The Northeast Florida Sculptors group is putting together an exhibition in May that has a very interesting premise. Some of our members have overheard visitors to our past sculpture shows state that they loved the sculpture, but couldn’t really see it in their homes, stating that it seemed more suited for a museum or gallery. Of course, our goal is to have patrons enjoy this art where they live, so one of the members thought it would be great to have a show hosted by Ethan Allen, when our work will be displayed in their furniture showrooms. This way, people could see how well sculpture can integrate into the home environment.
This got me pretty excited. I’ve sold a number of my sculptural pieces to people that added the work to their home and I felt using wood as a material and having a modest scale to the works helps people envision living with the piece.
I decided that I’d work on two new pieces for this show, one something new and the other another one based on a successful piece I made for a previous sculpture show. I’ve really enjoyed doing all black or black and white pieces in the last few years, adding a lot of texture to the pieces with pyrography or the use of acrylics. The Call to Artists gave me a very short timeframe, so I needed to get working on the projects right away.
I started with the new design first. I liked my piece “Hello” very much and felt that the texture and shape of the egg in that piece was very appealing.
In “Hello”, I had a new life coming out of the egg; in the new piece I thought it would be interesting if the egg was doing the emerging – it’s birth. I thought for quite a while about a possible deign and though that if I created a hollowform set within another hollowform, I could create the piece without any visible seems. The trick would be matching the shapes so that they would fit together with no gaps. The piece is called “Emergence”.
I created the bottom hollowform first from a piece of cherry. I really had to think about the design here since it would dictate the shape of the egg. I also wanted it to have a bit of a recurve at the top, but it couldn’t be too much or I would never be able to get the egg to slide in. Once I had the shape I wanted I wanted to give a feel that the egg was emerging from an organic form, so I cut away most of the side of the bottom hollowform giving it a soft and rounded profile. The next step was to create a second hollowform, the egg, that exactly matched the inside profile of the bottom. After a few tries I had created a pretty reasonable cardboard template to work from and mounted a piece of sweetgum on the lathe.
Using the template I roughed out the shape, but I quickly realized that the best way to ensure a precise fit was going to be turning a little and then slipping the bottom over the form and see how I should cut the next ½”. I repeated this process over and over, going very slowly until the form fit perfectly. That gave me the outside surface of the egg, but to reduce the weight of the piece, I then hollowed the egg out. The opening I used for hollowing then became the bottom of the egg that fit into a recess I had created in the bottom form – all seams hidden.
Now it was on to the surface treatment. I’ve been working on some new pyrography patterns of late, giving more than just the stippled look I had created on some of my other pieces. I wanted the textured surface to also be rounded and smooth like the cut away edge, so I opted for patterned circle as the base design.
The treatment of the egg was identical to the approach I took with “Hello”. First a layer of acrylic gel medium was applied and then textured with sponges to emulate the surface of an egg. Both the egg and the bottom pieces were then painted with acrylic paints – black and eggshell.
The second piece I wanted to create was based on a piece I did a few years ago called “A Question of Balance”. I liked this piece a lot and was second place winner in the show I entered it in. I liked the form enough that I have been contemplating doing a series.
This time I decided to use only four “stones”, make it a bit bigger and do only pyrographed texturing. The “stones” in the new piece were made with cherry, sweetgum and maple. The pieces are made from a log section, turned to a cylinder and then parted in half. Each half is turned into a shallow bowl and glued together with Gorilla glue. Then after the pieces have dried for a month or so and distorted during the process, I return them to the lathe and turn them back to round as much as possible. For some woods this is a challenge since they warp quite a bit during the drying process. In the new piece I added some additional intricacies, by creating some additional surface shapes on the top instead of having all the stones be smooth surfaces. This is tricky because when I’m doing the initial turning of the shallow bowls, I need to plan ahead and leave enough wood in specific places on the inside, so that when the two bowls are glued together I have enough wood to turn into for the new contours.
Next I need to decide on the texturing patterns and the positioning. Again I used some new texturing patterns, but the positioning process is a lot of trial and error. There really is a “question of balance” during the layout process. The pieces are not simply glued to each other, but require mortise and tenon joints to make the piece strong enough to move around. Once I find the right orientation the I need to drill the mortises and then glue everything together. The piece is then painted with acrylic paint to finish off the look.
This is “A Question of Balance II”. I am happy with this piece and have more ideas for this series.