Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Olive Jar

My wife and I have a cocktail each evening before dinner.  I prefer a tall gin and tonic while JoAnn favors martinis.  Ice cubes and a slice of lime makes my day end complete.  JoAnn likes crushed ice and two large green olives.  She calls it her martini slush.  One drink  per night adds up, if calculated for over 30+ years we have been married, resulting in many olives and quite a few olive jars.  As you no doubt have guessed, this has to do with the title of this post. 

With the creation of a new vessel series, “empty/promises (e/p), I have been saving empty bottles, jars and other assorted containers to use as the container I build the vessel around.  Several earlier posts have shown examples of this and my web site, has a gallery devoted to these pieces, showing the evolution of the vessels. My next vessel will be built around an empty olive jar using olive wood segments.  It is just beginning as shown in the photo above.  The fiberglass mat wrapped around the glass jar, is ready to be coated with resin.  You will also note several jars in this photo, all olive jars of various sizes.  I am working out the details of a new series within my series. These completely straight sided jars make it possible to cover the exterior with vertical strips of wood.  The strips can be interrupted in a random pattern to allow pockets for some special stones, tile or whatever fits the mood of the design.

To help visualize what has just been described verbally, a sketch of this idea is shown above.  It is helpful to do this step before starting the project.  Problems that arise can be though through and resolved before the production gets under way.  As each vessel is completed I will share an image and further detail in a post.   This current post presents some of the thought and planning that precedes the creation of this art and I hope this information has been of some interest to you. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Monitor vs.Merrimac

For those of you who know your Civil War history you will recognize these two names as those given to early versions of ironclad ships.  The USS Monitor was built by the Union navy and the Merrimack was a make-over of a wood hulled steam ship by the Confederates.  They met in battle on March 9, 1862, and after four hours of fighting, neither ironclad seriously damaged the other.  On may 11, 1862 the Merrimack was ordered to be blown up to keep it out of the Union hands.  Some time later the Monitor sank 15 miles south of Cape Hatteras while being towed during a storm.  This ended the historic battle of the ironclads and marked the beginning for new designed war ships.

My art piece focuses on the change created by these two prototypes but does'n try to mimic their shapes or battle equipment.  The ironclad concept, which was such a revolutionary idea, (pardon the pun) has been simulated in my piece by mixing iron filings in the resin that covers the hull. That will be the extent of my critique of the design I have chosen, leaving other facets for you to ponder.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dribs and Drabs

The title for this post comes from an expression I have heard used occasionally when describing the presentation of information in "bits and pieces".  Maybe bits and pieces would be a more recognized phrase but I liked the dictionary definition of "drib" to introduce my thoughts in this post.  Even better, why not combine the best of each phrase to label my current topic, wallah!  "Dribs and bits".  Rather than coining a new phrase I should move on and share my thoughts with you.

When creating art using resin, often more is mixed than needed for the job.  My general practice has been to pour this excess into a pill bottle.  The next excess resin is poured on top and so on until the pill bottle is full of cured resin.  To add interest to this resin filled container,in addition to the variation that may occur in color, also bits of resin collected from the work area drip sheet are saved and added to the mix as the pill bottle is filled.

This is far from art by design, but surprises often emerge when the tubes of cured resin are sawed into disks much like cutting up carrots to cook (see photo above).  These disks can be used in numerous ways to adorn an art object.  Now that their origin  has been explained here is an examples of how these resin disks or orbs have been used.

"Mosaic Tower"

 This vessel has a square bottle inside so it can be used to hold liquid.  A long stem rose will turn mosaic tower into a vase or a dry arrangement can be used.  This is a recently produced piece in my e/p series.  Other e/p vessels can be seen on my web site ( in the gallery, so designated.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Finished At Last

Have you heard  the old tale about a race between a rabbit and turtle?  Of course the rabbit (or hare) was much faster and left the turtle (or tortoise) in the dust.  The hare was careless and with his big lead took side trips and got involved with other amusements.  On the other hand the tortoise kept plugging along and eventually crossed the finish line with the hare nowhere to be seen.  When the hare remembered the contest he sped to the end of the race to finish second.  The moral of the story is to be a winner, keep your eye on the end goal and don't become distracted by other factors.

