Polishing Poop – a convoluted tale of an idea thread

Mythbusters. I love Mythbusters.

I’m watching a marathon of Mythbusters while I prepare 3 month’s worth of my colour diary into a format for printing into a Photobox book (so I an easily reference the palettes in a practical environment).

In this episode they wanted to explore the idiom ‘You can’t polish a turd’, eventually proving that you CAN if you mould it into a ball with water and smooth and smooth and smooth it (and it turns out meat-eaters produce smoother poo than vegetarians – stands to reason with less fibre!)

The resulting balls are beautiful with a fascinating and intriguing pattern with a lot of depth to them. Effectively the method is just burnishing – which I used with ceramics.

The extreme shininess and intrigue reminded me of something I had seen this week. Berndnaut Smilde is a Dutch artist who creates clouds indoors (I saw one of his images at the Saatchi Gallery in the summer at the Out of Focus: Photography exhibition). He is in the news because he has an exhibition at the Ronchini Gallery with Adeline de Monseignat called The Uncanny. Monseignat puts tactile materials into glass spheres – where the materials are shown to their highest appeal, but are untouchable. These spheres remind me of a Poop Ball: both fascinating, shiny and attractive, yet untouchable (one because it is behind glass, the other because it is poo!).

I wondered about making some of these with my colour palettes. China clay should make a great base for doing this – it is fine, powdery and smooth when mixed with water. Maybe the colours could be mixed together, maybe the balls should be separate. What fascinates me about this idea is the fragility and possible transient nature of the balls.

Unfired, these balls are prone to disintegrating when exposed to moisture, they would also be fragile if dropped. (I made a sycamore seed when a student which I burnished and kept on the windowsill in my extremely damp room – this gradually disintegrated and became a soggy heap which crumbled when I tried to move it.) This is very appropriate for moods. Moods can shatter quickly or be a slowly changing shift. Perhaps a daily diary of these changing would be interesting.

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