mapping the places I picked up bits of discarded steel in Texas
In 2017 I went on vacation to Marfa, TX, with Bruce and Elaine. It’s in the Chihuahuan desert; there, dropped steel has a long life on the ground. Seeing steel, and knowing I could geotag what I picked up using my phone’s camera, I started a solo scavenger hunt. It covered a campsite; a former US military base (now a part of the Chinati Foundation); the grounds of hotels, diners, galleries and museums; and the dusty streets and sidewalks of the town.
I suspect it’s too late to apologise for sounding like a broken record…
Thank you to the big flock of people who have signed up already, and sorry to everyone for still harping on about this, but we’re really, really close to making our volunteer target for Saturday’s photo shoot. If you have been thinking about signing up but just haven’t got around to it yet, I’d really appreciate you (and your mates!) getting on board today.
This will be the only opportunity to see these neckpieces in Seattle, as the whole work (both the pendants and containers from which they were cut – 146 pieces all told) will go on display in the exhibition Transformations 10at Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh in September. And as most of y’all know, not long after that I move back to Australia so I won’t be in the USA to organize a Seattle venue.
And to keep us all sane despite the idea behind the pieces we’re photographing, we are working hard behind the scenes to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone!
For the last time – photo shoot details at-a-glance:
– 7/7/18, 8am – 12pm
– Meet at the parking lot under the Fremont Bridge (not next to the Troll – the one that opens)
– 8am-9am sign in
– 9am-12pm all 73 people in 73 different gun-shaped pendants stand together for the shoot (if we finish early we all go home early)
– You wear something comfortable with dark top-half and no logos, I loan you a pendant to wear for the morning
– Drinks and snacks provided
– Kids, families welcome – but no pets please.
Still seeking containers from specific places in the USA – we’re getting there!
*** UPDATED June 8th*** – Thank you everyone who has participated – the list is much smaller!
I have not yet been promised an object for my project from the places listed below. Please let me know (email@example.com) if you can send me a container from one of these towns, and I will take it off the list.
So much to see and do at the SNAG conference this week, but try these for starters!
For those of y’all headed to Portland for the SNAG conference, here’s a few things I’m involved with that I’d love for you to check in on:
Crossings is a combined show of Portland Creative Metal Arts Guild (CMAG) and Seattle Metals Guild (SMG) members. Come check out the best of the Northwest!
It’s on at: Annie Meyer Gallery
Wednesday 23rd May-Saturday the 26th May
12-5:30pm and during Gallery Crawl – 5-8pm on Thursday
120 NW 9th Ave Ste 102, Portland, Oregon 97209
The Crossings show explores the intersection of diverse disciplines, processes, and media. Artists were encouraged to work across craft boundaries such as incorporating ceramics, wood, or glass. Collaborations between artists were also encouraged. This show represents a cross section of our metals communities and a wide variety of styles and materials will be represented, including jewelry and sculpture.
It’s the only exhibition I’m involved in that’s in a real gallery, so please get out and support it!
/ / /
The rest are a part of SNAG’s own Adorned Spaces, which runs Thursday, May 24th, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm and Friday, May 25th, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm at the conference venue: Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront, 1401 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR.
2\ (Un)common Interest
Curated by (and including) Sharon Massey, it showcases: April Wood, Ben Dory, Kat Cole, Jim Dunn, Michael Dale Bernard, Jessica Tolbert, Maia Leppo, Lynn Batchelder, Melissa Cameron, Sarah Holden and Michael Hull. Need a hint as to why we’re all together in this one? We all like to work in STEEL! (who doesn’t?)
See in rooms G,H and I next to the main ballroom that is hosting all of the presentations.
3\ In Touch
Katja Toporski and Anja Eichler’s co-curated exhibition from Munich Jewellery Week, In Touch, is getting a second outing just for SNAG, and I for one am very pumped to finally see it! And see it I will, long and often, as it is kitty-corner (don’t you love Americanisms?) from the Plate Glass show, in Salons C + D, on the same level as the main SNAG presentation venue!
This time it will feature one of my award-winning social unit works beautifully arranged, as I (and the universe – I did not invent the signage from which it takes its form,) originally intended.
