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Posts Tagged ‘Colors’

What feeds my chi?

27 Jun

What gives me energy? What floats my boat? What feeds my chi (qi)? These are questions I’ve talked about before, but they always bear repeating.

I love envisioning ways to turn random objects into pieces of art. I love taking pieces of plastic, wood, cardboard, metal, etc., and turning them into something virtually unrecognizable. This is what I did when I was a kid and unlike most adults, I never grew out of it. I like putting things together and making unbelievable art out them.

In my case, I like using things that other people discard. Things that have colors and shapes and textures, but are seen as disposable…junk…trash. Things like plastic lids, packaging materials, old damaged toys, uniquely shaped boxes and bottles, food packaging fiberboard boxes…and the list goes on and on. These things are materials that at their hearts, are no different than the shapes, textures and colors that you buy as your media in art stores, but these materials are free.

Photo montage of the construction of a steampunk airship sculpture propeller, made of random found objects.

Propeller construction montage

So, what feeds my chi is finding these materials. At garage sales, estate sales, at the side of the road when I run, or even in dumpsters. No, I’m not ashamed to admit that I go dumpster diving pretty frequently, and yeah, it smells bad sometimes, but the treasures are worth it.

What feeds your chi?

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.

 

Propeller process

07 Mar

I get asked all the time how I made a particular part on one of my steampunk airships. I’m also told that I should do DIY pictures and videos, and truthfully, I do take progress photos when I’m working on an airship. I do this because I have always thought that someday I’d do some sort of steampunk DIY book or something.

With that said, I thought I’d post a few photos showing how I did a particular propeller for a particular airship. Of course, this is only one example, because I’ve done dozens and dozens of different propellers in many different ways.

This one is made using a scotch tape core and 8 of those little plastic tasting spoons…you know, the ones they have in samples passed out in grocery stores. So they started like this…

Photo of repurposed pieces to be used in making a steampunk airship propeller.

Then I cut slits in the outer ring of the tape core and glued the ends of the spoons into them. You’ll also notice that I cut a thin cardboard ring that was glued to the top side of the tape core for a smooth look. For plastics, I either use super glue or E6000, depending on how the pieces go together and what stresses they may be subject to. Super glue is great for “matching fits” and the E6000 is a gel-like glue that can fill small spaces and it a bit more flexible, so it was what used in this case. As with all volatile glues, don’t breathe the fumes. Use in a ventilated area or wear an approved respirator!

Photo of repurposed pieces glued together, making a steampunk airship propeller.

After all the glue dried, I then spray with a copper spray paint for the metal look I wanted. I use a couple different ones depending on the desired finish. In this case, I used Rustoleum’s Hammered series in copper color.

Photo of copper painted propeller made of repurposed materials to be used on a steampunk airship.

Finally, I used a couple different green acrylic paints to add a patina or corrosion look to the propeller. Some people like the shiny copper look, but I’ve always been partial to the patina look and think it adds realism and character to the piece.

Photo of copper painted and patinaed propeller made of repurposed materials to be used on a steampunk airship.

So this is what you wind up with after adding the patina. See how it looks rusty and aged? This is why I like it so much. After the patina, I’ll add accents like copper rivets, (just blobs of paint), which adds contrast and interest and even a bit more realism.

What techniques do you like to use? Send me comments and photos and I’ll be happy to show what some of you are doing!

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.

 

Airship Christmas ornaments

21 Dec

I recently finished two different sets of little steampunk airship Christmas ornaments for some friends of mine. I had started them awhile ago, then with the other work I was doing, I had put them on the back burner. They turned out even better than I expected and they were a huge hit; so much so that I have orders already for next year. Guess I better get busy. I’ll post links to my Etsy site once I get some finished for 2016. Set #1 is very Victorian looking with red, gold and green colors. In this set, there are two airships and one steampunk hot air balloon.

Photo of a set of three steamunk airship Christmas ornaments. Colors, red, gold and green.

Set #1 Victorian steampunk style in red, green and gold

Set #2 is a bit more grunge steampunk looking, with metallic colors and rigid gondolas…

Photo of a set of three steamunk airship Christmas ornaments. Colors, metallic copper, bronze and brass.

