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Posts Tagged ‘Mosaic’

My artistic philosophy

28 Apr

I create many types of art, from paper mache animals, to mosaics, to paper sculptures, to steampunk airship sculptures. However, most all of my art involves the use of repurposed materials and found objects.

In the video below, I detail 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 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.

 

Artsmith Craftworks goes Hollywood (part 4)

06 Feb

The night of the Red Carpet event happens and the airships by Artsmith Craftworks fly high over the crowd of young film makers. The theme of the night being steampunk, many cool decorative items can be seen, setting the mood for the event. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!

Orange County Film Festival Red Carpet

Orange County Film Festival Red Carpet

Orange County Film Festival Red Carpet

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Diabolus on stage

Diabolus on stage

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I’m glad I got the chance to have my work displayed at an event that honors those in the film arts. I anxiously await the call ordering airships for the next big Hollywood steampunk feature!

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.

Photo of the Orange County Film Festival Red Carpet Event. Stephan J Smith. Artsmith Craftworks. steampunk airship

 

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?

 

Gecko mosaic

07 Feb

Today, I’m shifting out of my usual paper mode and showing my love for mosaic. I’ve done mosaic in ceramic tile, glass, stone, terra cotta, and paper, and I love them all. This particular piece is a small bookshelf I built from essentially scrap birch plywood. I stained it a really cool viridian-ish green, then pieced together a mosaic on top using scrap ceramic tile and glass beads and finally grouted with a blueberry grout. Mosaics are definitely a labor of love because unless the pieces are all uniform tiles in a pattern, they are cut or broken to fit or make specific shapes. The latter is the case with this mosaic, as you can see. Maybe one day, I’ll do a steampunk paper mosaic on a papier mache form, then I’ll have most of my bases covered!

Gecko mosaic bookshelf

Left detail

Right detail