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.


  1. Hello, Barry.

    Good feeling works.
    Thank you for your support all the time.

    A nice February.
    From Japan, ruma ❃

  2. A good all-weather assemblage.. would be good with vines growing up it, too!!

  3. Magic!! I'm sure your friend will be delighted.

  4. this is GORGEOUS!! I love old sewing machines. I have one too from my grandma, tho not as old, but i'm keeping it at a friend's place until I have a bigger space to accommodate it. that is one brilliant looking assemblage B. You're a magician, no doubt.

  5. R, VA, R & L - welcome rust and lovers of old assembled stuff. R - the portal does have a good feel about it - a doorway to serenity. VA - It will be interesting to see what the owners do with it. R - friends have said they are over the moon. L - I thought today just how fortunate we are to have so much space for our art. Go well. B

  6. what a wonderful transformation…. love this x

  7. Genius, B! I feel with every post I'm getting such valuable lessons in seeing the bigger picture, just seeing how you do things is such a privilege! Thanks B!

  8. Very cool Barry! So sorry to be so out of touch...Fiona pointed me to this post with her comment on my blog....a mixed media portal on paper....but this becomes the real deal! Fabulous use of the materials and honoring the history of the Singer....wonderful! Cheers to you!


Comments are welcomed - it is good to connect with fellow travellers.