When you were a kid did you ever take etchings? My mom was a preschool teacher, so she was always having my brothers and I do fun things like this when we went places. If we were at a library or a park and saw something cool, like a plaque or leaves, we’d place the paper over it and lightly color with crayon - taking an impression that we could save.
In 2018 I bought my first waxes for casting. I had no idea what kind to buy or how much, so I kinda went wild and got a whole variety. One was a really soft black wax, and I accidentally bought around 30 feet of it. It came in these meter long strips that look like a black licorice flavored Laffy Taffy. Thankfully, it ended up being my favorite wax. It’s firm when it’s cold, but when you warm it in your hand it get’s really malleable - perfect for sculpting. Then when it cools it holds it’s form really well.
Because of these attributes, it’s perfect for taking impressions of textures. I’ve made a number of designs with it where I press the wax into different rocks, and then it perfectly replicates the rock texture. My Pearl Drop earrings are made this way, along with the Beauty in the Rough studs.
Before our trip to Paris I was reminded of the etchings I did as a kid, and thought it would be really cool to bring this concept into my collection - but with wax rather than crayon. So I tore off a few inches from one of the Laffy Taffies and packed them into a tin.
Paris is a city of details. From the Lourve to the Eiffel Tower, there is so much ornateness. It’s easy to notice the big things, but having my wax on hand reminded me to look at the small things. Handles, hinges, railings, plaques, metal fixtures, glass etc. - so many small, intentionally made details.
Cody and I got really into it. We spent most of our time walking places, so we each kept a small bit of wax in our hand to keep warm, and kept our eyes peeled for details. When we’d find something cool, we’d impress the wax into it, then carefully lift it off - preserving the detail perfectly.
As we did this, we started to see through lines of the designs. Similar shaped flourishes, suns, and shells especially. The most exciting moment for me was when I found the perfect little fleur-de-lis on an extravagantly ornate window handle at Versailles. I was over joyed. That tiny little detail made back in the the 1700s, now getting a moment to shine over 300 years later.
The other impression that I was so excited to find was from a plaque in Le Marais. We found it while walking to Atelier Brancussi (the artist deemed the father of modern sculpture). It was this very old, rusted metal piece in a wall, and depicted a sailing ship. On the bow of the ship waved a flag bearing the name PARIS. It took us a few attempts to get a good impression, but the final result was incredible!
Most of the pieces in the Impressions collection are one-of-a-kind. Small details I saved for you. Some are more specific in form, others are more abstract. Some are the textures of the stone walls or the glass windows.
It was so fun to explore a city in this way - looking for the details of the artists who came before me. Each piece has PARIS engraved on the back, a reminder of where it originated. This will definitely not be the last time I take impressions when I travel, so consider this the beginning of an ongoing collection!