Ruth Jensen: I’m enthralled with the transparency of wire. It’s perfect for revealing the extraordinary beauty, transience, sometimes humor of what appears to be ordinary. I make each sculpture one twist at a time, without patterns or molds, using bazillions of pieces of straight wire. I “see” the shape I want, and make the wires come together in that shape, like putting a puzzle together. (I love puzzles.) My pieces are meant to intrigue and delight the viewer, to combat the overabundance of dull ugliness in the world.
Will Wagenaar lives in Port Richey, Florida with his cat, Lyle. He sculpts and when he isn’t sculpting, he’s thinking about sculpting and looking for parts. Will has been a professional artist since 1972 and also has an interior design degree. He once ran a mural painting business and later opened a storefront in Miami Beach where he sold his work – taking found materials and creating usable objects and fine art. His work is at least 80% recycled materials. Check out his shop!
A few of his sculptures can be found at EcoArt LA gallery right now (not sure how long they’ll be there).
How long have you been making sculpture?
Since high school.
What are the materials needed to make them?
Recycled is the most important quality. Other than that: wood, metal, glass, ceramic. Mostly discarded household and garage items. I prefer to work with materials that show their age.
Where do you get your materials?
I have been to 4 flea markets in the last 3 days. Also, thrift stores and yard sales, estate sales. Occasionally, I am able to liberate trash from the streets.
Can you tell us a little of your process?
I let the material speak for itself. Sometimes my usage is obvious. If I am really curious about something, then there is usually a reason. I keep playing with it until an idea strikes. Sometimes it is about the relationship of one or more pieces, the shapes they create together.
How long does it take to complete a sculpture?
Once I have an idea in mind, I work quickly doing all the difficult things first. Then I slow it down a bit for the final effects and finishes.
Have you had a favorite piece?
I have had several favorites. It is such a thrill to sell a piece that is a favorite because those are the most validating sales.
Do you do other kinds of crafts?
I was a mural artist and did architectural finishes for almost 30 years. My work is in many fine residences in several states and corporate locations as well.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
More of this, I love this.
Have any advice for people trying to start their own handcrafting business?
Just do it. There is every good reason to try. Just do every task to the best of your ability. People will find you.
We’ve featured Joanne’s work before, and now she’s part of our new series: DIY Interview. If you’d like to be a part of it, just check out the end of this post.
What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?
I make light sculptures by taking a piece of reed, and bending and twisting it into an interesting shape. Once I’m happy with the shape, tissues and handmade paper are applied over the reed with wheat paste.
My light sculptures have no front or back, up or down. This is because I want the you to feel relaxed and at ease when you view it, to explore my light sculptures however way you wish.
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I made my first light sculpture during a one week art enrichment program in high school. During the week, 15 students and I work closely with an artist. She taught us how to form the sculptures, and the techniques of papermaking with plants.
After high school and college, I worked in advertising agencies such as Young & Rubicam and Grey Worldwide as an Art Director. In July 2009 I lost my job due to the company’s restructuring plan. Instead of looking for another job at another agency, I decided to take this opportunity to re-visit the experience of making abstract paper light sculptures in high school.
Do you have travels planned this summer? Then take along one of these adorable pieces of luggage from Another Jamie Davis. These upcycled suitcases, bags and purses are plucked from relative obscurity from flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales and renewed by artist Jamie Davis. Each piece is lovingly repaired, often re-lined and then hand embroidered with a tree theme.
I’ve made things all my life, bunk beds for my dolls when i was 8, dresses for my little sister when I was old enough to use the sewing machine. I dabbled in selling my jewelry and hand made purses at holiday bazaars in college but it wasn’t until after graduate school that I found etsy and fell in love with idea of selling my things online.
Jamie’s shop has been open since October of 2008, but she found her focus on upcycled embroidered handbags in April of 2009.
I’m really enamored with the luggage in my etsy shop right right now (could it be that I’m longing for a vacation?). I absolutely love this little yellow tree suitcase because it’s bright and fun. And I love the Black Wood Grain Hip Bag overnight bag because it’s perfectly practical, and big enough to carry everything you could need for a weekend away.
Jamie was born and raised in the Akron Ohio area — made things — went to art school at the University of Akron, studied Metalsmithing and sculpture — made things, moved to Massachusetts to go to graduate school — made things — got an M.F.A. in sculpture — made things. Are you catching a trend here?
