Crafting Enterprise meets Made in the Middle

Ellena and Sandra Owens

"I think Sandra Owens' work looks really effective with the different metallic colours. It makes you think that concrete isn’t just used for paths and boring things, you can turn it into amazing art like this." Ellena

  • 7745858_orig.jpg Long Interruption, 2016. Parian porcelain. Photo credit: Sandra Owens.
  • dsc-6823-edits_1.jpg Treachery, 2016. Plaster, concrete, acrylic paint, gold leaf, copper leaf and metal leaf. Photo credit: Sandra Owens.
All Students

How do you apply the gold leaf to your work?

Gold metal leaf is applied using size, which is a type of glue.  You apply the glue until it becomes tacky.  The leaf sticks to glue, it is placed on with a clean dry soft brush.  There are special metal leaf brushes but I use soft varnish brushes.  The leaf is pressed/burnished with cotton wool or a soft cloth.  It can be a bit tricky and you have to avoid getting the size on the wrong side of the leaf, it makes it look dirty and attracts dust.  You can varnish the leaf afterwards, I have chosen not to do this.

Do you use moulds in your artwork?

I use two types of moulds which are made from protoypes I make for the tiles.  The concrete tiles are made in a vacuum formed plastic mould, and the ceramic tiles are cast in a plaster slip casting mould.

Do you do much planning before you make your art?

I use lots of processes which all take different times but need the same equipment.  I have to do a plan for each piece and work out which days I am going to be milling, firing the kiln or finishing work. 

For example I would not want to be sanding wood just before or after gold leafing as there would be too much dust in my studio.  I also need to plan in drying times for resin and ceramics as you cannot remil the wood if the resin is not dry (some of my resin filled wood pieces were milled 4 times and this cannot be done when the resin is wet) and you cannot fire wet clay as it will explode. 

I make myself a plan for each piece and work our what I am doing on which days.  I am also a trained project manager which helps a lot, but generally it is common sense.  It is always helpful to build in some contingency time as things don't always go to plan when you are making new types of work.