Saturday, April 30, 2011

Playing With Accordion Folds

This week started with a few of those days. You know those days. The ones where you find yourself  in front of your work with absolutely no idea what you need to do. This doesn't happen much to me, so when it does it's unsettling. I guess it's just classic, run-of-the-mill creative block, but one of the great things about my work is that (generally) inspiration is no further away than a flip through the tin stash. Almost without fail some tiny, previously unnoticed detail catches my eye and--voila! Instant Block-Be-Gone. Not on Monday though. Or Tuesday. By Wednesday I had actually caught up on some paperwork, so things were getting desperate. Over two days without making something is really pushing it for me.

On Wednesday night after the kids were in bed I stepped back out to my bench and, for reasons I already don't recall, started folding longish, thin strips of metal. What I got were these odd, slightly random, but strangely appealing peaks and valleys. I played around some with pairing them up or connecting them in various ways, but ended up liking them best in their simplest form. Shocking for me, I know. I decided to make a few of them into pendants to see if they had potential.
Then I started folding more strips. Wider. Narrower. Longer. Shorter. My work space started to look like the factory floor where they make all that crinkled shredded paper used for stuffing gift baskets. It was a mess. But that's the cool thing about the creative process--a banal mess is often actually the doorway to clarity. (DO NOT tell my kids I said that!)

I picked up one of the long, thin strips and started pushing the staircase-like folds more closely together. AHA! This changed the look entirely and started me thinking about all sorts of applications. I rejected earrings pretty quickly, (though depending upon the response, I may revisit those possibilities) and went fairly purposefully to rings.
The most intriguing thing to me so far about these pieces relates to their structural integrity. Flat tin is actually a pretty flimsy material--which in part is why it's so fun to work with. It's thin and easy to cut, however, anything bigger than an inch in diameter will bend too easily, limiting what you can do with the material. Oddly, (or maybe not if you have a better grasp of physics than I do) if you form the metal even slightly, its structural integrity is significantly improved. That's part of the reason I use so many domed circles in my work--they are just stronger.
Folding is a new way for me to create structure and rigidity, but it also has a risky downside. The tin is happy to bend once, maybe twice, but much more invites disaster. Well, disaster from a makers standpoint at least. Steel, unlike softer metals such as silver and copper, is brittle. It will bend, but is more inclined to break. Working within this materially imposed constraint piques my interest.

I wish I better understood the brain and all its random (yet not?) goodness. Or, maybe I don't. Part of me loves the magical unknownness of it all and suspects that understanding things better doesn't actually make them better. I'm inclined to think this is part of the magic sauce of art. I don't have any answers, but I do know that brains need to go through the process of discovery and making things one sure way to that work. If you haven't made anything for more than two days then get up from the computer and go make something. Your brain will thank you. Promise.


Katja said...

I love the rings!

adaptive reuse said...

Thanks Katja! Did you see that you won the vintage swizzle sticks? You should send an email with your address so I can get them in the mail to you!