Working Metal

Every so often I get the chance to work with metal. I confess to hanging out at historical recreations (Museum Village/Suffern NY, Old Bethpage on Long Island) and watching in fascination at the blacksmithing demonstrations. Aside from small projects the first time I used sheet aluminum was for my portfolio. When I got out of school I developed the habit of constructing my own portfolios, something I always got great reactions to from art directors. Everybody remembered me and associated the big metal book with my work at the time (I was doing a lot of work about the old Soviet Union).

(above) Three views of my portfolio. 1/4″ aluminum plates with copper mesh. The engraving in the middle is a magnesium printing plate etched to read correctly.

“…I almost cut myself on your book” was a common reaction I’d get until I really filed down the edges. Perhaps those sharp edges were some sort of passive/aggressive behavior for all those early rejections? The book felt like it weighed a ton to carry, and the magneium would oxidize and have to be gone over with steel wool. But it was well worth it.

(Above) Hammered aluminum archway in front of a family portrait which included an 8 foot long beard created out of canvas strips. Each strip had Yiddish expressions silk screened on them (New Paltz, NY).

A few years latter for a show in New Paltz I created a 5 foot archway based on Jewish cemetery gate motifs. The aluminum was salvaged from old litho plates, sanded and ball peened. The idea was to angle spot lights in such a way that shadows were cast in a German expressionist kind of way. I was pretty happy with the outcome

Below is the lettering I cut out of aluminum and riveted together for the Frankenstein display (see an earlier post on the blog) at Parsons in the illustration Dept.

(Above) The letters in progress on my work bench with riveting tool (Below) Frankenstein painted black and hanging by translucent fishing wire in the case.

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