Tag Archives: art

Crafted Heart

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As an artist who worked in wood, stone, metal, paper, glass and any other material he could find to project his mental imaginings into concrete objects, my husband had mallets of many shapes, sizes and materials, but my favorite was the one he fashioned himself as part of the first gift he ever gave to me—the musical instrument shown towards the end of this post.

Crafted Heart

He handed it to me without ceremony—a small leather bag, awl-punched and stitched together by hand. Its flap was held together by a clasp made from a two fishing line sinkers and a piece of woven wax linen. I unwound the wax linen and found inside a tiny wooden heart with his initials on one side, mine on the other. A small hole in the heart had a braided cord of wax linen strung through that was attached to the bag so that the heart could not be lost. He had woven more waxed linen into a neck cord. I was 39 years old when he gave me that incredible thing I never thought I would receive: his heart—as much of it as he could give.

It was the first handmade gift I’d ever received from a man. Inside, over the years, I have put a lock of his hair and a tiny tiny animal of indeterminate species hand-cut out of wood by his youngest son and presented to me. Twenty-eight years later, this bag is all that is left of what was once my union with the man and his eight children from three different women. When he died, we returned him to the inevitable earth and all of the children returned forever to their real mothers.

The bag lies in a box with other relics of our past together: a silver heart brooch, another carved of wood with wings attached and, strangely enough, a miniature computerized hand piano. Years after his death, it struck a chord on its own, just lying on the shelf beside my favorite picture of him. One last dying gasp from the tiny gadget I’d put in his Christmas stocking but then grown tired of hearing him play and so had hidden away, only to enter our bedroom one night to find him playing it under the covers like a guilty pleasure hidden from the adults, although he was already in his sixties.

For our first Christmas, he gave me a large sculpture that was also a musical instrument—three hand-raised copper gongs in the shape of breasts suspended over a wooden keyboard played by rawhide mallets, (ironically, they are not shown in this photo)  the gongs suspended from the long horizontal neck of a copper wind instrument with two necks and two mouthpieces, so two notes could be blown at once. When he died, it was the sculpture chosen by his youngest daughter, and I let her take it. Now, the remnants I have of him are only the leftovers that remained after eight children had chosen. I was moving to another country and could not hold onto everything he’d given.

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Sculpture by Bob Brown,1986.  4′ X 5.5′, wood, hand forged copper, marble and hemp.

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                                 Miniature hand piano, 4″ X 2″

I moved away from most of those things we had collected over the years, but somewhere hidden away in the thousand objects in my studio is the small leather bag and the tiny hand piano, now forever mute, his father’s pocket watch, his biking medals and the other assorted pieces of his life that will one day wind up in a secondhand store in Mexico. All of our gifts finally melding with the parts of all those billions of other lives that strike their brief chord before blending, inevitably, back into the cacophony of the universe.

 

Some material in this post was posted four years ago. The prompt today is mallet.

Carve

I’m at the beach and my friend Rachel is leaving soon so we need to go to breakfast, since I turned the fridge up too high and it froze everything–eggs, milk, butter. With no time to do a new post right now, this is a reblog of a piece from three years ago that is appropriate for the prompt today, which is carve.

Cast in Potato Salad, Carved in Stone

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Cast in Potato Salad, Carved in Stone

The last thing I ever thought I would do would be to pose for a nude sculpture, but when I married a sculptor, I guess it was inevitable.  Since I never had children, this probably marked the longest period in my life that I ever lay nude being observed by a second party.  I remembered having no reservations about doing so, in spite of the fact that I am really rather modest–that is about revealing myself physically. Words are another matter all together.

My husband first sculpted me in plasticine clay. (No, not the ubiquitous Sculpey, but a very dense artist’s clay used to make the originals for bronze casting.) He then made a plaster mold followed by a rubber reverse mold that would enable him to make further plaster molds once he destroyed the plasticine original so he could reuse the plasticine.  After mastering the intricacies of wood carving, bronze casting, welding, clay, sandblasting, paper making and stone carving, he was in a difficult spot.  A tool junkie, he had already purchased or made every tool necessary for working in these media. How could he justify buying any more tools or building another studio addition to add to the seven studios he had already set up?

The answer came when our artist friend Diana moved to town.  Her medium was cast glass and Bob soon became fascinated with the process.  Of course, this necessitated the purchase of dozens of large jars of different colored glass casting pellets as well as books, chemicals and other supplies necessary for the process. Unfortunately, we already owned a large kiln, so he couldn’t justify buying a new pristine kiln to be used only for the melting of glass.  True, some molecules of clay might permeate the glass castings, but he decided at least for his first project, to use our existing kiln.

I can’t remember what his first few castings were, but after a few experiments, he decided that his first large glass project would be–ta da–a glass casting of his recumbent nude wife!

The thing was, this necessitated ordering a good deal more glass, and in the meantime, he had this wonderful rubber mold just sitting there unused!  He tried to busy himself with carving stone and wood, but meanwhile that mold beckoned!  Enter fate in the guise of the next show at the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center, where we were both members.  And the next show was—Edible Art!  In addition to food-centered art themes, there was to be a cookbook of artists’ favorite recipes and the piece de resistance was an edible category, to be consumed at the reception!!!  Thus it was that I came to be cast in potato salad–first molded in “the” well-washed and disinfected rubber mold  and then fine-sculpted by Bob’s hands.

