Jun 21

Hood in the Wood

I usually post a lot of my progress shots and final photos of artwork on Facebook. Someone who follows my work there very kindly sent me the following clockbox last year.

clockbox-web It is such a wonderful piece that I had a hard time figuring out how to incorporate it into a piece. I set it aside for awhile, then earlier this year had a few mis-starts with it. Finally I thought that the story of Red Riding Hood would work well into it, with Red Riding Hood wandering through the forest in the top panel, with the Wolf leering at her from below.

So first I got to work on the Wolf:


This is one of my more complex heads; wolf snouts are rather tricky to do as they are narrow. Parts used in this include shoe formers, measuring cups, tart tins, a cake icing applicator, plus some very scary rusty metal for the teeth.

I put the Wolf into the box roughly where he might ultimately be, and did a bit of work on the forest:


Those of you who are familiar with some of my pieces will recognize the style of the forest. I use discarded metal sticks to form the trees, and then paint over them. A sun or moon gives a bit of form in the middle of them. Next to work on the forest some more:


I added in a ground level using some wood. This was a bit of a challenge, as I wanted it to have a natural sloping feel, and there weren’t really many places to attach the wood. I would eventually just bracket the back piece to the box, and glue the subsequent pieces together and to the front of the box. As they are so lightweight, it worked out just fine.

As you can see, the forest is purple at this point. I would later switch to a greener tone to clearly identify this as a forest, as the scenario has a somewhat abstract feel to it. Next to Miss Hood herself:


It was of course important to find a very red cloak. While looking for something else in a drawer, I happened upon this little cloak, which was both the perfect size and color. I fashioned her basket from the top of a kerosene lamp, and her body is made from a chess pawn and a metal ball (see the photo below for this):


At this point the biggest thing that needed to be worked on was the Wolf’s body. I used another shoe former for the torso, and two different styles of tongs for his claws/paws. Also changed his eyes to red, to better match Miss Hood above. As seen in the final photos below, the forest is green, which helps her pop out more.

I found it hard to capture all the details of this work with the photos due to the darkness of forest section, but hope these will give you a good idea of the overall feel of the piece.  ”Red Riding Hood” is a 21 x 12 x 6 inch shadow box artwork.  This piece gave me the idea to do a series of Tricksters. Since the creation of this one, I have also created a Djinni and Raven, which will show up on this blog at some point or another.

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood  - Right

Red Riding Hood - Top Detail

Red Riding Hood - Bottom Detail

Apr 19

Critters of Fire

My idea for this piece was to create a depiction of how people used to believe how salamanders came to life: through fire.

As always, I first gathered as many materials as I could. The chief components are typewriter parts, driftwood, picture frame, conduit and a good box.

(Update: This work is sold)


Next I made a visit to the good folks at The Light Bulb Shop.  I was resigned to have a steady orange and/or red light behind the driftwood to show fire, but when I described what I wanted to do, they gave me a couple flickering orange lights, which worked perfectly! See the video below for the initial installation.

Next was work on the first salamander. Using the conduit, typewriter parts and a couple measuring spoons, I was able to twist, cut, screw and (jb) weld a salamander together, and attached it to the box:


And then next came the paint. I wanted the colors to match those of actual Fire Salamanders, so went with the yellow black combination:


There were initially going to be three salamanders crawling all over the box, but felt it needed another element. So instead of the third sculptural salamander, I found an illustration from 1607 of one in fire, which was of course appropriate. I colorized it with Photoshop, printed it, mounted it on balsa wood. Then it was attached to a candlestick base, with a battered gear behind it.





I created another salamander which was attached to the right side of the box. You can see it in the final pictures.

Below are views of the Fire Lizards. It is a 14 x 14 x 8 inch shadow box with lighting. I thought I was done at this point, but after taking these photos, kept working…

The Fire Lizards - Right

The Fire Lizards - Left

The Fire Lizards - Detail

Finished? Not so fast!

There were enough parts for another salamander, so figured may as well do another…having the opportunity to take a snapshot of an attached salamander, I did just that:


This salamander was constructed the same as the previous ones, except for the fact that it had to be self-hanging, versus attached to the box. I had to drill two hole in the stomach for screws, which would hold wiring for it.

Fire Lizard

I hung it over the original work, and thought this additional salamander added to it. I am still trying to decide whether they be sold together as a unit, or separately.  See below for a picture of both pieces together.

