Art and Craft
February 5, 2019
I think most architects have hobbies producing some kind of art or craft - some design furniture, others paint or draw, still others sew, and there are probably as many different outlets as there are individuals. One of my colleagues at work is a talented encaustic painter (painting with wax), another designs and builds his own surfboards, and one of my former colleagues makes decorative knives.
As for me - I make, well, random stuff. The impulse is there, but the discipline (the craft, you might say) isn’t, so the art pieces and crafts I make are whatever takes my fancy at the moment, allowing me to explore different techniques and materials. I haven’t posted any of my crafts for a while, so here is a selection of pieces from the last couple of years.
As a kid, I collected all kinds of things: figurative erasers, toy cars, stickers, enamel pins, etc. Lately I’ve been interested in trying to turn those collections into artwork, as a way of ending the collection and transforming it into a piece I could display. I’m calling the series “Collected Works.” I decided to start with a display of all my enamel pins, which have been primarily collected from Odyssey of the Mind, but also from various places I’ve traveled over the years.
To make this piece, first, I designed the background canvas using a pattern of circles that I drew digitally, based on the number of pins I needed to display. Then I printed the pattern, cut it out by hand (using a circle cutter tool) to make a template, and then painted the pattern onto the canvas. This gave me the grid for laying out the pins, with different sizes of circles for different sizes of pins; the intent was to have an abstract pattern of contrasting sizes. Last, I laid out all my pins on the canvas, and fastened them. It didn’t turn out exactly like I hoped, because more of the pins were large-sized than I initially thought, but the pattern is still visible in the top half of the piece.
Collected Works #2 (in progress)
For my second piece of this series, I’m using all the ticket stubs I had saved from my semester abroad in Italy. This piece is also a test for a larger piece I’m planning using movie ticket stubs. I bought hardboard for the painting surface, gessoed it, and adhered the paper stubs to it. I’m still contemplating how to finish this piece - I want to coat it with a transparent top layer - so hopefully I can post the finished product later this year.
My last post about “stuff I made” neglected to include the ornaments I made in 2016, which were pretty excellent, if I don’t say so myself. I started by downloading high-resolution photographs of snowflakes taken by Ken Libbrecht, the father/father-in-law of our good friends. He graciously agreed to let me use his photos for this project. Then, I traced the outline of the shapes of six of the snowflakes I thought looked interesting, and laser cut them out of thin plywood. As a final step, I boxed them with red twine for hanging and little rubber feet for using as coasters, and a card showing the original photographs that I used. I think I can say they were a hit with our family and friends.
Around the house
For months, we have had nothing on the wall above our dresser, since I took down a Chihuly poster that was just too dark. Finally I got around to figuring out what to do: I installed a picture ledge, and then spray-mounted a bunch of posters in coordinating colors that I already had lying around. Now I have a display shelf that I can change out whenever I please, I can shuffle the pieces around, and I didn’t have to buy any expensive frames!
An earlier craft that I posted last year was a pair of Harry Potter-style wands. Since then, my wand has been stuck in a basket. I wanted to display it somewhere appropriate, so I repurposed this calendar display (thanks, Wondermark!) to hold the wand. Of course, the display needed some House pride on it. I definitely cheated on this one and just printed out the crest, glued it to the board, then painted over it. Why re-invent the wheel, right?
Have any craft ideas you’ve been trying to finish for a while? There’s no time like the present!