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  #1  
Old 02-15-2003, 08:22 PM
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Thumbs up 3d collages using found object

I'm an artist who is currently creating 3d collages using found objects merged with imagery and text I create on the computer. Is there anyone out there interested in something like this?

I'd like to share ideas and techniques, maybe discuss some issues related to creating series, i.e. what is current philosophy about limited editions (I think that's old school - I'm interested in developing series so I can produce more work with my limited time and resources at the same time as creating art that ordinary people can afford)
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Old 03-05-2003, 01:45 PM
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Using collage in my works as well

I also continue to use collage in my sculpture work. I am not sure if anything I write here will help, but I have a yearning to to a reply as I like any info or input I can get from others as I am now out of school. The computer is a resource I often use now and then to work out ideas and capture source material. I mainly use it to compose as I still highly value the origional objects contained in my collage work. Out of the many artists I refer to are:
Joseph Cornell
Marcel Duchamp
and just reciently I aquired a book on Candy Jurnigan (great for students to look at in 3D classes when utilizing collage).

I am curious how you present your work, personally I utilize the cabinet of curiosity and containers in general. I am always looking for new approaches to display. As far as the edition question, I am very selfish and like to consider the work to be a one of a kind. I think it would be dishonest to my work to edition as a printer would. Glad to have something to post, and I hope we can create a dialog with as many people as possible on this subject. Thanks
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Old 03-06-2003, 02:26 PM
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display of collage

Thanks for responding Jerrod! I hope you're right and other people will participate in this conversation.

I appreciate the tip about Candice Jurnigan and tried to look up the book you mentioned on Amazon. Do you have "Evidence" or "Dead Bug Collection?" Thought I might order one, but couldn't decide which one.

I've been collecting small old wooden boxes to assemble collages inside of (old drawers from old treddle sewing machines are nice), but also am working to expand that format. I recently came across a stack of antique wooden berry boxes (similar to the green plastic ones used to pack strawberries in today but made of very thin wood), but am a little worried about how to use them because they are somewhat fragile. I also am playing around with using three locker doors, they kind of fun because since they are only the doors, I could put anything behind them.

It looks like from your photos posted that you might construct your own boxes since you have many that are the same size. How does this work for you?

I used to want to work big, but recently became more interested in small things that draw the viewer closer to look at tiny details.
I wonder if this has anything to do with looking at the computer screen every day, you lean forward, zoom in, zoom in and magnify...

Reminds me of a friend I saw yesterday who told me that she had been helping her 90-year old neighbor search Ebay for a vintage egg cooker that the woman wanted to replace. After three days of looking at things to bid on on the G4 laptop, the elderly woman told my friend Maggie, "It's amazing how you get so much stuff in that little box!"
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Old 03-06-2003, 06:36 PM
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3D Collage cont...

Thats a great story about the old woman looking for the egg cooker!
In the scupture arena I have always worked at an intimate scale. I firmly feel that size and quantity in works doesn't always make it better or stronger.
I use to look for old pre-existing containers for my work, but those I found were either very old and weak or didn't quite fit the image in my head. Thats when I started to study woodworking more intensly (my main study had been in metal casting).
The book I have is "Evidence" I think it is a more overall picture of her work. Very beautiful stuff! She died of cancer some years back.
My work is within the estheticly comfortable size range But I continually seem to get smaller and much more voyeristic in my approach.
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Old 03-11-2003, 11:49 PM
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Question

Just thought I'd throw in my two cents worth on the subject . . . though I work primarily in stone, each sculpture is often made with a variety of materials. Sometimes this just means several types of stone, but very often found objects as well.

My own feeling is that the use of an object that has a previous 'history' to it (as opposed to something that one might consider simply a 'raw material') cannot help but connect both my thread (as an artist) and the viewer's threads within the fabric of the greater weave we all share.

Sometimes this is as simple as retaining the naturally-occurring patina on the surface of the weathered stone I use, or the specific use of an object that I have taken out of its intended context and subverted to my own personal (artistic?) 'fantasy.'

