Wednesday, May 30, 2012

God, The Cabbage, and Harry's Eye

Poppy and I have been pretty crazy busy these past few weeks. I'm not sure how easy blogging will be for us, but we'll try when we can. She didn't post today, so I'm going to blab here a bit.

I just rummaged through some old boxes of mine and found an awesome piece I made. It was actually one of the first pieces of metalwork I did. In finding this I was transported back to my first piece. I didn't really realize just how difficult it was to solder, and I chose an extremely difficult subject and creation.

It was my family as a Caulder inspired mobile. Myself, husband, son, daughter, 1 dog, and 1 cat in 3D Caulder style on a perfectly balanced mobile. Fist off, each family member had body with head and 2 arms/2 legs. A few had one piece body and legs and arms separate. Some had one piece legs and head, body and arms separate. So basically they each had 5 pieces - 5 pieces times 7 members. Easy right? The first body. I soldered on an arm, great. I soldered on the next arm and the first one fell off from the heat of the torch. I filed off the solder and started over.

This went on for hours until another student showed me how to set up arms to hold the pieces in place. Oh, I have to set up the whole thing and try to solder it all at once. Not possible with the position of my pieces as some were on the top and some on the bottom. Nice design woman!

The next day in class, I learned about mud from the instructor. Mud, glorious mud. I can't begin to tell you how much I hated, having to clean off the solder and the metal every time I screwed up. I even had to remake some of the pieces. And, as in art, I made the pieces out of different metals to represent the family members, even though they were to be painted in bright colors and it would never be seen. But I would know that I was warm copper, and my children were brass.

Once I finally got all the pieces together it took me another huge block of hours to balance the piece, but it was finally done and exactly how I wanted it. That was my first experience with learning to double your first time expectation to finish a project.

I don't have pictures of that piece, but here is my second project. It's called God, The Cabbage, and Harry's Eye. I was obsessed for several years over the death of one of my favorite dogs, Harry. He was very special to me. He came to me in a dream while he was being born. I didn't know my dog was expecting and while we were on vacation, she had this one puppy. I dreamed I had a dog named Harry and when I got home there he was. He didn't look like his mother, or his father (we knew who that was). He looked just like the Harry in my dream. I adored Harry.

I didn't realize that there was heartworm in our neighborhood, and when Harry was about 5 years old, he got very sick from it. By the time we treated it, he was quite bad, and he died at home from the treatment. I put him in a room by himself to rest and he looked at me lovingly with those big brown eyes. When I checked in on him a few minutes later he was gone. It really tore me apart, because he was so loved, so young, and it could have been avoided.

Between the two spruces by the barn,  
I planted him like a cabbage.
Too young to say goodbye,
Those sad brown eyes,
And for the first time,
God's reflection in them.

That was the poem that I wrote on his passing that inspired the piece. This was another great undertaking, but a labor of love. I learned how to bezel set the moonstone face, form the cabbage petals and the "ground", coil the silver arms, dap the copper eye and etch and silver fill the hieroglyph family members, and how to apply various patinas. I also learned how to make a keyhole lock to allow all the pieces to separate so that the finishes could be maintained. This has, however, been in a box for 16 years and the finish looks the same as the day I completed it.

I know I've said I was a metalsmith, but never showed you any of my work before. These pictures aren't great. The good ones are on slides. I'll try to show you more some day. maybe even find the Caulder style mobile pictures. You see, I really can relate to all your hard work.

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