…hopefully… There’s a lot to get done that afternoon, folks, because…
4\ Plate Glass
is having it’s 3rd and final outing in the USA. I’m making the display equipment out of cardboard, while coordinating the object drop-off for my current container-to-jewellery barter scheme (which is ultimately to complete the Monday-Gun Day project) which means I have also been able to add to the design a handy place to stash all the containers I receive from you this week!
Please consider helping out with the swap project if you can (forward it on to those distant cousins in Florida, why doncha? – or if you are at SNAG, I’ll have self-addressed padded envelopes for you to pick up to help you mail me something in return for your jewel), and definitely come and see this show. It’s received rave reviews in its two previous incarnations, and I think this is the best display yet! (Or it will be when I finish it…)
Phew! And if you’re chillin around these parts often, (and coming to P-town this week) you might recall I mentioned that it was my birthday couple of weeks back. The hottest rumor is a combined Seattle-peeps birthday celebration on one of the nights… Come say helloooo and get the skinny.
Searching for containers from specific places in the USA – to be made into art!
*** UPDATED June 20th***
As I promised last week, I’m back in the US from Australia, where I was celebrating my 40th birthday with my family!
And now I’m here, I have a favor to ask:
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my series of posts, entitled: Monday – Gun Day, where I have been cataloguing the weapons used in each of the fatal shootings in the US on January 1st, 2017. (There’s more intel as to why in this post.) Thanks to the incredible resources of the Gun Violence Archive I’m almost through the research phase – in which I made drawings of all the guns used in fatal incidents on that day – and I’m ready to start making.
I was going to used objects – containers specifically – that I had to hand, but now that doesn’t feel right. I have objects from all over the place – I’ve picked them up in my travels throughout North America, Australia, Asia and Europe. And that is the problem. The rate of gun violence, as we are now almost constantly being reminded, is unique to each country. So using objects from other places in a project referencing gun violence in the USA doesn’t ring true.
So I suddenly find myself in need of containers from a specific list of places. Fifty-four places, in fact. And if you have a friend or relative in the area, please feel free to pass this along.
This is where you come in. If you happen to live in one of the places listed:
Send me a container to become a permanent part of this artwork, and I will send you a limited edition jewellery piece in return.
I sense your next question: “Container, what kind of container?”
Practically anything accepted – well washed food tins, plastic milk containers or even a yogurt tub, I don’t mind. Upcycle or re-gift me, please! I love a thrift store find, or new things from grocery stores or markets – I seek and find all over. Wood too! I just need to be able to cut or saw-pierce a motif into it, so not too thick, but most materials accepted. (Preferably not stainless steel – the best way to check that tiny, cute but essentially useless colander you have is with a magnet. I love magnetic steels – I’ll cut them for days – but if it doesn’t stick it’s probably regular stainless.)
I’m looking for a single container (though multiples needed in a few places) from each of the places listed below. Or, if you own a souvenir item from one of these places, that you are willing to part with, I would gladly accept it. (And yes, I do consider ashtrays, coasters and trays containers, too. See image at top for a portion of my current stash.)
1/ Get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be in contact before you send something, to make sure I have not yet received anything from your place. I only need one container from most of this list, and so I’ll work on a first-come, first served basis.
If you happen to have an item in mind, please email me a photo of the container I can used for planning. I will also add your object as ‘pending’ on my list for others to see.
2/ Send the item (to arrive by June 20th, 2018)
2212 Queen Anne Ave. N. #412
Seattle WA 98109
Naturally, include the place name of the object in the packaging, as well as a name/address + email contact to ensure you get your jewel
3/ Jewels shipped in August
stay tuned to the blog for developments of this very special limited series.
*** List of places still remaining – June 20th update*** (and updated printable list ofPlaces June 8 – this includes all the maybe’s – if you are in a place that I have only a maybe commitment, please get in touch!):
City Or County
Yes, it’s like a Kickstarter but instead of cash, it’s local objects being turned into jewels. A barter-kickstarter, if you will. Please pass this along, and lets come together and make some art!
Why am I still ranting about guns? Explanation finally comes 16 episodes in.