A situation I have encountered in using found objects is when they are too potent or too powerful an image to combine with other elements. I had a number of these collected objects over the years that I would keep trying to use, but each time I tried they take-over the sculpture as a whole, and I would regretfully have to put them back on the shelf and finish the work with some other design solution.

A few years ago I did come up with a sculptural solution for these particularly potent objects that at the same time allowed their power to be part of (my) greater whole and to also allow the viewer to focus on them as individual statements. I call the solution CORNUCOPIA (after the mythological ram's horn that provided the baby Zeus with food) -- it is an open-ended multi-element sculpture. (I triued to attach a picture but the software threw-up, sorry!)**
I would be interested in hearing your experiences with objects like these -- have you found these types of object (too potent to use), and (if so) have you then found a solution?

Cornell and Duchamp are certainly among the artists that I enjoy, and though I am not familiar with Candice Jurnigan ("Evidence" or "Dead Bug Collection"), I will look her work up. What do you think of Andy Goldsworthy and his use of 'found objects?'

I would like to comment on Jerrod's statement about how he feels about editions by asking if he has seen Duchamp's "Portable Duchamp" valise . . . I can't help but feel that though it would be a great artistic statement as a unique singular piece, the fact that it is a multiple 'edition' makes his statement all the more poignant.

Cheers,
Don Dougan

You may look at the most recently exhibited version of CORNUCOPIA on my site:
www.dondougan.com
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Old 03-13-2003, 11:44 PM
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Where to begin?...
You've introduced some interesting topics into the discussion, Don. In fact, I had to think about it a couple of days before I could respond.

I agree that some 'found objects' are too powerful to use, but then perhaps my using the term "found" is not exactly right. A found object sounds almost like it fell out the sky on your doorstep, when in fact what artists often refer to as found objects are "sought out objects"(either consciously or unconsciously).

I think it's interesting to use things that not only have a history as you suggested, but also have universal associations. Not only am I interested in the connections between people, but also the kind of layers of time that exist around everyone, i.e. their memories, present perceptions, and forethought.

I sometimes find it more difficult to work with natural elements, because unlike Andrew Goldsworthy whose work is so powerful and beautiful, I'm not that good. I have a tendancy to look ultraclose at things in nature, things like feathers, flowers, leaves, bugs, etc. and find myself overwhelmed. These type of things have no human history, but as far as sheer beauty and complexity of structure are far beyond anything I can imagine. I know artists who draw inspiration and derivation from that, but I kind of feel like, 'what more can I say than that!' Do you ever feel like that?
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Old 03-15-2003, 10:33 PM
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As you said, found objects are often sought after, but for me the seeking is more of a being aware of the expressive potential that something has (whether I quite literally find it in the woods, on the beach, or in the trash -- or on a store shelf) for my personal aesthetic. I say aesthetic because I can't think of a better word - but what I mean is the combination of my perceptions or my sensibilities to the material, the form, and the evidence of time or history embodied within the object. The expressive potential is sifted through the "layers of time that exist around everyone . . . memories, present perceptions, and forethought," as you so well described it.

As far as the natural objects without the "human history, but . . ." [with] " . . . the sheer beauty and complexity of structure," I can't help but feel those types of object are also filled with that same 'expressive potential' in regards to how we (as humans) tend to perceive them as symbols -- i.e. the microcosm that represents the macrocosm.
Added to that there are the associations implied by the layering of structures (FEATHERS, for instance, having the obvious structure of the fibers on the 'stem' as well as the structure of the color pattern that giving the bird a unique appearance, plus functional structure (the anatomical implication of warm-blooded flight) and then finally, our interpretive structure (from myths like Icarus to stories like Chicken Little) that give the viewer an understanding.

So to answer your question as to whether I ever feel like 'what more can I say than that!' the answer is an emphatic "YES!"
But on the other hand, that I feel that way doesn't stop me from trying to share my own 'take' on the wonderous things in the world I inhabit. The 'eternal truth' of the question, "What poem could be more lovely than a tree?," will not stop the poet from writing another poem, will it?

