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Posts Tagged ‘Cool stuff’

Odd Beauty Press coverage…word gets around!

22 Oct

I’ve been talking about the steampunk museum exhibit that my work is being shown in, currently running at the Southampton Arts Center in New York. The exhibition is called Odd Beauty: The techno-Eccentric World of Steampunk Art+Design, and it includes 20 steampunk artists (including myself) from around the world! There has been quite a lot of press local to New York, but I’m passing on the links to the publications which have done articles on the exhibit. This exhibit has drawn international interest and record attendance of the museum already and it still has several weeks left to run.

The list of article links is below…drop by and give ’em a read!

The Independent

Southampton Press

Hamptons.com

The East Hampton Star

Dan’s Papers (01)

Dan’s Papers (02)

Dan’s Papers (03)

Sag Harbor Express

The curator of the exhibit, Art Donovan, who himself is an artist says,

“The Southampton Arts Center has never seen such attendance or press coverage for any other exhibition.  Clearly,  having feature articles published in all the newspapers helped. That has never happened before for any show or museum in the area.
The Board of Directors is stunned by the reception to our exhibit and after seeing how popular the show is with visitors, they plan upon making this show a yearly event.
I guess it doesn’t get better than that!
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.
 

Dan’s Papers

18 Oct

Shortly after I agreed to be an exhibitor in the Odd Beauty museum exhibit in the Hamptons, I got an email from the curator, Art Donovan, saying I was in Dan’s Papers. I thought, what is Dan’s Papers? Then I opened the email and he said that he had just been interviewed by a writer for Dan’s Papers, one of the premier magazines in the Hamptons that has been in publication since the mid 1960’s.

In the interview, Art talked about what steampunk is, how it got started and why he feels this exhibit is important, both to art and to the Hamptons itself. Though I wasn’t mentioned by name, right at the top of the first page is a photo of one of the airships that I wound up taking there as part of my exhibit offering! Pretty cool!

Below is the link to the online issue of Dan’s Papers where you can flip through and see what goes on and is “reported” on, then you can go to page 45 where the aforementioned article starts!

Stay tuned for more on the exhibit as it unfolds and I have more to talk about and show you!

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.

 

Odd Beauty: The Techno-Eccentric World of Steampunk Art+Design

29 Sep

I’m so excited to post about something that is really cool regarding my art. I’ve already made comments and posted some links on Facebook, and this will wind up being posted there too, but this is the first I’m blogging about it.

A couple months ago, I got a phone call from a man named Art Donovan who said he was curating a steampunk exhibit in a museum in Southampton, New York. This exhibit, called Odd Beauty: The Techno-Eccentric World of Steampunk Art+Design, was to include “20 of the most renowned and influential steampunk artists, hailing from seven different countries – Japan, UK, US, France, Canada, Australia & Switzerland.” Art said that he felt that airships/dirigibles were iconic in the steampunk world and that he desperately wanted airships in this exhibit. He had searched online and in his repertoire of steampunk connections (he himself is a steampunk lighting designer), and I was the one he found who was creating airship sculpture that he said embodied the genre and was doing the level of work he was looking for!

Photo of a skull against a black background with a radiating structure of brass wires and hoops symbolizing steampunk art

Needless to say, I was flattered and immediately excited. He said if I was interested in participating, he was looking for a 2-3 piece representation of my work, and that it could be for sale if someone was interested and inquired about it. He asked if I could have work in Southampton by September 20, as that was the load-in date for the exhibit, which would then run until November 12. Long story short, I agreed and said that I would move some pieces from other galleries and finish a new piece I was working on so that I had 4 pieces to bring!

Rather than package and ship them and risk damage, my wife and I loaded all 4 airships, secured in weighted cradles and headed for the Hamptons! When we arrived late the next day, Art was thrilled with the pieces and kept looking and looking at them and said several times that he knew he had made the right decision in calling me. What a great feeling! Because of prior commitments the following weekend when the exhibit opened, I was unable to be there, however, the exhibit will feature several famous artist who will perform and lecture, including singer, songwriter and performer, Thomas Dolby (of “She Blinded Me With Science” fame)! Thomas has been a favorite of mine for 35 years and was arguably steampunk before it was even “a thing.”

I’ll keep you informed as to developments as they happen and post photos of the exhibit as soon as I get them. For now, here’s a link to the Facebook page Art Donovan has put together on the exhibit.

https://www.facebook.com/steampunkmuseumexhibition/?hc_ref=ARQm4er47TMeMdkU5cT0PcWi-PmroHTcTQp3KsFOFz9OVFWhe3kw_BCCaSfTvnLKGWQ

This exhibit promises to make a huge splash, not only locally in the Hamptons, but in the steampunk world at large and I am truly grateful to be a part of it!