The Fire Lizards

Here is a video that shows both the original piece and the extra salamander. Despite the quality of the video, it helps show the depth and lighting effects:

Fire Lizard - Detail

Mar 26

Art Wrecks

First a bit of music

Hopefully that song put you in the mood for today’s featured artwork.

While I use lots of metal in my art, it’s rare that my subjects are vehicles. That’s not the case for this piece, or the one following. I’ve had a old tin toy train sitting in one of my bins for the longest time, and finally put it to good use.

First a shot of the parts, at the beginning of the project.


You can see the train inside a box there. in addition, there are also springs, a photo frame, recipe holder, some old bottles, a perfume canister and some wood I pulled from an old shelf. There is also some metal thingie at the top left that I thought looked somewhat like a train whistle, but never really made sense visually, so it was eventually replaced.


Above shows the initial arrangement of the piece. The wood remnants have been cut down to fit the piece, and the photo frame cut to tuck in behind them.  The image in the background is of old Baltimore.

A bit of a leap ahead, and we see the finished product. The biggest change is the object in the slot above “recipes.” I took the base of a candle holder, and added another brass fitting on top of it, and then an old clock face.  Seems to fit in with the train theme of trying to keep time. Alas, this train will not be meeting its schedule.

The Wreck of the Iron Horse

The Wreck of the Iron Horse - RightThe Wreck of the Iron Horse - Left

The Wreck of the Iron Horse - Train Detail

The Wreck of the Iron Horse - Bottle Detail

The title of this piece is “Wreck of the Iron Horse.” The name Iron Horse comes from the name of the toy train itself, not seen here. It is a 12 x 13 x 4 inch shadow box that hangs on the wall.  It has sold, and one change since the sale is that the “recipe” plate has been changed to the last name of the new owner.


I had the plate made at a trophy/award shop here in town. I was happy with how it turned out…I just scuffed it up a bit so it would fit better with the look of the art.

Mar 25

The EleFant

In my last entry, I went into detail about how the Tinotaur came to life, and the Elefant I will share today had a similar process as the first, so I will mainly let the pictures show how it all came together.

First the elephant parts, also found mostly at one junkyard and start out all in a jumbo jumble.


Next getting them to take form. The hardest part of this was to attach the two parts of the fan, which really didn’t go well together, so it took a lot of cutting and hammering.


The elephant gets more refined, and a much better choice of ears…


The last picture shows the eleFant in its final state, with gold and purple highlights added:

The EleFant

The EleFant is a 21 x 21 x 8 inch hanging assemblage artwork. It has been sold.

Jan 29

Tinimalism – Part One

One of the places I get my junk is, well, the junkyard.


View from the Junkyard

There is something really fun about taking things that have been bent, crushed, and aged, and incorporating those aspects into the piece. It adds a random element that helps keep artwork from falling into stale patterns. The artwork I will discuss in this blog entry and the next is made almost entirely from stuff found at this junkyard. I am calling them “Tinimals.”

First the Tinotaur:


The main body is some kind of industrial fan.  I wanted its chest cavity to be dark, so constructed a box underneath it, and added dark blue fabric to the bottom of the box. Also added some copper tubing as the horns,tinotaur-web

In the above picture you can see the beginning of the innards (or in this case “tinnards). Next step would be a paint job:


At this point it was pretty close to done. But like many times, the part that really seemed to bring it together was added at the last minute. If you notice in the picture above, he has no mouth nor nostrils. That was taken care of, as seen in the final photos below:

The TInotaur

Tinotaur - detail

The Tinotaur is about 20 x 24 x 4 inches. It is a hanging sculptural work. At the time of this entry, it is just about to make a trip to its new home in Italy. Stayed tuned for Tinimal #2 tomorrow (or the next day).

Jan 21

Drawer Diving

The Big Fish (click pic for blog link)

The Big Fish (click pic for blog link)

The piece I will discuss today is the long overdue followup to another artwork I finished over a year ago.  It is called the Big Fish, and you can read about its story, as well as see more pictures, by clicking on the picture to the left.


It had been intended that this new piece be its sequel of sorts, but it took its own path, and now has its own story to tell. Let’s see how it started:



This is a spice rack that Cheri found at a Goodwill. It has the same wavy door decoration as the first, as well as the bottom drawers, so figured it would be fun to continue the previous theme. At this point, my only objective was to flip the location of the characters; the person would be in the drawer, and the fish in the cabinet space.

I found some good material for the fish, and used a little figure as placeholder for the rafter. Also had some interesting star christmas tree lights, so decided that a night scene might be a nice change too. The following two pictures have some painting progress.



