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  • Michael Billie

Revisiting the Navajo Rug series



Navajo Rug No.201

Layers of resin on floating panel. 12 x 12



Last year was a year of experimenting and pushing my work into several different directions to see what works and what needs to be cast aside. I've always thought that I was getting help on putting the compositions together. It always felt like some other being was making the suggestions and I just had to be clear in my thought process to receive what they were suggesting. It has taken a long time for me to learn how to feed into it. I had started to notice that when I start working while other things are on my mind or if I'm not in the best of mood nothing works out. It just turns into a wasted day of trying to work with compositions and not getting anywhere which only feeds the negative energy even more. So I now no longer make work when I'm in a negative kind of mood.



My station at the workshop in Santa Fe learning how to use resin. A couple of pours sitting in foil curing. They both have woven river rocks floating in them.


Resin workshop in Santa Fe


In 2017 I took a workshop from Douglas Mehrens, founder of the Encaustic Art Institute, in Santa Fe. He teaches a few workshops a year at the museum on working with encaustic and resin. I had been wanted to learn how work with resin. I was drawn to it like I had been drawn to encaustic. I love making work that when viewed you can see beyond the surface of the piece and with resin it really increases the ability to see beyond the surface. It reminds me of looking into glass or water. I've been interested in working with glass but I can't stand that much heat. The class was fun and I ended up selling three pieces right away which was great. I've since been working more with just resin.


New year new ideas


This new year I finally started working with something that I've been wanting to explore for a few years. When I first started working with encaustic I had done a series called, "Navajo Rug." It was based on memories of helping my mother as a kid with rugs she use to weave and have them made into purses to sell. The thing that still puzzles me is that she was the proudest when she started lining the purses with silk. I guess there's something about shinny things. I've been wanted to revisit that series using resin and this was the year to start that project.



Copper batiking stamp.


Batiking stamp


I had brought this batiking stamps from traveling to Asia and I was using it for mark-making in encaustic. The lines in the stamp remind me of a loom in progress. I was thinking about making a silicone mold out of the stamp but I was concerned that the silicone would stick to the copper and that would ruin the stamp. So another idea was to make a design and have someone that has a lazer cutter to make a blank for me and I can turn that into a template to set the silicone in. After some researching I was able to find The Creative Crocodile and they were able to get me what I needed.


The silicone mold for pouring resin into.


The resin slowly being removed from the silicone mold.



When I did my first pour I couldn't wait to release it from the mold. Take the resin out was kind of a slow process because it hadn't fulling cured and there's always the chance it might get damaged. I couldn't believe how amazing it looked when I first got it out. When I first take it out I know I have a small window to reshape before it completely becomes hard.

The first one that I made came out pretty well. It has two pours of resin with the sculpted design sitting in it. I'll probably have some other template designs made for the series. It's nice to revisit and old series to reinterpret by using a different medium.






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