Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Rolls Royce of shoe horns, part one...

The start...

I'm getting the absolute Rolls Royce of shoe horns.
In an act of extreme self indulgence I'm getting the finest museum quality shoe horn ever made!
The most uniquely perfect one that money can't buy.
I don't own it yet, and money can't buy it, because I haven't finished making it.
But I've started.

But why? I hear you ask...

When it comes to sneakers I'm supremely lazy.
I never untie the laces, I just jam my feet in and stamp down, so the heel area is always the first to go since it gets turned inside out every time I put them on.
I can still hear my mum's voice in the back of my head all these years later.
And I still ignore it (sorry mum!).

Because my overall body shape is essentially a bowling ball perched atop some very long skinny legs, I'm also reluctant to bend all the way down. It would be like asking a stick insect to do push ups with a bag of nails on its back. So most of the maneuvering of the sneakers occurs with my feet.

The hunt is on...

Naturally, after only a few decades of this I went on a hunt for a shoe horn.
I wondered if they still existed. Didn't they go out with the ark?
I found one in about ten seconds at Wal-Mart for around $6.50, and it works great.
It has a nice long handle and a scoopy bottom, so now I can apply sneakers to my feet hassle free.

But while it functions flawlessly, it looks like a cheap piece of crap and I want a shoe horn that could live in a museum.
Then I can use it every day and feel like an Egyptian deity each and every time I put my sneakers on.
It's just the way I am, and I'm sure Egyptian deities were like that too.
You can call me old fashioned if you like!

Diddling tree frog race car...

I'm still diddling around with the design. I might go with just what I originally had in mind, or maybe change it a bit. Perhaps make it a bit longer (but only if it doesn't mess up it's race car good looks).

Of course no shoe horn worth its museum quality salt would be complete without a tree frog sitting on the handle. Or perhaps some other critter.
And of course it will have to be made of something timeless and durable.
Bronze would seem like a good choice!

So enjoy these pics as the Rolls Royce of shoe horns begins to take shape, and stay tuned of course for further updates...

I started out with something like this in mind...

Here's my drawing covered with wax paper, and some wax rods nearby...

Melting the wax 'carrots' in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water. Just like how you'd melt chocolate. Mmmm. Chocolate...
Strangely I saw a face like a bear wearing a bellhop's cap in the melting wax. Could it be the fumes...?
The wax has been poured over the wax paper. It's hard to tell, but I could just see the drawing through the wax. You can see I used my business card as a squeegee, and I left the oven glove floating around for scale...
I cut out the shape with a knify type tool and peeled the wax paper off the back. Some got a bit stuck, so there's probably a better way of doing that I don't know about...
While the wax was still quite warm I cunningly shaped it around various tubes around the house. Vacuum cleaner, light stands, you name it. Then I popped a tree frog where I was thinking of having one, and made a hole for a leather cord or chain to go through.

The red wax shoe horn shape is getting molded (without the tree frog), so I'll have harder wax duplicates to play with later, for the next exciting installment of the Rolls Royce of shoe horns...

Oh, and don't forget of course, the end of this month is only a few days away, and is the DEADLINE for entering my latest win-a-mouse contest (click HERE).

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Peter Wright's batcave and the art of crating bronze sculptures.

Recently I paid another visit to Peter Wright's batcave.
He's the man who offered to take on the risk of casting some of my larger pieces in exchange for half of what's left when they find homes after the gallery cut and casting costs are subtracted.
For which I am, of course, extremely grateful.
He's also a fine glass artist in his own right (no pun intended!). I love the colors he uses in his pieces. For me they are quite exquisite. (click HERE to see his work).

And he has a secret bat-cave, which is where you're seeing him here!

That big crate has got my Sumo Wrestling Toads in it.
I've never seen Peter in a cape, but he can appear and disappear very quickly, and he's always talking by phone from some far flung part of the country or other, so I keep wondering just how he does it...

We're sending Sumo Toads to the Natural History Museum in San Diego (for the Society of Animal Artists 50th annual show) and another pair to Grand Rapids, Michigan (for ArtPrize), along with Big Boy, and some other toads.

The Sumo's are crated, with cross bars inside to keep them from wobbling around. Some kind of plasticky rigid foam is glued to the crates, and the cross bars, and other sheets of it are wedged in here and there.
Everything is marked and coded with numbers and letters so anyone who un-packs it, can later re-pack it exactly the same. The cross bars are screwed in from the outside of the crate.

Big Boy is put in a double thickness corrugated cardboard box, with slabs of softer foam that's more squashy. Each is numbered with a hole in it, so when they're all stacked together horizontally Big Boy nestles cocooned inside his new world of soft foam.
Super thick heavy rope handles round out the procedure.
This is how Peter sends his glass as well. It would take a pretty determined person with a fork-lift to do any damage to it (oh no, I haven't just jinxed it have I?).
Of course everything's also insured, just in case...

