Deconstruct/Reconstruct

It’s taking me a few years, but I’m finally going to the annual East Carolina University Material Topics Symposium – entitled Deconstruct/Reconstruct – in January. It’s going to be amazing – the list of speakers and break-out presenter list is incredible! Am I just saying that because a bunch of my friends are going to be talking and I’m really looking forward to catching up with them all?

Of course not!

Where else are you going to see Mike Holmes reveal what he learned at Velvet da Vinci, and Andy Cooperman lecture and deliver a break-out on tool tips, or have the beautiful Matt Lambert deliver a break-out session? And then back it up with the vivacious Jina Seo and Harlan W. Butt! And this is me cherry picking – I don’t want to leave out the inimitable Judy Stone… Or Lisa Klakulak! Seriously – look at the list and the exhibitions too. And, hey, if you’re lucky, I might also have a few things to say 🙂

See y’all in Greenville.

Monday – Gun Day

Narrowing down my Ruger has been a windy road.

There’s the LCP – Lightweight Compact Pistol which is marketed as a concealed carry or second gun for law enforcement, but it “lacks certain features required for sale in California or Massachusetts.” according to that Wikipedia link. Then there’s the classic Ruger Standard, which is up to MK IV, and was first introduced in 1949. It retains a lot of its original look, which at my guess, is not actually a big selling point…

Then we have the Ruger P-Series, which happens to be on one of my most-quoted lists, Wikipedia’s List of Most Produced Firearms (LMPF), with a high end of production of 2 million. The P-Series was designed for everyone (!) “military, police, civilian and recreational use” but was discontinued in 2013. Like my actual choice, they share a design heritage with the most produced pistol ever to come out of the USA.

I settled on the SR1911, which is the Ruger take on the Colt M1911, itself #4 of pistols on LMPF.  In fact, Ruger, with the SR1911, probably has a stake in that ranking, given that the full amount of up to 5 million Colt M1911 weapons includes ‘and copies’. The original 1911’s were designed and developed for the US military by John Browning the gun-design guru, with Colt as the first manufacturer. They’re long out of patent, and even when in, it was more than Colt could do to keep up with production during The Great War. They have been manufactured by well over 100 companies to date, and versions are in current production by many of the big name brands; Colt of course, and (in no particular order) Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Remington, Taurus and Springfield Armory. So my drawing is of that weapon.

Ruger SR1911

But it’s not over yet. In my searching for the ‘right‘ Ruger, I stumbled across some actual hard statistics about gun sales in a Motley Fool article about the company. I know the Ruger brand casts a large shadow, and that it’s more for rifles than for pistols, but I thought that with a  yearly production of 748,364 – over one-third of their production is pistols – would clinch it. Turns out Smith and Wesson, despite selling about 200k less firearms in a year, sell many, many more pistols (989,853, over 200k more) than Ruger annually.

Knowing that, I’m ready to compromise. I’m going to alternate the pistols I use as my default weapon. The other weapon will be a Smith & Wesson. The title of most produced pistol for them has to go to the M&P. (M&P? Military and Police). It’s a LMPF place-getter (over 1 million sold as at 2015), it was the double nominated weapon my List of Top 5’s a few weeks back and if you recall it’s also on the list of 9mm weapons that is Chicago PD approved.

Smith & Wesson M&P

So these are the guns that will fill in for the weapons used to murder Mr Rosales, and Mr Smith, back on January 1, 2017, in San Francisco.

US Exhibitions: North & South

One half of Quatrefoil Trio by Melissa Cameron, pieces made for a work in collaboration with Sean Macmillan, 2015. On display at BAM

The Bellevue Arts Museum is hosting an enormous group exhibition Making our Mark: Art by Pratt Teaching Artists, which went live at a grand party for the artists (and there’s a tonne of us) at the start of November. There are too many local legends to name; jewellers, wood-workers, painters, sculptors and of course the Northwest’s favourite, glass artists, so I’ll just mention me, and the very famous glass artist who happens to live across the street from me (!) Preston Singletary. We’re finally in a show together! One day I’ll work up the courage to tell him 😉

Also just opened is a show at form & concept center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, called Smitten Forum. So what is Smitten Forum, then?

