We use antlers and skulls from cattle and buffalo to create focal points and frame artwork.
Symbols of the enduring hard edges of a rough environment. Reminders of the resiliency of the inhabitants.
Next month, from September 4-7, will mark the 22nd annual Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and we will be participating artists there. We look forward to seeing the incredible pieces of art that represent the West-old and new.
What is your favorite piece of Western Art? Do you mix it up with other styles in your home? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks.
The things we collect. Mike and I love all things old and rusty. The things that bring us a connection with the past- ours and our culture’s. A friend recognized that obsession in us, and gave Mike a really cool Barbed Wire collection.
The tags on the collection say the collector was Phil Smith, of the California Barbed Wire collectors Association, and the display was part of a challenge from TheAmerican Barbed Wire Journal titled- “1868-1968- 100 Years of barbed wire.”
The back of the label reads, “It’s been said that the most important factors in the taming of the West were barbed wire, the six shooter, and the windmill. There are over 1000 known types of barbed wire with a story behind every fence. Why don’t you see how many 18″ lengths you can collect to keep abreast of the phenominal wire collecting hobby.” The American Barbed Wire Journal.
This collection is varied, from old pieces of wood mounted to the wire, to plastic wrapped with most likely, aluminum barbs. It’s mounted on a piece of carpet and easily stored. But who would want to store such a work of art? We’ve got to find a place to display this collection. It needs to hang up away from little hands and curious K9s. These barbs are serious. Some of them 1/2 inch long. I’m wondering if they were intended to keep cattle in or predators out? Maybe both.
I’ve worked with barbed wire before to create wreaths. It isn’t easy to shape or gather so I can imagine the struggle a rancher would have had stretching this very sharp wire on fence posts for miles on end. Both of my Grandfathers were just such ranchers and I wrote about one of them here. The West was and still is a rugged and wild place. It takes perseverance to stick out the cold winters and the long scorching summers. This barbed wire collection is a reminder that someone believed the challenge was worth it.
What do you collect to keep the history of your little slice of the planet alive, and how do you display it? Please share it in the comments below.
Part of being a maker is being asked to “Make this work again”. Repairing broken artwork is scary, whether it’s glass, metal or wood. Undoing is always risky, and there is the pressing chance that the repair will not be successful. Then what? Start from scratch? Well sometimes that would be the easier way.
There is the essence of the art to preserve, the uniqueness to keep in perspective. Usually there is a measure of strengthening; shoring up to work into the project. And it is especially difficult if it is someone else’s art we’ve been asked to repair.
Sometimes a customer believes that since the repair is only a small part of the project- it should go quickly and therefore, cost should be minimal. As anyone knows who has taken something apart and put it back together, the time factor is huge and should be considered. If it really was as easy as pie, “you wouldn’t be bringing it to us for repair, would you?”
Most people really are aware of the difficulty and are patient, and willing to pay for the time involved. I recreated a piece for some friends that gave me new motivation when it was finished. They had purchased a beautiful gemstone inlaid globe in a copper stand. It was damaged in shipping and they asked if I could reproduce the shattered compass point. It was a huge challenge but one that lifted my confidence when it was done. They were happy and I learned some new math skills in the process- a win for both of us.
My workbench is full, right now, of pieces I’ve been asked to repair, and that seems to be the time my mind soars with new ideas I would like to undertake. But nevertheless; I must get to those restorations. They can be the test of a persevering spirit, a resolute challenge.
And when they are finished . . . Oh the sigh of relief.
Do you have repair projects of your own that you have been putting off? How do you motivate yourself to get crackin’? Tell us about them in the comments below.
These pieces of copper art all have a different process of development, from design to finish. Some are created using separate pieces of copper with different textures, and some are single pieces with a unique story of their own to convey.
Collectively, they make up a vibrant and intriguing accent to the area. This is also the case with much of the art I have been noticing in our Health Care facility while I wait for a family member being treated there.
This resin sculpture was created by local artists 3form, Darin Harker, and PMI. It is calming and mesmerizing. The other end of the space has an orange sculpture of similar structure that is vivid and invigorating.
At the elevator entrance there is a triptych of glass and Amber Onyx. This work reflects the desert canyons around us with its simplicity and natural wonder.
Outside the window where I write as I wait, giant wind-sculptures by Whitaker Studios move ever so subtly in the almost nonexistent breeze. The beauty of these sculptures captures my attention each time I encounter one of them.
