Category Archives: Sculptures and Figurines Other Than Clay

Tin Can Art Experiment

I follow a blog called Pittsburgh Orbit. It reports on the quirks of that city. I can’t remember how I stumbled into its world but I am glad I did. I have some connection with Pittsburgh; we visited several times when my son lived there for several years and that is where he met his wife. So it’s a good place.

And it turns out that through the serendipity of the universe, I have another connection to the Orbit through my teacher at the punch needle class I took online earlier in 2021.

I think this could be enough material for a post already, if we were talking about the odd way the world takes a strand and weaves it in and out to make a fabric in which you find that all the elements of your life repeat, like a pattern. But that’s not the purpose. I want to share an art project I did that was inspired by this blog.

I read a post at the Orbit some while back about tin can neighborhood art. You need to stop right now and take a look at the post, because I cannot explain it, you need to experience it. (I’m waiting right here until you finish).

OK. I was inspired to try my version of this art form. I got some tin cans and smashed them with my husband’s sledge hammer. Unlike the originals, I did not want sharp edges – I didn’t know where I would put the items, or even what they would look like, so I thought I’d better think about safety.

I bought some cheap paints meant for multi-surface use. I got some paint markers, too, meant for painting rocks, so I figured they’d work fine (they did). Then I painted my flattened tin cans and put some random sayings on them, too. I sprayed them a few times with some sort of clear stuff that might or might not protect them for any length of time. But I don’t care. These guys are just for fun.

Here are the results.

You may wonder why they have a rounded end, in some cases. Well, did you know that tin cans have two different ends these days – one you open, and the other so that the cans can stack easily? You can’t get this second end to come off with a can opener. Who knew?

I did find one of my group of cans worked the old-fashioned way – that is why it is a rectangle. So when you are shopping for canned goods, now you will think about this innovation in the container world, won’t you?

This little can originally held tomato paste, I think.

Anyway, once done I puched hanging holes in their tops by hammering through them with a nail. Lay the can on the ground, take the nail, hammer hard, and when the nail goes though it just heads into the ground. Pick it up and extract the nail. Done.

You see the hole now, don’t you, up at the top of the can? By the way this one has an odd top because I managed to get some of the second end removed and then was stymied. Never mind, the sledge hammer took care of it, too, just like the others.

I strung a wire on each one. Now I think I will leave them in the park, or else give them away, or both.

Thank you, Pittsburgh Orbit.

Metallic: 4

Over some period of months or years, even, I have been collecting metal objects that I pick up from the ground. I decided it was time to see what could be made of them.

I bought wire at the craft store and used some that I already had on hand. I pushed the metal pieces around, trying to find a look I liked, and then I started putting things together.

Here’s the whole array, to remind you:

Next, I got the idea to draw them. I used the photos that I had taken of them as you see above.

Here they are in my 8″ x 8″ sketchbook done in pen.

Metallic: 3

Over some period of months or years, even, I have been collecting metal objects that I pick up from the ground. I decided it was time to see what could be made of them.

I bought wire at the craft store and used some that I already had on hand. I pushed the metal pieces around, trying to find a look I liked, and then I started putting things together.

Most of what I made in this little project involved figures. Here is the whole group that I have already shown you.

I had a few metal washers left over. I combined them with a spring and some kind of a weight to make this item. It reminds me of a kite string.

Here are some details:

And here it is hanging from a bush in my back yard. I like the look of this strand of circles and I think I’ll keep it for myself.

Metallic: 2

Over some period of months or years, even, I have been collecting metal objects that I pick up from the ground. I decided it was time to see what could be made of them.

I bought wire at the craft store and used some that I already had on hand. I pushed the metal pieces around, trying to find a look I liked, and then I started putting things together.

My plan for these people is to take them to the park and hang them from tree branches here and there for people to look at and to take home if they want to.

Here is the second group of people. (If you want to see the first group, look here.)

Here they are as a group.

Metallic: 1

Over some period of months or years, even, I have been collecting metal objects that I pick up from the ground. I decided it was time to see what could be made of them.

I chose to try wiring them together to make hanging sculptures. I have no idea why this is what I settled on, but it is.

I bought wire at the craft store and used some that I already had on hand. I pushed the metal pieces around, trying to find a look I liked, and then I started putting things together. At first I tried to be neat with the wiring of the pieces, but neatness is just not in me, really…and I quickly learned I should have bought finer gauge wire – it would have been easier to work with. I’ll remember that for next time.

