the new yellow stuff
Over the years, I've asked many of my fellow artisans about their creative process. Specifically, I've inquired as to how they continue to find a seemingly endless well of new inspiration for their work.
This sort of question typically inspires a philosophically-charged monologue about desperate importance of taking in new experiences. Sometimes, it covers the need for taking calm, meditative time to process and synthesize new visual input. Occasionally, I'm told it's about escaping the everyday routine in order to see things from a different perspective.
On the whole, I've always felt like these deep responses were little more than brilliant justifications for a posh vacations every couple of months.
Mind you, I've got no problem at all with that. I'm a big believer in getting out of my head whenever I can. If getting a new perspective happens to come with a continental breakfast and a massage, so much the better.
I have noticed, however, that like so much of my life my artisan soul takes a slightly different bent when it comes to the subject of nourishment.
Where most people like to pamper their inner child into playing muse for them, I have a slightly different parenting style. I give the little urchin a periodic opportunity to run amok in exchange for rights to anything he accidentally produces. In short, we skip the beach-side lounging in favor of "mad scientist day" at the studio.
I look at it as a combination of therapy and research. So long as I don't accidentally kill myself, the worst that is going to happen is that I'm going to waste an afternoon here and there cathartically giggling at something bursting into flames.
On the flip side, I might stumble onto something interesting. In my dreary old world, interesting is like opium. A good hit could mess me up for life. One time, I had so much interesting I managed to resurrect a 1300 year old Japanese sculpture technique. Not bad for a kid mucking about with unstable chemicals.
While I've not been punching holes in the space-time continuum this year, I am happy to report that my recent bouts of "mad scientist mojo" have resulted in something more than just a goofy grin on my face.
For my latest trick, I'll be taking a pile of this:
And transforming it into something absolutely awesome. As luck would have it, this mystical alchemy should be complete just in time for my next show.
Bath House Cultural Center
April 18 - 20th
Be sure to pop by and ask me about the new yellow stuff.
04 / 11 / 2008
frickin' laser beams
I'm the first to admit that I'm a bit of a technophile. Give me gadgets, cool software and new tools to play with and I'm generally a very happy boy of tomorrow.
Mind you, I still cling to my Luddite-esque skills when it comes to jewelry making. During my apprenticing years I learned to appreciate the value of hand-filing things, hitting things with hammers and setting things on fire.
While I might kick it "olde skool" most days, any chance I get to add a bit of technical jiggery-pokery to my artistic bag of tricks is a relished opportunity.
Most recently, thanks in no small part to my involvement with a company specializing in 3D prototyping, I can now giddily add "shoot things with laser beams" to my palette of possible techniques for world domination and/or making cool stuff.
For those not geeky enough to already be drooling, the technology we're mucking about with essentially grants the quasi-mystical ability to print highly-accurate 3D models in a casting-ready thermoplastic. It's a bit like an inkjet printer, assuming that printer fires lasers layer-by-layer into a puddle of carefully placed goo.
The upshot of all of this three-dimensional goo and laser insanity is that this new technology blows the doors off what was previously possible with computer-controlled milling, precision hand carving and other "structured" art methods.
While it's definitely not a technique suitable for every project, it certainly will up the ante of what is possible in the way of crisp, iconographic detail.
kicking the tires...
Recently, I got a chance to take this new technology out for a spin. A client brought me this regrettable example of the prop-maker's art:
I swear I did not make this.
He challenged me to re-envision this "vaguely obscure" television costume piece into something that, in his words, "Sucked a little less."
After a bit of back and forth, we hit upon this design:
My concept art, based on the lumpy mess above.
So far, this is pretty typical for my artistic process.
Things took an interesting turn when I fed the same artwork into the rapid prototyping system. Instead of making compromises to the design in order to make the idea possible to produce, reality now bends to my whim and every intended detail appears:
And this was before I knew what I was doing.
That's exactly what the prototyper outputted. The best part was that this model was ready to cast. No intermediate molding or other middle stages were required.
After casting and finishing, the final version of the badge:
Now that's what I call crisp.
Add one tool to my arsenal, and score one for science fiction geekery.
03 / 17 / 2008
getting my year on
I recently looked up and noticed that I was elbow deep in 2008. I normally have to spend weeks shoving against the tuchis-end of a new year in order to get it moving. By some random stroke of luck, this year decided to bust out of the gate at a fair clip and all I can take credit for was being foolish enough to hang on like a suicidal rodeo clown.
I'll be posting more updates from my "wild ride" soon. In the meantime, here's a few "leftover" tidbits from the end of 2007:
- My last project of the holiday season was to finish off this incredible ring.
- I've moved last year's show calendar here for archival purposes, and started a new one.
- At the behest of friends, I've updated my canonical list of collected titles.
