bit of trompe l'oeil painting, I add some cracks and chips, (in addition to the cracks in the painting’s varnish), so that it appears the painting’s surface has fallen away in places, as you might see on an ancient fresco. I’ve carried that one level farther on this one by carrying over the distressed area onto the frame. The arched frame opening repeats the traditional beehive shape of the figure’s hat, rib area, and the painting’s gold border. The jewel-like brass insets contain bees sculpted with polymer clay, complete with translucent wings and skull shaped markings on their abdomens.

I’ve included a few in progress shots of the surround construction. I planned to take a bunch of the painting process as well, but as so often happens my plans went sideways as I got wound up in the painting process and forgot all about grabbing the camera.
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Frame building underway. After cutting the arch shaped frame opening in a piece of poplar I routed out the edge. Then the side pieces were cut, glued and clamped together. Nothing like using vintage cast iron clamps when creating an item of faux antiquity.

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Here is the wood frame essentially complete. I’ve built up the molding at the top using various bits of trim and added a wrap around molding at the bottom and midway up the side for the twist molding to land between. The twist moldings are not glued down until after I apply finishes so I don’t have to paint around them. I had the brass cups for the bee inserts planned for placement on either side of the arched opening but didn’t drill the holes until after the inserts were finished. I test fit the painting panel and made adjustments to the pencil which is drawn on a piece of heavy tracing paper.

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I typically work on the painting and the frame simultaneously to keep things moving.
When the painting was complete composition gold leaf was added around the edge following the outline drawn on my pencil layout. The composition leaf received a coat of clear acrylic sealer. Sandpaper was used to remove a section of gold simulating the leaf having broken away. I then placed the painting in the frame and marked the area where the damage would appear to continue onto the frame’s edge. The bee inserts were complete so holes were drilled near the top of the frame’s opening with a Forstner bit.

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Here’s a close up showing one of the bees. I finished off the frame with some gold acrylic flourishes made to swirl around the insets which were fit, but not epoxied into place. Then the painting was removed, along with the inserts and the frame finished with polyurethane.


After waiting for the poly to dry I did the final assembly, mounting the painting and doing a final placement of the bees. A hanging wire was added to the back of the frame and the piece was ready for it’s close-up.

You can see “Reliquary of an Apiarist” at “Swarm” opening June 4, 6-9pm at Sidetracked Studio, Evanston, IL.

Sidetracked Studio
707 Chicago Avenue
Evanston, Illinois 60202

Eye of Knowledge Wall Hanging

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Eye of Knowledge wall hanging, 7.25x3.5, mixed media.

A new entry in the Dankquart Collection series is this mixed media wall ornament. I had the idea for this piece kicking around my head ever since I inherited a few of these vintage porcelain dishes. That round form seemed a perfect space for an eye painting and the antique look of the dish was a nice fit for the faux antiquity theme I’m working with. The eye painting in the center of the porcelain color mixing dish was created with acrylic in a few layers which gives the artwork a subtle three dimensional look. The outer portion of the piece, the thorn stems and flower skull was sculpted from polymer clay. The tendrils were added because, well, aren’t these flowers always wrapping themselves around their hosts?
Watch a video of this piece on my Facebook page HERE.

Eye of Knowledge 7.125x3.25, acrylic, porcelain dish, epoxy resin, polymer clay, wire, metal chain and ring. Available for purchase studio direct.

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