Tackling the question from a slightly different viewpoint could be illustrated by describing a work I did a couple of years ago. The piece is one of a series I began working on concerning both personal and cultural memories.
The series is in the form of the hulls of different types of ships, and they all contain something symbolic of personal memories of mine, but are also linked to the cultural associations of the particular type of ship or boat.
This particular sculpture was in the form of a visual paraphrase of the type of ship's hull one would normally associate with 17th-18th century vessels used by pirates. The sculpture is made of several types of marble, with inlays and fittings of black glass and fossil shark's teeth. As a whole, it evokes a certain sense of menace and the danger of the unknown -- sort of like the idea of being blindfolded and 'walking the plank.'
In the interests of brevity, I won't go into the specifics of the layers of meanings I find within the piece, but I titled it:
YO HO HO; MY LIFE AS A PIRATE
(if you want a bit more, a picture and some further 'conceptual' info is on my website)

Aside from the most obvious metaphors, the truth is that as an artist I cannot help but feel I am a pirate - stealing all those treasures (both the inherently beautiful wonders of nature such as feathers, trees, bones, stones, etc. and also anything I see in other artist's work that inspires me, too) and then making them MINE through using aspects of them within my own art.
Artist = Pirate, so to speak.

Of course I also see myself in other roles -- perhaps at the opposite pole (with students) I hope to be more like a Johnny Appleseed - carefully sowing and planting healthy seeds in places where each one will be nurtured and grow into uniquely fruitful artists over time.
(Hey, I look good with a pan on my head, too!) ?-)

And, speaking of roles . . . although it is the humble and polite thing to say you are not as good as someone else (such as Andy Goldsworthy or any other of the worthies we mention in the thread), don't you really think that deep down you are just as good, having just as many valid things to say, as anyone else? I think that an essential part of being an artist is having the confidence of your own worth. I'm not talking about being an egomaniacs (I have known some sculptors that were), but knowing that while you aren't better than anybody else your insights are just as valid as anyone else's. (of course, while I have the confidence of my own work's value, I also know my marketing skills and my modest ambition will prevent me from ever achieving the cultural impact that someone like Andy Goldsworthy has had, so in that way I am definitely not as good . . . )

Seriously, I hope I haven't gotten too far off the track of your thread, because the question you ask about seems to me to go to the root of why you would want to be an artist at all. Namely, it is a desire share one's unique perceptions about and within the objects you 'find' in the world you inhabit - and then share with the rest of us by exploring and presenting those perceptions in your art. It is a fine (but unusually difficult to keep in focus) line between using found objects as decoration, and using them as a gateway into our cultural psyche.


I will wrap this up by asking if you are familiar with either Jungian psychology or the work of Joseph Campbell?
I have found them both to be enlightening as to perceptions of symbolic meaning that might be found within my own work.
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Old 03-18-2003, 12:03 PM
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3d Found Objects cont...

Don Wrote--->I would like to comment on Jarrod's statement
about how he feels about editions by asking if he has seen Duchamp's "Portable Duchamp" valise . . . I can't help but feel that though it would be a great artistic statement as a unique singular piece, the fact that it is a multiple 'edition' makes his statement all the more poignant.

I have to say the Duchamp "Valise" referred to is personally very interesting as an edition of his previous works in print form. I also agree that the statement he made by editioning was a very strong one. I do however feel that if some of these editions were presented to me at one setting I am sure their unique quality would be lessened (in my mind). Having to deal with very powerful objects in my work I could not fathom at this time in my career to duplicate them for show or profit. Not to say in 10 or 20 years I wouldn't reproduce them on film or paper and create a catalog. Thank you for the statment it was an eye opener for me. I like to think
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Old 03-19-2003, 01:40 AM
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rather drink beer and watch Sopranos' reruns

Okay, just kidding with the title. But seriously, you guys are making me work - I've had to try to bone up on things I haven't thought about for a long time. And quite honestly, I'm having fun participating in this discussion.

