Agitated Avians – Just Squawking Around

If you asked me what one my strengths is, I might say intelligence.  Or being handsome (no laughing, you guys).  But really it would be my willingness to take on a project even though I am not sure how to do it.  A bit of a sink or swim philosophy.  Some would argue it’s not a positive thing.  Sometimes I have to agree with them. 

agitated-avians-1Making Agitated Avians wasn’t one, but damn close. 

Not only did it morph from my original proposal (Family Time on the Sofa), but I decided to experiment with new technology.  All on a short timeline.  Anyway it all worked out.  Quite nicely too. And that inspiration thing: Angry Birds.

Started out with some nice half in rebar and bent the heck out it.  All those engineers and construction people just cringed.  Why would you bend perfectly good rebar into crazy shapes.  Well, because.

(side note: I saw a mechanical shovel with a concrete breaking tool attached going at some of those concrete road dividers.  They busted up the concrete and left twisted masses of rebar.  I wanted it. Badly.  I asked. They said no. Dang!)

agitated-avians-3Lots of bending and rebending of the rebar to get just the right shape of a copse of trees.  It shouldn’t look like real trees, but it also shouldn’t look just like a bunch of bent the hell up rebar welded together.

Find the shapes for the birds.  Do some more bending and then give them an interesting paint job to go with their abstract “bird” shapes. 

And then, the truly scary part.  Light it up!

agitated-avians-6How?  Not regular lights.  No way. Too simple.  I ordered a bunch of EL wire (electroluminescent), a solar panel, a control box and a battery for the thing.  And way too late too.  Fortunately it all arrived on time and I was able to convince a friend (thanks Dave!) to help me figure out how to wire the thing.

You know what?  It came out pretty damn cool.  I’m happy with it an I learned a thing or two.  Got the best compliment from someone who saw it in Sioux Falls too.  He said it was “strikingly different”.  Love it.  The full story on my Agitated Avians interview with my sponsor company.  Thanks guys. 

(Did I really say “awesome” twice? )



Rolling the Dice — the Tale of 3d6+4

I often get asked where my inspiration comes from, usually right after “What were you thinking?”  It can come from anywhere, but my friends and family are endless sources of new ideas.  Thanks everyone.

This one goes way back to family games with dice, like Yahtzee and then from the hours and days spent with role playing games (rpgs).

I built a model first to see how it would work out and to submit to the Sioux Falls SculptureWalk.  This was one I really wanted to build and it was selected for the Mason City, IA River City Sculptures on Parade program.  Perfect!  I get to make the sculpture and visit a new city. 

Mason City is a great little town. And it has only one of two Frank Wright Lloyd designed hotels — and it’s beautiful. Highly recommend a stop there.  Plus it has some great sculpture from a bunch of my sculpture buddies.

dice-1First step, figure out the dimensions.  Three feet per side seems like a good way to go.  Order the cut pieces from Discount Steel (much faster than cutting 18 14 guage steel sheets on my own).  Then assemble.

Who would have thought it took so much to put together a cube.  And lots of time.  I was busy, busy, busy. 

Then I needed the spots, commonly known as pips.  I did the vector drawing and  used our plasma cutter to cut out 63+ circles of steel. Took longer than you think.

Next grinding.  Lots and lots of grinding.  I had to go buy some expensive flap wheels to grind those edges or I’d still be there.  Once all the grinding was done (thirsty work — needed several beers after that), it was assembly.  I figured I would bolt them together to make it easier to move.  More on that later.

 dice-2 dice-3

Finally got them positioned and bolted together how I wanted them.  Looks good.  Now paint them.  That was also a serious chore.  There’s a lot of surface area to a 3 foot cube.  Done and they look beautiful.

dice-6Put them on the trailer and drive them to Mason City for the install.  Of course, it’s pouring down rain and my pad is in the perennial bed of flowers making everything mucky and slippery.  The 4 Js as I called them (local body-builders and all around great guys) helped get them into place.