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.

 

Original art in your home is as important as a good bed!

26 Jul

From time to time, I like to pass along good articles, and this one qualifies. The author makes some nice points about why having good, original art in your home is important…very important in fact!

The most important ones to me are numbers 2, 8, 9 and 13.

http://studiosixtysix.tumblr.com/post/151158596757/13reasons

Let me know which ones resonate with you!

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 airship Christmas ornaments

28 Nov

For awhile now, I’ve been making steampunk airships that are quite large, like 1.5′ to 5.5′ long. However, lately, I’ve also been making them teeny tiny…like 5″ long. These little airship novelties are great hanging in your space at work, in your window at home or as ornaments on your holiday tree! What a perfect addition to your existing set of bulbs, or why not make steampunk the theme your entire tree! (They make great gifts too!)

In the following video, I show you some of these great steampunk ornaments that I just finished.

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.

 

A steampunk conversation with my son

05 Jul

Awhile back, I thought it would be fun to hear my son’s opinion on the steampunk movement since kids’ opinions are never what you think they’ll be. In this case, he kinda said what I expected, but there was a bit more comedy than I bargained for!

Enjoy the video…and the gag reel.

As always, I invite your comments, ideas and opinions. I also love it when you like, share and subscribe to my YouTube Channel, my Facebook page and this blog! Thanks!!

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.

 

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.

 

Steampunk airship parts from found objects

15 Jun

My main artistic philosophy is to create cool art from repurposed and found objects. Today, I thought I’d show how I imagine these pieces and parts into steampunk airship features. Enjoy the video, and please give it a like, share it with a friend and subscribe to my YouTube channel!

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.

 

Repurposing cardboard into steampunk airship gondolas – Artsmith Craftworks

09 May

One of the major activities I engage in when creating my art is repurposing everyday objects into something else. A couple of the things I repurpose the most are paper and corrugated cardboard…  simple and seemingly utilitarian materials that we all take for granted. Not me. I look at these materials with love and excitement. I’m passionate about art using repurposed materials, but at the very core of my being, I love paper and other materials made with paper, such as cardboard, fiberboard, handmade paper, recycled paper, papier mâché and on and on.

In today’s post, I include a video in which I talk about how I transform scrap corrugated cardboard into the framework of the steampunk Victorian airship gondolas I create. Once these cardboard pieces are put together, I cover them in a variety of outer skins, from wood to copper and brass to steel or other metals. Of course, what I use is not really wood or metals…it’s paper…made to look like metal. That’s just how I roll.

Enjoy!

What materials do you like to use in your art? I’d love to hear your comments! Also, please share these posts with other friends and artists you know. Let’s get a conversation started!

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.

 

What I love most about building my steampunk airships

22 Feb

What makes me the happiest when I create my art, specifically, what part of the process do I enjoy the most? In the video below, I talk about this and even show you around my workshop a bit!

What do you love most about your artistic process? What part excites you most? What part makes you day dream about it? Drop me a line in the comment section and let me know!

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.

 

What started me building my steampunk airships?

16 Feb

People ask me all the time what in the world set me off on this path, building steampunk airship sculptures of all things. When I tell people I’m an artist, they usually ask if I’m a painter.   Nope… not in the classic sense anyway…

In the video below, I describe how I got started with airships and what other art I like to do.

What craft do you love and what got you started? I’d love to hear about it!

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.

 

How large are my steampunk airships?

13 Feb

When people see my airships online or see photos of them in other places, they nearly always ask me how large they are. Often the photos I’ve taken have no way to show scale and since they are quite detailed, it’s difficult to tell how large they are. In the video below, I talk about the sizes of my airships.

In future videos, I’ll show how I choose individual pieces to get implemented in my airship construction. You’ll see how something discarded as junk can become wondrous, whimsical and magical as art! Cardboard becomes copper by painting, plastic when reused as building material becomes amazing art. When you recycle old stuff into art, it becomes cool stuff.

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.

 

What inspires my steampunk airships?

09 Feb

I get asked often what inspires the airships that I build. How do I come up with ideas? What kinds of materials do I use and how do I choose what found object becomes what part of my airship build? In the video below, I talk about that process.

