Thursday, September 30, 2010

It had to happen

I have been doing the Light Catcher Series - small assemblage sculptures that incorporate a crystal from a recycled chandelier. Well I think this will have to be the last for a while. I really enjoy the creativity associated with going through my stash of bits; finding what goes with what; and putting the piece together. But I do need to do other things - some foldforms for the Bazola collaboration; leaves and bowls; and I want to get back to doing some of my outdoor posts.

Any way the above Light Catcher began its life as a old fashioned plumbers soldering iron; the head of a shellite flame soldering iron heater; and some gas pipe fittings - a good combo of fire related objects - and of course the crystal. After a bit of fitting and turning and polishing etc it has come together. I left the patina on the elbows for a bit of aged contrast. A quirky piece but I'm happy with it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another light catcher

I guess I will run out of bits or my fascination with creating small sculptural assemblages that incorporate a suspended crystal to catch the light will wane. But I have not reached either of those points yet. So as you can see from the photos below I have created another quirky light catcher.

This piece has been made from one ornate piece from a brass bed, an old brass Bunsen burner, a vintage cork screw with a horn handle, a brass block and a brass wing nut. I am trying different approaches to suspending the crystal - this time I have used a bit of brass chain - a bit of a work in progress. Still I like the look of this piece - it makes me smile.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rust in the city

Fiona and I have returned from a week of work in Canberra and Melbourne. We take the opportunity on such trips to check out a couple of galleries, catch up with friends and see what is new in the environment. One of our Canberra friends told us about a new inner city housing development that was using quite a lot of rusted iron as cladding and embellishments for the building.

The photo above shows part of a whole back wall of a multistory building that is clad in rusted iron.

In a small square behind the building we found the rubbish bins were also clad in the rusted iron - a feast for rust lovers

The square also had 4-5 public art pieces. The one that really caught my attention was this funnel form that had been created from old recycled rusted and painted corrugated iron roofing sheets - lots of cutting, overlapping and pop-riveting to create the form. It is about 2m in diameter; and is displayed really well on the wooden platform with the tree and rusted wall as a backdrop.

Friday, September 24, 2010

All that glitters is not gold

I have been busy making bowls and leaves to create a bit of stock for the pre-Christmas stock exhibition-sale in one of our local galleries. I have used quite a few scraps of recycled brass to create some of the leaf foldforms. I am now in the process of cleaning a polishing quite a few of these leaf forms.

The photo above shows a bit of a group of leaves that are now polished and ready to be boxed etc. I am pleased how the brass shines and contrasts with the patina of the original piece that is left behind. I am also discovering that the final annealing process before opening the form can result in some nice 'pinks' in the metal. The heat seems to bring some of the copper out of the brass.

Second photo shows a couple of the pieces in a bit more detail. A closer look would reveal the subtle pink on the longer leaf form. Another thing I have discovered as I use my polishing wheel is that a coarse stitched rag wheel not only gives a good polish but also can be used to take the sharp edges off the pieces. Hard to believe that the cloth can act almost like a file - I guess that is what the polishing is I should not be surprised.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Weathering butterfly

As you may be aware Fiona, Kim, Noela and I did some placemaking art at Mary Cairncross Park as part of the Festival of the Walks. The theme of the work was the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly.

One of the pieces was this large butterfly (about 1.4m X 1m) made by getting children to paste coloured 25mm square of colour onto a cloth frame with wheat starch glue. As the piece is now beyond its use by date I have decided to leave it out in the open to see what weathering process achieves - after all it is meant to be ephemeral art.

You can see already the glue is melting and the swatches of coloured paper are beginning to curl and fall off - interesting shapes appearing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Light catcher

After completing my earlier assemblage piece with the wheels and suspended crystal I am a bit hooked; and so I thought I might turn this into a small series of assemblage sculptures that have a mechanistic look but incorporate a crystal. Apart from the contrast the focus is on the crystal which can catch the light and either just reflect the light and softly glitter or will refract the light and cast fragments of white light or create rainbows if placed in a spot that can catch the sunlight.

Anyway I started this piece with the above old unusually shaped bunsen burner - in not such great shape. You can see I have added a double wheeled brass roller and an old rusted caster wheel. I have made good use of my tap and die set as I cut the caster wheel rod down and threaded it. I then cut the end off the gas inlet pipe on the burner bent it and threaded the inside of it so the rod of the wheel screwed straight into the inlet pipe. Having ground the pipe of the double brass roller down to fit inside the burner pipe I again used the tap and die to create a screw fitting to make sure it was all secure.

I think the photos above indicate it has turned out well. Just need a ledge and a sunny day.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Full-on Friday but...

This last week has been really full with work: work-work (the paid research etc variety), work on the block, community work and family and friend work - so there has little time time for creativity in the studio. On Tuesday I did manage to refurbish the drill for Fiona and the blacksmith vice for myself (it is now attached to the outside work bench).

Today has been like the rest of the week so I only got down to the dirty studio (garage) at 6pm so I could fit in about an hour of creativity before dinner. I used the time to polish a couple of the foldform bowls that were still in raw form.

In earlier post I had shown the disks of recycled and annealed metal; and what a bowl can look like after folding, annealing again and unfolding. The bowls pictured below are two made from two of the metal disks in the right top corner of the photo. Both have now been polished but not pickled to clean all the old patina off.

So you can see the incense bowl that I showed in the raw is now polished but still looking aged and recycled - including the nut that now holds the incense stick.

The other bowl is quite black on the back even after polishing because it was made from a piece of copper out of an old copper laundry boiler. The black is years and years of wood smoke and tar; and years years and years of laundry work - such history and human effort in the black back of a beaten bowl.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Incense Burners for steampunks?

