July 28, 2011

HCCC at the GHCVB!

The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau or GHCVB is where visitors and Houstonians alike can find information about things to do in the Bayou City. Inside their downtown building are cases or kiosks for different organizations in town to stage a display and provide information about what they do. Recently, GHCVB asked us to put together items for a display in one of their main kiosks. We stopped by today to drop off the makings of what we hope is an exciting display. Check back in a few weeks, when we publish the final results!

The empty kiosk waiting to be filled with items that
offer insight into craft-making processes. 

Yarn and other supplies for the kiosk.

Ceramic tools that will be used as props in the display.

A sneak peak at the new banner designed
by Jenny Lynn Weitz for the kiosk.

July 14, 2011

Soundforge: In Process (Update #2)

This fall, HCCC will premier Soundforge, a work two years in the making. In the fall of 2009, while he was an artist-in-residence at HCCC, metalsmith Gabriel Craig began collaborating with Houston-based music composer Michael Remson. Their project, Soundforge, will be an interactive, multimedia installation that explores forging metal as both a means of fabrication and an act of percussion. Gabriel Craig has graciously agreed to give us regular updates from his studio on the fabrication of the project. Click here to read update # 1.

In creating the physical work for Soundforge, the first problem to solve was how to assemble a portable armature that could support the musical keys. The original concept renderings I did called for gate-like structures with curvilinear ornaments, influenced by 18th- and 19th-Century European ironwork. In early 2011, as I began to listen to Michael Remson’s early drafts of the musical score, it became clear that I would need to redesign the ornamentation to fit with the sharp, pulsing, rhythmic soundscape he was creating.

The design featured in this early concept rendering has been
overhauled to mirror the aesthetics of the soundscape more closely.

For both logistical and aesthetic reasons, one of the first changes I made was to make the armatures modular and able to be disassembled to allow for easy transport and installation. I solved this problem by giving the cross braces of the three armatures threaded tenon ends, by drilling the newels and forging, drilling, and tapping custom pyramidal nuts.

Threaded tenons allow the armatures to come apart for easier transport.

Forging those tenons by hand seemed like a good idea at the time, but it took almost two weeks, even with the help of my studio assistant, John Eagan. It took another workweek to thread the uneven hand-forged tenons, not to mention the fact that I went through five cutting dies! The nuts were a bit easier, though hand forging one-inch steel stock is no picnic either—I am not big, nor particularly strong, just tenacious. The result is very functional, though, and, upon seeing the first armature assembled, I am beginning to get excited as the project comes together.

These tapered ends were cut off…

…chamfered, drilled, tapped, and countersunk in order to
transform them into fastening nuts for the armature.

A close-up image of the armature’s mechanics.

The armature standing for the first time!
It still needs feet and ornaments, but that is for another post.

July 7, 2011

Arline Fisch: Creatures from the Deep

In 2008, the Racine Art Museum (RAM) commissioned internationally acclaimed jewelry artist Arline Fisch to create a special installation for its Windows on Fifth Gallery. Bringing her work to a grand scale, Creatures from the Deep showcases Fisch’s use of knitting and crocheting techniques to create larger-than-life sea creatures made of wire. HCCC has reconfigured the touring version of this installation, transforming the small gallery into an underwater world of floating jellyfish. When planning the show, Fisch decided to organize the jellyfish forms into families. Each of the families in the installation varies dramatically in form and color, suggesting different species of jellyfish, corals and sea anemones.

Fisch pioneered the application of textile techniques to sculptural work in metal that pushed the boundaries between jewelry and dress. Her integration of weaving, knitting, crocheting and braiding of metal into the creation of jewelry was a groundbreaking technique that has become standard among her contemporaries.

Arline Fisch, Orthocanna
(Orthocanna -- Marrus Orthocanna Siphonophore)
, 2008.
Coated copper wire. 60" x 9" x 9" to 108" x 9" x 9".
Collection of the artist. Photo by William Gullette.

Photograph of an actual Orthocanna.

 For Creatures from the Deep, Fisch took inspiration from RAM’s physical proximity to the waters of Lake Michigan and decided to revisit her interest in the forms and colors of jellyfish.

Arline Fisch, Black Sea Nettle (Chrysaora achlyos), 2008.
Coated copper wire 84" x 108" x 16".
Collection of the artist. Photo by William Gullette.

Photograph of an actual Orthocanna.

Fisch’s sculptures are made using the various textile techniques she uses in her jewelry. She uses small-gauged, coated magnet wire, which is commonly used for industrial purposes.

Come immerse yourself in this incredible handmade underwater environment and learn about the creatures that were the inspiration for this body of work. Arline Fisch: Creatures from the Deep will be on display through July 30, 2011. Our summer hours are: Tuesday - Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM, closed Sundays July 3 - September 4, 2011.