Guido Geelen

I have used paper and ink, the two tangible components of a book, within the prescribed format, 44 x 32 x 7 cm, for my sculpture. The available space is completely filled with aluminium branches with oak leaves on which there are oak apples, cast using the lost wax technique.

The branches are first dipped in hot wax and are then carefully attached to the casting tree by means of ventilation ducts. When this wax model is complete, it is placed in a mould with heat-resistant plaster. The plaster mould is then placed in an oven. The heat melts the wax and burns the wood, leaving a hollow space in the plaster mould. This space can then be filled with molten aluminium. The aluminium flows through the funnel into the main casting channel and into every detail of the sculpture. The ventilation ducts ensure the flow of aluminium.

Aluminium is much thinner in a molten state than bronze or iron and is therefore suitable for fine casting work.

In the past, ink was made from oak apples on oak leaves by adding iron sulphate. This technique was used as long ago as Roman times. Oak apples contain a large amount of tannic acid, which binds with iron sulphate. This compound is colourless at first, but turns black due to exposure to air (oxidation).

Oak apples: Oak apples/ gallnuts can be found near trees. They are growths caused by parasites. Many insects make use of them. The gall wasp, for example, which lays its eggs in them. Oak apples are perfect for larvae because they provide security and food. When the larvae are big enough they break open the oak apple and fly away. There are thousands of different types of gallnuts but Chinese and Japanese gallnuts are used most to make ink. Gallnuts contain an acid called ‘tannin’. This acid is used to make ink.

East Indian ink is a non-fading deep black ink. The ink consists of molecules of pure carbon (soot), which undergoes a chemical reaction with water. Carbon was discovered in prehistoric times and was used in the form of charcoal. This was made by heating organic matter (usually wood) in a low oxygen environment.