Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Few More Pieces

"She Made Her Hard Choices & Moved Into the Light"
Etched brass, nickel silver, copper, mixed media

The piece above is about making a challenging decision and then actually taking action on that decision. Even if, like in my case, you're simply operating at that point off of a gut feeling. It is also how a train load of things can start to falling into place once that leap of faith is taken. As the saying goes, "Leap and the net will appear." I always seem to have to stand at the edge of the crevasse for a very long time first.

The main figure is surrounded by a large etched (in nickel silver) talisman to bring good luck and guidance. The larger rectangle directly below is about the journey of traveling from one world (before the leap), into the next world (after the leap).

Below are a few more pieces inspired after taking my wire sculpture class at Pratt back in March. Both are wall mounted and come out from the wall about a foot.

"She Came to Know Guidance In All Its Forms"
Etched brass, copper, tintype, glass, mixed media

"Sometimes the Very Thing That Rises From the Depths Comes to Blossom"
Etched copper, enamel, steel, mixed media

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Is the Time of Her Life

"This Is the Time of Her Life"
Brass, copper, nickel silver, enamel, antique compass, mixed media

Nothing like the present. The craziness, the challenges, but also all the power and potential of being right here, right now. That is what this piece is about.

The passage of time is represented by the cycles of the moon engraved into the main brass plate, and the antique compass represents the gut feelings and intuitive notions I have along the way. I sometimes dare to act upon those intuitive ideas. I usually love the outcome of taking that kind of action. It's always better for me than just letting it pass by. I think that risk is what helps keep it all so interesting and passion filled for me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

More New Work

I had a photo shoot this last week of the work done to date for my upcoming November show at Patricia Rovzar Gallery. So here are a few more of the pieces I've been working on.

"She is Unafraid of the Uphill Climb"
Copper, brass, enamel, mixed media
32 x 46"

Detail - "She is Unafraid of the Uphill Climb"

"Finding Her True North"
Copper, brass, nickel silver, tintype, mixed media
30 x 30 x 6"

"Altar to a Memory"
Brass, copper, cast resin, antique magnifying glass, mixed media
25 x 14 x 4"

Monday, September 6, 2010

This Thorny Path

"She Said This Thorny Path has Grace Written All Over It"
Copper, brass, enamel, nickel silver, tintype, mixed media
17 x 15 x 4"

I suspect we all bring everything that happens to us into our own lives. Certainly I like this concept in my own life when the good stuff comes to me. When the less attractive things make their way in (events, sickness, accidents, etc) it is much harder to look it right in the eye and welcome it as some challenge that I'm throwing my own way. Somedays I think, enough with the learning already. And yet, in hindsight it does open my eyes.

This piece is about that.

I found a tin type several months back of a little girl that I just loved. It was a bit blurred which I felt captured her spirit more than anything. And there was an innocence too.

It wasn't until I had it in my studio that I also noticed that her left hand was quite deformed. I couldn't help but have the uncomfortable thought that she perhaps brought this into her own life - for some reason. Who knows. Yet I also had an overwhelming thought that the whole lifetime path that she took with that hand offered up many (yes, unpleasant, but) eye opening moments. It is odd, but it made me feel this sort of kinship with her. It's that old, old positioning of sting and grace side by side. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010


A number of months ago it was brought to my attention by a young amazing artist, Jethaniel Peterka ( ), that some of my work had "steampunk qualities" about it. I, of course, had no idea what that meant and so I had to go google it. "Retrofuturist fabrication" is one description I found, along with: "the goal of (Steampunk) redesigns is to employ appropriate materials, such as polished brass, iron, wood, and leather, with design elements and craftsmanship consistent with the Victorian era."

"Unearthing His New Set of Dreams"
Brass, copper, nickel, steel, glass, enamel, vacuum tube, fuses

So, yes, there are times when my work can fit into that description, at least partially. This recent piece, shown above, seems to move into that territory. About a year ago I found an old post office box door with a glass window in it at a second hand store. I finally got to use it in this piece.

The door opens to reveal a set of brass-ended old glass fuses that I put writings inside (on acetate), these represent the unlocked dreams within the figure. The blue backdrop is a picture of the Universe (I love that idea that we all have a Universe inside us). The poem etched on the door is about starting over by one of my favorite poets.

There's also a lens that I pulled from an old telescope in this piece. 

I surrounded it with an etched nickel plate to make it look official. The lens is suspended above an inset area that has a diagram of a heart in the background and another fuse. The lens magnifies the whole thing. This inset area sits within a brass plate 'upper body' segment that has an etched steam engine diagram on it. So there you go, that's about as steampunk as I get.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Very Thing She Knew All Along

Trusting my intuition and gut instincts isn't always an easy thing for me. Too be sure, I am much, much, better at it now than I was in my younger years, yet still I have my moments. This piece, "The Very Thing She Knew All Along", is about trusting yourself and how the process of that can get mumble-jumbled and messy at times. 

I found an old magic book years ago that explained how to create the illusion of making a person disappear up on stage. Mirrors are involved. The angle of the audience's line of sight is important too. There was a diagram of how it worked along with a verbal explanation. The diagram is crazy with many different angles which don't clarify anything at all, but I love the fact that it's supposed to help one understand what's going on, yet confuses the issue. The verbal explanation that went with it was even worse. 