Next point of order was to work on touching up the fish and creating a figure.

First the fish:


It took a few color changes, but was happy with the outcome above, so that’s pretty much how it looks like in the final piece. The raft person was another story…


The above shows my original idea for the piece. The fish would emerge with the treasure, and the assumed same fellow from the previous piece would be on the raft.  It is at this point that I showed it to Cheri, who thought it a bit samey as the last one, and felt that this figure didn’t match the tone of the new fish. I grumbled, but then decided to try something new. At this point I got caught up with trying to get this drawer to work and didn’t take any pictures til the end. But needless to say, it changed quite a bit:

In the Blue Water - Doll Detail 2

No longer is there a castaway adrift at sea, but now a doll figure in a bed, in some unconscious state.  This ultimately makes more sense within the piece, as it takes place at night.  As for the rest of the meaning of it, I’ll leave that to you, the viewer.

The name of this piece is called “In the Blue Water.” It is a 12 x 15 x 6 inch hanging shadow box construction. The left drawer opens and closes, while the right drawer is fixed in place. Contact me with any questions about this work.

Here are some more shots of the final piece.

In the Blue Water

In the Blue Water - Left Detail

In the Blue Water - Right

In the Blue Water - Fish Detail

The last photo shows the open state of the left drawer. This took me awhile to figure out what to do. At first the things added seemed to just be excessive, especially given how much detail the piece already has. The other consideration was the fact that the drawer was pretty small, and anything inside it couldnt go higher than the lip of the drawer, or it wouldn’t open or close. Finally I decided upon a mini ocean in the drawer, with a smaller fish, which seems to complement the larger.  It’s hard to capture this with a photograph, but below will give you an idea.

In the Blue Water - Drawer Detail

Jan 12

The Cheshire Bell

Continuing on with the Carnival Catch-up (or is that Kats-up?), we move on to the infamous Games area. Now this was the second games artpiece I did, the first being “Killing Time,” which I will cover once I get a video of it. For this one I chose the Test Your Strength game, and instead of boxing it, wanted the structure itself be most of the art. First the gathering of materials:


The background of this piece is the back of a chair I found during our city’s large item pickup. The top is an upside-down sewing kit, and the bottom was probably a jewelry box. I tried a couple different circular metal objects for the head. Once I picked a head, I first started sketching out the face.


I wanted the bell to taunt the poor soul attempting to win a prize, and immediately the Cheshire Cat came to mind. The drawing would evolve throughout the process, but feel it still has that same feel.

Next I started to add color, using the characteristic golds and reds that would show up through many of the Carnival works. It was about this time that it seemed the piece was imbalanced in terms of height. Still having some of the above-mentioned chair parts, I took the top of it and used it as the “wings” of the game.


Next the little visitor was focussed on. The head and body are made of wood and are connected so that the head can bobble around. In fact I left it that way in the finished piece. The head was dremelled out, springs and beads were added, and a face was born. The arms and legs are from one of those aggravating 3d puzzles. The hammer head is a thread spool.


The next two photos show work on type. To get the effect, I got a font off the internet, distorted it in Illustrator, printed it out, and cut out the letters from the paper. The remaining paper was used as a stencil, painting through the cut spaces.


In this final progress shot you see how the face would look in the finished work.


This piece is illuminated using a strip of LED lights. I had to create a little channel between the numbered wood parts in which the led strip, as well as a strip of clear plastic could be inserted. The LED strip had to be installed in such a way that it could eventually be swapped out when needed. Without going into too much detail, this took a bit of juggling, but it works just fine.

This piece is called, appropriately enough, “Test Your Strength.” It is a 20 x 24 x 7 inch construction with LED ligthts installed, and hangs on the wall. Below are various shots of the final art. This was a difficult piece to take photos of, due to the fact that the lights are right in the center, and seem to wash out the rest. I think the detail shots turned out better for this reason.

To see all the works in this series, visit my Carnival Discardia page.

This piece is sold, but feel free to contact me with any questions.

Test Your Strength - Center

Test Your Strength - Left

Test Your Strength - Luk Detail

Test Your Strength - Luk Detail 2

Test Your Strength - Bell Detail


And finally a quick youtube clip of the lights in action:

Jan 09

Of Art and Otters

Last summer, a fellow named Drax asked to do a video about me, my art and a virtual otter named Scottius Polke. We did a series of interviews in November and December, and the youtube clip below shows the results.

I have to say I am impressed with Drax’s attention to detail and the ability to make me sound half-coherent (no small feat).


