opening the Laminex box

16 Mar

WEEK EIGHT – (february 23-26)

I’ve run out of paint chips – only a slight setback really, as they are easy enough to come by. A trip to the local hardware store is imminent.
Alas, my studio genie has other thoughts and leads me instead to two boxes of Laminex/Formica samples. I bought these years ago from an interior designer who wanted to move them on – a weird purchase you think?
I have a few different sizes/makes – all with beautifully dated colours.

I had long thought of making a ‘quilt’  from them but my oh my their weight is hideous!
Now it is a case of not minding the weight – these are feathers – and everyone knows that feathers weigh nothing.

I settle on a small group of rectangular samples – my least impressive set – if they don’t work at least I am not wrecking my favourites. 
The colours are dull, the feel is dated. It will be perfect for my initial idea.

Are they good nude as I had always imagined using them? 
Probably, but I want to take it further, they need to announce that they are feathers.
They also need to be hand drawn – I love the difference/similarity aesthetic of the hand-drawn repeat. 
Even though this will take time, the discipline of this type of repeat suits me.
I trial different markers, inks and pencils to get the desired look.
The winner is a Posna Acrylic Paint Marker – .7 pin marker in Silver.  The flow of this metallic paint is erratic but using a 6H pencil for definition gives it the subtle definition I seek.

trialling pens

 

Why play with Laminex when I have shelves of beautiful fabrics?
Two reasons….
Growing up, all but one of the kitchens I knew had benches and tables covered in Laminex.
Beautiful wooden tables were stored or moved on whilst modern practicality reined.
(The exception was Auntie Bon who lived in a totally inspiring house in the arty Eltham bush).

The main reason is that my father was a Builder and he had a set of totally covetable Laminex samples – that I was not allowed to play with.
I think part of the attraction was in that difference/similarity aesthetic that I have –  and I know that I had it way back then. These samples illustrate, in a gentle way, the beauty of colour and pattern graduation.
Another memorable thing was the Ball Chain that they were held with – I still regard this as special. 
It is brilliant timeless design that also handles beautifully.

laminex sets - now they are mine

 

Whilst I still have no desire to again live with the Laminex tables of my childhood they will help me to tell a story of the my past.
I am thinking that these samples will become table coverings of some sort, linking the women in my life, their generosity in the kitchen and their love of the making/decorating the table.

showing its age

 

By the way, my dad’s samples are mine now.
Will I use them? 
Certainly not brave enough for that yet!

Jan Mullen

B. Ed. Act/Craft (Textiles/ Sculpture)
Living in Perth, Western Australia
Artist, Fabric Designer, Author, Teacher.