College students often find that it is a good practice to take notes in class, but when you’re an art student with a pencil in hand, notes often turn to doodles. A wild variety of subject matter begins to fill the margins of the page as one sketch leads into the next and then another. Page margins and sketchbooks foster a certain loose, meandering quality in drawings, but it isn’t a quality that one often sees in a medium like engraving.
Molly Day, an Engraving Arts student at Emporia State University and intern in Glendo’s Artisan Alley, had been challenged to base an engraving on a phrase for her internship. She chose the phrase, ‘Attracted to the imperfection and beauty of chaos’ and decided that a sketchbook cover would be the right use for her engraving. “I needed a new sketchbook and wanted to bind my own,” she explained.
Looking at the sketchbook cover, the eye is immediately drawn to the bright contrast of the inlaid crescent shape, which Molly added as a project for her metals class. She inlaid a thin line of copper around the edges of the crescent, adding another layer to the finished project. To bring the two pieces together, she cut a recess in the copper plate and hand soldered the crescent into it.
Seemingly disparate elements spread across the plate, but further discussion with the artist revealed the reasoning behind each. The crescent serves as a barrier, separating the woman from the chaos along the edges and top of the copper plate. The imagery in those areas are representative of things that Molly finds to be stressful, scary, or chaotic. Two snakes spar, one with heads on both ends and the other with a decidedly human mouth but no face. A clock, a spider, fire, and lightning swirl around the crescent barrier. The two lions at the bottom are also worthy of respect and fear, but beautiful at the same time. Molly chose to place a woman calmly sitting between the two dangerous creatures, bringing a moment of peace amidst the chaos. The usage of patterns and a broad assortment of subject matter infuse this engraving with the same informal qualities of a quick drawing, making it perfect for the cover of a sketchbook. Thanks for sharing, Molly!