Thursday, December 4, 2014

You know...You really are an asp.

A while ago, I was a member of an art collective.  I was asked to join though I don't consider myself and artist in the contemporary sense.  I am more an artist in the there were guilds and apprenticeships and decades of training leading to work for royalty and the church sense.  Like Michelangelo.  The stone carver.  Or maybe like Lorenzo Ghiberti.  Only less bronze....and other stuff.  The thing is, most artisans didn't sign their work so I can't give you an exact example. 

Anyway, once a year the collective, which turned into a center to enhance somebody's resume, had a juried members show.  I was a member.  I paid my dues.  I entered the shows.  My piece was usually chosen to be included in the show.  I have a theory about why this was, but that is another story.  Sometimes my stuff, or work in the vernacular, doesn't strike the amateur art critic as art. 

I had a show in a government rotunda once, and during the opening reception some guy asked my parents what made my stuff art.  Naturally they called  me over so he could ask me directly.  I told him it wasn't.  Yeah.  Now that I think about it, that was graceless. 

Really though, the things I make don't belong under Plexiglas shields.  They should be used and touched and held and.....used mostly.

Okay, so back to the juried show at the art collective which no longer wanted me once it became a center.  Again it was at the opening reception...I overheard a guy tell his companion that the only reason I made the type of things I make is that I am not capable of figurative work.  -------------------------------------------  I can see now that I should avoid opening receptions.  

The next juried member show I entered this.

Forged steel finger

I can comment on the human condition as well as the next guy.  I can't actually sell it, however, because it has no use except maybe as a reminder that no matter what you do there is always someone who thinks it isn't a conscious choice.  That you do what you do because you can't do what you really want to do.  Actually, sometimes this is true. 
My model.  Isn't she beautiful?

This time I made a conscious choice to do something figurative.  I actually think it made the choice. I just did what the metal asked.  Yeah I know .... whooo whooo

When I first started out trying to smith, I didn't think pipe could be forged in basically the same way as solid bar.  I had a buddy, who is a fine smith, and he encouraged me to try it.  ( He's still my good buddy.  I knew you were worried. )  It made me incredibly happy to find out that you could move tubing in the same way that you moved solid bar.  This revelation created new possibilities.  Larger diameter with less weight.  It also created a solution in  this case.  I don't know if you know this but, just like clothing fashion, home fashion has fads.  The result is leftover materials.  I have a pile of 1/2" pipe ends.  Less than 6' long.   

I was holding a 30 some inch length and trying to figure out what I could do with it when I decided to go all figurative.  I would make a snake.  Really, I think it wanted to be a snake.   

Got its head in a vice

I started by fullering the neck to make the head.  I drew out the taper up to the jaw and then I shaped the head.   

You really don't want to touch the snake

Then I let it sit there for several weeks while I did other stuff.  Believe me when I say, half formed snakes are annoying.  In that time, though, I realized that a snake would be as useless as a chunk of pipe.  It would become a cane. 
Needs a little more cleanup

Carving the eyes and jaw came next.  I used a chisel to rough the form and then I went back in and dressed it with a die grinder. ( Sorry all you purists.  What can I say. )  Once the head was where I wanted it, I formed the handle and drew the tapered tail. 

Snake head cane handle

 I cleaned it up and waxed it.  It's a simple but useful thing.  I kind of like the way it turned out.

34" snake cane

Now back to work