Friday, January 31, 2014

Portal of memories

From time to time I'm offered an art challenge. A fellow artist indicated that she had an old Singer sewing machine that had been in the family for eons; but now was a rusted wreck that sat outside growing more rust. She wondered if I could "do something with it" so that it could remain in the family; and preserve the memories of folks past.

©2014 Barry Smith - Taking delivery of the Singer frame
What came to mind was a couple of standing posts using the dismantled machine. I had a couple of very heavy but distressed planks that I salvaged from an old plank bench; and I thought they could be the post part of an assemblage.

When we picked up the machine frame we also picked up a couple of pieces of a family iron bed. After dismantling the machine and preserving every nut, bolt and screw  - I set out the pieces on the planks. I need a couple more pieces to complete the over all piece; so I have added a couple of bits from a rusted BBQ etc from my 'rust bank'. I also needed to place the pieces in such a way that they could bind the fragile boards together.

©2014 Barry Smith - Laying pieces out on the workbench (aka cement water tank)
After consultation with Fiona I made a few modification; and put the bed iron on the outside with the curves inside to create what looks like a set of doors with a negative space in the middle as you can see from the photos below.

©2014 Barry Smith - Portal of memories (doors)
I have used every nut and screw from the machine as you can see from some of the detail. I had to use some new screws, bolts and saddles to hold pieces in place as I did not want to damage the old machine cast pro pieces. I have treated these new pieces with acid so they should rust off and blend with the rest of the assemblage.

©2014 Barry Smith - Negative space - point in a curve
©2014 Barry Smith - More negative space - out and in curves
©2014 Barry Smith - A curve of screws and bolts
©2014 Barry Smith - Fragment of curves and screws and bolts
I think the pair of doors will create a great portal in the garden.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A bunch of bright bracelets

I decided to make a silver plated EPNS cuff bracelet for a friend - but as you know one thing leads to another with we artists - so I ended up making a bunch of the bracelets.

©2014 Barry Smith - A bunch of bright bracelets
One thing I did discover when trying to photograph them was they are just so bright and shiny that they reflect everything - including the photographer and the studio. So that means I really do need to make a photographic light box for shiny jewellery. So - sorry in advance for the poor photos.

Three of the cuffs fan out on one side (one is more delicate)  - Fiona agreed to be the hand model to show how the fanned edge works beautifully as it sits nicely over the wrist and top of the hand - new design!!

©2013 Barry Smith - Fiona models the bracelet with fanned lower edge
©2014 Barry Smith - Fanned edge cuff bracelet
©2014 Barry Smith - Cuff bracelet with lees of a fanned edge
There are a couple of different diameter more tradition bracelets that curve out and are closed circles that slip over the hand.

©2014 Barry Smith - Bracelet (inner diameter 7.8cm)

©2014 Barry Smith - Bracelet (inner diameter 6.8cm)
And there are 3 bracelets where the bottom of the curve nestles softly against the wrist.
©2014 Barry Smith  - Pair of cuff bracelets
©2014 Barry Smith  - Single cuff bracelet
Some of these cuff bracelets will make their way into the shop when I can take decent photos. I was pleased with the bracelet for the friend (the one at the bottom); and with the bunch that accompanied it. Because all the bracelets are made from used and recycled silver plated EPNS objects they all have varying degrees of marks and scratching - not bad - just a bit of history.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Of coffee and spoons

In the main the weekend has been given over to doing a few chores; and a bit of art. Key chores were putting together shelving and sorting some metal (boring but necessary to get the studio-grage in shape); and husking the coffee (very important to getting to the roasting stage). Art took the form of finishing and delivering some Leaf-spoons to Maleny Additions for sale.

©2014 Barry Smith - Coffee bean husks
I have got a system now for husking and winnowing the coffee husks - all low tech: a hand operated husker; a box fan; and a few trays and bowls for catching beans. The photos below show the husking work-station with fan and husker; a great photo of the husks been blown away; and various photos of the end product.

©2014 Barry Smith - Low tech coffee husking work station
©2-14 Barry Smith - First run through the husker - beans separated from the husks
©2014 Barry Smith - Down view of the husker's hopper
©2014 Fiona Dempster - Separating the beans from the husks using the box fan
©2014 Barry Smith - End results - green coffee beans and husks for the veggie garden
©2014 Barry Smith - Closeup of husks and green coffee beans
We are now set to do a roasting next week of these 2013 beans - will share that when we have done the roasting and tasted the coffee. I did about 1.5 hours of husking and produced 2.1kg of clean green beans. That will equate to about 8 X 250gm bags of coffee when they are all roasted. When I husk the remainder of the beans we picked I think there will be another 3-3.5kg of beans.

