There are challenges and opportunities throughout one’s life. Let us rise to them...
I was commissioned by a thoughtful parent to create a desktop sculpture for her 12-year-old son whose beloved pet had recently died.
The sentiment I wished to convey via this sculpture is that we can and do emerge anew as we continue on life’s journey. Death, transformation, and rebirth are a natural and normal part of life.
This sculpture is not intended for him only as a young person — I hope 'Phoenix (Rising)' holds a message which proves valuable to him from this day forward.
I began this project by making sketches which evoked the emotional tenor I wanted to convey. From a sketch, I made a clay form to determine the elements’ shapes and sizes. With a clay model at hand, I was now ready to fire up the forge and light my oxy-fuel torch...
'Phoenix (Rising)' was created from mild steel using forged and tack-and-bend techniques and measures 5.5” tall x 4.75” wide x 2.5” deep.
Sinuosa was inspired by flowing rock formations in Salta, a northwest province in Argentina which I visited in 2018.
Visually interesting from afar, the tall and slender abstract form invites viewers to approach closer and examine traditional joinery techniques and forged details.
Sinuosa is a human-scale sculpture designed to complement its outdoor surroundings and leave viewers refreshed.
Sinuosa was made at the 3rd International Forging 2020 event on February 27-March 1, 2020, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where an international group of blacksmiths shared artisanal skills and taught trade skills free-of-charge.
After my team completed Sinuosa on the final day of the event, the sculpture was given as a gift of public art to the city as a thank you for hosting the event.
The pedestal was designed and built the weekend before the event. The pedestal perfectly complements the sculpture without overpowering it.
Sinuosa is a physical realization of collaborative efforts amongst artist-blacksmiths!
A gift of outdoor sculpture for the city…
I'm honored to have been asked by the event organizers to design a public art sculpture.
Until its final outdoor placement is determined, Sinuosa resides at the Luis Perlotti Museum in Buenos Aires.
The sculpture's vertical orientation needs only a minimal footprint in a dense urban city such as Buenos Aires.
I like to imagine Sinuosa's suitable surroundings might be...
I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to design Sinuosa and lead the team to build it. A huge thank you to Team Sinuosa!: Katherine Ackerman, Eben Finer, Claudia Alvarez, Kurt Rempel, Hernan Onnainty, Peter Sevin, and John Crouchet.
Mil gracias to the event organizers: Fabian Rossi, Jerry Coe, Carlos Real, Alejo Kerwitz, and Dario Klehr. And a shout-out to Forjadores Argentinos for documenting the event and connecting blacksmiths around the world.
Many thanks to Fabian and his delightful wife, Cristina, for hosting me in their home, and for Fabian and Alejo’s assistance constructing the pedestal.
John, look how much one can accomplish between breaks!
The sculpture itself is about 5 feet tall (about 1.5 meters) x 15" wide x 6" deep. Sinuosa atop its pedestal is about 7.5 feet tall. (The pedestal measures approximately 30" tall x 20" wide x 20" deep and is made from 3/4"-thick steel plate and 8"-wide x 5/8"-thick flat bar.)
Construction details, half-lap design, and joinery method...
Sinuosa was designed to be forged without power tools, as none would be available on-site at the event.
The sculpture is comprised of 5 pieces of overlapping (i.e. half-lap) steel plate joined together with rivets.
The sculpture's profile reveals a gentle curve which evokes movement.
Simple butchering tools and a sledge hammer were the main tools employed. (A butcher is used to create a clean shoulder so that metal is not removed, but moved down and over…). A torch was used in lieu of a forge, as spot heating was the most efficient way to butcher while not distorting the straight lines we were establishing.
The visually uncluttered form belies the details required to achieve the simple, streamlined look:
And for those interested in even more construction details…
Design and maintenance considerations…
Sinuosa was designed to meet generally accepted public art guidelines for safety, durability, and minimal routine maintenance.
The finished sculpture was sealed with multiple coats of clear lacquer, allowing the beauty of the hand-forged texture to show through. Periodically, just like a painted object, the sculpture will need a fresh coat of lacquer applied to it.
If/when the sculpture rusts, it can be easily cleaned with a wire brush to remove the rust, then painted with clear lacquer to restore the sculpture to its original and pristine condition.
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