Web redirect

New work, news and Images from the shop. If you would like to know more about my art, please visit my full website @ www.chrisbathgate.com


The Sculptural Mag Vessel


Hello Everyone This is going to be a proper newsletter with multiple announcements, including new works, exhibitions, and some other exciting news.

But let's start by introducing the Sculptural Mag Vessel.

I had been wondering if I would ever come back to my vessel series, and I got here (as I often do) by accident.

I have been continuing to play around with a number of mechanics for integration into sculptural pieces in the hopes that it will help me talk more about what makes machining so special as a sculptural medium. And, when it all works, it does help a lot. 

However just as often I find myself stuck with the kinds of problems that most designers face. That is, some mechanics are just hard to make look good....well, until I remind myself that I am not a designer in the traditional sense. 

When I was writing my book, I talked a bit about how the field of design is constrained by the function of the objects that are the focus of the design attempt, and how my process is very different from this. That is, if I wanted to design a cool clock, and I can't get the design to work, I am not bound to continue to try and make a clock. Instead, I can take the parts of the design that are working, and move on to a new function or problem. So the clock in this example is free to become a toaster or lawn mower, or anything else.

All I am saying is I am not constrained by the object, as an artist I am free to change however I want, and in this case, I was struggling to design a new entry in my "Watch Pocket" series, and somehow ended up on a tangent making a rather fascinating vessel piece.

The mechanic I was working on just wouldn’t play nice with my original vision, so I let the mechanic tell me what it wanted to be. Once I realized that, I was able to pull in all of the other influences that fleshed out this beautiful design.

Another constraint (this time an engineering constraint) that I am unbound by is practicality and robustness. 

Unlike the other vessels in this series, the mechanic for this piece uses permanent magnets for actuation. That is, the components aren’t moved by a mechanical linkage of any kind, they are forced in and out by changing the orientation (polarity) of magnets on the inner drum of the knob.

This configuration works just fine in an environment of care and consideration, but it is not the kind of thing one would employ for rigorous daily (and dirty) use. Things just might be too easily gummed up. This is true of all of the vessels and mechanical art I have made really. It is just something that is coming into better view for me.

That is, one of the most appealing aspects of a project like this is that one gets to take what would otherwise be an impractical mechanic, one that would be useless in a utilitarian product with more rugged requirements, and place it into the context of a fine art object where it is not only completely appropriate, but supremely desirable.

A magnetic latching system may be too complicated and touchy for the real world, but in the art world, it is an intriguing focal point that can communicate why engineering matters even in the world of aesthetics.

That is what this piece does for me anyway.

The Sculptural Mag Vessel is 3" diameter by 2-3/8" tall. It is a hefty little guy at 20 ounces in its current form. 

Note for collectors: I am still very much sorting out the details on how to do a small edition of these works. As far as editions go, this is a very complicated piece. 

I want to be sure I preserve some ability to refine this design as I go, but I also know it is important to take care of business in terms of who is interested in adding one of these to their collection. 

So while I need a little more time to tinker and figure out how to make a quantity of these that maintains some freedom for me to make each one unique. I am going to open up a sign up later this week so that everyone who is interested can reserve their piece before I commit to specific details and numbers. 

Once I have a head count, that should help me determine the scale of the project. So look for a somewhat limited sign up to open on Thursday March 14th at 11 AM EST. 

On this sign up, I will outline how this project will unfold and how I intend to make each of these sculptural vessels special for you.

I look forward to hearing from some of you and as always, comments and questions are welcome. 


Exhibition announcement

In other news, I want to formally announce an upcoming exhibition of my work at the Fuller Craft Museum beginning May 18th and running until Early November.

This exhibition is in conjunction with the release of my new book and shares its title. This will be a rather large collection of both my larger sculptures, and as many of my little creations as we can cram into cases. It will be a very nice show worth the trip.

The opening reception will be Sunday, May 19 from 2- 5pm. I will be on hand for a brief discussion with the director, to talk shop, and sign books. So if you have been wanting to get your copy of my book signed, now you know where to find me. We will have some extra books on hand as well, so I hope to see some of you there. 

Details at fullercraft.org


I am building a new studio!

Lastly, I’d like to share the news that after much dithering and saving my pennies, I am starting construction on a brand new shop. After 20 years of dwelling in basements to create my work, I am finally going to build something that can properly hold what my studio practice has become. I make it a habit not to talk about things until they are real. But now that there is a giant hole in the ground, it finally feels real enough for me to start posting about it.

My current shop, in the basement of my home, is bursting at the seams. It is an organic space, consisting of thousands of ad hoc solutions and shortcuts piled on top of one another. It is efficient in that I never thought I could fit so many tools, and squeeze so much capability, out of such a modest space. But it is also inefficient in lots of obvious ways. It is cramped, and has limited head room for large tools. Getting stuff in and out is a nightmare, and staying organized when there isn’t enough places to put things is like playing one of those sliding puzzles. I have always liked working within constraints, but it was high time I admit to myself that my current shop, although I love it dearly, is holding me back. So about a year ago, I started working with an architect to build something better.

I have never had a “planned” space. So I am going to take my time building this space out and fine tuning the layout. I have no idea how this will go, but I am excited to haver finally (Finally!) broken ground. It won’t be the biggest machine shop in the world, but by studio artist standards, it is going to be pretty damn sweet. Keep an eye on my Instagram feed if you want to follow along on the progress of the new studio.


Don't forget about my new book

And of course, no post would be complete without me reminding everyone that my new book is available in bookstores everywhere, at Amazon.com, and directly from the publisher here at Schiffer books

Thank you for your time and attention. 
Chris Bathgate