“3 + 7” is the name of the collaborative sculpture that
Jamie Abbott, Roy Holmberg and I did for the upcoming show Art in the Arboretum: Environmental Installations at the University of California, Santa Cruz. This exhibit was beautifully curated by Susana Arias.
We have a reception this Saturday, May 20, 3-6pm. An announcement can be found
here. This will be a great time to come see the show and meet the artists.
Now, on to all these photos. I know that common sense dictates that I have included too many of them, but it was a complicated project with three artists and many steps. Anyway, I know that I myself like to hear about what other artists do in the studio, so I’m hoping that you do too.
If you open a photo, you’ll get a captioned slideshow. Or you can simply view the thumbnails and take a guess what we’re doing. If that’s too much effort(!), just ignore the photos altogether, and come see our sculpture in person! We’d love to tell you all about it at the reception.
We have a full statement about the piece at the arboretum, but you can also find it
We made several trips to the arboretum, and collected some plant samples. We eventually settled on using this particular eucalyptus branch.
Once we'd decided on the inspiration for our piece, we returned to the arboretum to select a site. We liked the idea of a branch that had blown in a wind and gotten stuck against a fence.
I made detailed drawings to scale, 1:12, for full-size templates.
Here are the templates for the pods.
And here is the scale model for our proposed piece. Both views, front and back, were important to us.
Full-size leaf templates.
Then the paper templates were used as guides for masonite templates.
Roy and Jamie are rough-cutting the masonite templates.
The finished masonite leaf templates. The rippling edges were important to us because we wanted to create some movement in the piece.
Our steel arrived!
Our steel stacked in Roy's studio.
Laying the masonite templates out on the steel sheets for cutting.
Roy cutting leaves...
...and Jamie cutting leaves.
Jamie and I take a break from leaves to make the pods. Here we are mixing the cement and vermiculite.
Wire forms for the pods are covered with chicken wire and then coated with burlap, cement and vermiculite.
Coating the pods.
Finished and drying.
Meanwhile Roy is forging some stems.
Hammering the forged metal into a stem shape.
Back to pods. They're dry and now they get an undercoat of paint.
And we have some leaves and pods!
Jamie and I stipple several layers of color on the pods.
Roy is riveting the edges onto the leaves. All those rippling edges made for a lot of extra work in shaping the bar-stock edging but Roy did a fantastic job!
Clamping and riveting.
I think my favorite job was to bend those curvy leaf stems. As with the edging on the leaves, those curvy lines were important in creating movement. And there was a real art to making those curves!
Consulting our drawings and model to bend the main stem.
I did a scaled drawing of the curve for the main stem.
Bending the main stem. Roy had already forged and shaped the main stem before we added the curves.
Those stems were difficult to maneuver around the studio!
Here is the main stem laid out on a full-size template.
This is the top end of the main stem...notice Jamie's nice welding job!
Here is the join between the two main stem pieces.
Our pile of leaves awaiting attachment.
Modifying the main stem end that connects to the very end leaf.
Jamie is welding the end leaf into place. It touches the ground and so supports some of the weight of the piece.
The obligatory photo of forged steel setting some wood on fire. They are bending a stem.
Roy with a forged stem. Each stem had to be bent specifically once we positioned the leaf where we wanted it.
Roy forged. Jamie welded. I ground the welds where needed (I love grinding metal).
Several leaves are now on and we see our sculpture come to life.
Positioning the leaves took all three of us.
This shows the join between the two main stem pieces.
...followed by more grinding.
Leaves are on, and it's time for the pods to be placed.
The finished pods are large! We think they look great with the metal leaves.
Roy is machining the pod attachments that he had previously forged into shape.
Installing the pods.
And more pods.
We can't wait to see it outside of Roy's studio. It's hard to get back far enough in here to take it all in.
The pods up close.
A rare moment of Roy doing the grinding of a weld...only because I was gone that day.
We loaded it onto the flatbed for moving, and then applied a chemical to make it rust more quickly, using a torch and a spray gun.
The rust patina happens in seconds, but over time they will rust more evenly. We sped the process up to give the leaves a more cohesive look. I rather like the two-tone, but it will disappear over time.
At the arboretum, Roy is showing off his beautifully-forged clamp to attach the sculpture to the fencepost.
Installing the clamp.
Moving the heavy top-half into place.
It takes a village!
Connecting the two halves and repositioning the piece correctly at an angle from the fence...
...and tightening the clamp one last time.
The rust coating already looks different in the two days since we sprayed it.
Just having a moment.
Compare this photo to a later photo with the pods. The pods add some additional information about scale.
Digging holes to position stone footings for the leaves that rest on the ground.
Another view of the installed leaves. That wood support under the stem is temporary.
Jamie, me, and Roy. And our sculpture, of course!
We took a break to have a champagne toast. That's John Chilton in the background there. He was a big help...especially because he brought the champagne!
And then we had to do some deep thinking.
Here we are with Susana Arias, the curator of this wonderful show!
Remember how I wrote that both sides of the sculpture are important? This side, through the fence, will be the first view for some visitors. That's why the leaves have detail on both sides, and they face in both directions.
Installing the pods.
I'm touching up some paint...
...while Roy and Jamie seemingly direct my efforts.
The last task was to dig a hole for a concrete footing so that we could add a small support under the main stem. The piece is also supported by several of the leaves.
And here we are with the finished piece!
...and even another from a distance. Because we just can't stop looking at it!
Wow! No, not too many photos. All are needed for the uninitiated and uninformed to appreciate the creativity, collaborative process and hard work entailed. And how else to learn all about it on an early morning sitting in my reading chair in South Carolina? Good luck with the show! Your piece is a winner!!
Wow, it’s like an extreme version of “Forged in Fire”!
Haha, yes, perhaps! But with giant leaves instead of weapons!
Barbara, I’m very impressed!