Miles Apart – Inspiration

I am on the constant lookout for inspiration. Especially now that I have been asked to be in a show next year for which I need to create fifteen new pieces, all with a simple shape and in black. I like doing simple forms and have created a number of black pieces, but to create fifteen and not be boring is the trick. That’s where inspiration comes in.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is always a good source for ideas. I especially like the Project Atrium works. I have written about a couple in previous blogs and was really interested to see the new installation by German artist Angela Glajcar.

She was brought to MOCA because of her torn paper, large scale installations.


While not immediately translatable to woodturning, the work she does causes you to look deeply into the relationship of surface texture, both external and internal and the play of light on these surfaces. The relationships change dramatically depending on your viewing perspective, which is no doubt the point of her approach.


Even the internal spaces take you on a different artistic trip than experiences when looking at the long external blocks the sequential paper sheets portray.


I get the sense of being in a snow cave when I see how the diffused light in different intensities along with the rough torn textures.

While the inspiration is not direct for me, one of the other inspirational aspects of Project Atrium is that of the creator as an artist. When you listen to hem tell the story of how the developed their signature style you realize that it is their overall artistic freedom of expression that led them there. It’s not the convention of historical or contemporary artists that has done it. While they may be a trigger, it’s often an open mind and a serendipitous accident that has led that precipitated their artistic journey.


For Angela, part of this development was a growing awareness that paper was not just a two dimensional material, but could also be used for sculpture. Here is a good video of her talking about her work. During her discussion of approach we all got a better insight.

When she opened up the floor to questions I was ready, since I was involved in the paper making process for nearly forty years and spent a fair number of years involved in the paper industry in Germany. I asked a few technical questions and got a much better feel for how she picks her materials. However, she wouldn’t tell me which paper mill she bought her paper from, except to say that it was a very old mill.

… and now for something completely different.

While the Project Atrium visit gave me one kind of inspiration, the Mandarin Art Festival that we visited today gave much more direct conceptual ideas.


We come to the festival nearly every Easter afternoon and really enjoy seeing the breadth of the artists. This year, just as we walked in I saw a booth that just knocked me out. John Cheer is a ceramicist from Allentown, PA and his work is breathtaking. His shapes could have a very direct inspirational value for my work. Although he works in clay, the forms can be emulated in wood. There are aspects of his work that I have used separately before, but putting them all together, could prove to be a really interesting approach. DSC00525b

This piece was my favorite, maybe because the idea of a spiral of diminishing sized spheres was the basis of one of my pieces last year. A platter and spheres could really work for me.


Color and cut rims just and that much more inspiration. DSC00524

As I generally do at the Festival, I seek out wooden items and items that have shapes that are translatable to wood. There were a number of regulars that run the festival circuit there.




In the end the other woodturning booths did less to inspire me, but were interesting to see.

We always check out the art show from the local schools.


It was good to see that Zentangles were starting to show up. I’ve done a number of Zentangle pieces and want to try some more.


There was one more woodworking booth to stop at – wooden toys. Of course, wooden toys have a special place in my heart because of all the effort my woodturning club puts into making toys for the children and Nemours Children’s Clinic at Christmas time. What made me laugh in this booth is that kid’s really do like wooden toys.


While some people think that home made wooden toys are passé, when we hand them out at Nemours and for this young fellow today, they still have a lot of appeal.

My friend, Tim Bullard was there with his pottery. I took a pottery class from Tim, which reemphasized why I should stick to wood. I’ve seem much of Tim’s work before, but these Tortured Texture pieces were new to me.


Since I do a lot of textured surfaces, I looked closely at these to give me some more ideas. We also like to see the work of Harry and Julie Hearne from Brasstown, NC.

We love the shapes and the glazes and bought a piece from them last year. We always say we’re going to visit them when we go to John Campbell, since they are so close.


On our way out we decided to stop by the man making music all during our visit. I love the hang drum and while we could hear it, we hadn’t caught his space.


As we approached we saw that now only was he playing the hang drum, or handpan drum as he called it, but was also playing the didgeridoo. It was a nice combination.His name is Peter Levitov and we couldn’t resist buying some CD’s and chatting a bit with him. The music will surely put me in a receptive mood for some inspiration.

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