Set #2 Grunge steampunk style in copper, bronze and brass

Needless to say, the sets didn’t last long. They were for a party raffle and were so popular that they were separated into individual pieces, not sets, so that there were 6 prizes instead of two.

As always, I encourage comments and dialogue. Drop me a line to ask questions, make suggestions or order a custom airship of your very own and let me know what you think or the ornaments and if you want a set for next holiday season!

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.

 

Prepping found objects for use as art media

19 Jul

In my last post, I spoke of re-purposing being the thing that was nearest and dearest to me artistically. However, I couldn’t use found objects in my art without a little preparation first. In many cases, pieces you find will look cool as is and will need no further preparation, but lots of things will. Below is the short list of material types that I usually use in my work, along with the description of how I prepare them to be used.

1) WOOD – Wood is easy. The surface has a “tooth” to it, even when sanded smooth, so most paint types adhere well. A little scuffing up with sandpaper is often all you need to do to get your new paint to stick and cover well. Wood is also easily shaped and cut if you need to modify the overall outline. You may need to seal the wood with a water based coating before painting to keep the paint from soaking into the wood and looking weird.

2) PAPER – Paper is also easy to use, and believe me, I use it a lot! On my steampunk airships, the areas of copper sheeting and plating are not copper at all, but rather painted pieces of smooth cardstock or cereal box cardboard. It takes paint of nearly any kind, it’s easy to cut into any shape, most glue types work on it and it bends fairly well. You do have to be careful that it doesn’t buckle or separate when bending it though, or it will not retain the metal look. Sometimes paper will need to be sealed before painting if in has an uncoated surface. Metallic paints look dull if you don’t coat the paper or cardstock surface first. If done right, you almost can’t tell that cardboard is not metal.

3) METAL – I don’t use very much metal except for wire and other fasteners like thumbtacks, pins, staples and such. I do use an occasional washer or bolt, but often they’re for ballast and weight more than for construction. When they’re visible, I try to leave them in their nature metallic look with a bit of painted patina or wash for looks.

4) PLASTIC – I wind up using a great many plastic bits and pieces. Like I’ve said before, I save milk jug and peanut butter jar lids, caps from toothpaste, packing and packaging materials, etc, etc. This stuff often has a lot of cool or utilitarian shapes, but the nature of plastic is that it’s very shiny and smooth and it’s usually brightly colored. I do a lot of steampunk stuff and bright colors are definitely NOT the palate, so the pieces need to be painted or stained in some way. The problem is, even when using paints that are specially formulated for plastics, they often don’t adhere well or they flake off if flexed or scraped. And many of the paints you may want to use are not formulated for plastics at all. So… you have to do a decent job of preparing the surface to be painted. I often use a fine grit sandpaper to rough up the surface, however, if I’m using a found plastic piece that has a complicated or grooved or textured surface, sandpaper doesn’t work well. I tried using a scrubby wheel and a dremel tool, and that worked okay, but I now use a vibrating parts tumbler with sand in it. I then use a plastic primer and then my metallic paint.

5) GLASS – I don’t use glass much in most of my work except in my mosaics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. Many people use repurposed glass as sculpture, in garden art and in window applications. I think mostly, it just needs to be clean and dry so that it accepts glue or other media.

Most anything can be repurposed, you just need to use a little imagination. Experiment with pieces of your own using stuff laying around the house that you don’t want or need anymore. Don’t forget to use the stuff you’d normally throw away as trash!. Have fun and send me pictures of your work!

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.

 

Steampunk sepia hot air balloon

07 Oct

I’ve now done several hot air balloons in the steampunk style. All are fun and colorful…except this one. I thought doing one that had the appearance of being plucked out of an old daguerreotype photograph would be fun and different from what I usually do.

Steampunk sepia hot air balloon

Steampunk sepia hot air balloon

Detail of gondola

This balloon is currently on display and available from the Artisan’s Bench in downtown Brighton, Michigan.

As always, I encourage comments and dialogue. Drop me a line to ask questions, make suggestions or order a custom airship of your very own!

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 by phone at 810-516-7381.

 

18″ Steampunk airship 003

22 Apr

Today’s post is a mid-range size steampunk airship. This dirigible has a more “grunge” gondola with the propeller mounted on it instead of on the airship envelope like others I’ve done. It also has a pillar mount rather than the more Victorian looking netted suspension and the fins are a plate copper design. The overall length is about 18″ due to the propeller being on the gondola.

