Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Welder from Hell

Things progress well on the museum commission. Well, for the most part. I have been having considerable problems with the mig welder. It does not like stainless steel. Funny this should happen now after I have been using it for weeks without problems. I promise you there is nothing out there that I (and several other people) have not tried in attempts to fix it. Even the welding supervisor from Mississippi Tank came over and tried to help. Of course it worked for a few tacks and then it was all over with. Every one has been so kind in offering suggestions, but now it is time for a pro repairmen. My friends at Airgas will get thier chance on Monday.

The annoying part is that I really wanted to start integrating stainless techniques with my upper level sculpture students this fall and I am not sure we can do it with the problems I am having now. It looks like a new mig welder may be on the books, with this one relegated to carbon steel.

As far as the commission, I have the main sculptures made, all nine of them. I have moved them out of my field of vision into the "gallery". I need a rest from them. Later I will pull them back into the shop and work on them as a unit, adding or taking away elements, if needed, to make a more complete statement.

Right now I am working on the poles and attachment structures for the bases. I made a jig to keep the poles upright for welding and various templates for cutting the shapes. We do not have a CNC cutter so it is all being done by hand with the plasma torch.
Jig for holding pole upright for welding base plate and gussets.

Tacked together assembly it will later be secured to a pre-poured concrete base.

As of yesterday (Saturday) all the parts are cut out for the bases. I got one base tacked up (before the welder bird-nested again) and all looks good. Except of course I can't continue any welding! Argh! My next step, is to get all the parts cleaned up and do any grinding/sanding needed. That will take a good day for sure. Next, I should be receiving my seamless tubing and can get the sleeve bearings made up for the top part of the poles. After that I will have to have the welder problem solved or I will be seriously behind schedule and I can not afford that. Hopefully I can up-date you all soon with positive welder news. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Night at the Musuem

Yesterday evening I along with several of the other artists involved with the Mississippi Museum of Art's Art Garden got a chance to talk with the museum's New Collectors Club about the work we were doing for the garden project. It really was a fun evening and I got to meet a number of very interesting people who are really excited about this project and who have spent their lives supporting the arts in Mississippi and elsewhere.

I showed some slides of my work and brought along one of the pieces for folks to handle and inspect. Attendees had lots of great questions about my work and creative processes and this really reinforces my belief that Mississippi, spearheaded by Betsy Bradley, her staff, and the Museum supporters are poised to usher in a new rennaisiance of art in the state. As an up-and-coming artist in Mississippi this is very exciting to me and to be a part of anything that advances the fine arts is very profound. The Wall Street Journal just posted an interesting article that showed how investment in art objects is at its highest level in a long time and that it seems immune to a number issues related to the recession. This is good news. Of course they are talking about large purchases of well known works but still it is a good sign even for us little people.

On a side note I did get to finally see the poured foundations for my sculptures. I love the site and the foundations look great. It will not be until September before my work can go up but I look forward to the day!

Betsy Bradley gives a talk on the Garden.

Jen Torres and Martha Ferris

My foundations at the site.
Some visitors from New York City enjoying the lovely evening

The piece I brought up to show. Folks really enjoyed being able to handle the actual art work, I got very positive comments!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Back to the Alligator Bench

I'm taking a few days off from my own work to finish up a commission that I am fabricating for Martha Ferris. This is going into the same art garden as my Garden Boats up in Jackson at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The mosaic finally got the museum from New Hampshire and this past Monday I went to Jackson with James to retrieve it. It came in three pieces on a stiff aluminum honeycomb board.

No matter how experienced you are there is always a bit of trepidation when you put together parts of a work that have been manufactured in different places. Of course after holding my breath and slipping the mosaic onto the bench it all fit fine. There are some shims to be placed to get everything perfectly level and then it will glued into place this weekend. After that I will mask off the top to protect it and sand down the sheet metal edge to make everything perfect. I should be done my mid-week next week, with time given to the silicone adhesive to set.

Here is a picture of the bench, with the mosaic placed in, no glue or shims yet. Soon I'll have some finished images to show you! I think it's a very cool design!