As far as Joseph Campbell, I haven't read anything about or by him. Marcel Duchamp, I'll need more time, I don't have a great history of contemporary art theory (working on it though). Emily Dickenson, she certainly didn't let the beauty of nature get in the way of writing poetry.

Jung - now there's a can of worms. My overall impression is he's some guy trying to sum up some ultimate rules about why people think and act the way they do, and I'm not prone to following formulas set up by some old guys. Collective unconscious, archetypes, dreams, these are all very interesting things to think about, and I'm not denying that they don't strike a resonance with me.

But I also like to keep my eye on what's happening in the world around me. I think myths and archetypes are interesting and definately can be pirated (I like that artist=pirate!) for work, but also like to incorporate the fresh. Age-old symbols are well and good, but it's exciting to see someone exploring contemporary "myths." Earlier when I mentioned universal symbols, I was thinking more in terms of modern. (check out "Welcome Pinkish" in the Welcome section of this forum - mattresses! what a hoot!)

I hope I'm not attacking any of your sacred cows, but you must know that I'm a kalidescope of opinions. If you choose one side, I'll probably choose another.

I happened to find this quote in my reading by Frieda Fordham, contemporary/associate of Jung, in her introduction to Jung,

"Because myths are a direct expression of the collective unconscious, they are found in similar forms among all peoples and in all ages, and when man loses the capacity for myth-making, he loses touch with the creative forces of his being."

I don't know why some people think they must be artists. All I know is some people wake up everyday and think they must create something new. It doesn't seem to matter how good it is, they just want to do it. I guess we're some of those people.
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Old 03-19-2003, 09:12 AM
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p.s.

I forgot to mention that I liked the "lips" series on your web site!
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Old 03-19-2003, 12:58 PM
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Found objects continued

Dear Luckycat and Don, I am also enjoying the discussion, this is good stuff. Your last statement about making struck a cord with me and the following is a regurgitation of what I thought. As far as research, I believe it must be done. If not for the fact that you may be working in very common or not-so-fertil territory (if you will), so can svae yourself loads of time by seeing and reading what these people found out and use it to jump ahead. Yet, being the contradictory person I am you CAN I feel research too much. I very seriously believe, as do many others I have talked with, that too much reasearch can lead to brain bubbles that will stifle the artist natural instinct to make. Peronally when I have a head full of artists, scientists, and philosophers modes of thinking my output is dangerously curbed. Chuck Close makes 3 paintings a year, Rauchenburg made 3 works a day. Very different work but makes you think doesn't it.
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Old 03-21-2003, 05:57 PM
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Jarrod;
In this post I am replying to your older post - it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to say, and you've aleady got ahead of me again! (I will reply to the newer one after I can digest it)

I am not advocating ‘editions’ across the board – I know that many unique pieces would lose their potency if they were to be editioned (and I have seen many editions that I personally felt to be of questionable value except to the middleman. [Well, perhaps my nose IS too high in the air at times!]
Some works – especially those with found materials incorporated into them, rely on the unique combination of materials with their own history to express a meaningful statement. In my own work, CORNUCOPIA, as well as other pices cannot be editioned without diluting or [dare I use the word?] ‘profaning’ the concept itself.
On the other hand, though I rarely do a formal ‘edition’ of any of my pieces, I often use elements or forms taken from the same mold but modified and presented in different ways or in different materials. For instance, when I cast a particular piece in the lip series in bronze it creates a different statement than when I cast it in glass, . . . or paper, or ceramic. Each material serves to define and alter the same basic form (and I usually modify the forms to a greater or lesser extent when it comes out of the mold), thus allowing me to present it in a manner permitting a unique ‘statement’ for each piece. The individual pieces all retain a certain potency as they stand alone, but when they are exhibited together the variety within the similar form keeps the viewer from feeling like each one is just a re-hash of the previous work. [at least those viewers that talk to me about it feel that way . . . but, perhaps the ones that don’t like my multiplicities are too polite to say so?]