I thought how the whole mess reminded me of certain times when I wanted to trust my intuition, yet when I went to rationalize it with facts, what I saw, and what other people said, that I just got very confused instead. Until finally I would just settled myself down and go with my gut and see that it would turn out that I knew what I knew after all.

This piece has that magic trick diagram etched into the large brass plate, and then it has the verbal explanation etched too - it's just that I've rearranged it and changed out words so that it speaks to the confused process of gut trusting (not difficult for me and very fun). 

There's a woman's face up in the top circle dial. The old time dial symbolizes her brain at work. A telescope lens sits in the arch, representing her gut taking everything in. And the dancers because there is something just so joyful when one finally does get (once again) that intuition is an amazing thing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

All Things Connected

This is the first piece, "All Things Connected",  that I've made using etched nickel silver. It is a metal composed of 60% copper, 20% zinc and 20% nickel, so it seemed like it would work just fine. To etch I use a process that has a salt water bath and an electrical current set up from a battery charger. So there are no nasty chemicals involved (been there, done that). I use a block out on the metal sheet called "PNP Blue" paper that works very well, even for small detail work.  I found that the nickel silver etches ALOT faster than copper or brass with this electrical process. Whereas the copper and brass take around an hour to etch a deep image, the nickel silver was done in about 10-15 minutes. By the way, the nickel silver section is the largest silver looking section in the lower half of the piece.

Here's a detail of it.

This piece is simply about how all of us here on earth are connected to each other. It was made during the time that the Gulf Oil Spill was looking so unstoppable.

I wanted the small female figure at the bottom of the piece to be connected not only by holding onto a plant stem, but also for her skirt of intestines (and therefore her digestive system) to be connected too. I like that every element of the piece comes together as a sort of pyramid - everything precariously balanced on everything else.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

She Is A Bride Married To Amazement

I finished this piece several weeks ago. It is about wanting to stay in the moment and appreciating all the marvelous things that are in my life right now. I seem to be challenged by that notion on a regular basis.

 I liked the idea of a woman being married to amazement and I wanted her to be in a rather 'showy' setting full of the wonderful things that dazzle her. The coral image (enameled) represents the undersea world, the field of stars (etched) represents the heavens, and the earth (enameled) represents all that lives here and just the wonder of the earth in general. The bunch of rose buds, fabricated out of copper, symbolizes love and relationships. There's also a flying fish in the small etched and enameled circle in the center of the coral area - I think flying fish are pretty amazing myself. And then I threw in two trained cats that are jumping on cue through the hoops on either side of her because I thought that would be Truly Amazing.

The bride is making her entrance through some etched brass imagery. I love the dress. The upper part of the piece has 4 talisman images in circles and then one central image of a pyramid which I see as a symbol for always striving for higher ground. The talisman images and the pyramid are all etched too with some transparent enamel on top.

 It makes me feel good having her around.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Etching & New Inspiration

Since mid-May I've been beginning a body of work for my upcoming November solo show at Patricia Rovzar Gallery in downtown Seattle. It is always a challenge for me to create 20+ pieces that somehow feel like new ground and keep the creative fires hyped up and burning.

It seems that I have several very strong sources of inspiration for this new body of work. First off, I took a class with Larry Calkins ( a WONDERFUL instructor) at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle back in late March. It was a wire sculpture class that I thoroughly enjoyed. I have always loved the linear quality of wire and the way that an open 'container' can be made that I can then place something inside of. This fits in perfectly with my desire to explore internal/emotional qualities that can be found inside of us humans. Also in this class I learned that I can use brass rod to braze copper to steel. A bit of a break through for me since I always presumed that it wasn't possible.

The second big inspiration is Mariko Kusumoto (you can find her work at ). This amazing artist has actually been inspiring me for years, but I decided back in May that her use of etched metal pattern and imagery on her metal surfaces was an element that I wanted to bring to my work in a much larger way. In the past I have used enamel almost exclusively to bring imagery to the copper surfaces of my sculpture, so this is a bit of a departure. I also like the idea of working with the muted palette of copper, nickel-silver and brass as a main focus and then bringing in some color with small amounts of enamel.

The third inspiration is Keith Lo Bue ( ). I know I'm hardly alone with him as an inspiration source, but the man is amazing in how he fearlessly puts together all kinds of 'stuff'. And he always shares the process on his blog. His design sense, his playfulness, and his tenacity in exploring new materials and pushing himself are what I find delightful.

One of the first pieces that I've done below is titled "Relishing Her Late Bloom".

I've got a little bit of everything going on in this piece (what's new?).  The wire skirt has leaves and a lotus bloom fabricated out of copper, there's a small amount of enamel at the top of the skirt with the Venus sign on it, and the separate piece above her has etched brass imagery of the seasons, sun and moon. Off to either side of the etched brass imagery are smaller circles containing good luck talismans. Those, too, have been etched (in copper) that has then been enameled with a transparent enamel. The whole piece mounts off the wall about 3-9", with the skirt area sticking out the farthest, so there are quite a few cast shadows when it's lit with a spot light.

I am really enjoying the etched surfaces and looking forward to exploring this path further!