Monday, April 11, 2011

'Off Cut Bowl' - Waterlife / Shadow Box show

I was contacted a while back by Dyan Jones of the South Grey Bruce Literacy Council.

She was helping to put together a special fund raiser:

The Film & Invitational Shadow Box Show & Sale
For Youth Literacy - May 10 - 14, 2011
Screening and Arist Reception - Saturday May 14, 6 PM
Victoria Jubilee Hall - Walkerton Ontario

A couple of things about this intrigued me:
- 'shadow box' concept
- low object cost limit
- fund raising via object donation

- The individual artists where supplied with a simple wooden box, roughly 1 inch thick by 5 x 6 inches, open on one flat side. The work had to fit in or on this box.
- All of the objects would have a flat cost of $125

My challenge was two fold:
- Working in such a small scale
- Working inside the low price limit
Normally I would consider either a small knife, or a piece of forged jewellery.

This is what I came up with:

'Off Cut Bowl' - forged mild steel - 2011

This piece *is* a bit larger than the shadow box, which will serve as a plinth. (I had checked with Dyan, and this was one of the possible applications of the restriction). The object is about 10 x 10 in size, standing about 3 inches deep. The individual segments are in fact off cuts left over when I was cutting up some 1/8 inch thick plate I acquired as commercial scrap. Taking a clue from a method used by Japanese artisan Takayoshi Komine, the individual segments were MIG welded together on the back, then the weld beads ground smooth. The resulting flat form was then worked hot to dish it.

At a workshop session here in Wareham back in Feburary, I had messed around with David Robertson and Kelly Probyn-Smith with some other potential methods. One was attempting to lay in bronze wire into hot punched lines and melt the bronze into the grove. It turned out this was not going to work as simply as I had hoped. (The concept will work, but will require considerably more steps than simple punching and melting!) Another thing we did some tests of was laying down MIG beads on to otherwise flat heavy plate surfaces. Then hot hammering the raise lines flat. This shows some potential as a decorative effect, but needs some more testing to fully develop.

All of this comes from some pondering what kind of objects I might make in the future. Bowls have the advantage of being relatively small (at least compared to gates!) This makes them easy to transport and show, then store and protect. They cross the line to potentially practical objects, of a size and cost that makes them more accessible to the general public. There are also a very large number of blacksmithing methods that can be applied to create unique objects. The fluid shaping possible with hot forging will dramatically contrast the solid rigidity of the finished forms.

More to come!

1 comment:

the Wareham Forge said...

I find the bowl shape intriguing, and full of potential.... but being the heavily practical type, I never know what to actually _do_ with them.


This came out of a couple of working techniques involving MIG welding - and a further consideration of some way to utilize bloom iron to its best potential.

As a knife material I consider making and using bloom iron is most often just a 'trick'*, unless you are considering extremely accurate historic reproductions. Most of the current interest in bloomery iron is focused by knife makers. (Most* who lack understanding and knowledge of the process and materials - and what they claim is BS)

Lee Sauder has done some amazing sculptural pieces. But that is his vision, and I don't want to copy him or explore that area in depth. Not my interest.

I do want to produce some pieces that make use of the unique qualities of fragmenting iron blooms. Combine metal with blown glass.

As far as utility goes - 'Off Cut Bowl' has a spray lacquer coating. It is durable, and although effectively water tight, it does have undercut edges. So it would work well for something like a fruit or nut bowl. (Wipe with a cloth to clean) Thats kind of what I was thinking of, the same uses you would put a textured and unglazed ceramic surface to.

* I will NOT be drawn into a pissing match over what some claim they can do. I put my own experience, well documented, up here to defend my opinion.
There are a very few isolated individuals who have developed standardized methods (and quite modern in approach) which in turn allow them *some* ability to control the end product of their individual iron smelting process. You might consider that Sauder & Williams, who have more direct experience running small bloomery furnaces than all the rest of us in North America *totalled together*, DO NOT claim THEY can control and absolutely predict the outcome of a given smelt process.


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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