I just finished this art piece which I call "Butcher Block Tortoise".  The shell is made of 3/4 inch Oak pieces, glued together with the grain running vertically.  This is the way butcher blocks for kitchens or meat markets are made, hence the name for my tortoise.  I started this piece while living in Wenatchee, Washington and it has moved with us many times over the last thirty plus years.  I have decided to finish up several projects of this nature.  The under-frame for this piece was arc welded and built up when I could use this form of welding.  My pace maker now limits me being around such activity.

Several conclusions could be associated with the Hare/Tortoise story in the first paragraph.  This tortoise took a long time getting to the finish line, and typical of the hare, I got distracted by the many things that came along in my life until I realized the need to race to the goal line with this project.  It feels good to have it finished.  Have a good day and check for tortoise among your accomplishments.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Our Apatchablue Home

The first home my wife, JoAnn and I designed together and had built was in Wenatchee, Washington, high in the foothills overlooking the Columbia River as it made it's way past town.  A prominent rock formation called Saddle Rock, located immediately behind us, was a landmark seen from all over the valley.

We had just been married and it was an exciting time for us as we became thoroughly involved in the home building process, collecting materials and making decisions.  Much of our shopping was done in the Seattle area,Spokane and Portland, Oregon.  As the basic construction was progressing, we were locating unique item in these shopping markets and hauling our finds home to store in our little rented house until needed on the construction site.

We found a beautiful irregular cut floor tile in Seattle that had blues and greens in various hues,  mixed in a high glazed surface.  This is how it looked on our bathroom floor.

We found and ordered a truck load of flat blue cement tile for our roof.  When the builder was ready the tile arrived and was unloaded on to the roof.  It gave a finished look and provided a lasting surface.

A substantial change in elevation occurred at the back of the pad which required an eight foot high retaining  wall.  The builder cast a cement wall in place, giving it a pleated pattern to provide strength.  He exposed the aggregate on one surface and left the apposing surface smooth with several recessed
grooves.  The notches this wall design created were ideal spots for planting dwarf fruit trees.

In this scene several features can be seen in addition to the fact that it snows a lot in Wenatchee.  The exterior of the home was covered with vertical fir siding as were many of the interior walls.  Secondly, a cupola had been designed to snuggle into the roof over the second story bunk house, so named because it had extra beds for visitors.  The cupola had padded seats all around for comfortable viewing from this highest vantage point.  Several large pillows were available if one wished to stretch out and relax.

This house wasn't designed for the mobility challenged individual because of its many floor levels.

 Starting in the sunken living room ...

it is several step up into the music area.

Two more steps up reaches the ground floor.  From there a curved staircase leads to a balcony and entrance to the bunk house.              

To enter the cupola it is necessary to scamper up a padded ladder and you are at the top of the house.

Did you notice that deep blue rug in the living room and music area?  On the way up the curved             staircase, a close look is provided of our art collection, hung on the tall sloping wall.

There were many special features in our home such as this carved door at our front entry.  A local artist had a business established in town, producing a variety of patterns that were mechanically carved in the door. The leaded glass window on the far right of the door is shown in detail below.  It is a wisteria pattern and is located in the corner of the master bath.

The bank of clear story windows across the front of the living room and music area gives a tremendous view of the Columbia River.  The fog along the river as shown below, gives the sensation of floating in the clouds.  We decided to give this special home and studio a name and chose "Apatchablue."  I guess it is't too difficult to identify the rational for that choice.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Little Red Pot

I have been making smaller vessels primarily because of limited shop space in our down-sized new home and my physical limitations won't allow wrestling the six foot plus, 150 to 300  pound vessels around as was my former creative style.  I have also started a new line of vessels that use cast-off containers for the internal cavity.  This method which I have dubbed, Empty/Promises or E/P for short has been explained in previous posts and in detail in the last section of my book, "Unique Vessels: How Do You Make These Things?  It can be accessed on my web page at Apatchablue. com.

