New Species Discovered!
Tiny things were inspired by my time on Lasqueti and Texada Islands, and Ernst Haeckel’s illustrated Plates.
Something I have struggled with from the time I started building sculpture is how to make sure it is completely three dimensional, when most of the materials I use come in two dimensional forms - sheets of steel and flatbar. Hot rolled round is, well, round, but lays flat like a sheet. My first works were something in-between, trying so hard to leave their past forms but not quite making it. Or welded together off-cuts from other projects which are easy to combine and create the third dimension that I would seek.
After awhile, I started mastering taking things to 3-D. I started pushing the work to be as interesting and alluring from the side or the back as from what we would call the front. And then I wondered, "wouldn't it be neat to build something almost invisible ... something that was matter transforming into energy?" That way there would be no outside or inside. All the layers of wire interact to form a web ... a suggestion of a form, and our eyes and minds filled in the rest.
Last week, I took a break from all this serious, big, fancy sculpture building, and instead of taking several months from start to finish, I built and hand-painted nine tiny items in six long days. All of these works were built from the same materials I had been utilizing this winter for ‘Bright Heart’ and ‘All Strings Attached’ - 22 gauge sheet metal and different gauges of round stock from 1/4” down to around 1/8”. I cut tiny patterns and their steel counterparts, pounded them out with my trusty ball peen and two by four shaping system, outlined things with round, and then set to work investigating what could be done with my new discoveries in what I like to call ‘Human 3-D printing’.
My version of 3-D printing is really just me with my mig welder. To say I have spent a bit of time n a welding helmet would be an understatement. I often joke that I have had more quality time with said helmet than with my own children. Working on the MV Columbia, some of the seams we welded required many ‘passes’ of weld stacked perfectly. This is what keeps the water out of the hull.
One of the things I most enjoy about being a welder is that, when things are going well, it can be a really meditative time where you can sort through your thoughts and daydream a bit. This is something I have been missing with all the pattern making, fabricating, math, and angles, so I created tiny canvases out of steel and then I ‘painted’ on their details with weld. I built up mandalas on the insides of ‘coral’ by patiently walking my puddle along the wire form, letting it cool, and then doing it again. The pieces got so hot that I started building several at a time and welding them in sequence, building up structure.
If my past work had achieved interest at any angle, I wanted these tiny sculptures to be irresistible to humans, so shiny and full of pigment, mystery, and magic that they beg to be handled and whatever way they were set back on the table, that side, or inside, would be as beautiful and more than what we would consider the front or the top. I wanted people to flip them over and be amazed by the beauty inside. This is what I get from nature and this is what I wanted to bring to the table with these tiny things.