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The S2B

Introducing the "S2B" or Sculptural-SliderBead.

This piece builds on the SB 312 sculpture I released earlier this year. Whereas that work was a static sculpture with purely aesthetic aspirations, this next entry has kinetic elements that drastically change the way the work is experienced.

When handling the original SB-312 sculpture, there was something I just couldn’t shake about the geometry. I kept feeling that I wanted the three legs of the piece to slide up and down so I could reposition them.

It was a case where the implied functionality of the piece was both obvious and powerful, so I resolved that this was the direction for this next work in the series. 

But with functionality comes a different set of challenges which can influence the visual elements of the piece.

In order to achieve a moving mechanic, the composition needed to be elongated and enlarged, Mostly to accommodate the magnetic arrangement that achieved the motion I wanted, but also to improve the grip on the piece.

The magnets create an interesting haptic feel as the individual sliders jump from position to position. Anyone who remembers the MG series can probably see this is a similar functionality, albeit a little inverted with much less reliance on magnetic force to hold the work together.

The S2B has a custom shoulder bolt that retains and constrains the motion of each sliding element.

Mechanics were not the only thing influencing the look of this sculpture. If you remember from my post on SB-312 One thing I hoped to achieve in this series was to explore some popular exotic metals—in a careful and thoughtful manner that played directly to a single chosen material. 

For this series I have introduced a material known as Mokume-gane which is a unique metal laminate intended to mimic wood grain. This material has its origins in 17th century Japan with the making of ornamental samurai swords. 

The process for making Mokume-gane eventually found its way west, into jewelry making and other decorative traditions, and most recently into a much more industrialized (if still decorative) form of machined art.

In researching this material, I was reminded of why I am so careful about bringing exotic materials into my practice. While it is easy to just buy a novel material and start cutting to meet a decorative end, I think a lot is missed that way.

Mokume-gane is a complex and varied material with a fascinating history, it feels weird to just pick it up and use it without some kind of formal introduction. For instance, there are a few ways to make the material, something I would like to learn more about.

Jewelers often incorporate a variety of noble and base metals into various formulations as well. Some use more precious metals like gold and silver in their home brewed versions of Mokume-gane, while other versions are more economical, containing mostly copper alloys and nickel silver.

The material I used, which is more suitably sized for machine work, is composed of layers of brass, copper, and nickel silver. Each variation of Mokume-gane behaves differently and can be finished and patinated in a variety of ways. Which again, I still have much to learn.

Admittedly, my use of Mokume-gane here is pretty straight forward and consistent with other machined art that I have seen (we all learn from doing though). The finish on this prototype is a simple etch with ferric chloride to bring out contrast in the metals and matte the finish. 

The sculpture measures 2" long and 1.5" Diameter

I look forward to incorporating this unique material in a more comprehensive way in the future, but for now, this is the first step in my education. 

Above are some of the concerns and considerations of this material. 

Some closing thoughts.

As I continue to pursue these small sculptures, it has emerged that my two different modes of working, kinetic and more traditional sculpture, might be slowly converging.

I am less wedded to the idea of incorporating a mechanic for my small work, and more open to the idea in larger one-of-a-kind pieces. Sometimes I begin a design with a mechanic in mind, but it becomes unworkable and I abandon it in favor of a more accomplished static sculpture. The inverse is also becoming true and I have found myself designing larger works with no intention of adding kinetic elements, only to be tempted by opportunities to do just that.

Perhaps, just maybe, I am become less rigid in what I hope to achieve with any given design, favoring a more fluid process. I think one might describe that, as personal growth.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the piece.

Notes for collectors: As has become customary, I will be offering these works up as a one time limited edition.

You will be able to acquire them individually, or as a set. Pricing and all relevant details of the sale will be posted at the time of sign up.  (please note that Mokume-gane is a considerably more expensive material and this will reflect in pricing) 

The sign up will go live on Thursday July 7th at 11 AM EST. I will leave the sign up open for a little longer than usual because I know a lot of you are traveling this time of year. Probably a week to ten days, and then the books will close forever.  

I will post the sign up link to my email newsletter, here on the blog, as well as on my instagram page.

Notes on Mokume-gane: For those thinking of collecting the Mokume-gane version of this work—this metal is used often in jewelry making, but it does not mean that it is an inert material.  Like Brass or copper, Mokume-gane requires care to maintain. It will tarnish of not regularly waxed after handling. Some people enjoy the look of this, others do not.  

Additionally, Any time you mix metals in an environment where they will be in contact with an acid (you, your body) it invites something called galvanic corrosion. Handling this material will change it over time, in ways that are hard to predict. It may be the case that the material will simply change color or the etch may deepen in a way that is pleasing, but I want to be clear that this is experimental art, engaged in with open eyes and realistic expectations. Here is a link to an extreme example of what can happen to a similar material under what I consider to be extreme conditions. 

I cannot speak to the exact material or method used. Obviously you won’t be wearing this piece of art day and night, let alone subjecting it to a total submersion in an acidic medium. The experiment in the article is interesting and educational, but not reflective of any real world scenario that would unfold with this sculpture. Unlike a ring, you won't be washing your hands with it, handling acidic foods (yes also urine is a problem with jewelry), or bathing with it. I would not expect anything of this magnitude to occur with the work under normal use. But I think it is important to inform collectors so we are all on the same page. 

If you intend to lightly use the work, and display it, I expect it will perform perfectly well. There are examples of Mokume-gane craftwork that are hundreds of years old.

So with that said, if any of that sounds scary to you, if any patina or change in the material is unacceptable to you, or you are a serious fidgeter who wants the most durable object you can get, I would simply steer you to the stainless steel version of the work. Stainless steel, without a doubt, will outlast us all.

Thanks again, and as always, comments and questions are welcome.