Materials: Copper, silver, stone, patina, spray paint, resin
Halfway through my last semester, preparing for my thesis, I had a full on panic attack. I had worked on developing so many ideas, that I ended up losing my focus. So in late March with less than 8 weeks to the installation of my thesis show, I swept all of my newly crafted work into a box and started over. What was I going to make? After a little research and meditation, I decided to make a stone that could open. Next was figuring out the technical process and logistics, bellow are images taken from my sketch book:
I used a hydraulic die press and cut a new silhouette die from a plexiglass sheet. I formed sheets of copper in the press, cut the shape free from the extra material and made sure they matched. Once the rim was sanded flush, I soldered the halves together, and then proceed to cut them in half again. Using the outline as a guide I made the mechanism. A swivel hinge at one end, and a place for a magnetic closure at the other. The next step was soldered the outside shell of the stone to the inside mechanism together, taking care not to get any by the hinge. The final touches were to set the magnets and gave it a nice patina. Voylla! My stone was complete…
For my thesis show I needed to have 10-20 pieces complete, mostly made the current semester. At this point I had everything sitting in a box next to my desk, and one lonely stone. I enjoyed this one small stone but it felt out of place. I needed to make it a part of a group, and so I decided to make 24 more stones, each would be individual and unique. I could “easily” get those done in less than 7 weeks. I made new die shapes, and started cranking them out. Big skinny stones, little bitty stones, fat round stones, each would open to reveal different objects, colors, and small sculptures. The day I had to get my worked photographed I had 19 completed stones. Not bad. I also managed to make 4 more necklaces and all were a hit at my thesis show reception.
The 19 stones are all made from copper that has been die formed. 16 open to reveal an assortment of items. Some of the items are small granulated silver sculptures, fish eggs*, pierced designs, copper nails, etc. I wanted the surfaces to be different and natural. I used different techniques of applying spray paint, resin mixed with sand and paint. I would torch and burn areas and apply additional layers of paint and grime. Others I put in ammonia baths, for a blue patina on the surface. * not real fish eggs.
This collection is often overlooked, mistaken for a contemporary art display of a handful of common rocks, so I view this as a success they look like rocks. They were displayed at the gallery under a vitrine, this insured the art would not be touched… Except my art needs to be touched. The only way to truly experience all my work has to offer is by picking them up and examining it. So I discussed it with my professors and the gallery curator, they were hesitant, to support my decision in allowing the public to play with the stones during the reception. We settled on removing the vitrine for only the reception, I would be responsible for my own work, if it walked off it was on me. The night of the reception I spoke to hundreds of people, friends and strangers were able touch and discover what the stones. A group would come up, simultaneously each pick a stone up, open it and show it to their friend, they would then recognize each had something different and proceed to touch and open each one. It was magical watching people’s imaginations ignite with each new stone they opened.
Above are some pictures from the thesis reception with the vitrine off the pedestal and some ladies discovering the collection of 19 stones.