This post is focused on one of these E/P vessels, just completed this past week.  The Empty container used is an olive jar as shown here.

 The exterior shape of the jar was modified with the addition of Styrofoam rings.  I chose a unique wood I had in my collection that had a smooth gray bark and a natural red colored wood.  I'm not sure what type of tree these limbs came from, but by asking around and showing the leaf and seed structure to the experts their diagnosis was a unique Eucalyptus tree.

When all parts came together and an oil/wax finish was applied the results are as shown below.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Too Many Irons in the Fire

Where did that saying come from?  I have heard some interesting derivations of common terms or sayings.  It would be challenging to put them in a post and ask you, the post reader to add to the list until we end up with a dictionary of saying with derivations.  But not now.  I have too many irons in the fire to take on a new project like that.  My last post was May 8, 2013.  What the heck have I been doing?  Well, I'm back with a bunch of excuses.

JoAnn, my wife, and I have taken over our web site.  We weren't pleased with the way our original site had been designed and had been given very little access to make changes.  We decided to do it ourselves, from the bottom up with some assistance from a knowledgeable woman who teaches this in college.  For what we wanted to do with a web site she advised us to use FrontPage 2003 and arranged an account with Godaddy.  FrontPage has been around a long time and is more understandable than many other programs.  We got a "how to do it" book and started to set up our web site with four galleries to exhibit our work and a number of the other bells and whistles.  It has taken longer than planned, but we want to get it right so the viewers can find their way around easily.  I will be adding to the galleries as new work is completed.  Take a look and let us know if you like it.  Suggestions are welcome. Go to
Another "Iron in the Fire" has been my art work.  I am developing a series of vessels shown in Gallery 3 on our web site that I call empty/promises.  This process is explained in the heading of the Gallery 3.  My work is limited to smaller pieces now(12" to 20" tall) because of the down-sizing of our home.  More on that in another post.  I have six pieces in various stages of completion.  This is common practice as some of the steps require a curing time and I can keep busy on other pieces while this is taking place.  Most of the six pieces currently on the workbench are well curried.  I must confess I haven't been able to focus on them.  It's that irons in the fire thing.

In addition to the web site I'm using Facebook and Pinterest to get my word out.  I like to take a short segment of a post and put it on Facebook with a picture.  Then I will pin that same picture on one of my boards in Pinterest.  It isn't that complicated but it does take time.  I invite you to look at these two social media sites,

This past week I have spent 100% of my time on the book I'm writing.  It's my autobiography entitled "Growing Up in the Country" which chronicles my journey from boyhood on a dry land Montana ranch to retirement in Arizona today.  The 600+ pages have been written and currently are undergoing editing.  A potential of over 700 pictures, maps and sketches are collected to augment the story line.  I plan to use short portions of text and pictures from the book on future posts.  They will be identified with the book to give a preview of it's content.

This sums up my leisurely life of retirement and I am enjoying it immensely.  I guess you have to use judgment about when to put another iron in the fire.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Can you make an egg?

When JoAnn was studying art at Eastern Washington College of Education, one of her instructors demonstrated how to make realistic shaped plaster eggs.  She applied this process to create a large 12" long plaster egg that she used as a model to form a mold over.  After removing the plaster egg she used the mold to cast a large blue resin egg with a figure inside.  This was described in my recent post, "Memories of an Art Exhibit" as part of one of the pieces on display.

