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Sculpture TK 671322222512

This is the last piece of the year, and it has been a very fruitful one for me in a lot of ways, so I think I will start this last post of 2023 with a story. So here goes, and also, look at the new work while you read!)

I was having lunch with a collector friend of mine a few weeks ago. We were talking about art and music (naturally) and he commented on how he felt I was much better able to talk about creating art in a way that he never could when he plays music.

I was a little struck by what he said because, while I recognize that I am certainly able to talk about the topics and influences that surround my work, I am no better able to describe the free associative tasks that go into conjuring a design for a sculpture than a jazz musician is able to describe what is going on while they are riffing during a session. That is I can say "what" happened, but I cannot truly say I know the "how" or "why" when designing a piece.

And to be honest, I have never really met an artist that could.

Which is to say I think we all recognize that creativity is mysterious like that, which is why it seems so special. We can analyze and even plan some amount of constraints we want when we go into making something, and we can apply all sorts of logic, critique, and context to what results afterward, but the squishy creative part that I simply call “the middle” remains largely inaccessible to us.

We can catch glimpses of "the middle" and even get better at riding the indescribable wave like a surfer, but that free associative state in which connections are made between wildly disparate pieces of inspiration in order to make something new, by my estimation, seems to take place largely within the subconscious.

And thats that. I can't talk about it any more than anyone else. I can only talk about the circumstances leading up to it, and what happens during the act of building the thing that I thought of afterward.

I posited that maybe musicians, by the performative nature of their work, simply spend a lot more time “in the middle” than visual artists who might have more time on either end of a creative act to rub their chins, ponder, and process.

Anyway, thats my story, and with that all said, I want to introduce my newest major work, and share some of the inputs that led to this output.

Introducing the TK 671322222512.

Here is what I can say about the inputs for this particular piece. 

In the last year, I have been inspired by a very special tea pot made by an artist I follow, some ancient stone disks from the National Museum of Asian Art, a bunch of automotive design stuff, and of course my own recent adventures in wood turning. 

How all of those pieces fit together to produce this particular composition are not entirely clear, but all of those things have a "feel" that I think speaks directly to what this work is about. Especially details like the inner ring.

And of course, on the practical side, the real catalyst for this piece is simply that I had this beautiful blank of stabilized Box Elder Burl left over from another project, and was determined not to waste it. 

Perhaps that is not entirely satisfying, but it is something I have become quite comfortable with. 

So thats it, when I write about my work, I simply prefer to spend my time making note of the interesting inputs I've discovered. I like talking about leveraging different tools and techniques to help me express my ideas, and then attempting to place my output into the broader context of craft and the history of humans who make things. But in terms of how I truly come to make what I make, it just happens, it is automatic. 

It is, and kind of has to be, that simple.

But don't get the wrong idea, I am stoked that I also get to build and explore a lot of cool engineering, design, and materials science through my process along the way. I am just saying that is a different facet of my work from what we call creativity. 

Hopefully it can be freeing to realize nobody truly understands what they are doing. 

The end.

This piece stands 14.25" tall, the disk is 9" diameter, and the base is 6" tip to tip

Lastly, I hope everyone has had a productive year and I look forward to seeing what 2024 will bring. Happy New Year, and as always, comments and questions are welcome.

Lastly, lastly. Of course, I am obligated to mention for the foreseeable future that if you haven't already, check out my new book. The details of which are all at this link (where it just so happens you can also order it)


The Mod 4


Introducing the Mod 4, the unexpected fourth entry in my module series.

I say unexpected because I had thought I had put this idea to bed two years ago. Well it turns out that having spent the intervening years putting my life's work to print has meant re-evaluating more than a few of my past projects. It just comes with the territory, and this particular project really stuck out for me as having one glaring missed opportunity.

The original Module tryptic consisted of magnetically assembled modular works based around three platonic solids. A tetrahedron, a hexahedron, and an octahedron. Each sculpture is composed of a simpler, smaller module that assembles into a larger composition using an array of strong magnets. 