I must admit I felt some trepidation about first being viewed nude, then being consumed by my fellow artists and friends.  This smacked of the Donner party or some sort of sixties orgy, but how we suffer for our art.  I requested Bob not reveal who his model was and all went well.  Later, the judge told us that he would have won first place for edible art if I had not forgotten and used some of the water I used to boil the eggs to add moisture to the potato salad. I had forgotten that I always put a half cup of salt in the water to seal the eggs in case they cracked during the boiling process and that addition made the potato salad totally inedible.  The judges could do nothing but award his sculpture fourth place prize in place of first, right ahead of a jellybean mosaic in the Byzantine style, but behind my third place for my “Garden of Earthly delights!”

Yes, the glass grains did arrive and yes he cast the sculpture, but what happened during the further fiasco of my chain of nude effigies must be left to another time and post lest this one grow too long for certain (unnamed) friends to read.    Suffice it to say that once cast in potato salad, twice in glass, it seems only appropriate that my grave be marked by my magnificent if inedible body rendered into stone!!!  It will be the sensation of my little town, I can promise you.
daily life color084 (4)Version 2(photos and copy above taken from the Valley Press)

 

Experimenting with Art: Word Press Photo Prompt

The fun in art lies, for me, in being experimental.  Here are a few of the areas I’ve played around with. Different genres, materials and techniques.  Art is a way to never grow up. (Click on any photo to enlarge all.)

For, the Daily Post Photo Challenge: Experimental

Big Changes

Big changes in my life in the past three days and no time to write about them.  Since the prompt word today is “create,” I’m going to show some art work I’ve probably shown before, but no time to do more.  I’ll explain what’s going on when I get back from Guadalajara this afternoon!

Art can be made from anything.  These are all pieces made by my assistant and me when we were visiting forgottenman.  Please click on first photo to see enlarged views of the work as well as my able assistant.  (He made me what I am today.)

The prompt today is “create.”

Snap

 

Snap

You flavor my memory with common tastes: Spam and corned beef hash.
You wanted to be the common man, but you were anything but.
The bold aggression and the subtle feminine sweep of what you formed—

beautiful. Your hands never clumsy as they sculpted wood and stone.
Metal bent and melted into beauty at your touch,
and colors lifted the wings you gave them.


I floated, also–– too independent to be formed by you,

but still uplifted that a man like you could love me.
It validated something in me—those hard choices I had made
because I listened to something vivid in myself I had not yet found a name for.
Dreams taught me. And synchronicity.

I had always wanted to be a wanderer­­­­—to try to quench those yearnings
that had haunted my daydreams since I was a child.
I cut the ties that bound and wandered West to find you—stable man
pinned by your wings to obligation all your life.
Instead of pinning me down, you wandered with me.
The gypsy life of making and selling art. The easy camaraderie of that circus life.
The vans and wagons circling every weekend in a different convention center parking lot.
Nights pulled into the woods or by the ocean.
Short nights in transit, parked in neighborhoods where we’d be gone by six.
The song of tires on the road, Dan Bern and Chris Smither. Books on tape.
Pulling quickly off the road to lug a dead tree or a well-formed boulder into the van
or to engineer its route up to the roof,
so we returned home as heavily laden as we had departed—
bowed under by the fresh makings of art.

The texture of our home life was silver dust and wood curls.
Its sounds were the stone saw and the drills and polisher.
The heat of the kiln hours after it had lost its art.
The fine storm spray of the sandblaster,
the whine of drills and whirling dervish of the lathe.
The smell of resin, redwood, stone dust, paint.
The sharp bite of metal. The warm bread smell of cooling fired clay.
Every bit of my life was flavored by what you loved––what I loved, too,
our interests merging so completely that for awhile
we had no separate lives, but one life welded end-to-end.

These remembraces are not organized or filed.
They flutter into my mind like hidden lists blown off tall shelves.
That life now a scrapbook of the past with certain photos plucked out
to be tucked under bedroom mirror rims or carried in wallets.

Snap. You put yourself into my mind.

Snap. Another memory follows,
and I am an old woman replaying her life.
Snap. The creak of the tortilla machine across the street in the early hours.
The loud rush of the surf, the rattling startup of a motorcycle.
The raspberry seed between my teeth,
the scent of the dog’s bath still on my hands,
sand gritting the sheets
and art projects taking over every surface.
Snap. I am me, looking for the next adventure.

 

Below photos snapped a few minutes ago. Proof of the tale.  New projects.
Click on first photo to enlarge and see all photos.

 

 

The prompt today was vivid.

Brittle Beauties: Flower of the Day, Feb 27, 2017

Click on first flower to enlarge all and see slide series.

Glass?  No.  My friend Jan is the Chihuly of plastic.  These beauties are fashioned using a simple votive candle, various cut-up plastic bottles and old CD or DVD discs.  She had to make do with my “super match” at my house as I was fresh out of votives.

https://ceenphotography.com/2017/02/26/flower-of-the-day-february-27-2017-camellia/

Art Play Date Day 1

Click on first photo to enlarge all and see slideshow. 


Jan is the only one who finished her piece.  Mazinka and I will meet again on Sunday to finish ours.  Don’t judge us… they aren’t finished!!! Several people asked for photos, so here they are.  The restaurant two buildings away not only loaned us one of the tables and carried it over for us but also brought our lunches.  I made the blueberry margaritas and the guacamole!