Ceramics Work 2016

Here are some examples of my recent work in ceramics. Some of these forms are wheel thrown. Some of the wheel thrown forms are altered, some are not. Other work shown below is hand built as sculptural work, specifically, “Conversation”, “Seawall” “My Lady Reclines” “hmmmmm” and “Kelpie”.

As I started to think about how to place this sculpture, I created a template for a wood laminated base. After fabricating the raw base, I decided it was too strong to simply be a base for this sculpture, so I kept it on reserve for more inspiration for another sculpture. The quest for a suitable base continued…

The proposed base template would be executed in furniture grade plywood. The appropriateness of this treatment had not yet been evaluated for the steel sculpture.

Thinking about a base for this steel dragon...The next step was to cut and laminate some furniture grade plywood. I thought setting the dragon on its hoard might be an interesting treatment.

There be MORE dragons here!

One might wonder why I am creating dragon sculptures that are definitely influenced by traditional Chinese art, since my ancestry is clearly European. To that I feel compelled to reply a number of ways. First, our world has grown so flat, if you will allow me to say that, that cultures are intermingling in unprecedented ways. Second, Chinese culture and sensibilities are increasingly important in our changing world. Third, Chinese dragons traditionally brought spring and summer rains and storms, with all their power, both benevolent and destructive. Since we are living in a time of unprecedented severe weather events, it is entirely appropriate, in my view, to include these icons of life and destruction in my growing body of work. Having said all the above, I hope you enjoy the images I have uploaded of my most recent metal work, which is still in progress.

1/16″ Sheet Steel cut with a plasma torch, bent by hand and MIG welded.

This sculpture was done entirely in a flat sheet of steel. Bending the sheet metal into a three dimensional form proved most satisfying, as I saw my own hands creating form and movement out of something flat and static. My remaining tasks are to decide on the form and placement of hind limbs, to decide whether or not those hind limbs will add to the dynamism of this piece, and finally, whether or not I need to grind and polish the welds away, creating a discrete, shining sculpture. I am not sure how I think about burnishing away the marks of my workmanship.

Finally! The tornado stands on its own!

The tornado stands!!! I found a couple items that one of the other artists, Jason Kim, had used as welding practice which seemed likely to become part of a base for this sculpture. I asked him if I might incorporate the practice pieces into my sculpture and he said I could, so I went back to the welder and fused the two hunks of metal to my growing sculpture. Judge for yourself if you think they are effective. I am mostly happy the piece can now stand on its own! Of course, I will be making it available for purchase, once I put some finishing touches on it.

Base made of rectangular steel pipes, MIG welded together with round steel rods.

The closeup doesn’t really give a good idea of how the entire structure feels. I took some other photos of the sculpture in the studio, so you can see how the entire object looks. More photos are to come…

Sheet metal and steel rods, MIG welded together

Environmental art. What does that phrase mean, really?

Sometimes the phrase “environmental art” means creating art to draw attention to the beauty which surrounds us all the time while we live on our only home, which is the planet we call “Earth”. Sometimes “environmental art” means creating a thoughtful piece out of left-over material or even out of so-called “found objects”, in other words, other people’s trash. My newest project involves using the aftermath of an event that left many, many dry cleaning bags at my disposal. This work is intended as an installation, to be hung somewhere where others will be able to interact with the piece. I think it will be successful in drawing out all kinds of responses from others. The results should prove interesting…

After I cut strips from the bags, I weave them onto a branch I found on the ground in the aftermath of a large storm that swept through my area. This is where the name for the piece originated.

After finishing draping the first branch with plastic strips, I suspended the whole thing between two mobile shelf units to look at the result, so I could get a feel about how the whole thing might come together as well as what the piece might feel like upon completion.

I think it works so far, even without more draped branches. It reminds me of the way sea weed drapes itself over floating branches, which was something I didn’t really expect. It was suggested that I consider adding colored lighting to vary the effect of the plastic strips. I am not sure that will enhance the experience, but it might. I will think about that more as I continue to work on the piece.

Back to the Dragons of Spring and Summer

As I continue to work on the Steel Tornado, new ideas surface, including a possible addition in the shape and form of a free standing Chinese style dragon. As far as I know, dragons represented the coming of Spring and Summer, with accompanying rains, storms and heat. In the face of the extreme weather we experienced last week, in the form of a “direcho”, which left millions in my region of the country without power for a number of record breaking scorchingly hot and humid days, it seems right that one of these mythological, powerful creatures should stand outside the tornado, lending its’ strength to the weather event.

Sheet steel, cut and laid out with many spare parts.

I cut out multiple leg and claw options so that I may choose which pieces I like best. Once I have deformed the steel limbs, I will weld them onto the main body. Once that is done, I have a few more decisions to make about this piece: Is it valid on its own, or does it get added to the Steel Tornado.

Sheet steel cutouts of a dragon with one limb arrangement possiblity.

The dragon is laid out with possible leg arrangements so I can decide what I will do for the next step in this sculpture. I am not sure if this particular piece will be added to the Steel Tornado or if it will result in a unique piece that can stand on its own merits.