©2014 Barry Smith - Silver plated copper Leaf-spoons
©2014 Barry Smith - Silver plated copper Leaf-spoons - closeup of the swing tags
Photos above show the six Leaf-spoons that went to market. Maleny additions sells my Ladles and Leaf-spoons which appear to be quite popular. Good example of having the right work at the right price in the right setting. I'm fortunate to have Fiona to do the swing tags - gives the work a nice handmade look.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Time for a shrine

I read Robyn's blog post and it just confirmed the importance of creating our own small sacred or quiet places or spaces in our lives, home, garden or studio. I knew that I would only have a few hours in the studio-garage this morning as Fiona and I had a lunch engagement and then this afternoon were heading up to Noosa to support Kim Shoenberger in the opening of her exhibition Expressions of Love 2.

©Barry Smith - Centre detail from personal shrine - Radiating
Inspired by Robyn's post I decided to make a small personal shrine; which I managed to complete before heading off for our lunch engagement. Some of the components before heading to the grinding and polishing station are in the photo below.

©2014 Barry Smith - Some shrine components ready for polishing
The finished shrine - I call it Radiating - radiating peace, calmness and stillness. The section of the design I cut out of an old stainless steel serving tray has a radiating pattern; moving out from a centre design. I have used part of a small pocket watch as the centre feature to represent the moon - radiating calm energy. Brass and copper nails are used to provide highlights and to attach the stainless steel sheet to a plywood backing.

©2014 Barry Smith - Small personal shrine - Radiating
©2014 Barry Smith - Small personal shrine - Radiating
The shrine is completed by adding a small hammered silver plated EPNS bowl; a bowl holder made from the ring handle of a tray; an incense holder made from a slice of brass window winder; and a silver plated EPNS peace leaf (which I had made earlier).

©2014 Barry Smith - Personal shrine bits
©2014 Barry Smith - Personal shrine bits
This small shrine is free standing. It can sit on a table, window ledge or she nook in the studio. It is about 18cm high and 12cm wide. Still needs a bit of finishing - painting edges and final polish.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Art and other stuff on the block

It is all happening on our block: we have installed Susie Davis's Iris; the timber driveway extension is completed; the pumpkins have gone rampant; and the Frangipani are just delicious.

When we visited Susie in Arizona late last year we took the opportunity to buy 3 of her Iris to create an Iris installation on our block. We are pleased that they not only made it home; but are now installed on the gravel terrace next to the bell deck. And of course they will get better with age as they rust further in the open. Susie is an extraordinary handheld plasma cutter and welder metal artist. The Iris are about 90cm high.

©2014 Barry Smith - Iris by Susie Davis (Arizona)
©2014 Barry Smith - Iris by Susie Davis (Arizona)
©2014 Barry Smith - Iris by Susie , with Flags for Peace and Peace Bell
Over the last few months of 2013 I worked with a builder to design and construct a timber extension to our driveway. The existing driveway was too tight and the drop off edge was too steep. The timber extension needed to follow the curve of the existing driveway. We achieved this by creating the deck with two long sides following the curve; and three triangle surfaces to get the gradation. I love that it is like a big sculpture with the different angles of the surfaces of the triangles; and the decisions we made to run the timbers to emphasise the individual triangles worked - which also helped with the engineering of the work.

©2014 Barry Smith - Driveway extension
©2014 Barry Smith - Driveway extension
We planted four pumpkin seedlings this year in our pumpkin patch. All four took off and are producing good sized pumpkins; including three that decided that they'd like to be hanging pumpkins. The vines are gradually taking over the gravel terraces outside the studio-gallery and covering some of my sculptural pieces; but that is only temporary.

©2014 Barry Smith - Hanging pumpkin of 601mvr
©2014 Barry Smith - Pumpkin takeover at  601mvr
And the Frangipanis remind us with their aroma that this has been a good dry growing season. We love these original white-yellow highly perfumed blossoms.

