B8 Dry Media

Mayan Bead by Julia Rai
Mayan Bead by Julia Rai
Dresden Codex

Submitted to the Registry evaluators - November 2008

I loved making this bead. It uses the Dresden Codex which shows Mayan writings. Hollow forms are my passion so I really wanted this piece to be a large bead. I’d also never played with Prismacolor pencils before so this was all new to me. I made the textures using the tear away technique having downloaded the Dresden Codex images from the internet.

After constructing the bead, I was then left in a quandary as to how to string it. As the images were Mayan and the Maya are known not only for their advanced astronomical knowledge but also for their warlike tendencies, I decided to use a natural fibre – raffia – together with some small bones and teeth. I thought this linked the pieces together. My story for the piece was that it was an ancient talisman worn by a chief or war lord. The piece is deliberately aged and worn in places to show that it is ancient. The assessors didn’t agree with me though and this was another piece that just scraped through.

Design – 2.5 out of 3.5
Use of media – 2 out of 3.5
Craftsmanship – 2 out of 2
Resolution – 0.5 out of 1

So just 7 out of 10. The comments were interesting, “There is little relationship between the bead form and the image. If the image is simply a rubber stamp it seems too pat. If the image was harvested from a printed source like a book and made into a stamp, I applaud the craftsmanship but feel that the delicate lines are not the best format for dry media.” This shows a limitation of the early Registry submission process. There was no mechanism for me to tell the assessors that I’d sourced the images and made them using the tear away technique. The other thing I object to here is that the lines aren’t the best format for dry media. Why not? It worked very well and I’m not sure what other medium would allow the range of colour I got with the pencils in a form like this.They go on to say, “The color is reference only in a graphic way, like color applied to a coloring book, rather than as integral to the sense of the piece.” So there you go!

The final comment stumped me the most, “The cord and use of bones is a significant distraction. The silver piece is compromised both aesthetically and functionally by it. Besides overpowering the bead it has no relevance to the Mayan or Aztec imagery.” Seems they haven’t seen Apocalypto!

Interestingly, this piece was chosen for the front cover of the 2010 Metal Clay Calendar and is one of the pieces that attracts the most admiration and comment. It has also been selected to be part of the PMC Conference Exhibition 2010: Cultural Messages Symbolism Through the Ages. So it’s not all bad!

Here is the project description from the Masters Registry website:-

B8 Dry Media

A wearable piece of the student’s design that takes advantage of dry media coloring techniques. This can be a necklace, pendant, brooch, earrings, etc. and should demonstrate the ability to blend colors.

On the left is an example of the Dresden Codex pages.

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