I decided to include this process in my art work so here are the details.  You will need Plaster of Paris, a small neck container like a wine bottle and a medium sized rubber balloon.  Mix the plaster to the constancy of  medium thick gravy, then pour it into the container.  A plastic funnel makes this transfer much easier.  Now blow the balloon up to the size you want the egg to be and a slight bit more for lost air in the next steps.  Quickly slip the balloon over the neck of the container without loosing too much air.  Invert the container and transfer the plaster into the balloon.  Remove the container and tie off the neck of the balloon.  Gently rotate the balloon while tipping it back and forth so the ends also get coated.  This will take some time until the plaster sets up.  Try hold the balloon in the palms of your hands so as not to make indents with your finger tips.  When you detect the plaster has set and is no longer flowing inside the balloon, carefully set your project down and let it dry until the next day.  The balloon comes off easily if you pull out on the end you tied and start a cut in the rubber.  Usually it will tear itself open as it contracts, leaving a smooth white egg.

At this point the egg is quite sturdy if you have used enough plaster to build an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick shell.  It will brake if you drop it however.  I chose to coat my egg with hardwood segments in a mosaic pattern and finish it as I have the vessels I make.

This project needed a stand to hold the egg while it was on display, so I fashioned a bulky, free-form stand with a recessed area lined with sheepskin, wool side out.  When placed in the "nest" as I refer to it, the egg snuggled down and I felt was secure enough  to go to an exhibit.  It would need a name so was christened, "Woodpecker Nest".

All went well as it traveled around to different exhibits and was stored in the various homes we moved to, but gradually I noticed some cracking occurring between wood segments.  I filled the cracks as shown here with red resin and refinished the entire egg with a clear finish that would seal moisture out and prevent further cracking.  Now Humpty Dumpty has age marks but no further problems have occurred.  If I had it to do over, I would fiberglass the plaster egg and then apply the wood over that, thus giving a fiberglass shell similar to the vessels I make.

I had fun making an egg.  You should try it sometime.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Merging Tennessee and Montana

The fragrance of Tennessee Red Cedar has always intrigued me as hard to mistake for any other wood with the exception of Juniper Cedar that grows in Montana.  You may have come in contact with the red cedar from Tennessee, used in hope chests or as closet lining.  The distinctive aroma comes from the oil in the wood and most bugs don't like it, so it prevents them from chewing on your clothing or important belongings.

I grew up in southeastern Montana where Juniper Cesar turned the bland countryside into interesting patches of dark green and sometimes a silver tree.  They tend to grow on the walls of canyons and provided a totally different atmosphere.  I can still imagine their evergreen fragrance on a hot day.  We used the dead limbs and trees for fire wood.  They were dragged up out of the canyon and taken home to our woodpile.  As I remember it now, some good sized logs were cut into firewood lengths and split into smaller pieces.  The Juniper Cedar aroma from the split wood was very similar to the Tennessee wood.  Some of the straight pieces were saved for fence posts that would last many years in the ground. I decided it was time to get these two woods together in one of my e/p vessels.  This vessel has a plastic lining (a tonic bottle) so it can be used to hold liquids.

I made two of these vessels over plastic tonic water bottles, one the large 2 liter container and the other a smaller version.  Dimensions of each are as follows:  Large vessel 13.5" tall x 6.5" diameter,  small vessel  11" tall x 5" diameter.  The Tennessee Red Cedar wood was used in the base, central strips and rings as well as the top structure including the removable cap.  The sections of end grain pieces of small Montana Juniper Cedar limbs make up the remaining surface decoration.  In case you are wondering what e/p vessel stands for there is an earlier post that details this.  This last photo shows the relative size of these two vessels.

Black resin holds all the wood pieces in place.  After the surfaces were worked down and sanded smooth, an oil finish was rubbed on and when dry, paste wax was applied and buffed.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


( a snippet from my autobiography "Growing Up In The Country")

Our friend and my co-worker, Craig invited JoAnn and me to his home in Prescott for a week end.  He had a guest house where we could stay
that offered us all the privacy and comfort of a motel.  Craig suggested we stop at Arcosanti on our way to Prescott and tour that unusual architectural project.  It was just off the main highway a couple of miles.

