Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shrine for book lovers

I started the 'Shrine for Book Lovers' on Friday and have managed to do a little work on it on both Saturday and today - a reward for all the weeding, mowing and other maintenance Fiona and I have done on the block over the last couple of days. Though the weeding of the veggie patch did also reward us with a nice little crop of leeks and white onions.

I managed to do the book part of the shrine yesterday and photographed it as the sun went down - lovely sunset so the shrine has picked up the rich gold of the sun - also reflected on the quote feature of the piece (stamped on discolored silver plate).

Barry Smith © Sun on Shrine for Book Lovers
I have used a quote from Erasmus - Fiona and I were lucky to visit his 'home' in Brussels - so I felt there was a connection there. However, this also is one of Fiona's favorite book quotes: " When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." The quote  plate is set into the book and screwed in place.

Today I beat a long shallow rectangular tray out of plate cut from an old tray; and I made a small incense holder from a slice of a wringer handle.

Barry Smith © Beaten Silver Incense Tray
This last photo shows the shrine all together - on a stump in the back yard in the fading afternoon light - clouds - no sunset visible tonight when I was taking the shots. 
Barry Smith © Shrine for Book Lovers

The back plate of the shrine is an old recipe book (250X350mm); a shelf cut from stainless steel part of a BBQ; waste stainless steel cutouts; and silver plate from various household objects.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Recently Fiona and I purchased a couple of pieces of work from the Etsy shop of Luthien a gifted maker from Malaysia.  We were very excited that they arrived in the mail on Thursday.

 Fiona and I are drawn to Luthien's work - Fiona because of the handmade journals and I because of the recycled nature of her work. The photos below show the travel journal I purchased for me and the earrings I purchased for Fiona.

The tiny books earrings are real works of art - Luthien has stained the paper in the mini books (about 15mm long);has hand sewn the pages; and has hand sewn a leather cover to the book. If you wanted you could write in these little journals.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Frenetic Friday

Wow!! Today has gone in a blur. I had a meeting with the Recovery Centre people and Council staff yesterday; and the design for the wall was approved; and the go ahead was given for the Recovery Centre to start construction. But .... I needed to convert the rough sketch into a better construction diagram; choose and clearly indicate colours for all parts of each element; and up-scale the 'children' images and cut out templates for the Recovery Centre folk to use in marking up the custom orb iron (mini corrugation). And I had committed to doing that by about 2pm today.

Well you can see from the photo below I did manage the 'children' templates (they are 650x900mm in size) - I needed them to be energetic and giving a sense of joy. In the work they will be cut out with gas equipment to give them soft but ragged edges and they will be painted in primary colours; then mounted on panels of contrasting primary colours with the corrugations running at right angles; and then two children panels will be mounted on a larger panel with a star to form an element of the overall work. Each of the children panels is 2.5x3m - not small.

Barry Smith © 'The Children'
The final working diagram includes: sizes; corrugation directions; and colours.

I met with the Recovery Centre at 2.05pm today to hand over the plans and the templates. They were keen to show me that they had already made the base panels for the 'children' elements. They think they will have the whole work constructed by the middle to end of next week; and would like it to be installed at the beginning of December. It now is over to them; but I really can't wait to see the final outcome.

After returning home and doing the follow up paper work and clearing up the cardboard mess, I did manage to start a new shrine - A Shrine for Book Lovers. I hope to finish it over the weekend.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Temporary public art

I was approached recently to submit an expression of interest in working with a recovery and recycling centre to design a piece of temporary public art. The art needed to be created from recycled material; have a focus on Christmas; be able to be constructed by unskilled volunteers and centre workers; cover a wall about 12X4m in size; and be ready for installation in 2-3 weeks. Given the focus on recycled material, volunteers and public art I agreed to submit an EOI. I was notified that I was successful and so the design process has begun.

Barry Smith © Waterlilies

I checked out the wall - bit of an odd shape but neutral colour and flat; and extends over a water feature that includes waterlilies.

Barry Smith © Corrugated Mountains
I checked out the recycling centre 'stock' and discovered they already had created a piece of art that reflected the mountains of the area. And of course had lots of other stuff with potential.
Barry Smith © Draft Design
After two design discussions with staff at the centre a rough design has been agreed; and will now be discussed with the authorities. The design incorporates the existing piece of work and uses recycled corrugated iron (very Australian) as the unifying material - it is also light, strong, plentiful and supports a simple design and quick execution of the project. The focus of the work is on the joy of children at Christmas; stars as a symbol of the festive season; the mountains to reflect the region; and a book with inspirational words to reflect the fact that it is a library wall. I will post on progress.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Leaf with a message

The weekend has been pretty busy with visitors - friends and fellow artists. Fiona's 'besty' from Canberra came to stay the weekend to just enjoy togetherness and check out Shannon G's open studio and also visit the Main Street Gallery exhibition; Pam also from from Canberra dropped in on Friday to say "Hi" and do a tour of the house and studios and then went to Montville to check out the art; and Carol C from mid coast NSW dropped in to see the art in Montville and then visited our place for afternnon tea and a tour of the studios. It is now quiet on the mountain.

