I doodle in three dimensions, manipulating silver paper or Blue-Tac to make shapes that entertain me. In some cases this helps me explore a form, a leaf shape perhaps or the flowing lines of a bird.
One day in 2013, not thinking of art at all, I peeled a tangerine. The skin came away very easily and I found myself holding a single piece of peel. This had once formed something close to a sphere. Now it was a flexible, almost flat, almost S-shaped piece of skin. I played with it of course, and soon realised the potential it had for creating interesting abstract forms, as you can see on the right.
Tangerines have peel appeal. They seem to have inspired some wonderful German electronic music. Perhaps they could inspire me. Perhaps within that S-shaped form are more tangerine dreams.
I had experienced on my Art course the excitement of transformation. You take a form, a shape, an idea perhaps and transform it until it goes beyond the original into realms unimagined. I had done that, transforming a plaster mold of Ailsa’s back by slicing it up, selecting a piece, inverting it, adding more plaster and a plinth, smoothing it and painting it white.
This is it on the left, to all intents and purposes a piece of abstract art. Only Ailsa and I know just how how non-abstract it really is.
So I set about transforming a tangerine's peel, mapping out how I would cut it to release another form that I could then transform.
before incision and transformation
Lead is a great metal for experimenting in. It is easy to cut, to bend and hammer gently, to create models which might lead to similar work in steel or copper. Here are some results, my first attempts:
The shape I cut before shaping it to find out which forms worked.
Some of the Results
The first two are basically bowls, made to develop my shaping-with-a-hammer skills. They are easily deformed and could poison anyone using them as food containers.
The third form, and others similar to it were disappointing, not a patch on tangerines.
However the one on the far right is a shape I really liked, with its the sense of something organic winding out of a base. I set about translating it and decided to work in sheet steel.
The pictures, I hope, speak for themselves.
Shaping in steel
The shape is cut using a plasma-cutter.
The edges are ground smooth.
The beating begins, in this case with a soft-headed neoprene mallet.
A hole has to be drilled in the tip of the piece. This is because it has to be hung up to be coated.
First it is abraded by blasting steel powder at it. This removes any rust, and creates a pitted surface for coating.
It is then sprayed with molten zinc. It solidifies on the pitted surface and will prevent any rusting.
It is finished in a powder-coated polymer. This is sprayed on as a powder, then melted in a curing oven to give a durable, attractive finish.
Powder-coating is an industrial process, but many companies will do small-scale work, like Mastercote in Norwich. Company staff are really helpful, especially Mal.