In the Industrial Design department at Pratt, they taught us how to spray thinned joint compound onto our mock-ups. It was the quickest way to get sandably-smooth paint-ready surfaces on tricky shapes. For the rest of society, joint compound is something you use to patch holes, seal seams and get surfaces flush. But in the hands of Canada-based Bernie Mitchell, joint compound isn’t rendered smooth at all; instead he builds it up, creating surprisingly detailed wall sculptures that far surpass the material’s humble original purpose.
“The key is to work on a wall where the light comes in at an angle,” Mitchell told The Journal of Light Construction (who refers to him as the “Mud Michelangelo”). “When you’re done, you have something that’s always responding to the light moving across it. I never get tired watching it change throughout the day.”
What most amazed me about Mitchell’s process are some of the tools he uses, which you can see in the video below:
Watching that, I was like “A putty knife, are you kidding me?” I don’t know how the heck he keeps it so clean between strokes; when I’m doing something as mundane as patching screwholes, if I don’t scrape the thing every few seconds, it crusts on the blade and leaves tracks on the next surface.
Then again, Mitchell is a pro, and I assume he’s got the mixing and wiping down to a science. As a professional drywall contractor he’s been taping joints for decades; in the early 1990s he began “experimenting with raised panels on wall surfaces where natural light had a positive effect as a relief form,” according to his bio.
Now, after 20-something years of mastering the technique, Mitchell is preparing to release a series of video tutorials in hopes of passing the art on to others. Interested parties, watch this space for updates.
Post by Core77 / 8 Feb 2016 / Rain Noe