Scottius and Drax inside Second Life


Scott (me) with my drawing of Scottius the Disco Otter

Coffee Break during the recording

Coffee Break during the recording

The Drax Files

The Drax Files

Jan 06

Death and the Knife Thrower

For the fourth Carnival Discardia artwork I chose the knife thrower act, and wanted it to have something of a twist. Let’s first look at the core materials: a spice rack and a spinning wheel decoration.

Spice Rack

Spice Rack

Spinning Wheel Decoration

Spinning Wheel Decoration

I like the curves of the spice rack; it already felt like it ha a carnival feel. The top shelf would have to be removed in order to make way for the wheel.

As for the wheel itself, it was perfect. It even was functional, in that it could spin. I just had to remove the backing pole with a dowel that would go into the spice rack.



Above, you see the results. Getting the dowel to fit in snugly and fit through all three holes was a bit of a trick, but it somehow worked. The wheel would be attached much later, after the rest of the work was done.

The next step would involve focussing on the colors:


There is a very primary color base to this piece, with its reds, yellows and blues, as highlighted by the target itself. The backing of the target is some light balsa wood. I had to keep in mind that the target and knife throwing assistant would have to be fairly light, or spinning the wheel would be problematic.

Sometime before the door to the “basement”

was added, the LED lights had to be installed. I got a foot long strip that attached to the top of the rack with the wire going along the back.


With the lights taken care of, the basement could be worked on:


Initially there was going to be a standard shot of a knife thrower with assistant. But this didn’t grab my attention, so I began to develop a little storyline. The basement, or rather another location in the carnival, has a pile of empty bottles. Later I would add a figure lying on the floor, and you’d only be able to see it legs, the rest of it hidden behind the door. The door by the way is a jewelry box drawer turned upside down with a handle and lock that I created. Much to the chagrin of visitors to the Carnival Discardia opening this Fall, the door doesn’t open. However, the spinning wheel made up for that!

The Gene Simmons Assistant

The Gene Simmons Assistan

Knife Thrower Assistant With Hair up

Knife Thrower Assistant With Hair up

Next to work on the assistant. I’ll even show you the first attempt that I found unsatisfying. I crafted the figure from some furniture fixtures, doll hair, a wooden ball and toy silverware. The first try she looks more like a Metal God along the lines of Gene Simmons. By turning the shoulder pad thingies into her mask, and giving her an updo, she looks much more the role, even if completely on the deathly side.

There are no more progress shots at this point so will move right to the final photos. A few new details you will see are the knife thrower himself, lying at the bottom. His attire comes from a Bratz outfit greatly modified. The knives themselves are actually appetizer forks with the tines removed. The knife table is from a dollhouse.

Death and the Knife Thrower

“Death and the Knife Thrower” is a 15 x 20 x 5 inch shadow box construction that is lit using an LED light strip. It can either hang on the wall or is self-standing. Check out the entire series at my Carnival Discardia page.

Death and the Knife Thrower - Left Angle

Death and the Knife Thrower - Top Detail

Death and the Knife Thrower - Bottom Detail

Finally a quick video illustrating how the wheel turns:

Dec 20

In the Art of the Jungle

Last night a very nice couple came to our house and picked up one of my art pieces, and it dawned on me I had not yet written about it in this blog. So here is the very long-delayed making-of entry for “The Valve Harvester.”

I made this piece in January of this year, and had been on a breadbox kick. Here is how it started it out:


Like the Lion and the Mouse from the Aessemblage series, my original inspiration for this were the jungle scenes of Henri Rousseau. Similar to the former work, I used discarded metal sticks as the jungle backdrop. Some wavy metal served as water, much like it has in several of my other pieces. As seen below the sky was first blue, but that would change:



As seen above, it quickly took on purple and orange hues, as you would see at dusk. Next some detail work on the tiger.

The tiger head is made from a latch, with some other bits of metal. It took a few tries to get the expression just right, but this shows him with a rather inquistiive look, which is just what I wanted. Next the tiger was put back into the scene:


At this point the tub started getting filled up with springs, valves and other materials. Also some metal reeds were added to the water. Next I added the fellow who would be steering the tub-boat through the jungle.


Connecting the rider and the junk to the tub, as well as the tub to the box itself required a mix of screws, glue and wire. After lots of trial and error it came together. The Valve Harvester is 18 x 11 x 9 inches. Here are the final shots; note the valves that are half sunken into the water which the little Harvester eagerly seeks:

The Valve Harvester

The Valve Harvester - Right

The Valve Harvester - detail


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