Call it a mobile artist colony, a colorful social experiment or a crafty piece of performance art. Each year since 2014, Sara Brown and Marissa Saneholtz have invited a new group of pioneering jewelers and metalsmiths to work side-by-side in a communal studio for 7 days. The initiative is called Smitten Forum, and invitees range from emerging to well-established makers who employ a staggering array of mediums and techniques. This year’s participants are headed to Abiquiu, New Mexico in late December, but they’ll also leave their mark on the nearby art center of Santa Fe. The form & concept shop is pleased to present the Smitten Forum exhibition, which features wearable artwork from all of this year’s artists.

And now it is also an exhibition, with this year’s Smitten cohort exhibiting: Sarah Perkins, Melissa Cameron, Bryan Petersen, Cappy Counard, Cheryl Rydmark, Tanya Crane, Rebekah Frank, Anika Smulovitz, Don Friedlich, Laritza Garcia, Leslie LePere, Hannah Oatman, Marissa Saneholtz and Sara Brown

It opened on the 24th of November and finishes on the 6th of January. And Smitten Forum itself? Yes, this year I’ll close out my year hanging with that awesome crew, at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. Yes, the Ghost Ranch that Georgia O’Keffee lived and worked at.

Tales in the making.

The resistance is growing

And so too is my line of jewellery, entitled Resist.

Resist Drop earrings, Resist neckpiece, ÿ neckpiece

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.

‘no’ chain earrings

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:

Bilk Gallery – Canberra
Studio 20/17 Project Space – Sydney
Bini Gallery – Melbourne

and in Seattle and surrounds at:

Bellevue Arts Museum Store
Danaca Design
Fancy

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

Monday – Gun Day

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.”

Looking over The United State Department of Justice – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives publication Firearms Commerce in the United States: Statistical Annual Update 2015 (quoted above), it explicitly states that:

“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.”

Fully Loaded: Inside the Shadowy World of America’s 10 Biggest Gunmakers

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 //

 

Oh shit.

 

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”

Monday – gun day

In a not-so-happy coincidence, on the same day that many of us found out about the latest mass killing in the USA, I received the cheque for the sale of my Gun work to the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

So here’s a little about work, for which I began the research in December 2012, and finally finished the last part of about a year later, in early 2014.

Gun (2013/2014) consists of:
154 @ 30 rpm – scale 1:4
60m
(scale 1:4)
AR-15 (bandolier)

The work Gun (a suite of three wearable pieces) is from the Escalation series. The works in Escalation are each made from domestic objects, taken out of their usual context and transformed into loaded jewels. Together the complete series reflects thousands of years of human history, the history we have of making weapons of war. The works (there is at least two wearable items for each ‘piece’) are loosely grouped into branches, based on the proximity to which the assailant would have to have to the victim (and vice versa) when used, which makes the whole Escalation project into a kind of family tree of tools for killing.

The Gun work is the Sword’s companion on one branch, as I see the gun as the successor to the sword in close combat situations. Rifles were the earliest effective firearms, so it was not a huge leap to use the Bushmaster XM15-E2S as my gun archetype. Sold as a hunting rifle in the USA, it is “a variant of the AR-15 first built by ArmaLite,”[i] “as an assault rifle for the United States armed forces.” (also known as the M16)[ii]. This Bushmaster is the weapon that was used for the Newtown massacre in 2012. If you see the whole series together, it becomes more obvious that this piece is the only one in my Escalation series that does not focus the wartime outcomes of a particular weapon. In making this exception, I wanted to make the point that these military grade weapons are available far too easily to the citizens of the US, and thus are in the homes and lives of ordinary people, which results in the premature deaths of this country’s most vulnerable citizens.

I made this piece from a strangely long and slightly medical-looking tray I bought new, at Daiso. I gave it 30 full-sized NATO shells (I chose there to depict the military round rather than the hunting round made by Remington), as 30 is the magazine’s capacity. I made 77 holes in the tray in the unfired bullet diameter, and strung the 77 cutouts on steel cable, which together add up to the 154 bullets expended within the school. The gun is made at 1:4 scale, making it very obvious to wear and more realistic than the miniature gun bling that is occasionally in fashion. The neckpiece with the 77 cutouts is 15m/40′ long, to represent, again at 1:4 scale (full scale being at least 60m/197′) the minimum distance that the shooter would have traversed inside of the school. I read the police report and literally plotted the shooter’s movements onto a floor plan of the school that I found online, to calculate the approximate length.