The route to Prescott is through Phoenix and then north on highway 17, locally known as the Black Canyon Freeway.  Cordes Junction is 55 plus miles up the freeway where highway 69 takes off to the left for another 35 mile drive to Prescott.  To find Arcosanti we continued along side highway 17 another mile past the junction, following a dirt road, which soon turned to the right toward a significant canyon.  Arriving at the edge of the canyon an unusual collection of buildings came into view.  They were built on the crest and down into the canyon.

Arcosanti is an experimental community that began construction in 1970. 
The architect, Paolo Soleri, used a concept he labeled as “arcology”, a combination of architecture and ecology.  He designed the community to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved through architecture to lessen the negative impact on the environment.  The location of the project is on 25 acres of a huge 4,060 acre land preserve.  When we visited the project it was still considered a work in progress and I would guess still is.  It was designed for a population of 5,000 when finished.  The current number made up of students and volunteers fluctuates between 50 and 150 people.  A massive complex many times larger than the facility we visited, called Arcosanti 5000, was envisioned in his master plan.

The community is building slowly as funding and volunteer help becomes available.  The primary function so far had been education, with students coming from around the world, to study architecture and ecology in workshops and classes.  In addition to the funds raised by education, the students participate in the ongoing construction.  Tourist traffic of approximately 50,000 people per year also creates funds for the project.  Cultural performances are sometimes scheduled in the outdoor amphitheater which draws good sized crowds.  One of the staff I work with told me of a festival held at Arcosanti in 1978.  The large crowd parked their cars in an open, flat area close to the performance and during the festivities a grass fire started, ignited by the hot muffler of one car and quickly spread across the lot.  More than 300 cars were damaged or destroyed.  Unless insurance settled the clams, this may have been a costly festival for Arcosanti.

Some funding is generated through the sale of metal and ceramic bells that are designed, made and cast on site.  A small sales outlet and fabricating facility is also located in Scottsdale, at the headquarters of the Cosanti foundation and closer to a larger potential market.  We purchased a ceramic bell at the Arcosanti location.  Later we collected a bronze bell at the facility in Scottsdale.  Their design is distinctive.  They make a good souvenir while helping the community development.

These large shell shaped structures were used as shop space to work on the bells.  I believe this one was where the ceramic bells were made.  The supplies are stored along the back wall in the white containers and the metal drying rack for the green ware is shown there also.

The five story structure housing the visitor’ center, cafe  gift shop and topped with a two bedroom “Sky Suite” available to overnight guests is the tallest point in the complex.

We had to leave for Prescott but vowed we would return when we had more time and possibly stay in that Sky Suite.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Memories of an Art Exhibit

Some things stick in your head over time and you don't know why.  Let me tell you about my wife's Masters Art Exhibit and maybe you can tell me why.  JoAnn was working towards a Masters in Fine Arts degree from Eastern Washington University in Cheney  while I held an administration position with Spokane Falls Community College.  She had started her college work many years earlier in San Dago, California, completed the BA at Central Washington University while I worked there, and now was completing the Masters which required the creation of an exhibit of her work.  A room in the Administration Building was scheduled in blocks of time for each masters student's work.

When JoAnn and I looked at the space it was a disappointing rectangular room with one side almost total windows.  JoAnn started developing a floor plan that would require some temporary remodeling and sought approval.  When given the green light she enlisted me to help with the carpenter work and heavy lifting.  In short order we had the windows covered with plywood panels.  Free standing display modules, pedestals, and bases placed around the room created a path that would lead the viewers past all the art work.  That represented the weekends labor and I had to get back to my regular job Monday morning.  I left JoAnn with the task of painting all that new wood and preparing the art work to be used.  I was amazed when I next saw the exhibit space.  Everything was a soft white and a number of white canvas screens were placed so that when floor spot lights were shone on sculptural pieces, interesting shadows were cast to enhance the canvases.  Only two of these wood sculptural pieces survived our many moves since that exhibit.  You will notice smudges and cracks  that have occurred as testamentary to their age and travels.