02 / 01 / 2008
shockingly good customer service
A couple of weeks back, I had a rather electrifying experience. While setting up my booth at an event site, the lighting system I employ to make fine jewelry sparkle catastrophically kicked the bucket.
The spiteful beast also attempted to take me with it.
The short version of the story is that my hand was on one of the tracks at the same moment the lights in question checked their busy schedules and realized that it was high time that they pack up and shuffle off to the electrician's graveyard.
Their attempt to commit a simultaneous act of electrocutive seppuku and homicide was soundtracked by my echoing screams. While I easily filled a 10,000 square foot room with dulcet tones of my discomfort, I managed to neither swear nor sound completely like a little girl.
Considering that the hosting venue was a religious organization dedicated to the education of young men, both facts are worthy of mention.
Thanks to the fast thinking and faster actions of those less extra-crispy at the time, we managed to hack together something that allowed us to limp through the remainder of the show.
The following Monday, after I stopped smelling of ozone, I gave my lighting supplier a call. I explained that we had only employed the bi-polar lights in question four times, and that everything had been properly shielded and grounded...outside of myself.
Upon hearing my tale of woe and wattage, it was Edward (henceforth Edward the Lightbringer)'s professional opinion that the lights were in fact dangerously buggered up and in need of full replacement.
This was not at all surprising. I had come to a similar conclusion while writhing underneath them just a few days prior.
What left me floored, again, was the fact that he sent us a complete replacement on the house with his apologies for the inconvenience and near death experience. Edward the Lightbringer even insisted that I keep the non-smouldering bits of our original gear long enough to ensure we had spares for our next event.
After our less-morbid replacement lights carried us safely through the last show of the season, I took a moment to pull out a dictionary. Apparently, Edward the Lightbringer's strange behavior is known as "fantastic customer service".
It's not something you come across often, doubly so in an internet-based business catering to other businesses. For that reason, I've got to give them two thumbs up and recommend Direct Lighting to anyone looking for a reliable, and ultimately non-life threatening, solution for trade show illumination.
3625 E. Philadelphia Street
Ontario, CA 91761
Ask to speak to Edward the Lightbringer, and tell him who sent you.
12 / 12 / 2007
holiday art fair
Over 25 vendors offering unique and perfect gifts for everyone on your list
and a silent auction of special treasures!
6525 Forest Lane
Dallas, TX 75230
Friday, December 7th - 6pm to 8pm (Opening Reception)
Saturday, December 8th - Noon to 8pm
Sunday, December 9th - 10am to 3:30pm
11 / 30 / 2007
let's all go to the lobby...
Here's a list of five things I love about Dallas' Bath House Cultural Center:
- People who genuinely care about the arts run the joint.
- The acoustics in the lobby are ideal for jazz, classical or impromptu artist karaoke.
- It is one of the few places you can walk your dog, fly a kite and buy a painting.
- Regularly attending a venue known as "The Bath House" has convinced my clients outside of Dallas that I live a far more colorful life than I actually do.
- Locals have apparently designated that the twice-annual Art Mart as the area reunion event. It never fails, if I haven't seen someone for more than a year, they invariably turn up during the show to say hello.
Ok, there's also a bonus item:
- They call the show Art Mart
I don't know why, but saying it amuses the heck out of me.
11 / 09 / 2007
10 / 17 / 2007
happy gohdnuorg yad
I've noticed that the updating of my fall show schedule is something of a reverse groundhog day for me. Shadow or not, winter's coming. I clean my studio, get my head together and prepare myself as best I can for the insanity that is the upcoming holiday season.
It is a tradition within this moment to succumb to a panicked realization that while I might arrive at events with a veritable entourage of minions, henchpersons, gorgeous women, trained monkeys, genetically-engineered squids and a disc jockey named Rio, back at the studio I'm merely half a brain and one set of hands.
It is fortunate for my panicky nature that the aforementioned grey-matter partial originally belonged to a complete genius. As those who know me well can attest, when you have half a mind left you oscillate between brilliant and...well, not.
Rather than waiting for the seasonal panic to get a solid grip on my sanity, my brainier half-brain has stepped in to remind everyone that now, in the calm before the storm, lies a wonderful opportunity to discuss any projects that you might be considering.
By getting on my to-do-or-perish list early, you'll not only get the full benefit of my partial genius, but you'll also be doing the vestigial threads of my mental composure a kinder turn by not waiting until December to ask for the impossible.
With that said, I'll pack my helpful hemisphere in mothballs for safe keeping and get back to work. As always, You can find my up-to-date show calendar online here:
10 / 02 / 2007
what's in a name?
An amusing conversation with a client led to titular affectations, the latest addition to the rant repository.
08 / 17 / 2007
11th annual jewish arts fest
Sunday, August 26th, 2007
10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
For advance tickets and more information: www.jccdallas.org
08 / 01 / 2007