©2014 Barry Smith - Simplicity of Frangipani
©2014 Barry Smith - Frangipani with battle
And as you can see from the photo above the bugs must like the aroma as well as there is a beetle hanging out in the blossom.

Though "the block" (1.25 acres) and all the fruit, coffee and veggies and weeds take quite a bit of effort to maintain - the rewards are worth it. We are very fortunate.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I was supposed to be sorting my studio areas ….

I promised myself that over the weekend I would finish sorting my studio areas because they were in chaos after pre holiday and open studio work, recent commission and purchases in Arizona and NYC. I did make a good start but yesterday afternoon I succumbed to the lure of metal; and this morning was given over to a printmaking 'play day' with a couple of fellow artists.

I just had to finish the pods I started on Friday; and I wanted to test a new stake I purchased from Greg Wilbur in Portland Oregon. I wanted to see how the stake dealt with making tiny raised bowls. Well you can see from the photo below that the stake worked well. The tiny bowl in my hand was hammered from a square scrap (about 3.5cm square) of brass from an old jardiniere.

©2014 Fiona Dempster - Hand of the maker with tiny raised bowl (hmm - fingers could do with a clean)
The copper rivets on the bases of the Pods have worked a treat - a good way to fill the holes and create a design feature?

©2014 Barry Smith - Rivets in Pods bases - reflecting the ceiling beams
I also used the stake to round in the edge of the more conical of the 3 pods in the photos. The Pods look great - all are quite small - all about 40-50mm long and 43-50mm in diameter. Two of the Pods are silver plated EPNS and one is silver plated copper. The small brass raised bowl looks good with the group.

©2014 Barry Smith - A cluster of small Pods and brass raised bowl
©2014 Barry Smith - A cluster of small Pods
I gave the larger Pod another polish and made a small brass stand for it out of a slice of brass tubing.

©Barry Smith - Baptismal cup Pod (formerly baptismal cup) with brass stand
A good art weekend; as well as a good social weekend of catching up with friends.  Oh well - I guess I will sort the studio areas during the week!!!!

Friday, January 17, 2014


Over the last couple of days I have been sorting out my working areas and also sorting metal; but I have also been doing a couple of pieces of work that are to repay other artists for their contribution to my work. In the first instance I made a name badge-brooch; and in the second I made a Pod. These pieces repay folk who give stuff to me to recycle for my art. In the first instance crystals and metal; and in the second watch and clock bodies and parts.

©Barry Smith - Rough rim of pod - lovely organic shape
My post tonight focuses on Pods. I had committed to make a Pod out of a baptismal cup that belonged to the clock part giver. I decided to make several other Pods from bases of goblets and a trophy cup as part of my Friday art. The recycled goblet bases all had holes in the centre so I decided to experiment with the inclusion of a copper rivet and copper washer to fill the hole.

In the development stage the Pods can look pretty ugly as you push the metal from almost flat or shallow bowl forms into a deeper bowl and then pod form.

©Barry Smith - Three pods in different stages of forming - see the rivet in centre of goblet base
©Barry Smith - Two of the Pods in pre-polishing stage
With a little more hammering and polishing they take on a beautiful form and lustre. The small Pod is shown with the copper rivet on the bottom. The larger Pod made from the baptismal cup was silver plate over copper. The silver plate was thin so the copper shows through with hammering and polishing.

©Barry Smith - The above Pods polished - note the copper rivet in the centre of the smaller pod.
©Barry Smith - The above Pods polished 
I hope to continue work on the other pods over the weekend. The baptismal cup Pod has worked out well; and I think a lovely bit of reciprocity for the watch and clock parts.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review and refresh

The beginning of the year offers many opportunities - many resolution can be made and later broken. Fiona and I committed to reviewing our websites and refreshing them and our online shops. Fortunately we have each other to encourage; and we managed to do our review etc over the last few days.

I have reorganised my galleries in my Portfolio page.

I managed to: add a new gallery on Pods into my Portfolio page; added quite a few photos to the galleries; moved some around; and ditched a few. With Fiona's encouragement I even named my photos - that gives a bit of a hint as to what they are about. I think visitors will get a better view of my art practice now.

And I managed to review my online shop. A number of new items have been added; and I think the items are better organised. See what you think.

I still have not put any large works into the shop - always an issue with packing and transport. Still It is a good feeling to have achieved one of my resolutions for 2014. Hope you are able to check out the Portfolio galleries and enjoy the wander through a few images new and old.