Sunday, June 14, 2015

A New Piece, in-progress, Part 2.

Apologies for the long delay in posting the finish of this neckpiece, it caught me just before a teaching trip to the US and time got away! Let's pick it up where we left off last time.

With the spoon lashed firmly in place inside the mold, I start working on other areas. I'd like to trap a bead behind the spiralled wire here, so I tuck the spirals out of the way so I can make a recessed area at the base of the handle.

Drilled and waiting.

On to getting some paper onto the structure. I'd like to encase the metal in some beautiful distressed paper. This is about as lovely a distressing as possible - a vintage Japanese book that is laced with borer holes and tracks.

Each spread reveals a new and exhilarating Rorschach of spontaneous design.


The silhouette is coaxed out...

...and applied.

Another piece is used for the back as well. Now to let it dry so that rust will work its way into the paper.

Set aside to dry overnight, and rust appearing.

Now I'm ready to squirrel out a title for the forming piece. Into my library of titles I go. This is always a great part of the process, where a certain title will ring true to the fledgling piece - the next found object to join the crew.


Because so much paper is already shrouding the piece, I decide instead to etch it and make a metal plate to mount. The lettering is hand-engraved into the ground and then etched and now sawn out.

The wire tails I'd left long before are perfect as attachment devices for the title plate.

Now I can snip them down and form them to the plate.

Hooked into place, this allows a little bit of movement to the plate, which I like.

I turn my focus to the broad end of the spoon handle. I'm going to bend it around front to allow the lovely hallmarks to read, but I'd like to cut a window away to suspend a small object.

The shape drawn.

And cut.

A wire fitting will mount into the holes and create a hanging loop in the top center.

A gorgeous little Victorian boot button takes the place of prominence.

Ready to install.

And set in place.

The chain/cord is all that remains now. I used some square steel-wire chain I made for a previous piece and joined it to leather to complete the piece.

Which you can view, at long last, HERE.

Or, if you happen to be in Providence, Rhode Island you can see it in person for the next few days (until the  19th of June), as it's in the tail end of an exhibition I have a handful of works in - more info here.

Thanks for bearing with my tardiness! 


Thursday, February 19, 2015

A new piece, in-progress - Part 1.

Welcome back to Studio Stuffsmith!

A flurry of activity has kept the lights burning late recently. Let's walk together through one of them.

Many times, while demonstrating a particular technique in a classroom or on an instructional video, I will begin something that warrants further pursuit later on. 

So it was that during the filming of my 'Steeling Beauty: Chains, Clasps and Forms in Steel Wire' workshop (airring online for the last time in June of this year) I enveloped this tin baking mold with a steel wire harness.

 These stills from the workshop video show it getting started.

As I moved on to the next stage of filming, the piece was put in my in-progress box, where it sat until now. Time to take it and see it through.

I choose this Victorian spoon as the back to the tin, creating a chamber that can be viewed through the portal I've cut.

As they are wildly different shapes, I'll design connections that will try to allow them to snug up  in the best way possible. I decide to lash them together with twine. Holes are drilled around the periphery of the spoon.

Corresponding holes are drilled into the mold, and then a panel of mica is cut to seal the window of the piece.

The front as it stands now. The rust is encouraged, as I have been planning on covering the metal in such a way as to take advantage of that rust.

Now to work the interior of the spoon.

 Oak acorn caps from my recent journey to Canberra will be used in the chamber.

A terrific hand-tinted engraving from the 1840's will furnish me with the imagery needed.

Readying to go into the caps.

Air-drying and waiting their turn in the assembly.

The incredible engraved detail of the skirt will work perfectly inside the bowl of the spoon.

Now a rather complex multi-day resin pour begins, where there will be several planes of resin pools.

The addition of leaf-insect eggshells and sea-urchin spines nestle around the acorn caps, completing the tableau to be glimpsed inside. This will be the last time I see it unfettered, as once the piece is closed up, the viewer will only see hints of the interior. 

Allowing the contents to extend beyond the viewers' range allows for the slow unfurling of details on repeated viewings. I love that.

A beautiful high-tensile 1900's twine is worked around the piece, lashing the two assemblies permanently together.

About to close the clamshell, as it were.

Slowly working my way around the mold, knotting the twine into place.

Much to do yet! Join me next time as we bring it all together.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Poetry in Motion is now on DVD!

I just couldn't be prouder to release my new DVD workshop set, POETRY IN MOTION: Making Marvelous Mobiles. Forget what you think you know about mobiles - this is a thrilling creative journey that will have you flying, literally.

It can be purchased here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Story of a Shadow, in progress.

During the taping of my latest online workshop entitled 'Getting Attached: Rivets Revealed' (to be held again next July, for those who want to join me then), I began this piece in order to demonstrate some creative riveting techniques on film. What resulted is The Story of a Shadow.

I begin the journey with a beautiful century-old Japanese book, to be treated as the vessel and starting point.

After sitting with it for a while, I spot an item in a 'Stuff' box that has been loitering for over two decades in my studio, so patiently waiting its turn. A silver trophy plaque.

Out comes the saw to make it fit the book.

Now the book is hollowed out to make a chamber.

The interior is built with the windows of the plaque in mind...

......and the book is clamped into a block.

The top of a dried pitcher from one of my carnivorous pitcher plants will be removed and used inside the book structure. The delicate ribs are captivating.

Washers are cut out of heavy brass sheet to make rivets that will secure the book shut.

One washer cut and shaped.

As much of this piece was made while being filmed, the body of the piece is completed without further still images.

The chain I decide on is a new one for me, made from heavy square steel wire. It's challenging to work with this wire because of its heavy gauge and the fact that it is half-hardened off the roll.

Hand-polished and ready to mount to the pendant.

Please visit my website to view the finished neckpiece here.

I'll be back in the studio soon for the next work!