Unlikely Inspiration…a Familiar Path.
I don’t know what happened, but it fell on me like a dump truck falling from a downtown building.
My latest change in focus was inspired by talk of “steampunk” around the office driven by sketches and renderings by my co-workers/designers. The best way to describe steampunk is: if the Victorian age had technology without the use of modern materials such as plastic, what would it look like?
If you’ve seen the movie “Wild, Wild West” featuring Will Smith and a giant mechanical spider, you’ve seen steampunk.
As a life-long painter, I’ve never tried working in functional art. Although, I’ve tried to create paintings that would be thought provoking and political in nature, the only functional aspect to the work was being able to spark conversation. It wasn’t something that could literally light up the room or even keep your hat off the floor.
As I looked over one of the designers shoulder at his computer monitor, there was a mixture of antiques, old metal, and machine parts. Handcrafted creations, interestingly formed and, best of all, functional. There were images of some of the most beautifully designed and exciting works of art I’ve seen in a while, and I wanted to make some. The introduction of steampunk lit a flame under my creative stove and it was starting to burn red hot!
That evening, I began collecting bits and pieces of machine parts, nuts, bolts, springs, copper piping, and other items scraped together from my outdoor shed. I put it all in boxes and plastic bags and went to the studio to start working on something…..anything.
After viewing and studying images found online, the ideas began to flow. Steampunk encompasses everything from small, bug-like sculptures and figurines to laptop computers and custom motorcycles. After getting a handle on the aesthetics of steampunk, the focus became, “What do I make?”
I realized approaching it like a painter, which was “eh…whatever happens, happens,” seemed to work best with the miscellaneous items at hand. And, because of the random nature of the materials, sketches and preconceived ideas were out of the question.
I started putting parts and materials together and stood back to see what the “thing” was telling me it wanted to be.
After a few nights with a torch and solder, some wood, copper, and an old alarm clock, my first steampunk functional artwork turned out to be… (drum roll, please!)
A paperclip holder.
The materials that made it into the final piece were a combination of copper piping screwed to a wooden base, an old alarm clock that still makes a cricket-like rattling sound when turned on, and some foreign currency to add
to the aesthetics.
The paperclip holder was the first stop on the steampunk path my creative mind is traveling on; the second was a desktop pen holder made from copper piping, springs, and a Campbell’s soup can. Currently, there are three lamps in the works at the studio.
Steampunk is the natural progression for the direction my work is moving in, and there is no telling where it’s going to lead.
But, what I truly understand is that sometimes inspiration is a whisper in the breeze and sometimes it shouts through a bullhorn.
I’m just glad I was close enough to hear it.
thanx for viewing…