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I totally froze when putting the dice together in the proper alignment.  I had photos of them in the correct configuration but it wasn’t working.  Everyone asking questions, pouring down rain, EVERYONE looking.  My brain went blank.  I ran off to the van to get some more supplies, took a breath and then finally came back calmer and managed to get it all together. And more or less in a good alignment. Lesson: Weld those suckers together and use a crane.

Eventually it all came together and they look great in Central Park in Mason City.  Whew!    3d6+4 - Painted Steel - Mason City, IA




South Dakata — Who ARE you?

Who are you South Dakota?

I’ve known you all my life as a place to drive through as quickly as possible on the way to the Black Hills. Maybe a stop at the Badlands and perhaps Wall Drug. If you are a motorcyle person, go to Sturgis.

So, to say I am surprised by you is a shock.

First, there’s Sioux Falls. I’ve gone on at length about that city and it’s delights. Even dragged my reluctant family there (who are now enamored and delighted to better know it).  I was there twice in May.

Now I learn about the Porter Sculpture Park. I read about it in USA Today

Here’s a video:



This is South Dakota?

I think I’m falling for you.

Memorial Day in Sioux Falls

You didn’t get enough of Sioux Falls?

The family wanted to see my art in place and to see everything else too.  They were so impressed by my description of the city they wanted to see it for themselves.

They were duly impressed.

We ended up at the Holiday Inn City Centre again — it was hopping for the weekend. It was fun to walk the street and see everyone interacting with the sculptures.  People had the brochures and were using them to find sculptures.  And vote.  Many of the voting boxes were full (full of mine that is — he who travels to Sioux Falls gets to stuff the ballot box — just kidding!).

Unfortunately two pieces had already been damaged.  Some people are just idiots!

The kids loved Falls park.  We had to drag them away from the rocks. It really is a beautiful spot.

And, my other piece, Samurai Dancer is installed at the Orpheum Theater.  It’s in their inner courtyard. They were kind enough to send a photo. Thanks again for sponsoring the piece.

Yes, it was a really good trip back to Sioux Falls. If you are looking for a great place to visit, go there. 

And make sure you stop at the Queen City Bakery too. Delicious chocolate croissants and more.

Scroll down for a photo of Maelstrom in the sun.  Sweet.

Here’s a Flickr Feed of the photos from Sioux Falls.

[slickr-flickr tag=”Sioux Falls 2012″ items=”50″ type=”gallery” orientation=”portrait” size=”small” start=”random”]

Meteorite Ring – Folded Metal

I found a story about a man. This man forged a wedding band from a meteorite.  How freaking cool is that? Make sure to NOT tell my wife, she’ll want me to make her one.

Here are the step-by-step photos. A couple of photos:

Hot Meteorite ring Finished Meteorite Ring

I’m interested in folded steel (Damascus-style steel) as well as mokume-gane (fusion-layered and folded metal). It’s something I’m going to explore in the coming year, so this set of images is very exciting and instructional.

Which reminds me of a video from National Geographic showing the making of a folded Seax (Anglo-Saxon knife blade). Here it is for your enjoyment:

Sioux Falls SculptureWalk 2012 — Final Thoughts

This was a great event for me.  To be to meet other artists and talk about art pretty much non-stop for the weekend.  Sweet!

I know what to expect and now I’m really inspired.  I’m going to come up with something better for 2013. 

Already thinking about. Plotting

I am very thankful for everyone I met and interacted with, and truly appreciate your hospitality and kindness.

See you next year.

At the studio

I was at the art studio today making art.  Started a piece that I will finish next week.

It feels good to get back into it.  The technique gets rusty.

Also signed up for a Struck Tools class through the local Guild of Metalsmiths.  We’re going to make a chisel, a drift and a couple of other tools.

I’m almost ready for the apocalypse. Just need to learn to make knives and swords!