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Posts Tagged ‘Fins’

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.

 

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.

 

Steampunk airship aircraft carrier

20 Mar

Today’s post is a piece that I’m particularly proud of! I thought that cutting an airship lengthwise and building something cool on top would be fun. Then I had an epiphany and decided to make the up-build an aircraft carrier. Now, before you say it, I know that the biplanes on the deck are a bit anachronistic, but hey, steampunk is nothing if not a bit time warped, right?

Steampunk airship aircraft carrier

Steampunk airship aircraft carrier

Gondola detail

Gondola detail

Aircraft detail

Aircraft detail

As always, this airship uses repurposed/found object, cardboard, paper and papier-mâché in its construction. How many recognizable objects can you identify?

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.

 

 

 

 

Small steampunk gunship #2

18 Dec

Another of the 12″ steampunk airships that I built for the 2012 World Steam Expo in Dearborn Michigan.  Similar in shape and design, but with some modification. Like my other airships, it uses recycled, repurposed materials.

12" Steampunk Gunship Airship 02

12″ Steampunk Gunship Airship 02

If this ship is one that you would like to have built as part of your own home steampunk display, don’t hesitate to email me for details!

As I said before, I welcome all comments!

 

18 inch Victorian steampunk airship #1

13 Dec

This is the first of a new mid-range sized airship I started which is about 18″ long. This particular airship has a Victorian aesthetic, with a ship-like gondola, suspended with netting and cable. The propeller is a frame and sailcloth style, rather than a solid style.

18" Victorian Steampunk Airship

18″ Victorian Steampunk Airship

From the bow, you can see a bit more detail in the gondola.

Bow view

Bow view

And a close-up of the propeller…

Aft view

Aft view

I’d love to hear what you think of this ship. Drop me a comment!

 

 

The gondola

24 Feb

I’ve made quite a few gondolas that were the typical boat style, but I wanted to do something different for this steampunk diarama. I thought that making something that looked like a tube or bubble would be cool, so I started rummaging through my boxes of pieces and parts to find an object that would be suitable to repurpose. What I came up with was two plastic scoops that came out of a powdered drink mix or something, (I collect anything that’s interesting!). Shown here, I’ve already painted the handles and attached a plastic piece with a spiral as a “bowsprit”.

Plastic scoops as gondola

Plastic scoops as gondola

Here’s a close up of the bowsprit and the front of the gondola.

Bowsprit closeup

Bowsprit closeup

I glued the two scoops to a plastic disc for some visual interest, then added a flat plastic piece in between the handles, (not pictured), then I created a rudder fin to go on the stern of the gondola. I used the same technique as I did for the stabilizer fins.

Rudder fin

Rudder fin

The final gondola was then given an antiquing of patina color where appropriate (brass and copper areas), and attached to the airship body. This attachment required a careful snipping of the paper airship skin so the handles of the scoops could be inserted and glued.

Finished gondola

Finished gondola

Here’s a closeup of the attachment.

Closeup of gondola

Closeup of gondola

Next post, I’ll show how I prepared the “box” part of the diarama. That is certainly an example of recycle, reuse and repurpose! Thank you for your continued interest in my work…

How would you have built the gondola?

 

 

 

 

Adding the stabilizer fins

07 Feb

In building the stabilizer fins for the steampunk diarama airship, I first had to choose a shape. On other ships, I’ve made them rounded, but I like the feeling of a scalloped fin. I’ve also made different scalloped fins before, with some being a solid fin with ribs and others having a support structure, to which was attached actual cloth sailcloth. For this small zeppelin, I decided on the former for its ease at this relatively small scale. This decided shape I then cut out of an index card stock I had lying around. To give them age and interest, I sponged them with a light brown watercolor (not pictured, sorry!)

Index stock fins cut out

Index stock fins cut out

I then had to make the ribs, and to make it simple, yet appealing, I decided to cut these out of a similar stock, but in this case, since they would be painted anyway, I decided to use cereal box cardboard and then paint them to contrast and have interest. Remember, I throw nothing away that may have a raw materials use when reused, repurposed or recycled!

Fin ribs cut from cereal box cardboard

Fin ribs cut from cereal box cardboard

I painted them by spraying a basic green enamel. I did this because a water-based paint would have been repelled by the coating on the cereal box. I then antiqued a patina on with a lighter water-based green acrylic, then applied to the fins.

Finished fins

Finished fins

After finishing the fins, I glued them at top and lower angled positions to the airship body with standard white glue and let them dry. To add another element of interest, I used dimensional paint to “dot” copper rivets on the fin ribs. I forgot to mention that I had done this to the propeller scaffolding as well. (How many of you noticed that?) So here’s the finished attachment…

Attached fins

Attached fins

Next time, I’ll show the process of building the gondola. It’ll be fun too, because it isn’t your run-of-the-mill boat shape!

Stay tuned…in fact, tell all your ‘punk friends to subscribe!

 

The airship propeller

31 Jan

Last time I finished putting the propeller support scaffolding on the steampunk airship that is to be part of my diarama. Now I’ll start the propeller itself.

I can’t emphasize enough that you don’t need to buy much in order to create amazing art. Just look around you…I save plastic jar lids, pen barrels, scrap paper and fiberboard, plastic closures, fixtures, hangars, fasteners…everything. I’m a hoarder only in the sense that what I save looks like junk, but it all has artistic value when you realize it can be repurposed, reused, recycled and otherwise transformed into cool things of beauty!

To start the propeller, I found a piece of medical equipment my brother gave me. It’s an inline tube filter (new of course) that’s used in a suction device for surgery, but it looks very “hub-like”. I simple glued flat toothpicks at regular intervals around the perimeter of the “hub” and let them dry.

Propeller hub

Propeller hub

Flip side

Flip side

Once dry, I spray painted the piece an antiqued copper color and then gave it a patina of green “rust”. For the propeller blades, I cut triangles of a white scrap printing paper I had, gently curled one point for pitch and glued the edge to the toothpicks. I used some plastic pieces to stilt the blades while the glue dried.

Blades added

Blades added

Here’s the finished propeller…

Finished propeller

Finished propeller

And now we slide the propeller onto the end of the airship. I used a skinny plastic straw as the shaft and I split it and frayed the end so that by holding it together, I was able to slide the propeller onto it, and once the frayed end was inside the hub, it spread out enough to lightly hold the propeller on without glue. This way, I can manually spin it!

Propeller in place and spinnable!

Propeller in place and spinnable!

Next post, I’ll build the stabilizer fins, so stay tuned… 🙂

 

 

 

 

Adding the fin struts

09 May

OK, so I took a brief hiatus from posting the progress of the steampunk airship I’m working on to post a couple other items of interest. Now I’m back on the schedule and today’s installment is putting the fin struts on the airship body. These are the structures that will support the fins and provide some profile interest to the piece. The struts are made of repurposed materials, as you knew they would be…in this case, scotch tape cores and vitamin bottle lids! I had to cut the cores to match the contour of the zeppelin body ridges, paint them, then push a drilled out and painted vitamin bottle lid into the top of them.

Repurposed pieces for fin strut

Repurposed plastic...stuff you'd usually toss!

By themselves, the pieces of reused plastic don’t look like much, but add some brass color paint and put a green patina on them and they start to look like…well, something. Then add them to the construction of the airship and they start to make a bit more sense.

Lid pressed into core

When these pieces are added to the body of the airship, you can see how they will lift the fin away from the body of the airship and give it a dynamic look.

Fin strut attached to airship body

Three of these struts attached as shown will hold each of the airship fins.

Three fin struts attached in a row

Next we start attaching the fins! Don’t touch that dial!