My black pearl

Black pearl montage

DSCF6349_2When I visited the sumptuously decorated Alcazar Palace at Seville in Spain last year, I noticed an unusual moulded seashell motif which had been made so that the inner (concave) side of the shell was on display. You can see a photo of it on the left. In quilling, tight coils that are ‘domed’ for 3D work are normally secured with glue on the concave side as it is the convex aspect that will be seen, but – being me! – I wanted to experiment by reversing this process to create a shell that would be viewed mainly from the inside.

I began by making domed tight coil segments for the two halves of my shell using 3 mm strips, applying a thin layer of glue to the convex side of each segment in order to secure their shape. The hinge pieces were made in a similar way using 1.5 mm strips, shaped very gently using the head of a pin. The segments were assembled in stages, allowing plenty of time for the glue to dry after each one was added to the others. The shell had to be carefully supported in its partly-open position after the two hinge pieces had been glued together.

The pearl was made by rolling up a 1.5 mm black strip in a’ tangled’ fashion between my finger tips which were liberally coated with PVA glue – a messy but effective process! Once a satisfactory shape had been achieved and the ‘pearl’ was dry, I rolled it again in a thin layer of glue to attain a glossy finish.

The shell is mounted on a structure of ‘P’ coils rolled using wide iris-folding strips and decorated with small pastel-coloured cylinders made from 5 mm strips.

The inspiration for the ‘seaweed’ decoration came from an antique ostrich feather fan which I saw in a museum. I noticed that the shafts of the feathers were firmly fixed together side by side at the base of the fan, but the soft wispy parts of the feathers spread randomly up and away from their shafts to form an interesting, unstructured two-dimensional effect. With this in mind, I glued bundles of short 1.5 mm wide strips together at their bases and twisted their remaining lengths randomly in a variety of closed coil, tendril and open coil shapes, rolling at an angle in order to lift the twists upwards to create random multi-dimensional patterns. I also experimented with crimping short sections of some of the strips to achieve added interest in terms of texture. This was achieved by gently folding the strips, inserting the fold into a crimping machine for a few short turns, reversing the cogs to release the strip and then straightening it out again. By doing this, it was possible to make a strip which has a small section of crimping along its inner length while the two ends remain flat.

The result of all this is my ‘Black Pearl’ sculpture, pictured above – I hope you like it!