Before I begin analyzing my various vessels, direct your attention to information sheets I developed for each vessel. This provides a document to include with the Vessel when it sells or is given as a gift. I like to include a photo of the vessel and also a photo of the plant that is the primary wood source. I often name the vessel with part or all of the woods scientific name. An examples shown below are my Syringa Vulgaris Vessel and a lilac bushes in full bloom which is the source of wood for this Vessel.
The information sheet also gives dimensions and weight of the finished vessel. Construction methods and finishing processes are included and hints on care and maintenance can be included as well. For purposes of reviewing vessels included in this section that used different and unique construction methods, I will try to limit remarks to that specifically.
One of the critical decisions when designing a vessel is what will be used for the core and how it will be removed. The Mexican Bird of Paradise used a Styrofoam core that could be removed in small pieces thorough the top and bottom openings before the base was cast. In this lilac vessel the top opening was too small and the legs on the base complicated removal of a Styrofoam core from the bottom. The question became, how was the core to be removed after the vessel was stabilized with the wood segments. The design around the center of the vessel allowed me to cut it in half, remove the core, and unite the two halves and finish over the area. This is the type of creative problem solving I will highlight in each of the following vessels. The Mexican Bird of Paradise vessel was covered thoroughly in the first part of the book and illustrates my traditional construction methods compared to construction of these next vessels.
SAGUARO I: This photo shows the vessel next to the giant cactus that supplied wood ribs for its construction. Ribs are salvaged years after this giant has met its demise from natural causes and the fleshy part of the plant has decayed, leaving the ribs clean and intact. The vessel is smaller at the bottom and top. A brass ring at these extremities holds the ribs in place and a disk spreads the ribs to form the bulging center. There is no core used in the construction of this vessel. Pieces of fiberglass cloth were adhered to the inside of the vessel and a resin grout was spread over the outside of the cloth between the ribs. When the fiberglass and resin grout cured, a strong shell was formed, locking the ribs in position. The disk used to spread the ribs, designed to be disassembled, is removed and the surface is patched inside where it made contact. This unique vessel is open at both ends.
ROBLE NEGRO ROCA: This vessel is unique because the Styrofoam core was left and supports the brass tubes mounted flush with the top surface. They are in place to hold decorative arrangements. The vessel was constructed from wood of a large, downed Emory Oak, also known as Black or Blackjack Oak.
CUBISTIC PROSOPIS: This vessel is made of wood from a large dried Mesquite log. The central portion was shaped over an industrial balloon while the top and bottom sections were fashioned from solid Mesquite wood. The central section is covered with Mesquite cubes. The solid top section has been hollowed out and attached over the opening in the mid section that I used to extract the balloon from. This takes place after the cubes have been attached to the fiberglass shell. Notice the worm holes in the top section. The dimensions of this vessel are: 52"h x 30"diameter and it weighs 68 lbs.
SOVEREIGN ANTIQUITY: I call this vessel the Rose Bowl because it is constructed with segments of rose cane. It was formed by draping fiberglass cloth over a 12" balloon and maintaining the irregular edge as wood segments were added. The inside of this vessel is finished with a smooth coat of tinted resin and petroglyphic figures were added to this surface with a small paint brush.
SOUTHWEST I: The variation in this vessel has to do with pottery chard's that have been added to the surface to complement the Eucalyptus segments. The broken chard's were added to the vessel last, before finish was applied. Other elements of this construction follow the standard process. This piece illustrates that an unlimited variety of material can be used on the surface of the vessel, limited only by your creativity and imagination. The Eucalyptus wood came from small limbs. Native to Australia, these huge trees are now common around the southwest. They can grow 10 to 15 feet per year under good conditions and reach a height of 120 to 150 feet. They may live for 100 years.
APHYLLA: This, my tallest vessel, stands 93" high with a 14" octagon base. This construction method used was a great departure from standard. No core was used. The base octagon and a smaller top octagon were cut from 3/4" plywood and a hole drilled in the center of each. A long closet pole was passed through the holes. Four, 8' x 4" strips of 1/8" veneer were fastened to every other side of the octagons. The base was securely fastened to the pole so that it could not turn. The top octagon was then rotated 45 degrees and locked to the pole. This twist brought the 4" wide strips of veneer together as a square shape in the center of the vessels height. Tapered veneer gussets were cut to finish the vessels top and bottom surfaces. A fiberglass coat was applied to all of the veneer and then the Tamarisk or "salt cedar" segments were added. The shapely top is fashioned from a solid piece of Tamarisk.
CHOLLA TEA: This is one of my first teapot vessels. It starts with the standard Styrofoam core and fiberglass shell. The appendages such as the handle and spout are built separately and added as the wood segments are attached. The wood used is the Cholla skeleton or inner structure of the plant. Pieces of this skeleton are filled with resin and when cured they are cut into segments. This is a natural attractive wood.
EMPTY/PROMISES I: This is the last of the special exception vessels I will show, and it is the most dramatic approach of those that have been covered. I am developing a series of vessels using this approach. Several previous posts highlight specific applications to vessels in this series. With as little overlap as possible I will describe the characteristics of this series. The title for these vessels refers to the use of empty containers as the core of the vessel and the promises is the added value given in the final product. This piece starts with an empty wine bottle and the final shape is quite different. There is room for individual creativity and a simplified work plan. A construction guide in my book furnishes necessary information for constructing Empty/Promises. These directions can be used with any vessel of this style. Give it a try?
The book's conclusions are brief. I encourage you to take bold steps to explore your skills. The Appendixes are the last pages of the book. Appendix A gives insight into my artistic accomplishments, while appendix B is my published statement used for art shows I participate in. The last two appendixes may be more useful to you. Appendix C is information about materials. They are listed in categories such as: core materials, shell materials, casting materials, and modeling materials. Finally, I have included my list of illustrations, and this concludes the review of my book, "Unique Vessels: How do you make these things?" Thank you for your interest.