On a completely different side of the question, in my opinion, is what Duchamp did. His work is aimed at changing the viewer’s understanding of the singular value of art objects, as well as the very purpose of making art.

The two "Portable Duchamp" valise pieces that I have seen were (1) on exhibit in the Tate in London, and (2) in the permanent collection of the modern art museum in Rome. They both were displayed in a similar manner – open, with the contents partially stowed in their compartments and partially out on the surrounding surface on which the open case rested. There are some printed images of a number of his works in several pockets in the small valise (basically a briefcase), but packed in various segmented compartments there are also several of his most famous found-object ‘sculptures’ reproduced in miniature. I specifically remember the miniature R.Mutt porcelain urinal “Fountain,” and perhaps(?) also the stool with the bicycle wheel. I think the miniature of the ‘large glass’ was presented on a piece of clear material (glass or plastic) in a freestanding little frame structure similar to the two-sided presentation of the ‘original’ work. I remember wondering about the processes he used to create the multiples in the ‘editions’ of the miniature sculptures. I don’t remember the size of the edition, but I can’t imagine it was more than a dozen or two.

I think these packed-up valise editions of the “Portable Duchamp” are his way of saying to the viewer ‘everything you know is wrong’ in a polite little package (my thanks to Firesign theatre for that phrase). In much the same way he used the earlier work “Fountain” to turn the art world’s pre-conceptions inside-out, he has caused this viewer to re-evaluate my basic notion of what “ART” is. Then, on top of all that, he made it look so simple — when confronted by the reality of a suitcase packed up with all the ‘important’ work of an ‘important’ artist, I couldn’t help but say to myself, “Why didn’t anyone else [like me] think of that – it is so perfect!” . . . and perhaps so self-fulfilling of the ‘important’ description as well?”
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Old 03-21-2003, 05:58 PM
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LuckyKat;
Drinking a good beer (hey, that subject is whole new thread) and watching drama (I don’t get HBO, so no Sopranos for me) on TV can be a good thing for relaxing. Our “just want to do it “ minds need time to step out of the immediacy of everyday humdrum so they can re-focus on the ‘kaleidoscope’ of doing-it.

I don't have a great history of contemporary art theory either — but I know what I like (trite but true – sorry!) and I like to try and understand WHY (or at least HOW) I like what I like. Emily Dickenson’s work is one of the things I like, but for me her work is like a complete (finished) emotional statement that I can taste and savor. On the other hand, I don’t think I can say I particularly relish the flavor of Jung’s work — I would have to follow that metaphor by equating his ideas to the fork or the plate — useful tools with which to serve the tasty bits.

In fact, one of the reason’s I mentioned Jung’s name was that through being introduced to some of his ideas and case studies as a student years ago, I came to understand the open inclusive interconnected-ness of . . . errr, - everything(?). Here my word fails me — I don’t want to get into a metaphysical can of worms, but let me just say this: through the process of understanding Jung’s ideas, my explorations in my own work became less of a struggle and more of an enjoyable journey. I stopped trying to begin my (art)work with rationality, and instead I allowed myself to approach the work in a looser, and much more intuitive manner. I allowed my unconscious free rein, so to speak, and then afterwards applied rationality to figuring out what I did after I made it.

Isamu Noguchi put it very well in an interview, and, if memory serves me, what he said was this: “There are two types of artists in the world, the first type thinks about what they are going to make and then makes it. The second type makes it, and then figures out what they made. I am of the second type.”

I, like Noguchi, am of the second type. That may be one reason the found objects attract me for inclusion as elements in my work — they can become part of the ‘inspiration’ without my having to justify or understand their presence beforehand. They just are a ‘given,’ a focus with and around which I weave the expression in my work. Then, when it comes time to exhibit the piece and share the learning experience that it was (for me) with the viewer, that is when the rationality comes into play as I struggle for a title. Again, the access to my unconscious which those old classes in Jungian psychology made me aware of (or similarly Campbell’s writings on comparative mythology) allows me to figure out what exactly my intuition had been up to while ‘making’ the piece.

