Friday, May 18, 2018

Torso Girl

Torso Girl
Metal.....  15'x30"

This is the last sculpture I've been working on.  It's an epic piece in that it has hundreds of nuts and bolts all arranged and welded together to create this torso.  This sculpture has taken me considerable time to get to this stage. 

I still have some tweaking to do on this.  The back needs re-enforcing welding in strategic places so it won't break. I need to create some sort of bracket so it can be mounted on the wall.  Other than that she is done.

Now here is my question, especially for artists out there working on large pieces.  When doing a piece of artwork that takes an enormous amount of time it prevents you from completing several smaller pieces.  Sometimes selling several smaller pieces is easier than selling a major piece. 

What and how do you deal with this scenario?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Conducting an Art Show

The Last Art Show

The last art show that I participated in was at the Home and Garden Show in my home town. I belong to the local art guild and we were able to set up our art work in the lobby entrance. As people walked in to go the the arena part where the home and garden show was they would pass by our art work.

There were eight of us including myself, and I'm the only one that sold a piece of artwork. I also got some really good contacts and leads for workshops, and also other sales based on what some people saw. I seem to be outselling my art colleagues at the art shows and I wonder why this is so. At this show I had a good chance to see why this is so. 

Whenever someone seemed to be looking at my work I would engage with them, telling them about the piece, what inspired me, how I made it and I'd talk about myself as an artist. Then I'd make sure the person would get a card so they could check out my work further at home if they wanted to. 

Just on this point I noticed a difference. Some of the other artists were quite happy to sit among themselves having a conversation, even while people were looking at their artwork. One of the other artists was involved in promoting our summer Art in the Park. Another two members had their work hung but did not involve themselves with being an active participant in the show. The way I figure it is if you want to sell your work then you should be there doing that.  ART DOES NOT SELL ITSELF typically.  Now having just said that, the piece I sold was by one of the participants of the Home Show that saw my Kokopelli while she was entering the building going to her booth. She took my card and gave me a call telling me that she wanted to buy the sculpture. This does not happen very often. 

What I have to realize is that each of these eight people have a different agenda when it comes to being an artist. Some of us are just poking at it with a stick, just a hobby on weekends, they like the friendships of the other members, it's an outing and many such reasons. Not high on the list of wanting to be a professional art business (such as myself). So I learned that all I need to do is to continue to focus on what I want to do and let everyone else do what they want to do. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

African Queen

A New Series: African Masks

Just a short while ago I purchased a book on African Masks because that's just another thing that I have a fascination for. The reason I bought the book was for inspiration so I could make masks myself out of metal. 

Today I made the first one.  I started out by cutting the shape out of a sheet of 1/8" in sheet metal.  After that I used my blacksmiths forge to shape the head just the way I wanted it.

Next I cut out the eyes and the mouth which was followed by welding on a nose.  I needed hair and I remembered that I had this neat brush made of horse hair.  I was able to fabricate that to the back of the mask.  The next thing I did was to add a bunch of grinding in just the right places.  The only thing left was to add some colour and some triple glaze shine.  Add a hook to the back and I'm done.

This mask is grotesque.  It sure won't be everyone's cup of tea, in fact it wasn't Laura's that's for sure.  Matter of fact, she said that it will not hang on the fence where I have some of my other sculptures.  Well, that's ok... because not every one of my works can be loved.

Now I'm inspired to create a whole series of masks.  Tonight I'll get down to the books and research masks. 

What do you think of this?  Please leave a comment..

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Making of "Sailor's Dream"

Sailor's Dream

Recently I began working on an installation piece that I've titled "Sailor's Dream". Now here's the rub.  I can't show the finished piece because I believe it's too controversial. 

With all that's happening right now in the world in regards to how men relate to, have related to women leaves me no choice but to be very careful on how this installation is presented to the public. 

I had coffee with a good friend the other day and showed him my progress on the piece and told him the story behind the piece, and he says with the story the installation is alright. In and of itself may not be alright.

I challenged my social media followers to write a poem or story based on the elements of the installation. At this point two people have responded with great poems and another person refereed a song that he remembered. 

Here are the items that I listed to write the story.

1. a single metal frame bed from a coastal ship
2. a sailor
3. a beautiful woman
4. rope
5. a footlocker
6. a dream
7. pinup pictures

The Sailor

Shawn Van Wagner

Tired, with muscles like rope
From hauling lines
Rises at dawn from his metal cot
Aboard the ship
In the harbour.

He descends the plank,
Footlocker hoisted...
And she is light upon his shoulder
His dream girl.
She lives inside his coffer
and she lives in Hollywood...

He doesn't know
She is depleted...
With drink, with drugs
He only dreams...

He dreams of her
As he sails
Over the shiny metal rails
Of the CN line
Through prairie grass
To home.

A plain beautiful woman
Sits across from him
He doesn't see her.