Apart from the joy of catching up we were lucky that our visitors liked the Main Street Gallery small treasures and bought a few bits and pieces.

Barry Smith © Message Leaf

Barry Smith © Journey

Barry Smith © Silver bowl with leaf

In between times I did a bit of foldforming in part to show visitors the steps in the process.  The photos above shows a bit of an experiment. I wanted to see if I could stamp wording in the seam of a leaf form before folding and beating. Well it worked the leaf has the words "Peace is a journey" stamped in it. Close inspection should reveal the wording. I did a little bowl to keep the leaf company. The photos were taken with the leaf and bowl sitting on a sheets of rusted iron - great colour and texture.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Simple leaf shrine

I think I need to stop saying that Fridays are full  - after all that is the essence of a our good life. Today apart from friends, life on the block jobs, a bit more progress on the shed - I did a hardware store run and bought some storage with metal draws to sort my assemblage bits that have been littering the floor; and I did manage to tidy the studio-garage and pack some of the bits away.

I found a few hours to work on another shrine. It wanted to keep this one simple - almost Zenish. I used recycled bits of rusted iron and copper. I wanted it to be a piece for the outdoors - something that can just hang on a nail on a tree, a post or side of a shed and mature with the weather.

As you can see I have created a leaf form with a shelf (riveted with copper rivets); and a copper leaf and bowl to be attached to the shelf once the cut edges re-rust.

I have now hung it outside for a couple of weeks to let the weather do its thing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Creating quiet places

In my last post I indicated I am experimenting with the making of personal shrines. Personal shrines might be a way for people to create quiet or sacred places or spaces in their garden or house. I said Fiona and I have such a space in a corner of our house with views across our valley. The photos below show our quiet corner; and our words in the wooden bowl.

Barry Smith © Our daily words

We have been choosing our daily words for about 6 years now. As part of In the Stillness exhibition last year Fiona and I collaborated on works that combined my work with wood and metal with Fiona's calligraphic words.  
Barry Smith © Block of words

Barry Smith © Block, bowl, words
All our word and wood pieces (including the two above) have been sold so there is an interest in this idea of creating daily quiet times in quiet places. Maybe it is time for us to create more of these pieces.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finding quiet personal places

Fiona and I have been tossing around ideas for our next exhibition. I think the focus of my work is going to be on objects that assist us to create personal quiet and/or reflective places whether they be in the garden, on a deck, in the corner of a room or on a mantle piece. Each morning before we go for our walk Fiona and I stand in one of the nooks in our house and while we drink a juice we choose a word for the day from a wooden bowl (words supplied by Fiona) and we look out over 'our' valley with its ever changing moods. My word for today was mindfulness; and Fiona's was creativity. So that nook is a personal quiet and reflective place we have created.

Today I decided to experiment with the creation of a small personal 'shrine' that could act as a focus for someone. As you can see from the photos the shrine has a crystal mounted in a knot hole; and it has a small bowl for an offering or incense and a small candle holder.

Barry Smith © Detail Shrine1

Barry Smith © Personal Shrine1

Barry Smith © Wording Shrine1
 The 'shrine' is 200X450mm; and can be used free standing on a mantle piece or hung on a tree or the wall of a shed. It is made out of a piece of timber given to me by a friend (lots of good character in the piece); decorative bits from an old cake stand surround the crystal from an old chandelier; and metal from another old tray. So lots of energy and history from past uses and the connection with food and life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday and Friends

Today was not to be a day when I got down to the garage-studio. The day has been given over to family and friends.

Barry Smith © Hands for Friends

Fiona and I spent the afternoon getting things cleaned and sorted for a garage sale tomorrow - selling off some of a friend's furniture that has been stored in the shed but is surplus to requirements. The 'Friday friend day' started with a quiet coffee catch up with fellow artist and friends Noela and Ken; followed by a yarn with our neighbours in the mainstreet of our town; then onto a tea catchup with another friend; Noela dropped in to check out the garage sale preparations; as did E-A and C - though they brought a chilled bottle of white wine to ease the pain of preparing for the sale. So we are done, have had a wholesome risotto and now sitting quietly having a glass of sav-blanc - life can't be all bad. 

The only direct art thing was that I was able to buy some silver plated trays from a couple of our local op-shops when we were in town this morning. So there is more material for bowls, leaves etc. I think Sunday might become art day this week.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gone Bananas

Just had to share our banana story. We have been a bit excited by the fact that our little banana plantation (3 plants) has produced a bunch of bananas. We had covered the bunch and been watching it for months as the bunch matured and the bananas fattened. Every few weeks I'd wander down to check process. But imagine my surprise, no shock accompanied by choice expletives, when a rat jumped out of the bunch as I lifted the plastic cover for inspection today. I don't like rats - OK dead ones that haven't gone off are not too bad.