The next shape in the platonic solid progression is a dodecahedron, a shape that has 12 faces.

Well, if you count, this piece only has ten modules, and that is because as an artist, I have the luxury to edit and change the rules however I want, and in this case, I decided to take a little detour. So while it is based on a dodecahedron, I opted for the chance to create a more interesting interior space, and so omitted two of the modular faces.

I explain all this and much more of the technical tribulations of designing this piece in the video above.

I love these module pieces because they create a lot of complexity from so few unique parts. And of course the fact that they assemble and disassemble quickly with the use of magnets is also endlessly appealing. 

The main reason however that I am pursuing this small composition now, is that I believe it will be a springboard for a larger piece I have cooking in my brain.

The size on this piece is about 2.75" from tip to tip and about 1.6" deep

I am continuing to refine this work, but I wanted to get a post out. As I write this, I am making a version in titanium to make a stronger, lighter weight piece. The magnets work perfectly fine in stainless steel, but the Titanium will lighten the piece substantially, and I believe that will be appealing in this case.

Titanium also opens up some interesting anodizing options that I am looking forward to exploring. 

At the moment, I have been tackling the very limited Ti anodizing I use with a modified (and inferior) process (limited to the usual Gold, blue, and Purple colors). 

I thought it was high time I set up a more capable titanium anodizing station, which is very different from aluminum anodizing.  This will take just a little time while I bring in supplies, but in no time I hope to have some good examples to show.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the first prototype work. 

Note to collectors: While I am hesitant to announce a pre-order without all of the pieces in place yet, but I also know some people are already chomping at the bit to add one of these pieces to their collection. So lets set a date, and then if things change, then well we all will have to adjust.

So here goes.

Sign up for this work will be Wednesday Nov 29th at 11 AM EST.

I will send out the link through my usual channels (email, the blog, IG etc)

All of the details for the sale, along with (hopefully) full specs on the Titanium version will be sorted out by then. So mark your calendars and I will have more info when the time comes.


Also an exciting update on the release of my new book! The release date has been moved up to NOV 28th! Just a week away. 

So if you get your order in now, it will be in your hands with plenty of time before the holidays. Some early pre-orders have already been delivered! 

What an unexpected surprise to even myself. I’m totally stoked! (and I never use that word, but it is the correct one)

As always comments and questions are welcome. 


Book Announcement


Hello Everyone,

Today I have the unique pleasure to announce something that I have been working on (secretly) for longer than I care to admit. Thankfully the time has finally arrived to let the cat out of the bag. I HAVE A NEW BOOK!

This book is titled “The Machinist Sculptor” and if you haven’t already guessed it – it is about my art yes – but it is also about the aspirational idea of machine work as a new studio craft. 

That is the idea that machine work has the potential to stand alone as a unique artistic medium with intrinsic characteristics, not just a tool that can be employed in service to other artistic forms (even though that is fascinating as well).

For this book, I have partnered with Schiffer publishing to transform my over twenty years of work, creating machined metal art (and writing about it), into a reflective history and quasi-manifesto on what it means to make art with the technologically diverse tools of the machinists trade.

It is a full-throated attempt to place what I do (make art with machine tools) into a broader context about how various tools and practices (do and do not) find their way into the hands of artists and artisans. How the tools of mass production eventually become the tools of cultural production.

I presume many longtime followers of my work will have seen the self published catalogs I have released over the years. Without diminishing those efforts, I want to say "THIS BOOK IS NOT ONE OF THOSE". This book is a quantum leap forward even if some of the bones of this book may be familiar (it is my work after all). 

If I may be frank, this book is my first time working with a bonafide publisher, and so for the first time I had the pleasure of working with editors and designers to fully shape my story, along with everything else I have learned from two decades of metalworking into an expansive text about the many spheres of knowledge and influence my craft touches. 

It is a complete rethinking, redesign, and expansion of the original essays that set me down this road and made me an unintentional expert in a field that is a nexus for art, craft, and design.

