Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Quiet Talk With the Looking-Glass, Part One.

Nice to be back in the saddle, showing new work in progress. 

So much has gone down in the last few years here in Studio Stuffsmith. My found-object work went largely quiet for a few years while I learned a totally unrelated skill - capmaking. That intensive period gave birth to The Well Dressed Head, my online shop of early 20th-century cloth reproduction headwear and accessories. It has been thrilling to learn a new trade, and a sideline business that can share space with my art practice. It has also allowed me to step back from the mixed-media making to allow new inspiration to build and grow.

Now it is my real pleasure to walk you into my new sculptural piece.

The piece was started in March of this year in Halls Gap, Victoria during the world premiere of my new 'Object Lessons: Adventures in Assemblage' workshop. The mirror was removed from a turn-of-the-20th-century 'pyralin ivory' hand mirror. The silver was selectively removed and a collage was assembled on it.

This also resulted in locking down the work's title. The piece stayed like this until June, when it was brought halfway around the world to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, where it got a small inset lensed portal below the mirror.

With that small addition, A Quiet Talk returned with me to Sydney and waited patiently in the studio.

November sees it take center stage on my bench. The next step changes the piece significantly. 

I am off and running before I have a chance to grab my camera and document. Such is the creative spark. Early 20th-century steel scissors are riveted in place between the handle and a several-hundred-year-old piece of hardware (thumb-latch?) found amongst metal-detector fiinds in the UK. I cut and insert 18th-century book covers to fill the handles.

Next, for the bottom of the handle area, I choose a late-19th-century wooden organ stop handle, removing the pyralin-ivory text ('Stop'd Diapasm Pedal')from the front with a mind to using it on the back of the handle. I've drilled the cavity out substantially to create a larger chamber, and affix steel wire loops to help tie it down.

 Getting ready to rivet it in place.

Now the knob is tied to notches I made in the scissor blades and early 19th-century imagery from my recent workshop trip in Paris is decided upon.

Now I set about anchoring the scissor assembly from rotating on the handle. Steel wire will work well here and create a more complex silhouette.

 Much physically stronger and brings the disparate elements together visually.

Eye pins are made from fine steel wire to make anchor-points for the book cover scissor handles, as well as to peg the book-board in place so they don't get knocked out.

You can see the hole drilled in the bottom edge of the handle here, which will stabilize the book-board.

 Waxed-linen thread will be worked all through these loops.

Tying in progress. Also note the object in the center-rear. This is an extraordinary 17th-century Czech crystal bead.

The chamber is finished in the organ stop knob, finishing the front of the mirror. But before I give attention to the rear, it's time for me to dream up a stand to let the object rise off the ground.

Stay tuned for part 2.


  1. How wonderful to see and read about your return to found object art Keith! You are certainly a man of many talents! As well as loving your found object art, I also adore your caps!