‘Interwoven’ is sited amongst prickly pear cactus, granite boulders festooned with lichen, and Texas persimmon trees. Seasonal elements include wildflowers, native grasses, and a meandering waterway which fills when the spring rains come to Central Texas and runs dry when the rains cease.
A small clearing between prickly pear and boulders was handpicked as a sculpture site. ‘Interwoven’ was designed for this specific site for a Hill Country private collector.
Perhaps the copper-brazed pod is ripe, ready to burst forth with seeds to scatter in the wind — or has it withered with nothing more to offer while remaining resolutely in place? The larger pod appears to have already bloomed, revealing lacy skeletal ribbing as its final legacy.
‘Interwoven’ is a nod to the interconnectedness and cycle of life in the natural world.
The sculpture was designed to complement its surroundings and not necessarily be the primary focus; rather, the sculpture blends into its picturesque environs which change with the Texas seasons. To that end, ‘Interwoven’ is an acknowledgement of working with natural patterns and rhythms and not overpowering them.
I wish to thank my SCR benefactors! 'Interwoven’ was made possible by an SCR Grant in support of my Hill Country Artist-in-Residence program.
This kinetic sculpture measures 60" tall x 42" wide x 3” deep. Steel of various dimensions; steel sheet with copper brazing; brass rivets; stainless steel, copper-coated, and brass welding rods.
Other site-specific sculptures to date created by Laura Armstrong Studio include ‘Walking Stick,’ ‘Sinuosa,’ and ‘Swivel-Stack Totem’ in Colorado, Argentina, and Texas, respectively.
Intended as accessible public sculpture, Swivel-Stack Totem is located on private property within an arm's reach of the street, allowing visual and tactile access to passersby.
This steel-and-plexiglass sculpture was designed specifically for its current outdoor environs using recycled and common materials such as drill pipe, steel strap, and common hardware.
A central pole is the vertical axis onto which the modular elements can be sleeved and arranged in any position around the pole.
The inner and outer frames were bent by hand into a variety of sizes using an adjustable jig to achieve the desired shapes.
Colored plexiglass ‘canvases' serve as pops of color in the inner frames.
The modularity of this sculpture allows for interchangeable canvases. The color schemes of the plexiglass can be played around with. Or, the canvases can be changed to a completely different medium: think fiber weavings, stained glass, or perhaps a mosaic of hummingbird tongues and bat wings…
Swivel-Stack Totem is nestled between two Pride of Barbados plantings and is intended to complement their showy orange blooms.
This outdoor sculpture is a nod to the concept of public art on private land. And unlike a city-sanctioned public art project, the permitting and installation of this sculpture was a breeze!
Swivel-Stack Totem measures 8 ft. tall x 3 ft. maximum width. Drill pipe, 1” x 3/16” steel strap, socket head cap screws, socket set screws, and plexiglass.
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.
‘Instruments of Pleasure’ was made in response to a ‘call for entries’ for an exhibit titled Food: Friend or Foe. The exhibit was promoted as “featuring work that examines the complex relationship that we have with food — whether it be a personal examination of food and our bodies, or one with a more political focus such as food production and distribution.”
I created an oversized knife, fork, and spoon, and titled it ‘Instruments of Pleasure.’
Although the title is somewhat edgy, I suppose the actual artwork wasn’t sufficiently angst-ridden or controversial enough for the exhibit. I received a rejection e-mail and moved on with life…
‘Instruments of Pleasure’ now hangs in the dining room of a private collector in Austin, TX (which, as most folks know, is one of the most exciting cities in America!).
The sculpture attaches to the wall via a tubing-and-nesting technique, making the sculpture appear to ‘float’ off of the wall. (A note to installers: The handles of each of the utensils have each been marked on the bottom side of their lower tubing sleeves with either an F (fork), K (knife), or S (spoon) to facilitate matching each handle with its appropriate utensil.)
‘Instruments of Pleasure’ is made from hand-hammered 16-gauge sheet steel and torch-welded 1/4” round rod. Installed, the piece measures approximately 60” tall x 40” wide x 4” deep.
I’m pleased to have been asked to design and build a sculpture and lead the international team to build it at International Forging 2020 in Argentina. Taking place in the city of Buenos Aires, fellow blacksmiths and I will share the skills of restoration and preservation.
We will have blacksmiths/teachers in our group from US, Canada, Russia, Spain, Chile, and Ukraine—this has has become a true international conference. Our goal is to share our knowledge freely, and everyone is welcome.
According to Jerry Coe, a Berkeley, CA-based blacksmith and organizer of the event, “During the past two events in Buenos Aires, we have trained 150 blacksmiths and awakened the trade skills that have been lost in the area. This has brought the attention of Argentina’s national education program and gained recognition from the Ministry of Culture about preservation and restoration of Buenos Aires historic architecture and national museums. We have gained support from Buenos Aires’ US Embassy.
In preparation for the 2020 event, we are organizing into teams to approach the teaching of our craft in a thorough manner. We expect 200 students to attend. Many of the students will be professionals and have small businesses of their own.
Along with classes in tool making and traditional artistic smithing, we will have a class discussing design, bidding, and presentation and the class will delve into determining economic rent/shop overhead. We will also have a forum to discuss ecological approaches to blacksmithing and creating sustainable environmentally friendly products."
This event began in 2016 and has occurred every 2 years since that time.
Forjadores Argentinos is a group that was formed after the inaugural event in 2016. This Facebook group serves to keep the Argentinians connected and to share projects, meeting announcements, and foster connectivity and collaboration.
This tabletop sculpture was commissioned as a gift for a spouse. 'Loon Family' combines the fondness that this couple has for loons while paying homage to their family of three: daddy loon, mama loon, and baby loon (also known as a loonlet).
Forged steel bar, sealed with clear lacquer, measures 8” tall x 20” wide x 9”deep.
Wind Totem is a sculpture in my Flow sculpture series which explores movement caused by wind or water.
Wind Totem is homage to an invisible force known only by its residual impact.
The forged steel form is brazed with copper highlights and situated atop an an ash pedestal. Overall dimensions are 69" tall x 27" wide x 14" deep.
If installed outdoors, Wind Totem can be mounted directly in the ground, such as in a meditation garden or perched atop a rocky mount...
I recently celebrated a milestone birthday and gifted a sculpture to the world...
Walking Stick was first exhibited at the 2018 ABANA Conference Gallery in Richmond, VA.
This 16-piece forged steel sculpture features pin-and-wedge joinery, allowing for easy breakdown/transport/reinstallation.
'Walking Stick' was sealed with a clear lacquer finish. Final dimensions are 37” tall x 17” wide x 10” deep.
Drift is a sculpture in my Flow sculpture series which explores movement caused by wind or water.
Bursting forth from a punched plate, Drift’s three steel wisps have been tapered and slit-and-drifted using traditional blacksmithing techniques.
The negative space revealed in Drift has been carefully considered and is as integral a part of the sculpture as its physical elements.
Three punched-and-drifted steel tapers, punched steel plate, torched wood posts... Dimensions are 61” tall x 34” wide x 8” deep.
This sculpture series is underway...
To read more about the maquette on which one of these sculptures is based, click the picture below:
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