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.

“Collected Works”

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.

Collected Works #1

Collected Works #1

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.

Background canvas

Background canvas

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.

Test fitting the layout - not painted or adhered yet…

Test fitting the layout - not painted or adhered yet…

Ornaments 2016

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!

Why yes, that is a basket of lightsabers on my dresser

Why yes, that is a basket of lightsabers on my dresser

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!