Last summer I acquired a bunch of cast off gas pipe & I have been thinking about ways to use it. One idea that has appeal is to experiment with forging to achieve an organic form. Ideas lead to tools, and in this case making a hardy pipe tool for the anvil so that I could test the forging idea. With the initial results quite promising, I started thinking about creating some frog legs. As ideas are apt to do, this one morphed into something quite different.
After making and working with various parts for a while, I recognized that it was really Kokopelli offering me the inspiration; a frog will be left for another time. The iconic image of Kokopelli is commonly found in the Southwest and is one that has often amused me. The name Mr K came from my wife and I liked it immediately, particularly because that was also the nickname of my high school metal shop teacher, Jim Koutsoures. Borrowing Jim’s nickname for this piece seems appropriate because I really appreciate the experiences I had in his shop classes.
In the process of creating metal sculpture I am attracted to the juxtaposition of organic line and form with the rigid geometric nature of machine parts. My intent here is to create something that suggests an organic form but made from entirely inorganic components. In this case, the legs made from forged pipe form the basis to support a gear scrounged from an old snowblower, the head piece is from an industrial stamping, various bits of rod were then bent to form the neck and arms. While the sculpture is static, I am also seeking to convey a sense of motion; fitting as the Grateful Dead often keep me company while I’m working.
The photos give a sense of the journey and process of creating this metal sculpture.
My wife and I found a couple of boxes of construction nails in a recycling dumpster and this set me thinking about what I might make with them. Being intrigued with organic lines, I wondered if I couldn’t transform the nails into something else, and this lead to a rather nice flower for my wife as an anniversary gift. Having enjoyed that project, I bent a bunch of extra flower petals for further experiments. One idea was to make the centers of the flowers from a ball, so I turned some balls from steel rod, and then drilled a series of holes to receive the petals. With my magnet-friends assisting, I positioned the petals and then TIG welded them in place. I’m pleased with the results and looking forward to the stems…
In May 2009 I entered my first sculpture contest, the 9th annual “Art of Recycling” sponsored by Northern Metal Recycling. Participants were invited to visit the scrapyard for 1 hour to collect a limited amount of metal, then submit completed works for judging 5 weeks later. Prizes were to be awarded during an exhibit opening held at the scrapyard, then the works were to be exhibited on Nicollet Mall in front of the IDS Center during the Minneapolis Aquatennial.
I was taking a welding class at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College and thus had access to very nice shop facilities as well as support and encouragement from both teachers and fellow students. The class title was “Welding for Artists” so the focus was broad and the projects diverse. I was a bit intimidated by the sculptures in prior years’ contests, many of which were by very accomplished artists, but didn’t let that stop me.
With limits on both time and the weight of metals I could take, I went somewhat prepared with an idea and plan for what I wanted to make. Although the scrapyard was enormous I wasn’t able to find the type of material I had in mind, so I wound up with a selection of parts that interested me. Later on as I stared at my collection & thought about some of the other entries I’d seen, I really wondered what I’d gotten myself into. After a while though, a new idea began to take shape. The main work was done at the school shop which provided access to a TIG welder while the rest was done at home, mostly in the garage.
There were more deserving sculptures than prizes, and mine titled “Max, The Observer” wasn’t awarded anything, but I was certainly pleased with my accomplishment and encouraged to participate again should I have the opportunity. After the Aquatennial exhibit several of us gathered to exhibit our sculptures at a neighborhood street festival as well as the Powderhorn Art Fair, both in Minneapolis. Sadly 2009 was to be the last year this particular contest was held.