Monday, January 27, 2014

Four, and What They Did, In Progress.

There are pieces of artwork, once things are in full swing in Studio Stuffsmith, that seem to make themselves as I stand, conducting the players but bystander to the unexpected outcomes.

This is such a piece.

I select this magnificent steel spigot handle, layers of paint exposed through years of weathering the elements, and it sets me in motion. I've wanted to tuck into this particular object for about ten years, and this is the time to act on it. I also mentally take note of a very special object that I'd like to use as a 'chain', but it's too early to think about just yet.

The spigot handle is pretty heavy, so I decide to remove the center struts and therefore take half of the weight with it.


The removed element is beautiful on its own, and will be saved for a later opportunity. Rummaging through my trove, I carry my newly-liberated spigot with me to see what transpires.


It doesn't take long: a beach-worn aluminum bottom of a soda can, encrusted with fragments of sea life, catches my eye.


 I will never tire of this work, for it is this 'click' moment that energizes each act in the studio. The fit is exact, and they speak to each other like old friends.

And so they are lashed together, these survivors of the scrap heap.



 I then decide to make a chamber inside which I can build my composition, and it must be watertight, as I have the thought to encase the center in resin.

I select four of my precious 'gem' size tintypes from the 1860's, each one-of-a-kind image no bigger than a postage stamp.

Two men and two women, all from the same photo album (family? good friends?), who will also be tied to each other with thread.


As a central focus, this is so strong for me, that I stop and begin to search for a title. An hour or so later, I've found it, and it too is one I've hoped to use for many years.

Some epiphanies over the course of making shout loud and clear; others are quiet but no less powerful for their impact. This is the first time I've chosen, instead of tearing my title organically, to carefully cut it out in a 19th-century fashion. I'm a bit shocked this has never crossed my mind to do, with the thousands of pieces I've made in the last quarter-century!

The first layer of resin is poured.


The title is laid, and will float, suspended, in the center of the mix.


48 hours later, I can continue work on the piece. I drill recesses into the four main compass-points of the spigot in which to set opals.


The opals in place. Now to complete the resin structure.

A large mold I made earlier will become the dome of the lens.

It's a delicate operation to join the two resin halves together without air bubbles being trapped.


Pressure is applied and the piece remains clamped to set for about 72 hours.

My attention can now turn to the delightful, if extreme, choice of hanging elements: a Victorian-era masonic ceremonial sash, which I slightly modify to feature the spigot as its 'medallion.'

The almost impossible intricacy of the sash seems to lend the focal point a pathos it didn't have on its own. I love them together. After completing the back of the piece (I sadly did not have my camera to record this part), it calls itself done.

To view the finished piece:

Or, for purchasing information:

 Thank you for joining me!


  1. Incredible piece - your work amazes me!
    I was curious to know where soil came in to play, and upon closer inspection I found it. And, even the clipped off fringe was used - you are genius, I say!

  2. Whoop! Look who's back in the saddle! Amazing as always...

  3. Love the idea of using the sash Keith, it looks wonderful! I can relate to the "click" moment of "why didn't I think of this before". Robin & I have those moments & gosh, there's two of us! Nice job here & so much enjoy seeing your process. Thanks!

  4. Interesting work Keith, your work contains a deep sense of nostalgia.I like your combinations of old black and white imagery infused with resin. I like the way individuals may work with found objects of any given nature and create a style intrinsically dependant on a persons backround influences. Your work is an ispiring bricolage!

  5. When i saw how u hung it on the collar, i was speechless! Absolutly perfect, bella, bella!! Tx for sharing and inspiring, aloha, angi in hana