**HERE LIVES THE MOTHER OF ALL TRIGGER WARNINGS**
There’s been a lot of news about guns in the last week. Last Tuesday I filed this article away for inclusion in today’s regular post; the Guardian reported that Remington was filing for bankruptcy, due at least in part to what they had termed “‘The Trump slump.'” A friendly administration for the gun lobby, and gun owners, has spelled radically decreased sales for gun manufacturers. But then on Wednesday, in a turn-around that would give you whiplash were you researching anything other than gun violence in the US, there was a mass shooting at a school in Florida on Valentine’s day. The cycle begins again.
My Monday – Gun Day series began on the 9th of October, 2017, a week and a day after the largest mass shooting involving a single perpetrator in US history had taken place in Las Vegas (all the modifiers are to remind us that there have been larger massacres in US history, usually racially motivated like that at Wounded Knee, or the Colfax Massacre, which was perpetrated by white Southern Democrats against about 150 black men.)
Since then, across 16 posts (including this one) made on Mondays (US Pacific time), I’ve been sharing my research about guns, and more specifically, the guns used in the 63 incidents in which people were killed on January 1st, 2017. But why? Well, firstly, some backstory that might help to explain.
I began the Monday – Gun Day series with an introduction to my work Gun from 2013/14. To design the work I replicated the AR-15 knock-off (made by Remington) used in the Sandy Hook mass shooting of 2012, into which I incorporated facts and figures I had researched about that days killings, which was, at that time, the second most deadly mass shooting perpetrated by a single person ever in the United States. I was making a series of pieces that used the tools of war to make a statement about humanity’s continuing poor relationship with itself, which I entitled The Escalation Series. My use of this gun, with all of its associations, pointed out an additional fact; the other tools of war I made pieces about were designed for, and were chiefly only accessible to, organised armies. This weapon, designed for and known as as the M-16 in the US armed forces, was and still is far too easily accessible to regular citizens of this country.
I thought after The Escalation series, in which I made jewellery pieces that depicted the following weapons of war:
cartridges with Minié ball bullets
Lapua Magnum shells (sniper rifle shells) from Combat Paper
as well as 3 versions of HEAT, a work (pictured below) that shows the molten metal spatter and penetration of a HEAT missile through armoured tank steel, that my association with weapons was done for a while. My focus had made a gentle pivot which saw me making mosaics out of enamelled laser cut steel, with which I could write by turns gentle, piercing and witty messages in binary.
Then two things happened. I had been recently juried into the Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize, for which I am to make a work out of found materials, and on the 1st of October I decided to do a stock-take of all the found objects I have lying about in my study, the same day that the current most deadly mass shooting perpetrated in modern times (this seems to be accepted as anything since 1950,) by a single shooter, happened.
Having memorialised a single-person shooting before, I did not want to go down that route again. I’ve read a lot of stories about Sandy Hook, and will continue to do so the rest of my days (it’s reportage on unjustified killings of defenseless white children in a 1st world nation, and thanks to our social/political/class climate, we will find it in the media for the foreseeable future,) and it’s a lot. And I don’t want to have to repeat myself.
I have other things that horrify me just as much as 59 deaths by one person in a day. 59 deaths on any day is a pretty shit day by most of the world’s standards, and I wanted a way to make that point. So I picked a day, New Year’s Day 2017, and got to work.
We know the weapons of the mass shootings because they get so much publicity. (The Guardian already has 3 pages of articles about last week’s shooting.) [I’m getting cynical, which I usually try to banish from my writings, but it’s almost as if the amount of publicity is inverse to the amount of action that will be taken against the problem, despite the fact that I learned in another Guardian article linked to the Trump Slump article that, “Only 22 to 31% of Americans adults say they personally own a gun.” And what they call “gun super-ownership” is actually concentrated to 3% of the population.] Anyway, digressions aside. We know so little about the other gun deaths that happen in this country because everyone is so inured by the frequency of the killings that everyday gun violence doesn’t make it to the national news. But the weapons used by the mass murderer are studied ad nauseam, so of course we learn about the guns, the shells, the alternate weapons, the victims, the scene, the police department response, the slow and painful moving on.
