The Artist at Work.
I am interested in reasons why people are driven to create objects. I love to work in all types of media and materials, at any scale- large or small, for any kind of place, often what I am interested in at the time. I am drawn to materials used by traditional craftsmen; Clay, Metal, and Glass. I also love to use the environment as subject matter. Working in my gardens and making steel artworks is satisfying to my soul and to my love of getting my hands (and often face and torso) dirty.
In 2010 I decided to take a weekend welding class at Mahaney Welding (now Rochester Arc and Flame). That was the beginning of my love of steel. Once our instruction was completed, we were free to create any project. I drew my design on the sheets of steel, with the intent of making a large fire-pit with bold cut out designs. During the class, I realized and understood the meaning of positive and negative space in art. Once cut with a plasma cutter, the steel shapes will either fall completely out of the sheet of steel or remain as an outline. I really thought that was a cool process, and had tons of applications! And cutting and welding are very forgiving processes.
My brother has a barn where he builds race cars, and he told me I could bring my plasma cutter there, use his compressor, MIG welder and facility. With that, I was off to work creating structures and panels for my own gardens. Then as most artists find out, people see the work, want some, and a business is born!
The fun thing about making art from steel is that anything goes! Steel sheet, rod and tubing is perfectly happy being a 2-D object or 3-D object, or a combination of the two. Sheets of steel come mostly in 8 foot sections and 20 foot rods, so sizes of artwork is not restrictive. But it is HEAVY! And awkward to work with in my small space. But I managed! AND because the shop is unheated, I am only able to work when the temperatures are above freezing and below roasting! That is a challenge!
For the first year, I worked primarily with steel. Then at a furniture show at The Shoe Factory Art Co-op, where I was a member, I met a glass worker, Tom Zachman. He asked if I ever considered incorporating fused glass in my work. I had not, but a trip to his basement studio, and hours talking back and forth, convinced us both that we could work together creating exciting and affordable works to sell. He would create fused glass elements, hand them to me, and I would create the companion steel piece that the glass would be fastened to. We each inspire the other, and there is never a time when we don’t get inspired by the other’s work and ideas. We have work that combines steel and glass; his glass chimes work well with steel cutouts and ribbons. I create steel panels and sculptures work equally as well with glass additions, and are particularly striking with rusted steel surrounding vibrant glass!
My works are often colored with a fine metallic wax applied to the untreated surface of steel called Gilder-spaste. Adding wax colorant to my pieces gives them a painterly quality which accentuates the shapes, forms and textures in an exciting way. But I also love the natural way steel will rust over time and in different weather conditions. I have often looked out my window at the rusty structures in the gardens covered with fluffs of snow and smile at the sight.
Tom and I do two shows together; Artist’s Row and Purple Painted Lady. We both agree that participation in a one day, 6-8 hour show that is only way we want to sell. While we can drive each other nuts, not a day goes by when one of us will say “hey what do you think if we combined, this……with…..that….!” and we get right to work making a prototype or two and put it out there for all to see. Working in collaboration is satisfying and rewarding. I am sure what I feel about art making is what everyone feels.
All of our 2016 artists are invited to contribute to the Artist Row blog! These blog posts can be on any topic relating to their art: where do they find inspiration? What is their process? What are challenges they run into? If interested in contributing to the blog, please email email@example.com.