My Bumper to Bumper is part of the National Sculpture Society's 77th annual exhibition in Brookgreen Gardens, SC.
Since the base is granite great care is needed for the packing process.
The wooden crate has a foam lining, and sides which slot into place allowing no movement.

The foam top locks it all into place, and the lid is screwed on.

Again, everything is very carefully marked and coded so anyone can re-pack it correctly later.

Besides that, here's a table full of recently patinated bits and pieces which will all hopefully be enjoying life in their new homes very soon (if they aren't already!). Looks like it's almost time for a new tin of paste wax (for brushing on the bronzes while they're freshly hot from the patina process).

As you can see I indulged in a little beer towel thievery during my student years. How could I resist, after all, it had my name written all over it!
I think this one came from my local in Portreath, Cornwall at the time, the Waterfront Inn.

Oh, and don't forget of course, the end of this month is the DEADLINE for entering my latest win-a-mouse contest (click HERE).

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Loveland's Sculpture In the Park show, and my Sumo Toads score an online win!

Last weekend was my annual trip (so far, anyway!) to Loveland to take part in the Sculpture In the Park show.

It's the only show I've done each year as a 'stand behind your art and meet your collectors' type participant, mainly because they make it so easy for you, it's kind of hard not to.
And of course I've been lucky enough to get let in (although the last 3 have been automatic since that's their deal after they buy your sculpture for the park)!

Most shows require you to bring your own tent, pedestals, signage, etc etc.
At this show you have to use the provided pedestals, can't use your own signage (to maintain a consistent look and keep it all about the art) and they have an army of volunteers from scouts to retirees, all positively delighted to do whatever they can to make it a pleasure for all involved. And there's security guards all weekend, and great food and beverages during the patron party on the Friday afternoon!).

Of course you have to get there and back, load up and unload your vehicle full of bronze a couple of times (unless you want to chance it going missing in a hotel parking lot overnight), but for me it's a vital opportunity to see people respond to my work first hand which I really enjoy, and also a chance to see lots of other great sculpture and meet a few friends while I'm at it.
Benson Scupture Park, in Loveland, Colorado
It's a great park with some of my favorite features: Ponds!
There's usually a bit of a scramble for pedestals, but plenty of help on hand...
Fork lifts, cranes, and all sorts of assistance for those with really big pieces...
The view across one of my neighbor's areas (super friendly and helpful guy, and veteran of all 27 events, Curtis Zabel)
One of the four main tents full of artists...
A few of my bits and pieces...
It didn't look this serene and empty once everyone was all set up and the doors were opened to the public!
My spooky looking 'Monkey/Turtle Discus Thrower'
The icing on the cake- one of my pieces on the catalog cover!

Thanks to everyone involved, everyone who popped in to say 'hi', and especially thanks if you're one of the fine folks who took something of mine home with you! I certainly appreciate your support.

Besides that, I was tickled pink when I found out today that my 'Sumo Wrestling Toads' won an award of distinction at the Art Kudos annual online show.
Thanks Art Kudos!
Me, and my toads, are pleased as Punch!

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Another easy win-a-mouse contest! Enter now, find out if you won in the new year! (Entry deadline Aug 31)

Another chance to WIN a mouse!

Guess the future weight of the chubby artist (that's me)! 

Sort of like 'guess the length of the snake', only rounder.
And more futuristic.

Because you're not guessing my weight right now (which is 212.2 lbs, as of Aug 1 2010), but what you think it will be on Jan 1st, 2011.

Actually I've been sneaking my weight into the end of my monthly email updates all year (see sidebar to sign up for them) hoping the semi-public display might kick myself up the rear end enough to dump some unnecessary poundage.

Didn't work so far.

Time to get more public about it and (hopefully) force myself into action!

Useful stats...

Here's some useful stats to help you make an educated guess...
I'm 5'10" tall if I stand up really straight.
Lightest I've been in the last couple of decades...173.6 for about 5 minutes several years ago.
Heaviest I've ever been.........................................239.8 for quite a while, but over a decade ago.

You've got all month to post a guess in the comments (more than one guess and you're disqualified!) or email me (put 'chubby artist' in the subject line), of what you think I'll be on Jan 1, 2011.
That is, of course, right after the holidays!
My scale measures with the number after the decimal point always an even number, so every 2/10ths of a pound.
Last chance to guess is Aug 31

Who knows, you might be best off guessing more than I am now, but I hope not!

I'll weigh myself on Jan 1st (I'll keep sneaking my current weight into the monthly email updates, so you can see how you're doing if you like).

And give a mouse to whoever comes closest, and hopefully be considerably lighter when I do.
If the winner doesn't claim their prize by the end of Jan, I'll give it to the next closest instead.

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille