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Asking the Universe for my next big project

25 Sep

They say that if you want something, you have to ask for it. Some of the philosophies in metaphysics say that you merely need to speak something into existence. Well, I guess I’m doing that now.

I want to have my work discovered by a major movie studio that is producing an epic steampunk film. The reason they contact me is because they would like to use models for the old fashioned feel and aesthetic, rather than use CGI to create the airships that are a large part of the movie.

Black and white photo of a reel of film showing a loop close-up.

In this scenario, they have seen my airships online or in person in the gallery I’m in. They love what they see and they want a meeting with me to discuss what they’re looking for. I like what they are trying to do, and I agree to be a part of their art and creative team. (You’re supposed to be very specific, right? OK, here it is) That project takes a year to do and the resulting movie is so fantastic that it gets a ton of recognition and attention. That attention leads to other steampunk art opportunities and before long I’m very busy building cool steampunk pieces for other studios doing other projects.

There, how’s that for a universal ask?

I’d love to hear about what you want from the Universe. Don’t be small about it, and be specific. The Universe needs you to be specific…the opposite of specific is vague and that gets you nothing!

Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and re-purposed materials, Stephan builds a myriad of sculpted wonders, including fantastic and whimsical steampunk airships that have amazed and delighted fans for years. A passion for reusing and up-cycling found items into beautiful and amazing art is what drives Stephan to make art that both teaches and inspires. Stephan also does commissioned work and is available to do talks and classes on re-purposing/up-cycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or at 810-516-7381.

 

Re-purposing… a personal passion

07 Jul

For awhile now, I’ve been thinking about doing a regular post on the different elements that surround what I do. There are many topics to talk about, including re-purposing methods, raw materials, types of glue, detailing and antiquing, tools, assemblage techniques, dumpster diving, etc, etc.

Today, I’ll start with something simple, yet the very heart of my style…re-purposing.

As Americans, we throw away a lot of stuff. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we’ve always had plenty. More than 500 years ago, we came to a land rich in natural resources and we’ve sure exploited them. The result is that there’s a steady stream of new, better, latest, bigger, faster and more. It used to keep us all working, but not so much anymore. Now it keeps the Chinese busy and the stuff we have is cheaper…in all ways. Things are now made to break and need to be replaced, Gone are the days when you had something repaired if it broke. Now, we just chuck it and get a new one…it’s cheaper to do that…by design.

Now we have land fills that are brimming over with not just our food waste, but our discarded stuff. Much of the stuff is still quite good, with a lot of life left in it, even if it’s not the latest style. This fact has prompted a movement that I certainly have joined, in which the discarded stuff is reused in some way. Sometimes it’s as is…vintage whatever. Sometimes we dress it up, put a fresh face on it and sell it as “reinvented” or “flipped”. What I do is even more deeply made over. I turn “junk” into parts for sculptures.

I say junk because often what I save are the everyday objects that truly, nobody else wants. Food container lids, bottle caps, pieces and parts from packaging materials, scrap plastic pieces, scrap wooden pieces, paper of all sizes, weights and colors, cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, paper and plastic tubes, pen parts, discount paint…and on and on and on. Believe me when I tell you that my wife is a saint. She not only has allowed me to fill our basement with all these assorted bits, but she actually participates sometimes in the hunt. She won’t go legs-up in a dumpster like I will, but if she spots something tasty, she’s been known to grab it. I have a rule at my house that no cool piece of anything gets tossed until I approve it. Even peanut butter lids are saved from the trash heap if I spot them first. I’m a hoarder, you say? Maybe, but if so, I’m a hoarder with a vision.

Photo showing scrap plastic objects that will be re-purposed into artwork.

Lids and caps

Photo showing scrap plastic objects that has been re-purposed into artwork.

Fin hub with stabilizers

I save all this stuff because at their very basic roots, these things are raw materials that I use to sculpt with. It’s really no different than any other artist going to an art supply store for their paint or clay or canvas or glue. I just use discarded shapes and colors and textures as my art materials. The really interesting thing is, these pieces already have an inherent character. A detail that adds to their appeal once incorporated into a sculpture piece. Anything can become anything if you learn to look at a golf tee and a ballpoint pen clip and imagine them as the nosecone on a steampunk airship. A piece of Venetian blind as a propeller blade, a section of a metal veggie steamer basket as a stabilizer fin. You just need to put on your special glasses and see things, not for what they are, but what they could become.

This is the core of my passion. This is how I do art.

Join me…

Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and re-purposed materials, Stephan builds a myriad of sculpted wonders, including fantastic and whimsical steampunk airships that have amazed and delighted fans for years. A passion for reusing and up-cycling found items into beautiful and amazing art is what drives Stephan to make art that both teaches and inspires. Stephan also does commissioned work and is available to do talks and classes on re-purposing/up-cycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or at 810-516-7381.

 

Artsmith Craftworks on display

08 May

Though not a new happening, below are photos of my airships and balloons in the front of the Brighton, Michigan store, The Artisan’s Bench, where my work is always on display for sale. If you’re local to Brighton, I’d love to have you stop in and take a look. If you’re not local, then I need you to sell your house and move closer to the store…  Kidding!! But it does warrant a road trip to check out the fine offerings that The Artisan’s Bench represents…mine included!

Photo of steampunk airships and hot air balloons at The Artisan's Bench, built by Stephan J Smith.

Photo of steampunk airships and hot air balloons at The Artisan's Bench, built by Stephan J Smith.

Photo of steampunk airships and hot air balloons at The Artisan's Bench, built by Stephan J Smith.

Photo of steampunk airships and hot air balloons at The Artisan's Bench, built by Stephan J Smith.

Photo of steampunk airships and hot air balloons at The Artisan's Bench, built by Stephan J Smith.

I look forward to hearing about your visit to the store, or, I encourage you to look through this website, or my Facebook page (linked at the right), or drop me an email to tell me you need a custom piece that I will be happy to start as soon as possible!

Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and re-purposed materials, Stephan builds a myriad of sculpted wonders, including fantastic and whimsical steampunk airships that have amazed and delighted fans for years. A passion for reusing and up-cycling found items into beautiful and amazing art is what drives Stephan to make art that both teaches and inspires. Stephan also does commissioned work and is available to do talks and classes on re-purposing/up-cycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or at 810-516-7381.

 
 

Artsmith Craftworks’ airship flies in Boston

28 Jan

Over the Holidays, a couple visiting from Boston saw one of my intermediate size Victorian airships they liked at The Artisan’s Bench in Brighton. They couldn’t take it back to Boston on the plane, so we shipped it to them and they now have it installed in their living room. I always like seeing my ships flying in their new homes and the owners, Tatiana and Stefan, were nice enough to send me a shot of theirs!

Photo of a steampunk airship sculpture installed in a corner of a collector's living room.

The beginnings of a collection!?

Stefan liked the airship enough that he commissioned me to build a steampunk hot air balloon that is currently under construction, so, more to come on that!

Do you have a comment or request? Be sure to drop me a line.

Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and re-purposed materials, Stephan builds a myriad of sculpted wonders, including fantastic and whimsical steampunk airships that have amazed and delighted fans for years. A passion for reusing and up-cycling found items into beautiful and amazing art is what drives Stephan to make art that both teaches and inspires. Stephan also does commissioned work and is available to do talks and classes on re-purposing/up-cycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or at 810-516-7381.

 

Paper Mosaic

21 Jul

Mosaics are a beautiful expression that can use re-purposed pieces of just about any material and paper is no exception. For years, I’ve had quite an extensive collection of paper. Swatch books, scrapbooking prints and bits & pieces that were either left overs from other projects or were even purchased with the idea of including them in some cool new piece.

This time around, I decided to put a new face on a scruffy looking table in my office. I doodled out a design and started snipping pieces, using Tacky glue to adhere them to a black piece of base paper. Using the age-old technique of hand cutting each piece to fit, the “tile” shapes, while similar, are also somewhat irregular. In case you’re wondering, the shape in the middle is a spinal column since it is in a chiropractic office!

Paper mosaic

When the tiling was done, I cemented the mosaic sheet to the table with contact cement, then gave it a couple coats of Mod Podge to seal it and give it a tile-like glossy surface. The results were fantastic!

Paper mosaic on table

What mosaics have you done with scrap materials?

 

When Trash Meets Vision, Art Happens

27 Apr

No mascara needed!

Our modern life creates a constant stream of refuse; some is recycled, some is buried in landfills, some sits at the bottom of the ocean. And some, the truly lucky bits, are re-purposed into new things: things of usefulness, beauty and inspiration. This is what I love to do.

Please enjoy my blog, and be sure to visit my gallery. Drop me a note, or email me pictures of your own inspired creations. And remember, it’s not always what meets the eye!

 
 

WORLD STEAM EXPO 2011

01 Jun

Those of you able to attend this year’s World Steam Expo found an exciting and visually impacting show, filled with outstanding costumes, great breakout panels and skilled artisans. The picture immediately below is but one example of the attention to detail paid by those in attendance. For more photos, see the Expo page here.

Fantastic costuming

I personally conducted two panels on Building your own Airship, using Airship Kits that I created and sold. These kits are small and easily assembled even by kids, but are structurally significant enough to detail paint as showpieces. (These kits will be available for purchase from this site very soon!). If participation is high enough, we plan to hold a contest via my Facebook page, at this link, in which you can photograph your finished airship kit and post it to Facebook, then tag me in the photo so it comes to my page and it will be judged for prizes. Below are photos of the kit materials.

Gondolas ready for assembly

Airship Kit bodies awaiting packaging into kit bags

Airship kit parts ready for packaging

Completed and detail painted Airship Kit

Finally, the large airship that I have been posting the construction progress of, made its debut at the Expo to the delight of all that saw it enter the front doors and be majestically carried through the hotel as if flying in the aether. Many photos were taken (post them on FB and tag me please!), many delightful ramblings were made and lots of “ooooh’s and aaaah’s” were heard. Thank you all for your kind words and encouraging comments! This piece is for sale and you can contact me via email (artsmithcraft@yahoo.com) or watch for the link from the gallery showcase page.

The Diabolus flies at World Steam Expo 2011

The Diabolus aloft on the second floor of the Dearborn Hyatt

Thank you to Salathiel Palland of Off the Beaten Path for her guidance and encouragement. Thank you also to Arica Jones & Morgan Kollin who helped make the Expo fantastic this year! All comments pertaining to the show and my airships are welcomed and encouraged! More photos of the event can be seen on my World Steam Expo page here.

What kind of airships would YOU like to see in the future from me??!!

 

Fin supports

17 May

Now as I continue work on this papier mache airship, I need to add spacers for the back of the fins to attach them to the propeller hub and join them behind the propeller. Because of the multiple angles, I need to cut pieces and glue them to match the contours of the fins and the propeller hub. I would have preferred to use something light weight, but I felt I needed something with a lot of strength in all vectors, so I elected to use scrap repurposed wood.

Cut wooden fin support pieces

Once put together, the wooden pieces take on the shape and angles needed to support the fins.

Glued together wooden fin support

Now I add recycled fiberboard to the ends and add paint rivets…which looks like this…

Fiberboard on the ends, with painted rivets

Next, we paint the pieces with the brass paint.

Painted supports in place holding the fins

This thing just keeps getting better and better! What detailing would you add to make this zeppelin more realistic?

 

Fin attachment

14 May

Now that the fin struts are attached, I add the fins. This is a HUGE step since I have so many places where the fins have to line up, plus drilling out the fins to accept the strut pin, gluing, etc. The effect, however, is quite dramatic!

Fin mounting close-up

There are three places where the fin mounts to the papier mache airship body, then two places aft.

Whole body view of fin attachment

You’ll notice that at first, the aft positions of attachment have a gap to be filled, but you’ll see the reason as we go on.

Aft view of fin construction

Next time, I’ll show you the construction of the aft fin struts and the tail hub. Again, the pieces are recycled/reused/repurposed items of plastic, wood and cardboard, painted with patina antiquing to look like aged brass. We’re in the homestretch of this cool airship now, so stay tuned for more!

 

Propulsion continued

06 Apr

Now we are going to look at how the propeller itself is constructed. Again, I chose a plastic laundry cap as the central hub of the propeller. The blades are factory scrap dense foam from some punch out process. I cut the foam to shape with my band saw and cut the contours the same way, then smoothed them with sandpaper. I sealed the foam blades with white latex primer, drilled pilot holes in them and in the sides of the laundry cap. I then used wall anchors and hot glue to secure the blades to the hub. To finish the shape of the prop, I used half of a plastic easter egg and the hollowed out lid off a spice bottle.

The next step would be to add rivets and brass paint… but not today. Stop by again soon!

Assembled propeller

Propeller top

 

Airship Propulsion

02 Apr

Now that the fins are completed, the next step is to prepare the airship for its “propulsion” components. The propeller mount and propeller make up the bulk of this unit and as always, are made from everyday materials, recycled and repurposed into something cool instead of going in the trash.

Though it’s not apparent here, the propeller mount took a bit of figuring out. I had to take into account the shape and diameter of the end of the airship…based on how far out on the tip I wanted/needed it to go. Then the end diameter of the propeller mount had to be determined and that was based on the piece that was to be the hub at the end. I wound up using a laundry detergent cap…can you believe it? Here it is…

Laundry cap hub

This plastic laundry cap was about the right size, so I placed a wooded disk on the end, glued it then drilled out a hole that fit the diameter of the steampunk airship’s central dowel. This hub piece was then glued into the end of the propeller mount. Below is the mount, which is just heavyweight fiberboard…heavier than cereal boxes…which is cut, scored with an xacto knife, folded, glued and painted.

Propeller mount - painted; rivets added

Here is the cap glued into the end of the propeller mount.

Propeller mount with cap inserted

Next post, I’ll show you the construction of the propeller itself… Again, it’s all about turning “stuff” into cool art. Stay tuned!

 

Green aging the airship

25 Feb

The next step in the building of the new airship was to make it look a bit aged and to add some tint. I did this by airbrushing a dark green color on the “envelope” and the copper edging.

Green patina aging

Patina detail

Next, I’ll start showing the pieces that will make this look like a lean and mean airship! Stay tuned!

 

Hello world!

09 Nov

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!