At 288 pages, this 9"x12 "foil wrapped hard bound print is truly the most beautiful friend of the coffee table I have ever seen. 

Many kind folks have worked very hard on this print, and it truly shows. I would be grateful if you would give me the opportunity to share this most sincere and detailed perspective an under-appreciated craft, by picking up a copy for yourself, a friend, or colleague. 

The Machinist Sculptor is being printed and distributed by Schiffer publishing and will be available at bookstores everywhere. The official release date is Jan 28th, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon.

And of course, thank you.  

P.S. I am going to post the link to the Amazon pre-order here. You will have plenty of opportunities to reserve a copy because, like it or not, I am going to bring this up frequently between now and the release date. 

I am not one to beat my drum too much, so I will apologize in advance for that, but that is how these things work. 

As always, questions and comments are welcome. 


BB 462222312


Hello Everyone

I know you all just heard from me last week, but it has actually been quite a while since I have released a larger one of a kind work. Partly it is because they just take so very long to design and build (this build stretched to seven months), but it is also because I have been caught up in a line of thinking that has (temporarily) taken me away from this kind of work.

But although the big works have taken a back seat as of late, I am glad to be unveiling this fantastic, and very large, new release. I call it the BB 462222312

For one of my larger works, this piece is unique in that it moves. Well, it spins….but only if you spin it. This fact was the source of a whole lot of internal debate for me, because I usually prefer my larger works to be completely static, with any movement or functionality implied. But for this piece, in this composition, I just could not resist the opportunity.

In fact, the original design was completely static. But once I realized that this piece could potentially spin, and that I could fit the hardware to do so without compromising the original composition, I decided I had nothing to lose on the experiment.

As you can see here, the bearing assembly fits rather handily inside the base tube.

Now I will say again that this piece does not spin on its own. It doesn’t have a motor to drive the rotation, and I am certain for some this will be a missed opportunity. But I do not see it this way.

For this branch of my work, I have embraced a more open interpretation and that means leaving things vague. In my eyes, a whirling motorized piece of sculpture would be just that, and nothing more. I think this piece invites a kind of interpretation, and then, if you are brave enough to reach out and touch it, you are rewarded with the fact that it spins.

Also, I just simply could not live with the compromises this kind of overt mechanization would require. Be it visible wires or belts, or just the idea that the work would be transformed from a piece of largely visual art into an animation or an actual, rather than metaphorical, machine.

It is a tough distinction for me to describe, but for this piece, I did try to have it both ways. And for me, I am quite satisfied.

I am sure for some, I have successfully straddled the line between avoiding too much novelty and humoring a desirable functionality, but I have no doubt that to others, I have simply failed to commit. This suits me just fine, as it is in the ambiguity that I feel these larger pieces find their place.

I also design the collar on the base with a rubber O ring that can be tightened against the body. This gently prevents the work from spinning if one desires to stop the work in a particular position. I wouldn't call it a lock because it can be easily over come, but it does work as a sort of brake. 

This work also has a glorious interior space that images just do not do justice. 

The technical drawing for this work is massive as well (90"x30") again, a struggle for small screens. 

Dimensions of the work are 31" long x 9.6" tall x 7.25" deep

I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts and comments if you choose to share them. 


Chris Bathgate


The Watch Pocket Project: WP1


Hello everyone, todays post is a small work that feels like a departure from some of my other design editions. 

This work has a little more of a utilitarian feel and some rather overt accessory references, but nonetheless is a necessary step on my machinist artist journey. 

When I think about the decorative objects that I have coveted in my lifetime, one thing that immediately comes to mind for me is the handful of pocket watches I have owned. It seems somehow I have been working all this time completely oblivious to a bit of self knowledge that now seems totally obvious. 

I grew up during the 80’s and 90’s. During that time, pocket watches weren't cool (were they ever?) and most people didn't have them, but for some reason or another, I kept ending up with them. Not because I needed to know the time. but because I was drawn to them for tactile reasons. They were (and are) just nice objects to hold and fiddle with. 