18" steampunk airship 003.

18″ steampunk airship 003

Gondola detail

Gondola detail

As always, I encourage comments and dialogue. Drop me a line to ask questions, make suggestions or order a custom airship of your very own!

Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and repurposed 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 upcycling 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 repurposing/upcycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or by phone at 810-516-7381.

 

Painting the fur on the deer head

28 Oct

Last time, I said I’d show how I painted the fur on the steampunk deer head. Remember that there is a tooled latex over the mâché which gives the illusion of fur, and with the addition of realistic painting, the deer mount itself begins to look quite convincing.

Base coats of paint

Base coats of paint

Base coat on eye

Base coat on eye

After basecoating everything, I went in and dry brushed white over the fur, then went back in with a light wash of brown to give the illusion of highlighted top fur.

Further color development

Further color development

After the brown fur is painted, the white areas are put in and the “natural” antler is doppled to look like natural horn.

White areas covered

White areas covered

Natural antler detail

Natural antler detail

Next post, I’ll show some of the steampunk accessories on the deer head as we get close to wrapping this project up…see you then!

 

 

 

 

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?

 

Filling in the pattern

11 Feb

Now I start painting in the spot pattern on the sides of the giraffe. Remember that I kind of arbitrarily chose my own pattern based on what I’d researched as well as what I thought looked good.

Face spots

Some interesting details are how the inside of the ears look painted. I had to go really dark inside, then blend my way lighter as I came out iof the ear. When I applied the latex caulk, I had tried to comb it in such a way that it looked like the fur was oriented linearly coming out of the ear. Once the paint was applied, it had a very pleasing, natural look.

Ear canal details

Backing away, you can see how the pattering for the rest of the whole side looks. I think it has a pretty natural feel and I like the reddish tint that the spots have. All in all, I think the effect is quite pleasing.

Side patterning

My kids thought these colors looked good on the side too, but I asked them what they thought of the idea of making the spots multi-colored! Oh well, maybe I’ll do that if I do another one.

Next time I’ll show some details on the face. These details really add the final touches to the look and realism of the giraffe. What have you noticed that is cool about a giraffe’s eyes?

 

Bringing the giraffe to life

11 Feb

Last post, I showed you what the wall mount looked like. Now I’m going back to the giraffe and beginning the final painting. Putting color over the “fur” texture I showed you awhile back is going to really give the giraffe a lot of realism.

Realism of a glossy painted eye!

You see how painting the eyes and giving them a gloss also breathes life into an inanimate object. You almost expect the giraffe to turn to you for a carrot!

Face painting!

After the eyes, I started adding the color to the top of the face and around the eyes. I looked at a lot of reference to get the color of the spots correct and also the pattern, and you know what I discovered? There is a huge amount of variability in the pattern and even the color of the spots on a giraffe. Spot color ranges from tan to more orange while the light color behind the spots could be nearly white to a creamy tan. The shape varied from rounded trapezoids to very irregular starry shapes with light veins or star bursts within them. I finally decided to make up my own pattern by picking shapes and colors that I liked, was aesthetically pleasing and I felt in harmony with.

Top of face and nostrils

Next time I’m going to show the side painting. What patterns have you noticed in giraffes?

 

Trinity

09 Nov

Some things are just too cool to pass up. In addition to posting progress on my own work, I like to post links to fantastic art sites or specific posts in someone else’s blog. I’m not sure what the etiquette is for posting someone else’s work, but I think it’s probably OK as long as you’re talking about their piece and giving proper credit.

The piece I refer to is called Trinity and is by Jen Stark. The article is found in the Illusion website. It is simple in concept, but incredibly interesting to look at; capturing your gaze and holding it. Repetitive geometric shapes and progressive color palates are always fascinating and this piece is no exception. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Jen Stark's "Trinity"

 
 

Budding artist

04 Feb

Today I’d like to post something a little different since I don’t have a new progress photo for the airships. My 13 year old daughter brings home some some really great pieces from her art class, and this one was one of my favorites. I just really liked the color and composition of it. I hope you’ll agree!

Hannah's painting