For something that started out as a cathartic and fun exercise, this project turned out to be surprisingly formative for me. While the finished works look fantastic, these wood-based sculptures continue to expanded the range of materials I employ while fundamentally reshaping the way I approach process and the idea of "fine-art".
I have never been very good at saving the best for last, so it is fortuitous that these special Worry-Stones were an unplanned extension of my project, as they are indeed “the best” and also, the very last of them.
I have two different variations on my Woody project to share today (not to be confused with the larger works I am currently producing). Also, for those of you interested, there is also a chance here to maybe add one of these to your collection.
So let's start things off with the work that is by far the most unique of the bunch, the Meteorite Worry-Stone. The insert for this work is made out of a real piece of the Aletai-Armanty meteorite, which is an iron-nickel meteorite that, when etched, exhibits a fascinating crystalline structure that can be found nowhere else on earth.
The original edition of Woody Worry-Stones were initially meant as a nod to some of the natural material combinations that knife makers most commonly utilize in their craft. I wanted to utilize those material trends for the purpose of sculpture. It was a fun concept that led to a very interesting edition of works and I learned a lot about a range of different hardwoods. But as it turns out, knife makers use such a wide spectrum of materials that by concentrating only on wood elements, I am barely even scratching the surface.
So to round out the project and further emphasize my thesis, I decided a non-wood material that represents a more extreme example of the materials knife makers utilize was in order.
One of the requirements I set out at the beginning of this project was that the inserts be made of only natural materials, among the more exotic examples that fit that requirement were fossilized mammoth tusk and saber tooth, also slightly more common is Ancient Bog Oak (which is semi petrified wood). But the material that really stuck out was meteorites, and for more than just the sheer novelty of it.
So yes, as a sculptural experiment that pivots around traditional knife making materials, this work certainly fits the bill. But step back a little further, and I think this work also embodies the bigger story I have been trying to tell about material progress and the ways that technologies always seem to trickle down into the arts.
I have spent my entire career making art that demonstrates how industrial processes (ones that are not traditionally thought of as art mediums) can be a primary source of inspiration for the making of fine sculpture. How if we look back far enough, many of the tools and technologies we readily accept as artistic mediums actually got their start on the factory floor rather than in the art studio. And that it is only when we are able to scale these technologies for individual use that they become more accessible to artist.
Thank you all again for following along, and the many kind and constructive conversations along the way.
As always, comments and questions are welcome.
Luckily, I don't believe in magic (as it is popularly conceived anyway) and feel that we do a disservice when we attribute human achievement to mysticism or mythical genius. The real beauty in everyday objects (as well as art) is the confluence of ingenuity and technology (be it high or low tech) that made them possible.
With all the worry going around, I felt a new pocket art (worry-stone) project would have a more immediate, positive, and diverting (for me anyway) effect. So I whipped up something with a twist that connects it to the current arc in my work by incorporating natural materials.
A few people have also offered to mail me different species to further expand this experiment.
Of the different varieties, ironwood is the most fun to turn on my machines hands down, it is very hard (for wood) and it has a dense grain that does not easily tear-out when performing an offset turning operation.
The Black Palm on the other hand is very fibrous and splintery, it is much more prone to tear-out and even splitting. It took me a few tries to get that one right.
Likewise, the redwood Burl is almost chalky or powder like. It behaves more like a mineral in turning and is prone to chipping rather than tear-out. I have had poor luck mitigating this so far, but have some other things I’d like to try.
Regardless, the redwood and Black palm inserts have needed considerably more handwork to clean them up, but there is no denying how great they look.
So in my own small way, I am thrilled to be able to put forward a project that is resonating with so many of you. There is just no better time to be making art. If anything, just to create a sense of normalcy and put something positive out into the world.
However I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little uncomfortable trying to overtly sell art in this moment of global crisis.
There are people out there doing incredible things to help each other and I must admit to moments where my work feels a little trivial in comparison. Also, blatant commerce in the face of human suffering just feels discordant. I know everyone has to make a living, but I am also human, so if I am being honest, I was hesitant about whether to put up a pre-order for this new experiment.
But after giving it a lot of thought, I realize opportunities to do good are everywhere and this work is no exception. Everyone must use the tools available to them to make a difference, these are mine.
With dire predictions about the impending economic fallout from this pandemic, I want to do my part to help support the arts here in Baltimore. I know there will be quite a lot of need very soon, and I want to ensure that the artists of my place and time can weather the storm that is coming.
Strategically it makes sense to wait to see where these dollars can be most effectively applied. But I am committed to do my bit. A full accounting of all my donations will be released once I get that part sorted out.
April 2nd at 12:30 PM EST.
The sign up period will be an entire week, as this is intended to help raise charity funds. I will post the link to the sign up form here on this blog, on my Instagram account, and in a newsletter that will go out when the sign up period begins.
(I do not post pricing on publicly facing media)
As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.
It is hard to talk about this piece apart from the Sculptural Knife Vase that came before it. This sculpture is intended as a sort of contrast to the vase as it shares many of the same elements, yet eschews it's utility in favor of being an object free of context clues or function.
Introducing The DoT Pocket Sculpture.
After my last post, which was admittedly a bit dense, I thought maybe a piece with a more off the cuff concept was in order.
The catalyst for this piece is a simple one, and it came just a few short weeks ago while at the opening for my exhibit at the National Museum of Industrial History. I found myself talking to a group of fellow machinists when one of them mentioned offhandedly that they thought that I primarily used only metal lathes in my work.
Despite my inexperience, I was able to make interesting works with quite a limited pallet of tools and processes at my disposal. The gentleman's comment gave me nostalgia for that somewhat simpler time in my evolution.