Sunday, January 15, 2017

ESP / Canada 2017

In addition to my submission for the open Elora Sculpture Project seen yesterday, I also prepared a submission specifically for the Canada 2017 competition there: 

In celebration of the Canada’s 150th year since Confederation, the Township of Centre Wellington in partnership with Elora Sculpture Project will purchase up to two sculptures to remain on permanent display in the community.
For consideration in this program the works must:

2. Be created by a Canadian resident and:
 Celebrate Canada, it’s history, geography, peoples or culture, or
 Convey the artist’s thoughts and feelings on being Canadian at this moment in time, or
 Convey aspirations for, or visions of, times yet to come.

History in the Wind

What is the weather? One of the defining characteristics of Canadians everywhere has been our discussion (often complaints) about the weather. Through Canada’s long history, weather vanes have had symbolic meaning, with specific cultural / regional styles. 
Over the decades, with my connection to museums throughout Canada, weathervanes have been a area of both interest and work. This has included reproductions of specific artifacts, new work inside historic design traditions, and extension into my own ‘windbile’ series of sculptural objects.

‘History in the Wind’, overall, consists of a series of individual elements, representing various historical and cultural traditions, stacked chronologically one above another on a central support. In this the rough form also echoes First Nations ‘totem pole’ memorials.

1) The Land - As Canadians, again almost universally, we are strongly tied to place. Since the Canadian Shield runs under almost all our country - and almost links the whole country side to side, a block of granite forms the base of the sculpture. I have proposed random piece of glacier dragged and smoothed stone - here representing the Land before the advent of humans.

2) First Nations - Obviously the First Nations Peoples inhabited the Land for thousands of years before the recent history of Canada. For at least Eastern Peoples, the Turtle is important in traditions about the creation of the world. Here the figure of Turtle is rendered in a thick slab of simply surface carved wood. This element, although mobile, is not balanced to shift under anything but the most harsh of winds. This is intentional, representing the long duration of First Nation’s traditional beliefs.

3) The Norse - The Scandinavians of the late Viking Age were the first Europeans to travel to our East Coast, although admittedly only with a brief stay. Bronze Weather Boards like this element were fixed to the ship’s prow, with weighted ribbons moving to indicate wind direction and speed. The figure punched into the metal surface is the World Serpent, thought to entwine the World. *

4) Early Europeans - The first European voyages to their ‘New World’ start in the early 1500’s, what is really the end of the Medieval period. At this time, the ‘Banner’ design was common. The element was created out of individually hand forged bars, the whole riveted together - the construction method chosen here. The date of 1605 represents the founding Champlain’s original settlement at Port Royal in Nova Scotia.

5) Quebec - The most common early Canadian weather vane is the rooster or cock. With its ties to Christian symbolism, this remained especially true in Quebec. The historic samples range from simple sheet iron cut outs, carved wood, and hammered tin plate and elaborate copper sheet. The Weathercock seen here, executed in copper, is based one from Saint Georges.

6) Upper Canada - As settlement moved westward into what is now Ontario, the taste of the English speaking immigrants effected choice of design, with the Horse becoming one of the most popular. The development of the first cutting torches, it became possible to easily cut heavy steel sheet. The pattern here is loosely based on a number of vanes from Central Ontario.

7) Into the Future - As time progressed, commercial stamped weathervanes, sized as decoration rather than function, started to replace the larger often self made figures. With the shift (in my own life time) of Canada from primarily a rural to primarily urban dwellers, people are increasingly cut off from even being able to feel the wind at all. Increasingly, suburban home owners were able to install simple weather forecasting instruments. This includes the spinning cups of the Anemometer, to measure wind speed. For the top element the form of this functional instrument is warped to create an element as much eye catching as useful. It incorporates six spiral shaped individual arms, each with a inserted moving ball element

- The installed sculpture will stand roughly 9 feet about the base mount.
- The individual elements all shift with the wind, the widest being the Banner, at roughly 5 feet above ground level and sweeping out roughly a five foot diameter circle (so 2 1/2 feet each direction from the base).

Asking Price for ‘History in the Wind’ can only be estimated at this point.
Rough Quote = $3500

* Some might question of my inclusion of the Norse, at the possible cost of an element representing 1900's / Western Canada.
This was done for a number of reasons:
1) What do you use to represent a weather vane for the West? Figures of cattle are typical, but within the overall design, such a figure is too repetitive above the Upper Canada / Horse. Another possibility might be a tractor, which I did consider.
2) I was attempting to look a very wide patches of Canadian history, again attempting to illustrate 'founding' elements. (Ok - this might preclude the Norse too.)
3) There is the graphic flow from the base upwards. The individual elements are getting increasingly 'realistic' as the sequence moves up. To the obvious break of a potential future - unknown.
4) Hey - I * AM * 'the Viking Guy'....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Elora Sculpture Project 2017

The following is an portion of my submission to this year's Elora Sculpture Project: 

‘Hello / Goodbye’

This is a simpler piece than in previous years. I continue to explore the concept of wind powered / moving sculptures. Within the larger grouping of works part of ESP, I feel objects that incorporate motion can serve to capture the public’s attention.