But what about all the the other shootings? Which guns are responsible there?
Hopefully in just a few years time the gun lobby will face a shakedown that will be compared to that experienced by the tobacco lobby, and their unconscionable actions will be pored over in as much details as the lives of those involved in the Sandy Hook massacre. For right now, I’ve learned that there are great resources for finding out who was killed, when, and where, and more loosely, how. What’s becoming clear is that there is no focus put on the gun responsible, nor its manufacturer. In any other arena, should over 30,000 people get killed by any single type of object in a year, we, the public, would cry out for all the statistics on the make, model, age and condition of the thing responsible.
Thus my research project; for each person listed as killed on the Gun Violence Archive on the 1st of January, 2017, I am finding out what make and model of gun killed them, (or my best estimation thereof,) to draw a picture of what that gun looked like.
And when I have a picture of those weapons, I’m going to make a wearable piece of jewellery that incorporates every f*cking one of them.
The resistance is handmade – here’s where to get your hands on it.
And so too is my line of jewellery, entitled Resist.
The ÿ neckpiece is the latest addition to the series, and yes, it is the type of welded steel chain one might normally use to doubly secure one’s trailer to the hitch at the back of the car. I got it at my local hardware store (Shout out to 5 Corners Hardware – yes, not to be confused with the 5 Spot – a diner also in Queen Anne, or 5 Point Cafe, just down the road in Belltown. If you’ve not visited Seattle, and Queen Anne especially, the crosswalk motif is ‘at least 5 lanes of traffic, awkwardly conjoined’ and is somehow considered a whimsical feature. Shout out to Sydney, AU, I know you know this scene…) a year or so ago when contemplating chains for my piece for Boris Bally’s gun show Imagine. This length has thus been hanging on the door to my basement studio for long enough to leave semi-circular marks as the chain frequently arced across the door, tethered by a single nail.
I was gradually sandblasting every scrap of steel chain I could come up with in my studio, and one day I was sitting at my enamel bench when I realised there was one I hadn’t tried. Cut to 20 minutes later, after hand sawning a sacrificial link *twice* in order to separate it from the rest of the length (the chain is just too thick to try and bend to get away with one cut alone), I was hugging the sandblaster in my usual fashion. Because zinc is a neurotoxin at just about the same temperature that enamel fires, it pays to assiduously remove all traces of galvanisation. Once blasted, I painted on a pretty swatch of my favourite blue of the day, fired, and viola! I had a beautiful chain, that read ‘ÿ’ in binary, because, well, ÿ are we in this mess…?
And in case you’re new, ÿ binary, or even, ÿ blue?
In the Resist system of binary/ascii* communication, the 0’s and 1’s of binary code are switched from numbers to colors, gray and blue respectively. By individually enameling each part of a piece in the correct sequence, I encode words like ‘no’ onto earrings, or ‘resist’ onto pins and neckpieces.
So why blue? Because that color is the opposite of orange on the traditional color wheel.
These little messages in jewellery form are each hand-made and hand-enamelled in stainless steel, with titanium rivets and ear hooks on the ‘Resist tile’ pieces. They are very reasonably priced, and in some sort of seasonal coincidence, all of my stores have just been resupplied! What [in]credible timing!
Please go check out these pretties ‘in the real’ in Australia at:
And if you’re around Seattle’s U district this coming Friday, Danaca Design is having its first ever Black Friday Jewelry Sale!
Tis the season to buy into the beautifully handmade resistance.
As ever, 5% the artist’s price from this series goes to Islamic Relief USA, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit humanitarian agency, whose work includes domestic and international development and relief projects.
*gotta put ASCII in there or I’ll have to face a nerd uprising
It’s gun day, and we’re talking about pistols. And the amounts of handguns sold/manufactured/exported/imported in the USA.
