Tuesday, August 17, 2021

“The Workshop”: How It Came to Be

“The Workshop” took quite a bit of time to create.  Perhaps you viewed the minute long video I made of the finished piece.  If not, you can click here and watch it if you’d like.  But that was the end.  Here I aim to show you the process through photos I took as it progressed from an the beginning to completion.

I started with the idea in my head of an industrial warehouse space with a steampunk inventor designing a set of wings that would send his assistant aloft.  From there I began to construct the building.  I used foam core and styrofoam to eliminate excess weight.

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I wanted the warehouse to have the appearance of a brick exterior so I added it through the use of stencils and paint.  It was time consuming because in between applications it had to set.

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In the meantime, I worked on other details.  Here you see the beginnings of the shelves that will hold the various tools, trinkets and other things the inventor likes to have around.

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From the very beginning I wanted him to have a desk for his drawings and a desk lamp appropriate to the steampunk era.  Inspired by ‘real’ life lamps, I fashioned one from tubes and gears.  The tube allowed me to thread the wires for the light bulb – because it had to actually work, of course.

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Steampunk naturally has pipes and often rusted ones so I made some to hold the shelves and provide some interesting visuals to the back wall.  I especially loved creating this part, no matter how maddening and tedious it could be at times.

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This little font, which arrived as a kit, seemed like the perfect thing an inventor would have in his space.  Luckily the diameter of the opening was exactly right for the globe I happened to find afterword. Some things you just can’t plan and it makes the resulting lucky find all the sweeter.  This was also going to be lighted so I added a tube to the center to accommodate the wires.

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Painting, adding gears, more painting.

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A central feature of the workshop was going to be the lighted steampunk clock on the back wall.  I have done something similar in the past, and I learned that first comes the arrangement.  Then I document the design with a photos.  Then everything gets disassembled for painting, only to be reassembled with glue.

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Here’s my tentative layout before all the shelving boards were stained.  I used different kinds of wood and stain so they were all different in the end.

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I also created a guide so I would know how many pipes I would need, what shape they would be and where they would end up in the arrangement.

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Back to painting pipes!

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The clock has a subtle map which you can see if you study the finished piece. It is sandwiched between the interior and exterior walls with gears and cogs.

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The warehouse also needed some ‘steel’ beams that spanned the ceiling – and they had to be a bit rusty too.

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The room is lit during the day by natural light which comes through the skylight which I made from acrylic.  How my brain resisted the math needed to figure angles and cuts!

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A few more photos of details.  A steampunk telescope.

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The steampunk globe.

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The chalkboard for calculations, notes and such.

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A pulley – it is a workshop after all.

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A bulletin board for drawings and sketches.

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Tiny pencils – a necessity.

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The assistants wings under way.

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Here’s a photo of the inventor, Tiberius.

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His assistant, Anna.

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And “The Workshop”.

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This piece was part of the opening night gallery at TBAI, in Binghamton, NY.  I invite you to follow my adventures with bears – whether I am making them to exist on their own or in bears&boxes or in vignettes.  For Instagram, click here.  For Facebook, click here. Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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Friday, April 16, 2021

Hugo Seafarer–A Nautical Undertaking

Hugo Seafarer is a one-of-a-kind piece in my ‘bears&boxes’ series.  I absolutely love creating these pieces that challenge my skills and creativity. I began with a box built to my specifications by Jay. The process begins here with the plain box.

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The next few photos show the layering process of paints and mediums for the outside of the box – back, front, sides, top and bottom. It’s like painting six canvas all the same way.

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While the different layers dried, I turned my attention to other details that I expected to include along the way. I used a paper mâché box lid and created a porthole. Here are a few of the steps.

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The photo that follows is one of many times I added patina to copper strips. It’s a fun process – at least I think so. One of those you get-what-you-get operations because the patina that emerges has a mind of it’s own.

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Making some diamond plate, or something that looked like it was on my list as well. I began with very shiny cardstock that I toned down with some spray. I distressed it a bit more before I embossed it.

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Back to the copper strips. Most of them were used to finish the box edges.

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Copper pipes of an appropriate size and shape were a large part of this project. My method involves using a tiny saw, a heat gun, glue, paint and patience.

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I’d never built what I would term as a balcony. Not sure what they call it on a ship or submarine, if there is such a thing. Maybe the bridge? It was an exciting idea which was a smoke screen for how exactly I was going to make it, especially the shape I wanted it to be. I used coffee stirring sticks for flooring and some of my ‘pipes’ for supports.

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Next it was portholes. Not just the big one I started with but also six smaller ones. There were two parts to each porthole including a glass-like window. Each one treated the same with layers of finish for that aged and rusted patina.

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How does the captain get to his bridge? He uses a ship’s ladder of course. Plastic rods, wood pieces, stain, paint, glue and a little bit of insanity were components of the construction of it.

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This playful detail began a few years ago in a shop on a trip where I saw an octopus tentacle finger puppet. I almost left without buying it, but I changed my mind, bought it, and stored it waiting for just the right project to come along. This turned out to be that project.

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Gears, gears. Ever so many gears. They begin unfinished so I paint them, and paint them and paint them.

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Two more paper mâché box lids – square this time. Using themed scrapbook paper, I covered them.

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It seems the closer I get to finishing a piece, the faster it goes and the fewer photos I take along the way, but here’s a couple more. Anchors and placing the pipes on one side of the box.

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Then there’s the Captain – Hugo Seafarer. An adventurer, an explorer, a voyager. He needed appropriate attire. I often take photos of an arrangement to help me remember how I had planned it. Here you have an before and after of the top of his cap.

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A detail of his wrist cuff.

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The final photos:

The Front

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The Left Side

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The Right Side

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The Entire Piece with the Captain in Place

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Showing the details without the Captain

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Hugo Seafarer

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Up Close

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Thanks for joining me on this nautical journey!

And thanks for reading!

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