‘Hello / Goodbye’  consists of a set of five individual mounted elements. With the base structure, the overall impression is of a stylized hand raised in greeting, the individual fingers waggling. Each ‘finger’ is a long slender, slightly curved rod, ending in an elongated oval ‘finger nail’ formed of stainless steel sheet. Each sheet ‘nail’ is slightly dished and mounted at slightly different angles to capture the wind. Each of the ‘fingers’ ends in a heavy mass of steel, which functions as a counterweight. These masses start as disks cut from solid 3 inch (plus?) mild steel, which are then compressed via forging to more irregular shapes.

The framing element, suggestive of the open palm, supports a central pivot. The ‘fingers’ are mounted along the pivot bar, allowing for motion front to back, but not side to side.  The paired top bars of the frame limit the travel of the fingers. In wind, the ‘nail’ surfaces react with the wind to move the ‘fingers’ from rest, with the counter balance weights reacting to swing each back and forth - ‘waggling’ the fingers.

Overall, ‘Hello / Goodbye’ will stand about 8 feet tall when mounted. At the mounting ‘palm’, the size is about 3 feet tall by about 24 + inches wide. The moving counterweights sweep out about  12 - 14 inches of depth. At the top edge, the individual ‘fingers’ will splay out to about 3 - 4 feet wide. In motion, the very top edges will move through roughly 3 - 4 feet of depth.

Asking Price for ‘Hello / Goodbye’ can only be estimated at this point, but is expected to be roughly $1500.

I have submitted (and been chosen to display) work for the ESP from 2013 through 2016:
2013 - ‘Layers’
2014 - ‘Spears of Summer’
2015 - ‘Armoured Fish’
2016 - ‘Barrel Turbine’

Checking past postings / search would give you the submissions and images of the final works as installed

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Tentative Dates* for 2017 Basic level courses:

March 11 & 12 = Introduction to Smithing - two spaces only / work with propane forge

March 25 & 26 = Build a Zombie Killer - four spaces / consider an 'experience' style program

April 7 / 8 / 9 = Introduction to Smithing - four spaces

May 5 / 6 / 7 = Introduction to Smithing - four spaces

June 2 / 3 / 4 = Introduction to Smithing - four spaces

* July - no courses scheduled (possible presentation at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC)

* August - no courses scheduled (possible trip to Scotland)

* Should either of these projects not be carried out, it is possible there may be programs placed on the schedule for those months.

September 8 / 9 / 10 = Introduction to Smithing - four spaces

October 13 / 14 / 15 = Introduction to Smithing - four spaces

November 10 / 11 / 12 = Introduction to Smithing - four spaces

December 9 & 10 = Introduction to Smithing - two spaces only / work with propane forge


At this point I have already filled one program completely (May 27 & 28 - Zombie Killer), and I have five deposits already in hand (made as Yule gifts).
Based on the experience of previous years, available dates fill quickly!

First deposit = first booked!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kristmas Krafts....

This was something I posted up on Facebook earlier this week...
If you care about the comments and suggestions - look to my Facebook page.

Here is the simplest thing I have come up with - a project suitable to make with your kids?

Cat Food Can Spinner

This project makes use of empty 156 gm aluminum zip top cans that cat food comes in. (Sure to work with tuna fish cans as well).

After emptying, wash out the can.

You need to make a small hole in the bottom.
I'm using my drill press here, but an hand drill works just as well.
Simplest way is to put the can on a scrap piece of wood, and just tap a nail through to make the hole.
If you need guide lines, measure out rough 1/4 divisions, then break each 1/4  into three roughly equal segments. Precision not required!
I normally use a pencil or a water based marker (the lines will wash off in the first rain).
Now you cut along the lines, up to the small rim edge of the can.
I've got some tin snips for this, but aviation cutters or even a pair of heavy (bandage) sissors will cut this thin aluminum (note - use rough working sissors - don't use your dress-making shears!)
This is the most 'difficult' part of the project for young fingers.
Now you twist each segment through about 60 degrees.
The easiest way is using a pair of square tipped pliers as seen.
Note that you grip the segment by the bottom 1/3 or so.
With the aluminum, you can do this with bare fingers - but be careful of the potentially sharp cut edges.
You likely will have to adjust the individual 'vanes' you have just made when finished - the shape of the can can distort a bit.
Now you need about 24 inches / 60 cm of light string, or nylon fishing line as seen here. Plus a small washer or a small nail.
Fold the line over double, tie a knot on the free ends.
Insert the folded end through the washer
Pass the other end of the line through the open centre of the loop, then snug it tight against the washer (or nail).

Last step is to pass the free end of the line through the hole you made in the centre of the can.
Run the line from the inside towards the outside of the can, so the washer pulls up tight against the inner surface of the can.

Now hang outside off your eves or from a tree branch in your yard.

The light weight of the finished spinner makes it move with even a slight breeze, the edges of the vanes catching the wind. The longer string allows it to wind up and then spin back.

In the image you can see some other prototypes, each made from colourful pop cans.
For those spinners, a heavy box cutter was used to cut lines into the body of each can, creating strips about 1/2 inch / 1 cm wide.
The red one has straight cuts, again twisted by about 45 degrees off flat.
The blue one has diagonal cuts, with the can 'squashed' to make the oval profile.


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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