Mallory, First Year Teacher, Makes a Chair

Colorful Chair

Mallory you are already extra-ordinary as first year teacher in a new school– that kind of new as in it has just been built new. How do I know you are already exceptionally impressive, because you are seeking to make your own brand, something recognizable and memorable, and most telling, your trademark has meaning.

You looked at me and started the conversation with a question, “Are you a painter?”

I was in the art supply part of a big box store. I had brushes and paints in my basket.

I thought, being a painter is what I used to hear around the holiday dinner table when the folks referred to how someone in the family earned their daily bread. I smiled at the old-timey reference.

I said, “I am an artist.”

“That’ll do.” You were emphatic and asked me about painting a chair.

Painting a chair? A 3-D chair you sit on or one in a painting?

You smiled that teacher smile. You are good, very good.

You wanted your classroom chair to be special, to stand out. It was a rescue from a thrift store and you knew you could make it sparkle.

Why?

Because you will love what you will be doing, teaching, so much in a chair that is full of colors and shapes. It will engage the students’ imagination. It will also make a statement that the learning space is a special space. Therefore, you pupils must be so special too.

It’ll give you a certain dignity too.

Dignity and charm, two good allies for those who dare to teach others.

Mallory, I see you sitting on a stage in your special colorful chair in fifty-years surrounded by your pupils and former pupils. They will be honoring you for your service as a fantastic teacher, a role model of the highest quality.

You will begin your speech recounting your years as a teacher by telling your admiring audience, “Let me tell you about my chair and how I made it.”

You will tell them about your fabulous chair and your extraordinary life.

And they will marvel at you all the more.

I am pleased I was able to marvel at you when we had our brief conversation and how we searched for just the right colors for your chair. I enjoyed your vision and your ideas. How creative you are.

Thank you, Mallory. You touched something in my soul.

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Art is a Verb

Recently I heard a critical response to a fellow artist’s use of some vintage wood in a design. They used 100 year-old wood in their art which was deemed a “waste” by the responder.

lumber4

 

I wish only to explore what “stops the creative process” at this point.

Why was it a waste to use that rare wood?

“If the wood could be used in a more ‘worthy’ application, then it would be a proper use of the material.”  If the wood were made into a fine altar piece or carved doors to a crypt, then it would be something more notable.

Nope.

I wonder in this manner sometimes when I make something new, even one-of-a-kind piece from found objects. Certainly few recycled things I have come a provenance or even an estimation of age. None are any sort of rare things other than they had been “lost”, they piqued my interest, and I re-defined them.

Paint remaining in tubes for fear of waste might deter me if I allowed. The costs of paper, canvas, and brushes do frighten me when I order materials.

But, what if I do not get “it” right?

Do I feel guilty when I fail the materials and decide to start over? Does starting over prove I am un-wise?

Nope and nope.

If every time I failed I stopped the process and cleaned up the materials and placed everything back where it belongs and quit I have only accomplished only an exercise in studio cleaning, and turning off the lights.

Do I fail often?

Yep.

I simply begin again, almost out of reflex. I have yet to understand why starting over is such a “horrid consequence”, a waste. [I’m thinking maybe also stay ahead of deadlines, because missing them qualifies as a “horrid consequence”.]

Why is “waste” such a driving concept?

I think it is rooted in fear of failing. If I mess up this cut, then I’ve ‘ruined’ a piece of 100 year-old wood and the wasting wood cops are sitting in a van outside.

Yep, it is the same with anyone who might mess up vintage lumber or a box of nails.

If the piece of  100 year-old wood rests on the shelf for another hundred years perhaps it will be a buffet for termites.

If and if and if must end. It stops the creative process.

Art is verb, it is about doing.

Being a Scrounger

It’s been two days since I’ve picked up any interesting junk. I have a deep respect for found objects.

I started June 2016 with a few loose nuts and bolts.

  • I had peanut butter jars on hand
  • Put the nuts in one jar– bolts in another
  • On a shelf

When I go through my shelves of junk for an Art project it’s almost like birthday opening presents.

Junk in Plastic Boxes

Locks, Keys, Bits, Pieces

In May I opened my bins and shelves to my friends. They made a little party of it. To their credit they hauled off a lot of swag.

That is why I had a few empty jars in June.

I know I should stop scrounging.

But life is so full of such interesting stuff.

I Artist

  • I don’t want to stop making. So I make. I suppose I could quit any time I wanted, I guess.

          For that reason I keep a journal. I have an “idea” table just for “what-ifs”. I take pictures of           constructions for reference. I made a small backpack for art materials.

  • I can create by my own will, on command, except sometimes I don’t do so well.

          So, I keep an everyday carry collection of sketch books, idea books, and finish books plus a                 small selection of pens, brushes, pencils, and colors.

  • I see the world in terms of light, shadow, form, flow, and composition.

          For example, with light and shadows I work on getting folds of fabric plausible or to show the           muted hues of an alley.

          I like to catch the early morning light and the twilight.

  • I reflexively decide what something could “be” if I change some things.

          So, I combine objects and create 3-D sculptures on wooden panels. I use items I have owned             and mix them with junk from my stash mashing, and melding.

  • I mostly work alone

         But I am always telling a story.

 

Shopping Bag Quilt1_1 45%

Shopping Bag  component from found fabric

What can be Will Be

My usual method to assemblage starts with some kind of “ground” or what receives all the pieces. Then comes the parts arrangement. Take a picture; then, re-arrange the components, and finally take another picture.

Flow of the Cosmos2

“Star Fountain”, wood, metal, acrylic paint, varnish, April 2016

I’ve  mixed it up a bit.  I take a picture of the parts and cut them out, then arrange those cut-outs on a backdrop.

I thought, “Forget the pictures.”

Designs?

Where am I?

I’m stuck is where I am.

I have to do better. Don’t give up.

Opportunity to re-start.

 

I was jammed. Run hard a-ground.

What I used to make this project was one word: altered.

I altered the plan.

It worked. Same parts different approach. New concept.

I got un-stuck.

New tool for my tool box.

What can be will be.

Eventually.

Stay in the hunt.

Parts Make a Whole

Fuel Filter Lamp 1

I walked passed the collection of automotive parts everyday for several months.  The 1960 Willys Jeep fuel pump was near the top of the heap. I liked the “AC” glass bowl.

I disassembled and cleaned the fuel pump. Then, the un-necessary bits were removed.

 

Then my curiosity was growing. What else was lurking in that scrap?

I found more parts–outside house lights. I began to get a sense of what “the fuel pump” could become.

The assembly process was trial and error. Error gets me going with more determination.

I needed some bits to enhance “the fuel pump”.

I was given a cord coupler. Nice threads.

Bartered for a brass plate for a base. Scrap brass sheet and couplings for contrasting color.

I bought a toggle switch.

 

I call it a “Lamp” from a 1960 Willys Jeep fuel pump.

 

Fuel Filter Lamp 2