Numerous photos of slot canyons, wildlife and nature hang on many walls in our public places, but I believe it is the sculptural art that is beginning to catch my eye.
Seeing the collections Mike creates for our clients has made me more aware of the public art I experience in my everyday life. Who created it? Does it calm me or energize me? Would I like to see it hanging in my home?
How do you feel about the art you encounter in your world? Tell us about it in the comments below.
And I believe we have found a pot of gold, or rust or maybe the spoils of a bygone era.
I was privileged to spend some time with friends helping to clean up their summer property. The piles of metal that can’t be used to maintain their outbuildings will make perfect additions to Mike’s artwork.
And throwing them in the dump would be so wasteful.
I breathed in the dust and pulled stickers from my shoes, I rubbed my sore muscles in the afternoon sun and knew I had found something that would make Mike smile.
I told my friends of the quirky lighting Mike has created from sleds and wheels, and knew their cast off pieces would find new life in his creative hands. I told them how I used to complain about the piles in the yard, until I saw the beautiful art work he creates from those time warped- weather stained pieces. I’m much more patient now.
And here I am enjoying the hunt and savoring the reveal I’ll share with him when I get home in the morning.
Do you have treasures you plan to make into something beautiful? What does it take to get you motivated to create with them? Please let us know in the comments below. . . Thanks.
For all of our math loving family and friends out there (you know who you are . . .) we’ve had several orders and inquiries this past week for our “Perfect Little Square“ steel light sconces. They’re lighting up homes across the country with their simplicity and uniquely versatile design.
Mike makes them with a plain-rustic patina to add a touch of simple to walls and accent areas . . .
He makes them corrugated in either a horizontal or vertical direction-reminiscent of a beautiful old tin roof . . .
And he even makes them with a hand cut moon or stars and silver mica insets, for a touch of whimsy.
Simple is often better, and the versatility of these lights makes them easy to decorate with. One client combined the lights on their fireplace wall for a punch of character and style.
These lights are also beautiful in copper with its warmth and appeal.
Steel or copper, texture or pattern, there’s a charm to these lights that is causing them to fly off the workbench. (Hmmmm . . . maybe wings would make an interesting motif!?)
What would you like to see customized in the little squares? Please tell us in the comments below.
We’re excited to be heading to The Western Design Conference, in Jackson Hole Wyoming, in September. We applied this Spring, and were notified recently that our application was accepted. This means the creative juices can flow freely this summer. We love to be free to create something that is new and distinctly ours.
The last time we participated in the Design Conference was in 2008.
The Conference is a great place to meet other creatives and begin to think outside the box. There are diverse styles represented in medium from glass to stone, metal to wood, fabric to fine gems, and more.
We will connect with old friends and make new ones, and enjoy an experience that celebrates the artists with respect and appreciation for the work involved in honing our skills. There will be tributes to founders and long time participants now gone, as well as spotlights on the up and coming.
There will be the usual figiting and fumbling most artists experience when they are called on to explain and describe their work, but the commraderi and support will outweigh the discomfort.
We are blessed to have friends of many years to stay with in Jackson, and that makes our travels so enjoyable. We reconnect, breathe deep, and plan for their return to the desert for the winter, and enjoy a real working vacation for four or five days.
Ahhhhhhh . . . the Tetons are calling, and Mike has me well equipped for watercolor this time!
Do you have a special gathering you enjoy and look forward to in your work? How does it feed your muse for the months ahead?
Another of the collection sent, recently, to Sacramento; this copper wall art reminds me of a solar flare. I wish you could see it up close and personal. It really has more of a three dimensional character. Each of those little folds at the top is moving and molten! And the colors are incredible. They move from deep magenta to green, and on to subtle lilac, and the gleaming copper that carries the eye into infinity.
A friend said it reminded them of a forest with the trees on the horizon. Maybe the layers are reminiscent of our curious Bryce Canyon National Park and its hoodoos!
As I questioned Mike about how he got the effect, it was just as intriguing. I could share that with you but then . . . well you know. Some things are better left to the imagination.
I wonder what the display wall, on the site in Sacramento, looks like. This would be beautiful on a deep rich maroon or brown wall. And just as captivating on a light background.
Would you hang a piece of art like this in your home or business, and what would your display look like? Would it be lighted, textural, mixed media? I’m interested to know.