The Sailor

Kimberley Guilmette

he felt like he was drowning
in the soil beneath his feet,
like heavy ropes were tugging at the sinew of his calves
tearing deeper and deeper into  his hard and well-worn muscles,
into his very chest wall and strangling his heart
he was fatigued and unable to fight back
he had to abandon her, he could not live on this land that she adored
he needed the ocean beneath his feet...
to survive
he made the choice

he loved her with all his soul, but his heart belonged to the sea...
it was calling him home...
to the peace found upon his cot
to be rocked into a sleep deeper than death
by the swelling waves that embraced his soul
that were as welcoming as a return to the womb

only to wake with dried salty tears upon his face
reminding him of a choice long ago made
and to her fading face looking down upon him
he reaches a hand to touch what might have been

he made the choice

Someone else commented that the selected items reminded him of a song, "Southern Cross", by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

If you want to see this installation you must write a poem or story using the selected items above. I've rewarded each participant with photos of the installation and invited them to the studio to see the art piece.  

Write a poem or story and you too can see the Sailor's Dream

Monday, March 19, 2018

Foundry Press

"What is it?"

I was able to get this fabulous steampunk sort of tool from the old Imbleau Foundry in Renfrew, which made manhole covers. 

I usually don't like to pay for items but this was too good to not have.  I have some other rather unusual items such as this that I'm going to use as a personal sculpture at my studio if only for the reason that these unusual things give me great pleasure. 

As the weather improves I'll be putting this masterpiece together.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Building a new forge

I bought this small forge several years ago, and I never used it so I decided to sell it. The blower works good but the fire pot is starting to rust out and the legs are in rough shape too. I posted this on several "For Sale" sites including the one for Blacksmiths For Beginners. 

I was asking $550 dollars for this, not because of the value of the fire pot but because of the value in the blower. I had one fellow comment that he bought one similar to this for $25 and indicated that I was asking too much. There is always someone who gets a great deal. 

I had it up for awhile and got no responses so I decided to rebuild the forge. I found a piece of sheet metal approximately 32"x22"x3/16" thick.  Perfect. I was going to reuse the blower on this new forge but after cutting the hole in the plate steel for where the air comes in I realized that I should have had the hole a little closer to the side. The blower was not really going to work.  I decided at that point to use electric air, as I call it. 

This was a really neat project. I was able to get all the parts I needed although I was hoping for some sort of blower/fan but could not find one anywhere in town. I decided to use a hair dryer as so many people have used before. I did a test and the forge worked really good. 

I thought that I would sell this one for $350, because I could always make another. As a matter of fact, when this sells I'm going to do just that.  I already have another brake drum ready to go. I'll go to the metal shop and buy the material to make it. 

I could do this. Make forges. There are many people who want to get into forging but don't have the welding facilities to make their own.

Do you want a forge?   Contact me....

Saturday, March 3, 2018

My Life As A Modern Day Hunter-Gatherer

How to be a modern day hunter gathererI’ve made claims that my life now is more likened to a modern day hunter-gatherer than that of a farmer-herder. I see a farmer or a herder as one who stays in one place garnering all that they need in life from one source – a job or career, whereas the hunter-gatherer goes out daily and collects from many sources. One day perhaps he manages to shoot a mastodon and it feeds him for many days and weeks, or perhaps nothing much is found so all he comes home with is a basket full of berries. A successful hunter-gatherer does not let this worry him though, for he knows that tomorrow bigger and better things will be there for him.

That’s how it is for me. I’ve worked in the construction industry for forty-seven years. That life is like being a farmer or herder; always relying on one source for ones needs. For the past several years though I’ve moved away from farming and herding to hunting and gathering, and I must say I’m enjoying this much more. The modern day term for this is "diversification" or metaphorically speaking, "not putting all your eggs in one basket".

I still do construction work but very little now. Several years ago I took a course in welding and oxy-acetylene cutting and began my career in creating abstract metal art. Now this has proven to be very fruitful, not only making and selling art, but conducting workshops at my studio as well. 
Also I make cremation containers for a local funeral home. 
I provide a service where I do dump runs, and I find that what people don’t need or want I sometimes turn this around and make money on that. For example, I may get a piece of furniture that I can re-sell or perhaps there is metal in the dump run that I can use for my artwork, and if not, I can sell it at the scrap yard for cash. 
Also, as a minimalist, I’ve been selling that which I don’t need or want anymore. 
What’s really new for me is recently I’ve been asked to conduct a speaking engagement or workshop on journaling which I will get paid for, so I can add professional speaker to my hunting and gathering skills. Oh yes, I’ve reached the age of retirement and now get my retirement pension checks from the government.

For the average person this type of lifestyle would be too stressful. I don’t find it to be so because my whole life I always wondered if there would be work tomorrow. I’ve learned to trust.

There is a story in the Bible where the Israelites were in transition from Egypt to the Promised Land and wandered in the desert for forty years. They were in need of food so the Lord provided ‘manna from heaven’. Every morning there was a white substance that could be gathered off the ground that fed them for the day. There was only enough for one day though, and the people had to trust that tomorrow there would be food provided again for them again. This went on for the remainder of their journey and once they arrived there was plenty of other types of food for them.

So, for me I’ve been wandering in the desert for the past forty-seven years, always trusting that there would be food tomorrow, and so far I have not been let down. I wake up each morning and look for my preverbal manna.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you a hunter-gatherer? If so, how is it working for you?