Even now I have one at my desk that I turn over in my hands from time to time.

So recently, I got into a conversation with someone who asked why I couldn't make my other pocket sculptures even smaller. My reply was simply that experience showed me that anything smaller was prone to being easily dropped and damaged. A human hand can only hold objects of a certain size securely, anything smaller and things start slipping through our fingers. “To make it smaller” I said “ it would need to be on a chain”.

“Great idea” they said.

And then I stopped and thought about it. The idea of the chain brought me immediately to the humble pocket watches I have known (and my gross oversight as an artist). It all finally clicked and I was off down this really fun rabbit hole. 

Once I settled on the pocket watch as a conceptual idea, I set about the process of bending all that towards something that straddled the line between utility and sculpture. I am calling this work the WP1, and it is likely the first in a series of "Watch Pocket Art".

The work as designed can be strung on a chain and worn like a standard pocket watch, put on a lanyard, or anything else really. 

Just please promise me you won't put it on a keychain. I can't bear the thought of this beautiful piece being reduced to a mere key ring, or being clobbered by a mass of keys. 

To aid with discussions about this work, I am using watch nomenclature to describe its parts. Above we have the "Long hand" in anodized aluminum, and the "Lens" in Pink Box Elder. The remaining parts are in Stainless steel. 

The mechanics of this piece are pretty fun. I really like big chunky mechanisms that are easy to understand, and so I have created a ratcheting mechanism that utilizes a stacked set of detents rather than a common pawl lock. You can move the long hand of the work lever-like to index the lens and short hand around in a tick tock fashion. You can also palm the work and operate it one handed if you have a little finger dexterity. 

I do my best to explain all this in detail in the video below but here is a picture showing a standard pawl mechanism next to my arrangement.

As you can see, unlike a clock motion, the assembly is relatively large and comprehensible, which makes it easier to appreciate. Regardless there is a lot that goes into crafting each of the unique components in this piece and I am continuing to refine the design even now. 

Given its overtly decorative nature, this is one of the few projects where it feels appropriate for me to really mix, match, and explore a wide range of material combinations. So both hardwoods and exotic metals are on the table this time around. albeit with some limitations due to the process I have set up to fabricate these parts. More on this later.

For now I hope you will enjoy this clockwork kinetic sculpture. 

Notes for collectors: As has become customary, these works will be produced as part of a one time, limited edition.

For those interested in adding this sculpture to your collections, the sign-up for the pre-order will go live on Monday August 7th at 11AM EST.

A link will go out via newsletter, as well appear on my blog and Instagram profile (@c_bathgate). Pricing and other details of the sale will be available on the sign up form.

There is going to be a lot of information on this sign up, and a lot of options as well, so if you plan to add your name to the list, maybe start envisioning a few ideas of what you might like your work to look like. 

I think I am going to offer the Lens (or dial) in a wide range of hardwoods, as well as Mokume-gane, Titanium Damascus, and superconductor. 

The hands will be available in either stainless steel or anodized aluminum (aluminum can be dyed within my standard color pallet)

I will offer the bezel in either stainless, brass, or Mokume-gane. (Maybe also Ti-mascus or SC but the size and complexity of this element will require special considerations that will make this a pricy option)

All other parts will be stainless only. 

As far as the chain: My initial thought was to supply this with a pretty generic chain, but after talking to people and realizing how varied preferences were, I actually think it is best to leave it up to individual collectors. Some have expressed the desire to put it on a lanyard, others prefer precious metal chains, some have mentioned leather fobs, and even one mentioned they have a custom chain made by another maker. 

So I think given that it is an element that I do not intend to craft myself, it really is optional. I can link to the chain pictured above, and even recommend a few makers doing some crazy stuff.

I do not mean to punt on the chain, but to do it justice, it would really have to be it's own project. Which is to say that I have already started discussing a collaboration along those lines with other makers. Time will tell.

OK, that is all for now, I will have more info and pricing on the sign up when it goes live. See some of you next week. And as always, comments and questions are welcome.