Freedom Plan is Working!

The grand plan — to build up an inventory of finished crows/ravens to free up an hour or two of studio time each day to make whatever I want to make — is working! Crow orders help provide a good ba$e, allowing me freedom to experiment with mixed media sculpture.

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Recent “Grand Slam” order on Etsy, for one of every crow/raven design I make! Nice order!

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See seeds of ideas for this sculpture a couple posts back. Hand hammered aluminum, one of a kind, available on Etsy (click on image)

 

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No, it’s not a mask, just goofing around…
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Nearly completed hand hammered metal sculpture to hang on wall…faux taxidermy style
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New goat sculpture in process, I try to add one or two new parts each day. Note handmade copper rivets above nostrils; I can only use them where I have good hammer access to both sides, otherwise I use aluminum blind rivets.
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Beginnings of new goat sculpture, three or four times as large as previous goat sculpture

It continues to amaze me just how difficult it is to carve out time to sculpt! So many competing demands…each day is like out-of-control whack-a-mole! (But at least I have lots of hammers now  😉 )

On the positive side, it’s *so* encouraging to have my reward (free sculpting time) only hours away (“if I finish these six crows/ravens, and these five errands/tasks, then I can sculpt!”) instead of months (building up inventory of around 150 finished crows/ravens) or years (whole house remodel spanning 2014/15/16). This may be about as good as it’s gonna get…we’ll see…I’ll continue to stave off outside obligations, and continue to find efficiencies in daily tasks, to scavenge as many extra minutes as I can for free sculpture time each day!

Longstanding goal reached…

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This entry likely won’t mean much to anyone but me…but part of the purpose of this blog is for me to be able to look back at where I’ve been…so I want to document/celebrate this major accomplishment: Today I caught up on crows/ravens! It’s a goal I’ve fantasized about for years: to get ahead of the game by filling all my 11 inventory boxes (one for each design) with nicely burnished, ready-to-ship sculptures. Today I finished! I now have a “cushion” of around 130 finished pieces to shield me from the tyranny of the urgent.

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Why is this a big deal, you may ask? Well, previously when a large crow/raven order came in, I’d have to stop whatever I was working on and spend the next several days or weeks on non-stop casting, burnishing, shipping. Often the gallery who placed the order had waited until they were completely out of one or more designs, so there would be urgency to get the order out. And whatever self-expressive project I might have been working on before the order came in was all but forgotten…momentum/energy dissipated. But NOW, I’ll be able to ship right away; and to replenish my inventory I won’t have to suspend my self-expressive work but rather can spend two or three unharried hours a day on crows/ravens, with the remainder of each day FREE to work on fresh, experimental artwork… Guilt Free!

This new system also gives me an easily definable stopping point: full boxes. Once they’re full, I can make whatever I want — all day, every day! (and did I mention, Guilt Free?)

Let’s see…this will be the free-est I’ve been since…well, for many many years…decades?!?…or maybe ever. It’s been a long struggle toward freedom, and I’ve aged (considerably) in the meantime, but I’m really looking forward to getting back a sense of play, exploration and experimentation in my work!

 

Back to Life!

After a year of voluntary banishment (see previous post), my inner artist is now finally re-inhabiting my corporeal body! My goal was for this to happen by April 15, so: mission accomplished. Glad I did the remodel, glad it’s over.

First fun project: figure out how to make lightweight, break-resistant goat horns from non-toxic materials, for a faux taxidermy wall sculpture. The photo shows some of my trial & error steps toward a solution:Steve Eichenberger artistNote the principal & interest bar graph…kind of a non sequiter you may think…but an online interest calculator seemed as quick a way as any to generate a logarithmic progression, which I then used to mark off the lengths of horn segments on left. That was fine for two dimensions, but how to get sweet compound curves in three dimensions? So I then messed around with stapling a paper model, thinking I might be able to make horns from three cutout pieces of sheet metal or similar, joined along their three common edges. But I wouldn’t be able to freeform / fine tune the curves if the sheet material were pre-cut…so combining the two ideas — segments + three shared edges  — led to my favorite idea so far: solid segments joined by three flexible edges (hand carved wood segments with wire struts). Whether or not I ever actually use this particular idea, the “getting there” is a perfect example of my favorite part of the process: conceptualization > exploration > experimentation > discovery!

My return to freedom won’t be like stepping through a door, but more like fording a wide stream; because I need to make more than 100 crows/ravens to replenish my exhausted inventory and for gallery orders, which will consume the majority of my energy for the next four to six weeks. But “after that”  …    (I’ve been promising myself “after that” for so long that it’s hard to believe I’ll ever arrive, but I’m clinging to the likelihood that I will…)

Hopefully I can find an hour or two for experimentation here and there even in the midst of crow-making.