Finally, in all the pictures that accompany this series, I am wearing the works. They are photos I took of myself, by myself, and when these works are shown, they were a part of the display. It is important that the works, and the troubling histories that they represent, are on me. Like they are on all of humanity. And I for one am not at all happy about it.

[i] ‘AR-15’. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, 26 April 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=AR-15&oldid=551188045.

[ii] Ibid.

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Speaking Out Exhibition – opens Wednesday

Speaking Out: Art & Politics in Words
September 27, 2017 – November 10, 2017
Openings: 1-3pm and 5-7pm on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Speaking Out highlights artists who use words as the basis of their work, creating pieces that inspire discussion around topics of political and social justice. What are the words necessary to start the discussion or argument, to pull people together or apart? How can language be used to share, to trivialize or to provoke? Can a word help you to see what it is like in the shoes of another? And how can a word of indifference end a discussion? We hope that you will see the work in the gallery as a starting place for conversation around topics that are highlighted in current events and contemporary activism.

Participating Artists:
Antonius Bui
Melissa Cameron
Satpreet Kahlon
Deborah Faye Lawrence
Holly Martz
Hanako O’Leary
Spooky Boobs Collective
Chris Walla
Matthew Whitney

Please come meet us at the second opening on Wednesday!

Enamel workshop and talk – next week

HEAT II in stainless steel, vitreous enamel and titanium, 2016. Image of the wall work and brooch, as installed at Arrowmont.

There’s a day or so left to register for my upcoming workshop in Oakland next week:

Enameling Recycled Steel for Jewelry and Objects – a workshop with Melissa Cameron

I will be sticking around in Oakland to attend day one of a weekend of large scale enameling at KVO Industries on the 9th, which is super-exciting. Knowing that I have plans to make some more panel-based works in the next year or so for a show in the UK, I’m looking to up my large-format game, and since Judy Stone at the Center for Enamel Art – all-round champion of enamel and artists – suggested I do it, how could I refuse? Not that my moderate-panel game appears to be too shabby, as I recently won a prize for Wall Works (for the above) in the Enamelist Society Alchemy 4 Juried Exhibition!

I’ll also be giving a free public lecture next Wednesday night at California College of the Arts:

“From a tamper-proof fence to Body Politic – my enamel journey so far” 7:30pm, Nahl Hall, Oakland Campus, 5212 Broadway (map)

Looking forward to spending time in the heat after just finishing up my Aussie shenanigans of the past few weeks. Northern Summer, come at me!

Drawing the Line @ Facèré in Seattle

“Attempts to kill…” 2016

I’m really pleased to share the Drone works (half of which is in the image above) will be showing alongside the the Drawing the Line exhibition at Facèré Jewelry Art when it opens this Wednesday, May 3rd, in downtown Seattle. Come to the opening lecture from 4pm to hear me talk about the works in the show – the new additions to the Body/Politic series, and their progenitor, the Drone series.

May 3, 2017 – May 23, 2017
Lecture: Wednesday, May 3 at 4:00 PM
Reception: Wednesday, May 3 at 5:00 PM

SMG and the Wawona

Wawona – Pixel by pixel, 2017. Wawona wood, titanium, stainless steel

Launched in 1897, the Wawona was the largest three-masted sailing schooner ever built in North America. The ship was used to haul lumber up and down the Pacific Coast and used in the Bering Sea codfishing trade. In 1970 the Wawona became a National Historic Site and she was the first ship in the nation to be listed on the National Register. In 2009 she was deemed too expensive to restore and was demolished.

Come and see what the Seattle Metals Guild have done with the pieces of the ship that were not made into the huge sculpture by John Grade at MOHAI (that’s the Museum of History and Industry for all y’all not in the PNW [Pacific North West – and yes, I did that one to be facetious 😉 .])

The exhibition opens at Northwind Arts Center May 6 – 5:30 pm

701 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA
Thursday – Monday, 11:30am-5:30pm
Tuesday – Wednesday, Noon-5pm
360-379-1086

May 4 – 29 | Opening and closing dates
May 6 – 5:30 pm – Opening Reception and Art Walk
May 7 – 1:00 pm – Art Talk
See Klimt02 for more teaser images, and the Northwind Arts Center page for extra info.