I finally finished this set of four pieces, Quiver, Close Call, Rose, and Shuttle:
It was about a year from start to finish, though mostly because a lot of life got in the way. On the other hand, four pieces I’m proud of in a year is not so bad, and I probably shouldn’t be making them any faster lest they clog up my studio. And I did my first wall piece and a couple of practice 3d printed sculptures along the way too.
This set of pieces is meaningful to me at the moment because it’s the first new set I’ve done since Filoli in 2015. When I was accepted into the Filoli show they let me bring new work and gave me a couple of months notice, so I made three new big pieces for the show (The Chase, The Drifter, and The View). The Chase I’d already drawn but hadn’t figured out how to build yet. It was a great success solving that problem and making the big pieces with the new technique. I still think that that technique is the most innovative thing I’ve designed. I’ll write another post about it. However, my excitement of the Filoli pieces was tempered by the fact that they corroded significantly within the few months they were installed. I thought they were stainless but I’d done it wrong.
I was sent into another year’s research learning how not to do it wrong. Stainless steel 316, electropolishing the welding heat discoloration, and strong acid wash. Now my new work holds up like it should. If any of the Filoli pieces sell, I’ll refabricate them correctly. In 2016 I made two new pieces, one part of a set of larger pieces the rest of which never got built, and one extending my original block piece set. The rest of my time was spent playing catch-up with myself, refabricating old stuff that I couldn’t stand to see done wrong.
Finally I’ve had the chance to see all that through and make a set of new work that is done correctly from the start, and finally it’s done. I’m very proud of these, they took quite a bit of grit to get through.
But now this puts me in a position that feels quite odd. For years now I’ve been driven by this idea that I hadn’t done it yet, that I hadn’t put it together yet, I was still catching up and trying to do the work right. The block pieces started in December 2013 and now it’s February 2018 and finally I’ve gotten it out there.
It’s really time for something new. Exciting, scary, and confusing.
Right now I have two new sculptures I’ve gotten started on, but it’s been a little tough going. I moved to Portland in March and got right on it and made two new freestanding pieces and a wall piece. But since then I’ve been feeling swamped with work and stymied by the cost of getting started again.
Back in Oakland, as I was getting started figuring out my stainless steel process, I worked closely with my buddy Lou. Lou has a CNC plasma cutter that was able to do a decent job cutting my stainless, and we worked together as I sorted out how to go from the computer drawings I was making to files he could actually cut from. There was a lot for me to learn and it was great to be working with a friend. Once we got over the initial hurdles we got a lot of work done together, almost all of my stainless steel sculptures were made from parts he cut.
Here in Portland I don’t have Lou’s help anymore so I needed a new service. My shop here is shared with Jason Jones, a stone sculptor and art restorer. When I was looking for a place, Jason’s wife Marissa Jones suggested to me I check out The Stone Center. I worked with their waterjet team to get about a sheet’s worth of steel cut, enough to make the two freestanding pieces and the wall piece I’ve done since moving here. Their work was excellent, especially compared to the plasma cutter. However, it cost a lot. I was expecting my costs to go up because I’m not getting friend rates any more, but it was enough money to really make me think twice before kicking off more sculpture. I dragged my feet and slowly got together the files for a couple of new pieces but waited on starting building.
At the beginning of November I saw a mail that Julian Voss-Andrae was looking for some temporary help getting a couple of pieces ready for Art Miami. I decided it’d be a good experience to work with him a bit. Julian was great to learn from, and it was neat seeing his construction process. I’ve spent so much time thinking about different ways to do things, it’s very surreal to see where another sculptor has ended up when confronted with the same problems. I only ended up working for Julian for one day since it was hard work and I didn’t want to get too behind on my day job, but in the process I got a recommendation from him that changed a lot for me. He told me that laser cutting is far preferable to waterjet, both in terms of quality and price. In fact it’s so much so that the money he spends on material and cutting is no big thing compared to labor. It’s hard for me to price out my labor, but that didn’t feel like the situation I was in.
I had a cutlist all ready to go, so I got in touch with the company Julian recommended, Profile Laser. The quote they got back to me made me feel like a chump for getting as much work done with the waterjet as I did. Turns out waterjet is just much less efficient for the cutting I need to do. It’s slow, so I’m paying someone to babysit it for a long time, and it uses a large amount of consumable garnet abrasive, which I’m also paying for. Laser saved me tremendously.
Not only was the cutting far cheaper, but Profile has a relationship with the metal supplier since they buy so much from them, and is able to get far lower prices than I am. No such deal at the Stone Center. The amount Profile was able to charge for metal + cutting was about the same as I was expecting to pay for the metal in the first place. I didn’t hesitate to tell them to get going with it.
I got the pieces after returning from the Thanksgiving holiday. They look beautiful and have been a joy to assemble. Sure is great to get a piece of good advice once in a while.
Hello friends! I decided to add a blog to my website to have somewhere a little rougher around the edges to share thoughts, in-process photos, show announcements, and ruminations on why I love being a sculptor.
Just for fun, here’s a picture of one of the first sculptures I ever made, in 3D Concepts class at Mills College.