Project 13: Max Ernst – Frottage experiments

Inspired by my research into frottage a technique Max Ernst became well known for, I experimented with making my own ‘rubbings’ of textures and objects around my home. This was in the hope of inspiring ideas or concepts for the combination print of this project.

I let myself be quite free with what I used as a surface to rub, just to try and be a bit more experimental.

Frottage - from page 4 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage – from page 4 of A4 sketchbook

In the rubbing in the above photo I took rubbings from wallpaper, a book cover, a felt photo frame, a lamp with windows  and a CD speaker. I liked the fan shaped rubbing from a wallpaper and wanted to take that a bit further in a latter rubbing (see page 7 of A4 Sketchbook).

Frottage from page 5 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage from page 5 of A4 sketchbook

The rubbings above were all wood based, from ¬†photo frames, bench hooks and a door. I think it’s the knot detail in the wood that adds a possible element that could be combined or used to look like something else in an different rubbing.

Frottage from page 6 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage from page 6 of A4 sketchbook

Page 6 of the A4 sketchbook contains rubbing of lettering found around my home, two are taken from glass bottles found in bottle dumps, the other two are from book covers which had raised text. I really like the look of the ‘Coventry’ text.

Frottage from page 7 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage from page 7 of A4 sketchbook

Page 7 of the sketchbook was a little bit of experimentation combining two different surfaces. I combined the fan based wallpaper that I liked with a rubbing of the numbers on my front door. I think it’s interesting but could do with more, maybe lots of the numbers across the page either in a pattern of their own or layered ontop each other, maybe in different colours.

Frottage from page 8 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage from page 8 of A4 sketchbook

The photo above shows rubbings of a collection of natural objects, leaves, flower petals, a feather. I found these a little trickier to take rubbings of as they moved much more easily and I found that a bit frustrating.

Frottage from page 9 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage from page 9 of A4 sketchbook

I tried to focus on smaller objects in the frottage above, taking rubbings of wall sockets, nails, screws, the front door lock, the front door key, a zip, a button. I wasn’t really thinking about composition here just findings objects and taking rubbings.

Frottage from page 10 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage from page 10 of A4 sketchbook

I decided to try and make an arrangement like Max Ernst of different objects to rub to make an overall piece. This wasn’t a very coherent attempt, but I was trying to use man made objects (the fan wallpaper and another wallpaper) alongside natural objects (leaves, grass) to create a sort of garden picture. It turned out pretty messy but that’sokay for an experiment.

Frottage from page 11 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage from page 11 of A4 sketchbook

After trying to combine man made objects and natural to create a scene I wondered if i should try combining different natural objects. I found some pressed leaves in a blotting paper book and thought that could look like different trees in a forest if arranged next to each other. I’m not sure if it works that well but it was fun to try.

Frottage from pages 12 & 13 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage from pages 12 & 13 of A4 sketchbook

I tried to work on the idea from the previous frottage with the pressed leaves again on page 12 of the sketchbook. I think it didn’t really work successfully as there was too much background pencil marks. I suppose I could clean them up with an eraser but that seems a bit like cheating? Page 13 is just a rubbing of the front door mat, I liked the pattern and how it’s softly come out in the rubbing process.

Frottage from page 14 of A4 sketchbook

Frottage from page 14 of A4 sketchbook

Before ending my experiments with the frottage technique I wanted to try adding some colour to a test rubbing. I thought this would work well with the wooden bench hooks as I might be able to isolate the colour to just the knots in the wood. This did work to some extent but I found using a pencil that wasn’t as heavily graphite based gave a weak resulting mark on the paper.

Page 15 of A4 sketchbook

Page 15 of A4 sketchbook

Having done a fair amount of rubbings I began to think about it as a concept. I was thinking of the phrase ‘feels like home’ and thought I could find some way to create a form of mono prints that had textures from or like ones in my home and then create a lino print on top that referenced the outside of my home/it’s physical appearance. This sparked me beginning to do some sketches of the outside of my home and design ideas. More to follow in a specific post.

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