Overall, I’m very aware how fortunate I am, and am living my life immersed in constant gratitude.

 

Where am I?

I miss me! About a year ago, Jackie and I decided to remodel our 1950’s ranch house. We got bids. They were outrageously astronomical! Several years’ worth of income! So I talked my artist self into going on sabbatical for a year so I could use my one and only corporeal body to do the remodeling myself, with the ‘carrot’ that after that, my artist self would then be free to make art for years to come — and in nicer digs.

My goal all along has been to give my body back to my artist self by tax day 2016. That deadline is approaching, and I’m optimistic I’ll make it.

(I’ve been keeping up on crow/raven orders for Etsy and for several galleries & shops, but other than that I haven’t been making *any* self-expressive, experimental work.)

I put my Etsy store on ‘vacation’ (hah! some vacation) a month or so ago to help maintain my sanity as I tackled remodeling our main bathroom. We gutted it to the studs & subfloor, removed old wiring. I cut a big hole in the exterior wall, open to the backyard, to get a one-piece fiberglass shower unit into the room…yes, it was as crazy as it sounds, but it worked…plus now we have a nice new much-bigger-than-was-there-before window where the hole was!  We did spit-baths for too long, but now the new shower is operational, I installed new floor last week, and had first flush of new toilet yesterday! Progress.

The bathroom is the last biggie on my list. Completed list items include: all new kitchen with lift-up cabinet doors, all new deck with cable railing & aluminum decking, new flooring throughout house, a dozen or so new electrical circuits, air conditioning (the house had none before), two new picture windows & new patio slider, all new plumbing clear to the street, all new roof/gutters, septic system repaired, plus many tangential projects.

When I do return to self expressive artmaking, I’m expecting it will be in sculpture, not painting. Probably mixed-media sculpture — combining what I’ve learned by working in several different media in past years/decades. I’m really looking forward to returning this ol’ body back to my artist self, and seeing what we’ll make.

New Wall Art

Faux Taxidermy, Rabbit, Hare, wall sculpture by Steve Eichenberger

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Recent experimental new direction / playing with new (to me) materials / letting my hands just make / my inner boss demanded non-toxic (for longevity of the artist), break resistant (to reduce stress of shipping, reduce packaging materials needed for shipping, reduce cost of shipping), light weight (for ease of hanging on a regular ol’ nail), and fun to work with (to keep that capricious inner artist dude reasonably happy…high maintenance fellow, he is!).

I experimented with making boat shapes (precursors to ears) of several different materials/recipes/sculpting methods/armatures/glues and so on  until I arrived at a combination of materials and methods that resonated with me (and met my inner boss’s criteria). I didn’t know exactly what to do next, so I just “did something,” thinking it might serve as a support for something else, but I ended up liking the supposed “undersculpture” so much that I didn’t want to cover it up. So I didn’t. And I put it on Etsy, and it sold! (Thanks B.A. in Texas!) The customer says she loves it, and that it looks better in person than the photo. Even my hard-to-please inner boss had to agree that this experiment was/is a success.

I have a second wall rabbit more than half done, but the holidays are looming so I’m being a good little deferred gratificationer and making ravens, crows, and more ravens so I don’t run short of them…but if/when I get caught up sufficiently on them, I look forward to continuing my experiments with faux taxidermy sculptures.

Faux Taxidermy, Rabbit, Hare, wall sculpture by Steve Eichenberger

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Above is the sketch that made me want to make a sculpture of it. I’m old enough to be amazed by the pageant of digital tech — it seemed like magic to draw this with just a fingertip on a touchscreen Chromebook! This was the first project where I did all digital (rather than pencil on paper) conceptualizing. Kind of sad in some ways, but liberating and fun in others.

Jackie’s Holiday Show…with a little of Steve thrown in around the edges

Nov 30/Dec 1, and Dec 7/8, 10 to 4, at our tile studio in Tualatin, OR, map here.

If you want the fancy dancy official email invitation we sent out last night, ask me and I’ll forward it to you.

90% of the show will consist of ceramic sculpture and paintings by my favorite artist, Jackie Hurlbert (in fact I like her so well I’ve lived with her since 1993).

I’ll have a “seconds sale” of my cast crows/ravens (first quality sold only through galleries), and a ragtag lot of ceramic masks, maybe some portrait paintings, and hundreds of tile overruns, nice seconds, and glaze experiments for you to clink through.

Hope to see you there!

Steve Eichenberger crows ravens
Steve Eichenberger crows ravens
Steve Eichenberger crows/ravens
Steve Eichenberger crows/ravens
Jackie Hurlbert artist
Jackie Hurlbert artist
tiles laid out for studio sale
tiles laid out for studio sale