JoAnn laid out the designs of her wood sculpture pieces and gave me sizes so I could construct rough wood pieces that she worked down to a smooth shape and finish. These two have many coats of white shellac.  We used them as decorative pieces around the home, so when a blemish would appear white shellac was the corrective measure of choice.  No telling how many coats were applied.  The taller piece stands at 46 inches while the shorter square one is 30 inches high.

You may have noticed this exhibit was primarily done in white.  In fact, JoAnn had a self  portrait of the artist at work in the studio, all in various textures of white.  Sections of the floor were covered with white crushed rock which kept the public out of some areas and defined the viewing trail.  There were limited splashes of color used to draw the viewers attention.  One such example was a site named "Heir to the Throne".  A shadow cast by a large free form white chair was cast on a large canvas on the wall.  It suggested a very majestic throne.  In the seat of the wooden chair lay a 12"long, clear royal blue resin egg with interior color which appeared to outline a fetus shaped figure.  I'll let you think about that instillation with relation to the title.

This should give you a verbal picture of the exhibit with the exception of two other very important pieces.  I had helped JoAnn build what we called "the volcano".  Construction started with layer after layer of wood rings glued together to form the rough shape.  This was then turned  on my wood lathe to produce the smooth outer surface.  One eighth inch wide vertical slots were cut through the wall of the piece, spaced around it's circumference.  Plastic strips were fit into these openings that protruded slightly above the outer surface and also into the open center area.  The photo of our volcano shows what I have been describing.  JoAnn painted the outer surface transitioning from white on top to a graded blue into black at the bottom.
  Two neon tubes,one red and one blue, were bent to form circles that fit inside the volcano.  They were connected to a transformer inside the cone with an extension cord that plugged into an electrical outlet. we were ready to try our creation.  As you can see in the darkened photo, light from the two neon rings is transferred through the plastic strips to the outer surface.  An unexpected result was the mixing of the light between the two sources, resulting in red on top, violet in the center and blue on the bottom.  The final touch  was to place crumpled aluminum foil in the bottom of the cavity so that when viewed through the opening on top the red and blue light was reflected as glowing embers.

We were concerned about the heat that our volcano generated so constructed a round pedestal, slightly larger than the base of the volcano and approximately 18 inches tall.  A whisper fan was mounted in an opening on the top surface of the pedestal which was open at the bottom and raised several inches off the floor. with short legs, thus providing air circulation to carry the heat away.  JoAnn placed our masterpiece in one corner of the room that offered the limited light to make the neon illumination effective.  I called it our creation for we had collaborated using my building skills and JoAnn's design and artistic skills so it was part of her exhibit.

A few final touches and it would be, " on with the show".  We had put in some very late nights getting everything ready as the opening date raced toward us, so we were pleased to see the end in sight.  JoAnn asked her son,a keyboard player in a band that was performing in the area, to create a tape to play as background music.  He had been by and analyzed the exhibit and was impressed with our volcano.  When we played his tape we were equally impressed with his work.  He used the full range of his synthesizer from soft mesmerizing passages to the rumble and roar of an exploding volcano.  It wasn't hard to imagine the floor was shaking and you had to take a quick peak at the volcano in the corner to make sure lava wasn't oozing from the top.

Finally, opening day arrived and JoAnn played her last trick on the viewing public.  Wine and snacks were provided, so she filled several plastic wine cups with tinted resin matching the color of the wine.  This was done well ahead of the reception so that the resin was well set and the resin odor had dissipated.  These containers of fake wine were set among the real wine filled cups and blended in convincingly.  It was fun to watch the expression on the unsuspecting wine drinker that chose the glass of resin.  They all were good sports and became part of the crowd around the snack table to watch others make the same mistake.  A tension invaded the onlookers when the Art Department Chairman strolled up to the table and chose the resin wine.  The group watched as he moved from one cluster of people to another.  Finally he sampled a sip only to discover he had been fooled.  He moved quietly to an exit and left the resin wine siting on a table.  JoAnn wasn't sure if she would be in trouble with him in the future, but he was quite complementary of her exhibit the next time they met and the wine incident wasn't mentioned.

