Le Pyrocumulus

Le Pyrocumulus by Heather Page. Silk screen and wax grattage on aluminum-gilded paper on panel, 25.75 inches by 15 inches x 2 inches

Title: Le Pyrocumulus
Media: Silk screen and wax grattage on aluminum-gilded paper on panel
Size: 25.75″h x 15″w x 2″d
Edition: 1/1
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Le Pyrocumulus is a one-of-a-kind silk screen and wax grattage on aluminum-gilded mulberry paper on panel.
Gilding is the application of very thin sheets of metal (called leaf) to a surface.
For this piece, I glued aluminum leaf to mulberry paper using a special adhesive and then burnished it flat.
More information on gilding
Grattage (from the French verb gratter, meaning to scratch) is a technique that involves scratching away layers to reveal what’s underneath.
I coat a gilded print with a wax mixture, place it on a relief plate, and then scratch away the wax with razors.
Any raised areas on the plate (including wood grain) get scraped away, leaving the parts of the plate that I’ve carved out. The result is an inverse image of the relief block in a textured wax that sits on the surface of the paper.
More information on wax grattage
We make silk screen prints by pushing ink through a stretched piece of mesh.
Images are made by blocking out parts of the mesh. We call this a stencil. For this print, I used photographic stencils.
To make a photographic stencil:

  1. I coat a screen with a photosensitive emulsion and let it dry in the dark.
  2. I then place a transparency—an opaque image on a transparent background like the one on the left—on the screen and expose the two to light.
  3. Next, I wash out the screen with water. Any part of the screen that was covered by the opaque image washes away, leaving a thin stencil that is the inverse of the image. So, the transparent background in the transparency is now a green coating on the screen and the black image is now open–or uncovered–mesh.
  4. When I squeegee ink through the screen, it can only pass through the washed-out image area, creating a print that looks just like the image.

More information on silk screen printing


This is a one-of-a-kind print, also known as a monoprint.

More information on editions


The Parlour Games Series is about testing the limits of what is acceptable in art we bring into our homes with color, with the degree of chaos in design, and with the subject matter–lichens.

A pyrocumulus is a French word for smoke cloud.
The towering cloud shape of the lichens in this piece make me think of clouds of smoke rising from forest fires in the mountains.
Unfortunately, it’s something I see every year in the Rocky Mountains. It doesn’t take much to start a major fire that wipes out acres of forest land.
And when the fire is just starting, it has a very particular shape, almost like a puffy tornado.
I don’t think people who live in cities or in wetter places understand how just a spark from your car, or cigarette, or poorly dowsed fire can obliterate a forest that took decades to build.
So this piece is a reminder of the fragility of Nature and that we must be more careful to protect her.