Let me stress that I am not a bully. I have never intentionally harassed or bullied anyone in my life. On top of that I have received my fair share of hassle for defending someone else by standing up to their bullies. However, I must be truthful and say from the start, that this is an article about a plan that was conceived and executed with the sole purpose of mocking something else; something that has never offended or hurt me in any way, but only because I saw a weakness and pounced. I’m not proud of the initial intention, but there we have it.
The victim was Hotpress Magazine. An innocent publication, of some standing nationally, which covers diverse and interesting topics in the genres of music and politics, and does so in a professional and comprehensive manner. So far so good. What could my problem possibly be?
It’s the name. The name is terrible. Now I know where they were going with it: Hotpress – hot of the press, new and cutting edge, dynamic. And I know how hard it is to come up with a good name for your work (see title of blog). But at the end of the day, it’s an Irish magazine for Irish people, and there is only one thing that Irish people associate with the word hotpress and it is not a Music and Politics Publication, it is the big boiler in your house that heats your water and warms your clothes. Nothing could be less rock’n’roll than a bloody big boiler. I’m sorry but that’s the harsh truth.
So in order to mock this in my own little way, I brought the two of them together- what if my hotpress (the boiler)released a self-titled publication for other hotpresses? What would the headlines be? What would be their specific area of interest? What would be breaking news or cutting edge?
The result: a hotpress door with aspirations of journalism.
Decoupage (and not décolletage which is a very different thing – still fun, but in a different way) is the act of gluing little bits of paper to objects with a glue that turns transparent when dry. I thought this would be an excellent way of making a door which looked a little like a pop magazine cover (and a little like a threatening ransom note – just so Hotpress Magazine know where they stand).
- Old Magazines
- Paint & paintbrush for background colour
- Decoupage glue
- Varnish to finish
- Space to lay a door down on the ground, and be able to leave it there for a few days
If you have to buy the magazines this could get very expensive – I had my friends and family collect them for a few months and very quickly I had more than enough.
The decoupage glue is really expensive – I used decopatch that cost me e7 for 70g (a tiny pot) but in saying that, I did the whole door for about half a pot, so the stuff really spreads.
It was the cost of the decopatch varnish that pushed me back to B&Q for ordinary varnish. I double checked on the back of the door that clear varnish meant clear – sometimes it can have a slightly yellow hue.
HOURS. Hours and hours and hours; the cutting of the letters, sticking them all on first with blue-tack and then with the glue – hours. I did not do this project start to finish in one sitting as you will read – most of it was done in spurts in front of the telly over a few months.
- I started by taking down the door, being careful with hinges and screws as I would need these to put the door back up later.
- I drew a rough outline of what I wanted to have on the door – this let me know what letters I would need from the magazines. Mimicking Hotpress Magazine radio ads I decided upon:
“2013 Edition of Hotpress Magazine Issue 505
Readers Inane Views on Life, Drugs, Sex, Church, Law, Society, Welfare & Cutlery”
- From Lovely Lacies to Skid Row: Underpants a gritty reality
- Construction Underwear: How to build up your portfolio
- Arranged at Birth: Twin Sets on Predeterminism, Partners and Parents
- Custodians of the Fun Bags: Bras tell an uplifting tale of life up top
- Disappeared Partners: Socks tell a harrowing tale of separation, abandonment and loss
- Life in the Barracks: Toilet paper on waiting for deployment to live combat
- High Impact: the rise and fall of cheap suspenders
- Power behind the throne: Hot Water Tank tells of life in the system
- Cleaning up their act: Towelling in today’s political theatre
- Airing their laundry in a half-way house: hoodies try to change perceptions
- Fresh Starts & Scraping the Slate Clean: Hot pants dish the dirt on festival season
I also needed a political message. The hotpress with its principle role in laundry and household chores is a female dominated space. Despite this being an era where gender roles are often mingled and, as blur would say, boys can be girls and girls can be boys, 80% of household chores are still carried out by women. What could best represent my discomfort and yet resigned acceptance of this fact? A modern version of a Sheela-Na-Gig, that’s what.
Sheela-Na-Gigs are found in Ireland in prominent positions on Medieval Churches and Castles. In a society which is often assumed (perhaps incorrectly) to have been male dominated, these crude carvings of women exposing their vulva remind us that real power is often wielded invisibly. Society is made up of two halves, there have always been two genders, and while outward appearances can suggest the dominance of one, what goes on behind closed doors (or in this case behind 3ft thick stone walls) can reveal a very different reality.
So to represent this I chose a collection of women who in their own way represent this idea of unexpected power.
- Jackie Onassis – often assumed to be the weak-willed wife of a cheating president, however this woman continues to have an influence on the decorum of women in the media today
- Alien Queen – self-explanatory, while representing the outside influences of powerful women on Irish society
- Super Woman – again, in a time when women were told to ‘shut-up and sit down’ this crime busting female was out there doing the business (albeit in scantly underwear)
- Queen Elizabeth – despite her role as a mere figure head, she has resounding influence in the society which support her
- Sluts – like it or not, these manipulative be-atches can wield incredible power in certain communities
- Maggie T – like her or hate her, she was the first and so far only female Prime Minster. You have to respect that.
- Kate Middleton – again often seen as the quiet, dutiful wife, but while she hold the baby, she holds the King. I think there is more than meets the eye here.
- Mummified Cleopatra – again, a power house in her day, whose legend is still with us
- Once I realised how big a space a door really is in decoupage terms, I decided to paint it a background colour to fill in some space and to allow the decoupage really stand out. I choose a new-fangled paint I found on one of my many trips around B&Q that was silver and was meant to look like it was hammered when dry – very rock and roll I thought. Unfortunately it just dries silver. Yes if you look really, really hard you can see the hammered impression, but not if you just walk by the door. But still I liked the silver colour so it stayed.
- I started cutting out letters and pictures from the magazines
- I stuck them all in place using blue tack, so I could get an impression of how everything looked before committing to it with glue
- Put back up the door to live with the draft version for a few days to make sure I liked it.
- Days went by, and then weeks. We had a good few visitors over to the house and all commented that while it looked great (what else were they going to say with me standing right there) they found it hard to read. I took the feedback on board and had a little think. I realised that it would be easier to read if there was a break between the different headlines.
- I started to move the letters down to give the headlines the break.
- Once finished I lived with this for a few days, which again turned into months, then I decided that it was time to tackle the glue.While the vast majority of images and letters were from glossy magazines, some of them were from newspapers and some were laser-ink printed – I was not entirely sure if these would run when I applied the glue …. Only one way to find out.. They were fine (breath sigh of relief).