To pick up where I left off last Monday, I’d just mentioned that around 71% of all homicides in 2012 involved hand guns. My next self-assigned task is to find the most popular hand gun in the USA, which is a harder ask than what it might look on paper. I have found out that of hand guns, pistols are more popular than revolvers, at least nowadays (The last time the USA manufactured more revolvers than pistols is 1986). According to this, in 2015 the US made more than 3.5 million pistols, (and it made over 100,000 thousand more rifles than that), I can’t tell if these stats includes those destined for the military (I hit a paywall, one in which I may yet invest). I realise this is just manufacturing, and does not account for weapons exported, but this NBC report from 2012 says that as of 2009, the Congressional Research Service puts the numbers at “an estimated 310 million firearms in the United States (not including weapons on military bases), of which 114 million were handguns, 110 million were rifles, and 86 million were shotguns.”
“The AFMER report excludes production for the U.S. military but includes firearms purchased by domestic law enforcement agencies”
According to their data, in recent years (I’m sticking as close to 2017 as I can) imports have well outstripped exports – 2013 imports of hand guns: 3,095,528, exports in same period: 188,889 (pistols: 167,653 + revolvers: 21,236). And local manufacturing produced a combined total of 5,167,008 hand guns, the bulk of which (4,441,726) were pistols. So I think we can safely say that the 2015 figure above was not inclusive of military.
All of which proves what was intimated last week, the most popular US gun is a pistol. But what kind? No-one is handing out that data, unfortunately. When I searched I came up against a proliferation of less-than-adequate top ten lists; everyone with a vested interest, from gun store sites to news outlets (looking at you, CBS News) wants to give the curious reader a top 5, or 10, or 50. (I’m not going to run you, gentle reader, the risk of trashing your google mojo and ruining your online ad tracking data through one thoughtless click, so I’m not going to link those articles. I’ve done my utmost to protect myself, so I’ll let you know if I post anything even slightly questionable.)
Suffice to say, my top 5, culled from the #1 spot from six different most popular/best-selling gun lists, is:
01/ Kel-Tec PMR-30
01/ Colt M1911
01/ Smith & Wesson M&P Shield (this was a multiple #1 place-getter)
01/ Sturm, Ruger & Company
01/ Honor Guard 9mm
I’m sparing us all the images associated with these lists (often stills from movies; Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis are memorable repeat offenders) as well as a few other names that were repeated multiple times with similar placements in the lists.
The best list, in my own option, is the one I will finish with; a great Mother Jones top-10 which is safe for y’all to read. The subhead says it best:
“Meet the moguls making a killing from gun sales in the United States.”
Needless to say, their ten is a scorcher, and at #1 is a familiar name: Sturm Ruger. (That’s the Wikipedia link, and I recommend it over http://www.ruger-firearms.com/ any day.)
Now knowing that I simply don’t have the resources to find the biggest selling pistol of all time in the US (because, for better or worse, my search stops today. Hey, I know, surface barely scuffed, but this is just the first stage in building a collection of weapons on which to base an object work that will eventually be exhibited in a gallery, and I gots to move on…) I’m going to work with a Sturm, Ruger & Company weapon as my default pistol, thanks to this research. This may or may not be the gun used in the homicides that I will now continue to focus on, but since Ruger is based in the US, makes the most amount of hand guns domestically in a year, is on my list of all lists in taking the biggest share of gun sales, and makes the bulk of its profit from hand guns (see the Mother Jones article quoted above for most of this detail) and since Ruger features in Wikipedia’s list of Most Produced Firearms with pistols, revolvers and rifles, I think they’re as good a candidate as any.
Now to decide which model.
// coda //
Just reading the Sturm, Ruger & Co. Wikipedia link from above, and I see I need a second trigger warning.
“A Ruger AR-556 was used on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas in the mass killing of 26 churchgoers who were praying at the First Baptist Church”
But now it’s closing. I’ve been in three times since I got the email, and no doubt I’ll sneak in one more time before it closes. In one of my missions I bought a yard of wool binding that I promptly used on a Halloween jewel (see instagram). On finishing that piece I quick-marched back up there to get some more. On the second trip I got 3 yards, then Susan, having remarked on liking the colour both times she measured it out for me, said she was “Going to deep six the rest of this.” and piled it behind her, then shuffled papers over it. I look forward to what she makes out of it – more likely a suit than jewellery.
Anyway, the ribbon room does not look like that photo (from 2015) any longer, it’s been well depleted already, but if you do want to stock up on vintage grosgrain, this might be your last chance.