In future videos, I’ll show how I choose individual pieces to get implemented in my airship construction. You’ll see how something discarded as junk can become wondrous, whimsical and magical as art! Cardboard becomes copper by painting, plastic when reused as building material becomes amazing art. When you recycle old stuff into art, it becomes cool stuff.

What art have you created by repurposing something? I look forward to your reply, just use the comment section below!

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.

 

My artistic philosophy

05 Feb

Why do I create artwork using repurposed materials? Well, aside from the fact that the found object craze in art is in full swing, I do it because I see magic in shapes. In the video below, I describe my artistic philosophy.

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 Victorian 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.

 

Airships in Chicago

14 Dec

Early in November, I got a call from a man named David Krause of Big Works, Inc. Seems David, or “Big” as he is called, was hired to stage a corporate holiday party in Chicago. The theme of the party was to be steampunk and he found my website and wanted to commission two medium sized airships. After some discussion about specifics, I got busy working on them because he had a deadline of November 30, since the party was on December 3rd.

Since Big wanted progress pictures sent, I snapped a few shots as I went along…

Photo montage of a grunge steampunk airship by Stephan J Smith of Artsmith Craftworks. Commissioned by Big Works, Inc.

Airship #1

Photo montage of a Victorian steampunk airship by Stephan J Smith of Artsmith Craftworks. Commissioned by Big Works, Inc.

Airship #2

When the airships were finished, Big drove from Chicago to Michigan to pick them up personally and take them back so they would be safe. When he arrived, he was very happy with them and excited to reveal them to his client.

Next post, I’ll include photos of the staging at the Chicago party, as well as reveal who the client was…hint…it’s a VERY well known company!!

As always, I look forward to your comments…

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.

 

The “Hot Rod” Airship

16 Nov

A steampunk airship can take on many personalities and styles. I say this because steampunk itself embraces many sub-genres and styles and is very often blatantly anachronistic. The steampunk airships I have built have ranged in style from more classic Victorian to Grunge, and from Angry Warship to cannon-lined Pirate ship.

This airship that I built this past summer had yet a different look. I was inspired by a child’s toy to do an airship that was reminiscent of a 1950’s hot rod.

Photo of Hotrod steampunk airship sculpture

“Hot rod” Airship

The airship fins have a flame pattern and the gondola has a “boat/car” look with that 50’s feel. It must have been as desirable as I thought it was when I built it, because it sold in less than a week at The Artisan’s Bench in Brighton, where I have many of my works for sale.

Closeup photo of Hotrod steampunk airship flame fins.

Hot rod airship flame fins

 

Closeup photo of Hotrod steampunk airship gondola.

Hot rod airship gondola

I currently have an airship in process that has a horn-shaped gondola suspended by a single pillar. I’m not sure what style I’d call THAT one, but it illustrates the variety possible within the basic shapes I often use. Other varieties possible include variations in the shape of the airship envelope itself, which I may do sometime soon. Funny thing is, the favorite seems to be the classic Victorian arrangement, with a ship-shaped gondola suspended with netting.

That’s OK…it’s a cool look…

I’d be happy to hear what ideas you have for airship configurations. Please comment with your ideas, and be sure to like my Facebook page!

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.

 

Cool steampunk art!

18 Aug

I just ran across this really cool steampunk piece that I had to share. The artist is Patrick Reilly and he has quite a few different pieces on DeviantArt, most of which are either steampunk or a retro futurism in genre.

Click the photo below or go to his page here.


Steampunk by PReilly on DeviantArt

Great stuff PReilly!!

What digital paintings are you currently 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.

 

Steampunk Airship delivery to Legendary Escapes!

04 Aug

This past Thursday, one of my latest creations found it’s way into the “clubhouse” and offices at Legendary Escapes Swimming Pools, and is now sailing next to it’s older sister ship, the “Original Maki”. The matriarch of Legendary Escapes, Sandi Maki, who the “sister ship” was named after, couldn’t resist the almost magnetic lure of the new airship when she saw it and sought at once to make the purchase!

Below is a video, shot by Sandi herself, of me talking about the newest addition to the airship collection at Legendary Escapes.

The owners of Legendary Escapes, Al Curtis and Sandi Maki, have always been ardent supporters of Artsmith Craftworks and the artworks that I create using repurposed and found objects. You can find them at the link above, and their very active Facebook page here.

Photo of Maki size medium Victorian Steampunk Airship by Stephan J. Smith of Artsmith Craftworks.

Maki Medium Victorian

Drop me a comment line and let me know what you think of the new airship!

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.