The show was a success and it established JoAnn as a creative artist as did other projects I would love to tell you about sometime.  There are many good memories of this Art Exhibit, but I will never forget the way it effected the viewers.  Perhaps it was the all white show or maybe the shadowy presentations; possibly the music.  I suppose all these factors caused the viewers to move through the exhibit with subdued whispers, almost as though they were in church.  Once out in the hall- way they found their voices and many intense conversations could be heard about various aspects of the exhibit.                     

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thinking outside the box

How often have you been told to think outside the box when trying to solve a problem?  It's good advice when you get stuck and there doesn't seem to be an answer to some pesky problem.  I've also been told that 99% of the time there is an answer if you just back off and view the situation with new perspective.  An illustration of this "thinking outside the box" process is shown below.

Try to think of a way to solve this nine dots puzzle without peeking at the answer on the page below.  The answer that is given is referred to as one possible answer.  You may arrive at a different solution that meets the goal of the puzzle.

An interesting cartoon that delves into the history behind the nine dots puzzle is shown below.  It comes from the Sam Loyd's Cyclopedia of Puzzles.  If you get 
hooked on solving puzzles this might be a good source.

Samuel Loyd (1841-1911), born in Philadelphia and raised in New York, was an
American chess player, chess composer, puzzle author, and recreational mathematician.  Following his death, his book"Cyclopedia of 5000 Puzzles was published (1914) by his son.  His son, named after his father, dropped the "Jr" from his name and started publishing reprints of his father's puzzles.  Loyd was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.  Amazon handles these publications.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Twisted Sister

Back in the day, as old timers often phrase it, I listened to a good deal of live rock music.  I still enjoy the classic rock but it is difficult to find. My wife, JoAnn, and I were regular groupies at clubs around the Spokane, Washington area, partly because we had a son playing with a band called "Warning," that would perform in the Spokane area occasionally.  The band was excellent and played gigs all over Western U.S. with one expedition into far north Alaska.  They would play songs made famous by notable bands of the day such as Deep Purple, Aerosmith, Buchman-Turner Overdrive, Keith Emerson, The Grateful Dead and Heart, to name a few.

I was fascinated with the creativity that went into naming bands and how they used the name in their promotion.  One of Warning's promotional pieces looked like a road sign with the words, "WARNING-Rock Ahead".  One of the strange band names that caught my attention was Twisted Sister, an American heavy metal band from Long Island, New York. They used elements of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest along with the driving hard rock style of AC/DC.  This wasn't my type of music, but their name and stage appearance prompted me to create a cast resin art piece.

Twisted Sister's aggressive musical style was coupled with a grotesque use of makeup and women's clothing resulting in a very unique product.  The band began in 1972 and continued through 1987.  They returned to the stage in 2006 and are still performing.

I planned a cast resin piece that would reflect the color and flair of members of this band.  In addition I gave the hint of a nun's habit to the shape of the piece, thus presenting the "sister" question of the title by adding a religious reference.  Lines in the lower portion of the casting give a twisting perception to the sculpture.  I had fun developing this art and hope you enjoy Twisted Sister.

Twisted Sister

Monday, April 1, 2013

Baked Apple

In the community of Summer Haven, nestled high in the Catalina Mountains above Tucson, stood a Gravenstein Apple tree.  Records indicated it had been planted over one hundred years ago.  It flourished and grew into a large tree.  The residents of Summer Haven enjoyed the fine fruit it produced year after year.  The stamina of the tree impressed the town’s people and they cared for it during the dry years, pruned it to give it shape and kept traffic and building away from its roots.  One thing that could not be controlled was the forest fire that swept through the town on a dry, windy day.  It burned the heart wood in the trunk and larger limbs,  but the apple tree did not die.  The outer layer of green wood continued to furnish nutrition to the top branches and eventually grew over and around the fire damaged surfaces.  The people were profoundly impressed at the will to live this tree exhibited after being ravaged by the fire and they soon were enjoying its fruit again.