As far as a sacred cow, well, I not sure I have any cows, unless you count Hathor, the cow-headed goddess from Egyptian mythology. Over the years I have done three specific pieces of sculpture that, when it came time to apply rationality (ie - titling the work), her name was used.
I guess you could say she is alive and well in my mythology, and a personal “. . . direct connection to the collective unconscious,” if I may borrow some of your Fordham quote.

As far as “why some people think they must be artists . . . that they must create something new, no matter how good it is, and they just want to do it . . .”
I don’t know a good rational reason why I do it (it sure ain’t to get rich), but I do know that if I don’t do it I can’t enjoy life. When, for some reason (like ‘family vacation’), I can’t make something, I feel like I have an itch that I can’t scratch or a hunger I can’t satisfy.
I do know that I like the dealing with material, holding it, touching it, manipulating it and playing with it — in the same way that when I was little I liked to stack up wooden building blocks into towers, or attempt to build two-and-three deck card castles, or make dinosaurs out of clay, or roll myself tight-up into a rug.
Perhaps, for me, it is the simply the experience of learning about the greater world that is always around the corner, and then trying to share that with whoever will listen.
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Old 03-24-2003, 01:59 AM
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Arrow RE: Jarrod's March 19th post

Jarrod;

I agree with your statement in the March 19th post about over-thinking or over-researching the work — notwithstanding all the verbiage I have written in the last few posts! I am interpreting your use of the word ‘research’ as the cerebral interpretation or conceptual thinking side of making art.

When I am in the studio 'making' I don't think about all that stuff, instead it is the making of dust, the touch of the material, the feel of the tools in my hands that are the important things. It always has been, and I figure always will be for me.

After working I go in and clean-up, eat, and sleep on it. If I go to bed feeling that part of my approach to the current work is out-of-kilter or unresolved, I usually wake up with a vague sort-of knowledge of the direction to take.

Not that I get the answer in my dreams, but perhaps what I do get is a clue as to the direction to head towards — where the answer might be found.

After the sculpture is all done and it is ready to be exhibited (with a title), that is when I have to put the little gray cells to work. I have this compulsion to find the title that will complement and complete the sculpture. When I was only a few years out of art school this compulsion led me to use words for their syllabic or poetic sounds rather than for their meaning - several of these one-word 'poem-titles' were Sith, Eos, and Calypso.

As my work became more complex this method of titling no longer was working for me, so I began using selected words or phrases that evoked the feelings and sensations I 'experienced' during the making. And to do this, I had to dig into myself a bit, finding archetypes and mythic themes to be the truest and most evocative models for my conceptual grasp. Perhaps naturally I found myself interested in these things – reading about them because I would find them relevant or parallel to my own perceptions. When I find passages or descriptions that resonate with my personal life-experience I know I am getting close to something. But almost none of this cerebral ‘research’ activity takes place in the studio.

No, my studio is a place for doing and 'Making' - not for Thinking . . . Well, yes, I DO solve technical (material) problems, but I don't analyze them!
Perhaps I should add that my studio has been the same detached one-car garage for something over the last two decades, so I don't live-in or have a space to relax in the studio. It is full of worktables, materials, and tools - and one un-cushioned metal stool (sometimes you just gotta sit down!).

The titling (and subsequent self-analysis) that accompanies each sculpture is done just about everywhere else besides the studio. I usually have a little sketchbook with me, and when ideas strike I scribble or sketch. Some sculptures take several weeks to title -- but considering that the average 'major' sculpture may have been worked on intermittently for several years, perhaps that isn't too long. (So, who's in a hurry?)

I guess what I am trying to say is that I do think a work can be overthought — I often see students doing just that in design problems — but for me, the ‘thinking’ (which is what I think you mean by research), all happens after the piece is already done (‘done’ in the physical sense). In the ‘making’ I rely on my intuition and sense of the physical properties of the materials to guide my hand. Afterwards — well, perhaps rather than saying ‘afterwards,’ I should say: afterwords . . ?

After(many)words I hope you’re still awake,
Cheers, Don
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