Over the past few months I have made a few incense burners as gifts for friends. I have been experimenting with a combination of quasi-steampunk assemblage art and beaten recycled metal.

The emphasis is on using found objects that have had a functional and mechanical purpose and combining them with a beaten bowl to create a quirky piece that can be functional again as an incense burner.
I'm going to do a series of these burners to sell as part of the stock exhibition a couple of galleries.

The small candle holder like incense burner above is made from a number of copper and brass bush bearings and a shallow bowl made from a square piece of recycled copper plate.

The second incense burner has a closer association to fire in that it is in the main made from the burner of a solid fuel stove (found by the side of the road), some other bits and three small shallow punched bowls set inside each other.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wheels and crystal small assemblage sculpture

In an earlier post I talked about a small sculptural assemblage I was creating. Well today I gave myself permission to finish it. We did not get creative making time on Friday; and yesterday was given over to moving more gravel on our terraces and starting the construction of Graham's orchid 'house'.

So here are a couple of photos of the almost compete piece - one an outside shot with the mountains and one inside on the shelf to give a sense of what I could look like on a window ledge in some one's home.
I will take the crystal off and treat the galvo nuts with acid; and then put the whole piece outside for a couple of weeks to cure (go uniformly rusty). I have designed the piece to be placed so that it will capture the sunlight and create rainbows on the walls. You can see from the inside shot just how well the crystal reflects light. I also wanted to have the contrast between the rusted found objects and the brilliance of the crystal (also recycled - from and old chandelier). The assemblage is about 300mm high.
The piece gave me the opportunity to use the tap and die set - all the caster wheels have been hand threaded and the nuts drilled out and threaded to match the thread on the wheels.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Foraging on Friday

No creations were made today; but there are lots of bits collected that will add to future pieces. As I indicated in my last post Fiona and I went on a material stash replenishing trip today. I know that many fellow artists (e.g. Donna) understand the need to visit 'collectable' establishments to see if we can find 'good stuff' that we can add to our creative pile for use in future pieces.

We were lucky to come across a place that had lots of bits and pieces that the owners were happy for artists to sort through to pick bits for assemblage work - and at bargain prices. The photo above shows the resulting stash - mind you there are a couple of pieces that I had to pay over the odds because they are 'collectable'.

And on this foraging trip we were lucky to buy another large copper laundry boiler at a very reasonable price - great patinated copper for both Fiona and myself.

And yes there is more - I got this rusted but very restorable blacksmith's vice (about 1m long) - it will be great for foldforming once I have serviced it and mounted it on the outside work bench.

And there is yet more even (so exciting!!!) - Fiona found this great hand operated bench drill - it is in pretty good order; and once cleaned etc will be great for drilling the 'pages' of Fiona's metal books - a lot more control with the hand driven drill.
So at the end of our Friday we are happy - with our heap of rusted and patinated bits - our art material stash.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Balance: patina and production

My blog profile indicates that as an artist I make every endeavour to use reclaimed or salvaged materials in my work. Sometimes that is not possible; and sometimes people just don't like the look of aged, recycled, patinated or rusted metal. My brother told me recently that I could sell a lot more of my work if the material was shiny and fitted into modern houses.

The challenge for me is to create enough unique pieces and in a variety of materials to meet different tastes and demand for my beaten metal pieces. I have decided that where possible I will continue to use reclaimed and recycled materials (with all its history and natural patinas); but will balance that with shiny new material.

Today Fiona's dad (Graham) and I did a round trip of four hours to take delivery of the above four sheets of metal. All nice and shiny and all .9m x 1.8m - so pretty big really!! Two sheets are copper (.55mm and .7 mm thick) and two sheets of brass (.8mm thick) - I'm thinking that will keep me going for quite some time on the new and shiny front.

However on the recycled front Fiona and I are off for a forage around second hand and 'collectable' places to see if we can score more jardinieres and copper laundry boilers that have the lovely patinas such as that above.

I find it interesting that in art as in life it is all about trying to stay true to principles and yet also finding the balance; and not being closed to suggestions and challenges.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wheels upon wheels?

Lately I have been beating away at metal to create some stock for a couple of galleries but felt that I needed a change of creativity. So I have decided to do a few assemblages - small quirky sculptures from found items. I will concentrate on incense bowls and pieces that incorporate crystals from a dismantled chandelier.

I have made a start on this piece that will eventually have a 50mm crystal suspended from the top wheel. Hopefully the light will be refracted as it goes through the crystal and create rainbows.

I started with an old gate hinge I straightened to 90 degrees, an old tensioning wheel, an odd rusted plug and several wheels from old cupboards.
I am trying to create my own bolts and nuts to fasten such pieces together. I have bought a tap and die set to do this - spent a couple of hours today doing some test runs before starting on the pieces.

Friday, September 3, 2010

How is your serenity?

Today has been a pretty huge day in a physical way. Fiona and I had committed to working with Brendan and his dingo to relocate 6 cubic metre of gravel onto the lower terraces so I can spread it over the next week. It is very hard to keep up with a machine - we were moving the gravel downhill so Brendan could take it on a two minute trip.

I had also committed to helping a 78 year old neighbour cut down all the large branches of a very large avocado tree - a two hour chain saw etc etc job. By 2pm I was whacked.
This afternoon Fiona had a research related interview In Maroochydore so I took the opportunity to duck across to Nambour to buy a bench grinder that can double as a metal work polisher.
But after all that and before settling down with a wine and homemade pizza I did manage to create a small palm sized reflection-meditation bowl. The photo of the bowl in my grimy hand indicates the size.

I guess I made this bowl as a statement - although the day has been demanding our life on the block and in our neighbourhood is rewarding and full or good things - so serenity bowl was a fitting way to end the day.