Well, no matter. Things got made. I’ll show you the results in a couple of posts.

My plan for these people is to take them to the park and hang them from tree branches here and there for people to look at and to take home if they want to.

Here is the first group of people.

Here they are as a group.

I Build an Airplane on My Dining Room Table.

Yes, I did build an airplane right here at home. And now I will tell you all about it.

A little while ago I was continuing my search of local museums for online activities or classes. I also wanted to know which ones might be open for visiting. I have found museum visits to be a balm for my nerves and worries in these times.

I arrived at the website of The Delaware Contemporary, located in Wilmington, DE, about an hour from my house. I’ve visited here a couple of times in person before the pandemic and always enjoyed myself.

The Museum was founded in 1979 by a group of artists and collectors, according to its website. A non-collecting museum, it focuses on presenting exhibits, education and outreach for the community, supporting artist growth through exhibits and providing work spaces, and bringing the power of art to the community at large.

I will certainly be visiting here in person. But what I want to talk about here is something I noticed as I wandered through the site: the Art Takeout.

It’s simple: You sign up and for a small fee, each month you get an art project related to a current exhibit plus supporting materials. I’ll show you my first one and you’ll see how it works.

*******

I received a package in the mail and when I opened it I saw this:

Already I liked it. The project is in a real takeout box.

There was some written information about the three aspects of the takeout box. Each month, these three aspects will be covered in the box.

Here is the visual: a print from the exhibit that’s the theme of the box.

The exhibit is called Ridem, by Gene Hracho. (Follow the link to read about the real-life art object at the museum site). And here is the written info I received about it.

So now I had a context for my art activity. I then turned to the pairing item. Each month, a sensory experience related to the exhibit is included. Imagine my surprise when I opened a little bag and found these:

And here is the information I read about these three little bells.

I’ve seen small bells like these before. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is a string of similar bells my grandmother had on a cord near the stairs to the lower level of the house. She didn’t like yelling up and down the stairs to get someone’s attention. Instead, we rang the bells. They were surprisingly loud and cut through conversation or TV noise. When it was time for dinner, we jingled the bells good and hard to get everyone to come to the table.

So I gave these bells a tryout. What a good sound they made to my ear!

The cat, though, was of another mind. At the first jingle, he came to alert, looking startled. When I shook them again…he leaped to the floor and slunk away very quickly. I was surprised – I had no idea he didn’t like the sound and I don’t know what it means to him. (Since that day I’ve rung the bells a couple more times and he reacts the same way. So…I will be only trying a jingle here or here when he’s not around, I think.)

All right. Now on to the art activity. I recieved this small kit to make a tiny airplane.

I was very excited about putting this model together. When I was a child I made a couple of model cars, but I haven’t done anything like this in decades.

I opened the box and put the pieces into containers to keep them from getting lost.

The museum had enclosed some additional embellishments. I decided to put the model together and then see if I wanted to use them. I do love the assortment, though – washi tape, wire, beads…

All right. Let’s get started. I pulled out the directions. On one side, the finished plane. OK, I see how it’s going to look.

I turned the paper over. Oh my goodness. The directions are tiny pictures.

Everyone, this project was right up my alley and I knew it as soon as I saw this page. Aside from the fact that my aging eyes do not see details as well as they once did, I love to put things together, and I love figuring out little diagrams like these. It’s a puzzle, rewarding patience and logic. A project like this is calming. There is an answer. The parts will go together and make a whole. I find that idea very satisfying.

I reviewed the parts list at top. Hint: always do this with a model. Often pieces look alike…and then you realize there is a detail that makes them different, and if you choose wrongly, that difference will stop progress.

Then I got to work. At each step I lined up the pieces I needed, like this.

I settled into a pleasantly meditative process. Sort the pieces, line them up, understand the sequence, and put them together. The kit even provided tools.

The process went pretty smoothly. I had to reverse course and take a section apart only one time. And in the course of time, I had created a tiny airplane. Look! Look!

I was so excited, I just can’t tell you. In this one afternoon, I had rediscovered something I had forgotten: I like putting things together like this little guy.

And, I felt calm and focused while I was working on it. I enjoyed the challenge of sorting out how to make the process work; the directions don’t do it for you, even if they are a guide – your hands and your eyes and your mind have to work together.

The plane was perfect just as it was, I decided, so I didn’t add any of the embellishments. I did keep them. Who knows, my next project may be perfect for them.

And now I have this cute little airplane!

Thank you to The Delaware Contemporary for their well-though-out project box that was so rewarding to me. I am really looking forward to the next one.

