Nancy Sutcliffe | my immortal heart

I don't have a 'faith' but I do believe it is true that when we die, our energy transfers into the things that consume us. Be it fire, earth, or the creatures who will help to return us to the soil. 

My approach will be to engrave the glass with a swarm of small creatures. Some will be painted and some oil gilded with 22ct gold leaf. The surface will be water gilded silver leaf. This will gradually age over time, taking on the beautiful patina of a life well lived. The viewer will find their own image reflected in the heart, and they will become part of the whole.   |   all rights by Nancy Sutcliffe                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Friday 30th October 2020. Finding a way to begin. It's quite nerve wracking to actually commit to an idea so I've been drawing onto the glass with a sharpie to delay the moment. My plan is to start by engraving small imaginary "forensic" insects into the heart with an engraving lathe and micro motor. The lathe quickly makes the deep engraving for the bodies, and gives them form. The legs and antennae are very small and fine so are added next with the micro-motor, which is the hand held drill in the first image. 

The following video shows the first marks on the heart. No going back. 

Monday 9th November 2020. The next step is to water gild the engraved areas of the heart with silver leaf. This is a magical process whereby the leaf is floated onto the glass on a thin solution of water and gelatine, known as 'size'. As the size dries, it stretches the leaf and the wrinkles begin to smooth out. This type of gilding gives a mirror shine. When it's completely dry, (maybe tomorrow? It depends on the temperature in the studio), I will begin distressing the gilding with fine wire wool to add texture. The engraved areas shouldn't take on the silver, but we shall see. 

Below is a time lapse video of the process. 

My Immortal heart... now completed and  showing signs of decay as the silver leaf begins to oxidise and tarnish. It grows more interesting with age which is comforting!