In recent years a second major forest fire raged across the Catalina Mountains burning for days and destroying all that was in its path.  The little town of Summer Haven lost many of the summer cabins and most of the business district.  After the smoke had cleared and the damage assessed, the majority of the residents started to rebuild.  Funds appropriated by the county were designated to construct a community center with 1% of the total allocated for art work.  A committee was formed to establish goals and regulations for use of these 1% funds.  A call went out nationally for artists to submit their proposals for art they could provide at Summer Haven.  A sub committee was soon established by those who felt strongly that the art should relate to the apple tree that had suffered further damage in this fire.  It was still clinging to life but there was doubt about how long it could sustain this fight.  The owner of the lodge on whose property the tree grew planned to rebuild.  He had given notice he would have to remove the tree when construction started.  The sub committee wanted to incorporate the tree in the community center design.  This concept was of interest to our Apatchablue Studio, so a proposal was drawn up and JoAnn and I started attending meetings of the committees.  JoAnn developed a sketch of a large wall relief of an apple tree constructed with apple wood from the Summer Haven tree.  If accepted we planned to develop it in more detail.  We received word that our proposal was one of three chosen.  One of the other artists was local and the other was from the east.  We were all invited to meet with the committee and give more detail on what we planned to do.  The committee would also give us a timeline for the work and an idea of funding.  We were invited to travel to Summer Haven to view the area of the proposed community center.  While there we got a first hand look at the apple tree.  It was a pathetic sight but still had some green leaves in the top.

The local fire crew was called to cut off some dangerous limbs and low brush.   The sub committee lobbied for major visibility of the tree.  They wanted it brought into the main lobby of the community center and dismissed our plan to build a  wall relief tree from wood gathered from the old tree.  The architect working on the plan for the building was against having the actual tree placed in the lobby and we agreed with him that the it wasn't a beautiful thing and much too large for the space.  He suggested we explore decorating the front of the reception desk with the apple tree design.  He gave us information about the size and composition of the reception desk, so we were back at the drawing board.

The situation was becoming frustrating as time went on and the two committees battled back and forth over the treatment of the tree.  In the meantime we were given a pickup load of the apple wood trimmed from the tree, so that we could develop a mock-up of the decorative treatment of the reception desk.  JoAnn had developed a sketch of this plan and indicated what price we were asking for the work.  I was busy fabricating the mock-up which took several weeks.  When we were ready for our “show and tell” session with the committees we gathered copies of our proposal and the mock-up, and after a rehearsal headed for the meeting.  It went well and the committee asked us to wait outside while it was discussed.  The final outcome was, they liked the idea, but the money was the problem.  They were also searching ways to fund the art of the other artist’s proposals.  An auction night was one fund raising idea scheduled to occur in the next month.  I agreed to make wooden apples from the apple wood we had gathered from the tree, to be auctioned off that night.


 Mock-up of counter

It eventually became obvious that Apatchablue Studio would not be offered a contract to develop our ideas.  We kept the Summer Haven apple tree wood and  " Baked Apple" was the first vessel fabricated with it.  Slices from a unique section of a limb, showing the burned surface and the subsequent growth around it are the featured design on both sides of this vessel.  Baked Apple was accepted in the 18th International Society of Experimental Artists show in Bethlehem, PA., starting on 8/29/09.  Unfortunately I broke my hip and wasn't able to pack and ship the piece to the show.  The only other show this vessel has been viewed in was the Annual Members Juried exhibition at Tubac, Arizona.  The Tubac Center for the Arts selected Baked Apple for their 2009 show starting 11/20/09.  Additional pieces will be developed in the future using this Summer Haven apple wood.  Baked Apple is now a part of my pilot son's collection.  He flies for Western Airlines.

Baked Apple