“Laura’s Prayer Shawl”

Submitted by Meg Black

2+

Client

Location: Topsfield, MA, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $8,235

Project Team

artist

Meg Black

Meg Black Studios

Photographer

Gary Tardiff

Culinary Food Photography

Overview

“It reminds me of a Rabbi’s prayer shawl” so said my orthodox friend. I agreed with her sentiment, and with the patron’s permission, I titled the work as such. Indeed, this 48 inch x 17 inch x 3.5 inch wall sculpture is replete with ancient symbolism. One of the materials I used to make the sculpture was over-beaten abaca, a fiber from the inner bark of the banana tree. Abaca was used in ancient times to make parchment paper due to its strength, and could be rolled into a scroll for writing. Pearlescent pigment, found in nature on fish scales and used to make inks for manuscripts, was used to color the abaca and give it its sheen.

Goals

I had the idea of manipulating resin into a flowing composition and "painting" onto it with pigmented abaca. My reason for wanting to experiment with this idea was so I could create a non-porous maintenance free wall sculpture that captured the unique texture of handmade paper but could be displayed in public spaces. With this goal in mind, I set out to figure out find the solution to this quest. In the end, it took me three years of trial and error, but I finally figured out how to "bake" the beaten abaca into the resin to create this resin/abaca wall sculpture. By using a handmade paper mother mold-the texture from which transferred onto the resin-gives it a unique and textured surface-very ancient looking. I'm thrilled with the results as is the patron.

Process

Commissioned by a private collector for her home office. We communicated consistently throughout the production of this project. I had never been successful in making a resin/abaca wall sculpture, having attempted this idea many times. Even so, I described my idea to her and she hired me even though I could not guarantee I would succeed. I'm so grateful she took a chance on me. I did not want to let her down and I worked diligently on the project until I was successful. As I grew fond of saying, I didn't fail, I learned 2000 ways for how not to make an abaca/resin wall sculpture.

Additional Information

The blue, white, gold, copper, and bronze stripes, made with pigmented abaca handmade paper pulp, lend it a spiritual quality similar to a prayer shawl; an appropriate metaphor for this time of year when renewal of the earth is being welcomed by so many people after a bitter cold winter.