Now, here is the little plane taxiing before taking off for some adventures!

Stick Ladies Part 4 (and an animal, too)

I recently showed you some stick figures I made in 2016 and updated in 2020. The project made me want to try some more figures. Here the new figures assemble themselves to greet the public.

Now, take a look at all of them together. Don’t you want to try to make some yourself?

Stick Ladies Part 3

I recently showed you some stick figures I made in 2016 and updated in 2020. The project made me want to try some more figures. I will be showing you the results of those efforts over the next couple of weeks while describing the process and any changes I made.

Here are two more stick lady figurines I recently made. I’ve discussed the process in previous posts so I won’t go over it again, but I will tell you a few details about constructing them.

  1. First of all, choose wood that has been off the tree for a while, but is not rotten or soft. Test a branch or stick by banging it hard against a tree or sidewalk. If it breaks, don’t use it.
  2. Learn to use a drill. You will need it for drilling holes through the arms and you will also be making holes in the body, head, and base, for the screws to go into. I improved my drill skills a lot in this simple project (because I had virtually none to start with…)
  3. Woodburning is lots of fun. Try it and you will like it. remember that the tip gets very hot. Just saying.
  4. A hand saw is plenty good for any sawing you will be doing in this project. That was important to me because I have a tendency to cut body parts (off, sometimes) when using sharp blades (no casualties in this project, before you wonder).
  5. I think these figurines could go anywhere you want them to. Make them clothes, wrap them in wire, paint them…I think of many possibilities I would like to try. But I also always want to pay attention to the wood. Each stick is beautiful, with patterns and designs already in place.

OK, here are the two remaining tall figures.

Lady #5:

Lady #6:

Next time I’ll show you a group shot of all the figurines.

Stick Ladies Part 2

I recently showed you some stick figures I made in 2016 and updated in 2020. The project made me want to try some more figures. I will be showing you the results of those efforts over the next couple of weeks while describing the process and any changes I made.

In this next group, I will show you the next phase of stick lady construction in my recent project. This group has attached arms and…attached heads. Yes. Just take a look.

As I have said before, I collected the body sticks, and for these, I was looking for moderately substantial branches. Once I had found what I wanted (testing them against rotten or decayed wood by banging them against a tree trunk to see if they broke) I sawed them into lengths and went through my dishwasher sanitizing process and let them dry.

I took a smaller-diameter stick and cut it into “head”-sized pieces, matching them with bodies.

Stick Ladies 6-18-20 #3c

Then I chose arms and attached them as before, first drilling a hole and them nailing them to the body.

arm

I created features and clothing with my woodburning tool.  I cut bases from a plank and painted them black.

Stick Ladies 6-18-20 #4e

Then I  assembled them. Today I will show you two, in detail, and later on the other two, that I made in this way.

Using dowel screws I first attached the head and then connected the body to the base. I used differently-sized screws because it was important to get the proportions right. On my first try I chose screws that were too short for the “legs” portion and the figures look squat and ungainly. A longer screw corrected that problem.

Here are two figurines. They range in size from 16-18″ tall, all parts included.

Lady #3:

Lady #4:

I have two more to show you in a later post.

 

Stick Ladies Part 1

I recently showed you some stick figures I made in 2016 and updated in 2020. The project made me want to try some more figures. I will be showing you the results of those efforts over the next couple of weeks while describing the process and any changes I made.

Most of this project involved making stick ladies. These I will show you today are derived from the ones I did in the past, which were all in one piece:

I gathered a selection of branches that I thought would be suitable for bodies. I was looking for something a little thicker than the ones I had used in the past.

And I decided to make the new ones with arms. Accordingly I collected sticks of a smaller diameter than the body materials I was looking for.

I peeled or cut off any bark, cut all the sticks into shorter lengths, and ran them through the dishwasher to get rid of any bugs. I let them dry outside for about a week.

And…the arms. I cut them to a good size to fit the figures, first drilling a hole through them and then nailing them on to the body. By drilling first, I reduced my chanced of splitting the wood when I nailed.

arm

Then I got busy with my woodburning set and gave them faces and clothing. I made bases for them from small blocks of wood that I painted black and attached the two pieces with dowel screws.

Here are the results:

Stick ladies group 2 6-20

These two figures are about 12″ tall in total (including the “legs” and base). Here are some detail photos.

Lady #1:

And here is Lady #2:

I like how the natural curve of the wood gives the lady figures a posture and an attitude.