Anyway I digress. The short story is that Fiona and I have had to harvest the bunch of nicely formed fruit. We cut off the rat chewed fruit; and have hung the bunch in the garage. It now keeps the 'pumpkins in the hammock' company.  So we will see how the bunch ripens. By the way it was a very discerning rat as it knew the bunch was totally organic.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tools for Trifold bowls

I have tried to create a few trifold bowls in the past and have had mixed success. The worn but energy filled bowl for Suzi worked but others haven't to my satisfaction. The issue was if I wanted to do the three folds in one rotation but could not get the bowl into the jaws of the vice without crushing the bowl.

Well you can see from the photo below I have been successful in creating a pretty good trifold bowl. This bowl started life as part of a lid of an old industrial container. So the transformation has been worth the effort.

Barry Smith © Trifold bowl

What made the difference is I made a new set of heavy steel jaws for the vice. These jaws extend out beyond the vice and so enable me to rotate the bowl and do each fold without crushing the bowl. So a good outcome which I hope will enable me to create more trifold bowl.

Monday, November 8, 2010

More Bazola bits for Noela

My collaborator in 'art to wear'  jewellery Noela rang today to discuss a number of things including Bazola. We have sold a few Bazola bits through Main Street Gallery and Nolela is in creation mode - she had already created a number of new pieces of Bazola; and need more foldform bits to continue the creative work. So the message was 'hop to it Baz and foldform a few more bits".

Bazola foldforms © Barry Smith
As you can see from the photo of the rather shiny cluster of pieces (that is a problem of photographing shiny Bazola bits with a flash at night) I responded this afternoon by getting into the garage and beating up a storm. So Noela you now have a 'few' more bits to work your magic on - well after they are delivered to you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book stacks - back to nature

After the Sculpture on the Edge exhibition (June) I put the sculpture piece Quiet Transition out in the open in the garden area near the shed to see what happens over a period of time. I gave the piece the name Quiet Transition as I created it as an outdoor piece that would breakdown over time and return to the earth through a decaying process. Quiet Transitions is made from encyclopedias and world books that are glued together at the covers; and each stack has a 12mm steel rod through the centre bolted at the top and base through a piece of 16mm waterproof ply.

Well a comparison of the original photos of Quiet Transition in July with that of three months on shows there is quite a bit of action going on - swelling and twisting of the volumes. Nature is creating some interesting curves. The tension against the glue and steel rod must be fairly significant. I really like what is happening with this piece and hope to post on it in three to six month intervals.

Quiet Transition © Barry Smith

QT at 3 months © Barry Smith
Detail QT at 3 months © Barry Smith

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Friday of new beginnings

Today has been given over to three new beginnings: reinforcing the mezzanine floor in the shed; watching the new pumpkins grow; and creating a couple of prototypes for a new series of light catchers. I won't bore you with the floor saga - suffice to say that the bureaucrats have made unreasonable demands on what we need to do to turn the shed into a print studio.

But the good news is that the next generation of pumpkins has burst forth. I put down a good layer of cardboard to suppress the weeds and planted seeds from last year's pumpkins in three holes. As you can see from the photos above we now have small clusters of pumpkin plants happily emerging - rich and strong.

Now that I have delivered my work for the Main Street Gallery's Small Pleasures and Treasures exhibition I have started work on a new series of work for an exhibition Fiona and I have commtted to in early March 2011 - though the work has to be completed by Jan 2011. I want to include light catchers in the exhibition but not the assemblages I did for Main Street. So today I experimented with a simple folded triangle and rectangle of rusted metal.

Whilst the photos above indicate the final products are a bit rough and not well finished I think the simple forms and the contrast of the crystals, rivets and silver plate metal appears to work. Both pieces are about 240mm high. With a bit more patience and time I think this could be the beginning of a new series.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leaf Litter that Glitters

Fiona asked me if I could make a leaf to send to a friend who was celebrating their birthday in the near future. Of course I said yes - but it is usually better to create several pieces at the same time to make best use of gas and getting the tools out etc.

Anyway the result was 5 leaves. It reminded me of a comment by Robyn about how a litter of leaves might look. So there you have it below - a small glittering litter of leaves. I might now aim to do a bigger litter of mixed metal!!!

I still find it harder to work the EPNS material - I tried dunking one heated leaf in water and another I just allowed to cool on an iron block. I think the slow cool enabled me to work the metal a little easier. I think the issue is that there is no real consistency in the brass plate that is silver plated - some is high quality and softer and some is poor and hard. It is easier to beat it rather than foldform it.

OH! And yes this was the leaf for our friend. I like the almost liquid edge created by polishing.