You can find out more about the other stuff Jamie makes on her webiste: www.anotherjamiedavis.com
One thing leads to another. Or so the old saying goes. Your grandpa might have told you that when you were small, and maybe then you weren’t entirely sure of it’s meaning. Maybe you still aren’t, we’re not here to judge, but one thing can be agreed upon and that is that grandpas tend to be pretty wise. How many times have we started out with the intent to do one thing, and ended up doing something entirely different? Plenty of times. Just this morning I walked into my kitchen to get a notepad and walked out eating a fudge pop. Go figure. But we absorb our experiences and they become part of who we’ve become. So, no matter how different our doings are in the present, things we did in the past continue to influence our decisions and outcomes. I saw this concept come into play in a most real way the day I got to visit and speak to artist Celia Greiner at her shop, Celia Greiner Woodworking.
“I started out a painter,” Celia tells. “I studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I began to notice that in my work I was seeking ways to make my paintings more dimensional. I was very interested in perspective, but not just rendered perspective. I wanted to build my paintings and create actual 3-D. So I started painting on Masonite; making built paintings.
“But then I began to run out of ideas, and also I had become disillusioned by the art world. So I decided to learn woodworking so that I could make functional objects. After dabbling at it, I realized that in order to make furniture, I’d have to do it full time. So I attended the Worcester Center for Crafts for two years and began making furniture and sculpting with wood.”
Celia’s artistic bent is certainly expressed in her furniture designs: chairs with curvilinear detailing, waved benches, a table reminiscent of clover, roots and all. “Furniture must be touchable. How it feels in your hand is the most important thing. I find purely rectangular pieces kind of boring and easy to reproduce. Rounded edges feel good and draw the hand.”
Celia credits her dad as having helped influence her aesthetic by exposing her to nature at an early age. “I’m definitely inspired by nature. As a kid, my dad would point out plants and creatures. He’d always refer to the beauty and efficient design found in nature. A creature has only the parts it needs. You look at things and you absorb them, and later they come out. I’ve done some rectangular commissions, but when left to my own devices, I naturally go more organic and sculptural.”
Sometimes there is a fine line between being a craftsperson and being an artist. Celia plants herself firmly on the artist side of that continuum. She’s created some pretty far out furniture pieces, such as the Siren Chair, a red-tipped, tentacled, fantasy piece which is in a private home now. “I’ve toned down some of the elaborate shapes in my furniture pieces,” she chuckles. “Now I prefer to reserve those kinds of forms for my sculpture.”
Unlike her furniture, which is all about the tactile, Celia’s sculpture is created mainly for visual impact, with texture as a no less important part of the formula. “I like to juxtapose the smooth with the rough. One emphasizes the other. Normally you don’t touch sculpture, so you’re forced to imagine the feel of it. That gives it some life.”
As much as I loved Celia’s furniture, I found myself, and my camera, drawn to her sculpture. I kept returning to one piece in particular, called Icky. It’s a floor piece, crafted from stained poplar with steel wire, and it’s beautiful . . . and repulsive. “I’m interested in exploring why we are drawn to somethings and flee from others. Why are we attracted to something that has a smooth texture, and repulsed by yuckiness? What if both elements were present in the same piece? You kind of find that in Icky.”
“I’m a sculptor who makes furniture. I’ve been commissioned to design some pieces in more of an Arts and Craft style. Lots of straight lines and rectangular forms. But while in school I found that you can make so many shapes with wood. So I’m always trying to get away from rectangular forms, and move towards the shapely.”
Celia designs first, then picks her woods: poplar for flexibility, ash for graininess, she also experiments with cork and other materials. All of her wood comes from the urban forest, a sustainable resource. Notably, she uses water-based, low VOC, eco-friendly finishes in keeping with her personal philosophy of producing high-quality, hand-crafted pieces as an alternative to the things that can be found in malls and factory outlets.
“I’d like to see shopping become less of a past-time. Shop when you need it. Buy good-quality, well made things that will last a long time. I’m all for the handmade movement. I appreciate people who put a lot of thought into what they do. Buying handmade helps you to get to know the maker and respect them through their work.”
Celia’s personal design philosophy is one that all of us could take and apply to anything going on in our lives. Whether you’re painting, sculpting, crafting, or trying to get your big break on Broadway. “Be honest with yourself. Simplify. Be concise. And don’t be afraid to show some personality.”
Celia Greiner Woodworking, BY APPOINTMENT: 3039 West Carroll, Chicago, Illinois, 60612, USA.
On the web: http://www.celiagreiner.com