Skip to main content

obsessive chasing desire

...the process in which the metal artist yields to their need to strike one piece of metal, with carefully shaped tools, for a very long time. Chasing is like drawing but usually in 3D—creating lines and relief to sculpt an image into a metal surface.

My Obsessive Chasing Desire isn’t a problem. More likely, it’s a functional necessity since I have elected to learn to chase, to really learn to chase, to work at the level of artists that I admire from history, and in the present…

Sample “Iris” study, drawn and chased on a sheet of flat 18 gauge copper, 
3.25 x 3 inches, 2013.

It was with some trepidation that I approached multi-media artist and mega-chaser Jeff de Boer, hoping for mentorship on this journey.

Jeff lives in Calgary, and he has created lots of fabulous public art around this city, such as 2009's "Light, The Universe and Everything"; he maintains a busy studio just a few minutes from the downtown city centre. But why would he agree to teach me, anyone, who will just take up his time and make a mess in the studio? During 25 years of very successful studio practice, Jeff has frequently employed or mentored other artists, offering them the opportunity to learn his specialist techniques of metal forming, construction, and chasing, used to such sublime effect in his armour for cats and mice. All he knew of me as a student is that I desire to be very good—eventually—and that I am committed to try.

I have been working with Jeff since January (hence I’ve been massively distracted from writing blog posts), and have loved seeing the changes in my work. It’s still early days, and the forms are small-scale—for jewellery or small picturesbut lines are starting to flow smoothly, forms are more generous and details are more likely to occur where I want them to be.

I’m a teacher myself, so I can’t help but analyse the “how” of a teaching situation, and this isn’t rocket science: it’s all about regular practice, being present in the work, noticing what the tools and materials do, and taking on increasingly tough challenges. Alongside the massive over-excitement caused by stepping into Jeff’s studio every fortnight and seeing his work in progress (yep, kid in a candy store), I am really aware of bringing a beginner’s mind to work: facing risk, letting go of precious samples with 20 hours work invested, and embracing the likelihood of failure in order to learn. Everything is about inquiry.

Sample Celtic design, an abstracted form of “King Solomon’s Knot” * chased on a 24 gauge copper dome, 2.25” wide, 2013. 

I really want to get to the next level, and I’m quick to notice if I feel my technique isn’t good enough—yet. By investing my time (obsessing), I’m loving that with increased skill comes an ease of working, and that delicious feeling of “flow” pops up too—those moments when we seem to find ourselves grinning as we work, for no apparent reason. In this case it’s because however hard/intriguing/seemingly unnecessary it may be to get that really tiny piece of metal to move just a fraction of a millimetre over there, I’m really, really happy to be doing this.

Visit jeffdeboer.com to see a wide range of Jeff’s work in cat and mouse armour, large-scale installations, space art, sculpture, and lots of “how to” pages.


*See Chapter 11 of “The Celtic Design Book” by Aidan Meehan. Published by Thames and Hudson.








Comments

Popular posts from this blog

my brand: I am a nerd

His & Hers Nerd Pendants. Sterling silver. 2011. There is no point in denying it: I am a nerd. I designed these pendants for the "Branded" exhibition at the fabulous Influx Gallery in Calgary this summer. I like to bring my background in science and natural history into my art work, and in this case, I also brought some political advocacy. In an era in which some cultures still deny females equal access to education, I used the loaded motif of the apple to create a context to present the writing to the viewer. Here's the full artist statement: His and her “ nerd ” pendants confidently declare affiliation with a tribe that delights in knowledge, education and technology. Nerdism nourishes the world around us, and we are proud of that contribution. His “ nerd ” pendant is about strength in identity. Styled after a traditional branding iron, the pendant is a rugged and substantial piece of silver, designed to perpetuate this important meme beyond one life

obsessing in public

obsessive chasing desire: the process in which the metal artist yields to their need to strike one piece of metal with carefully shaped tools for a very, very , long time. I will be doing a chasing metalwork demonstration at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Alberta, on Saturday December 5, 2015. I will have loads of samples - flat chased pictures, works in progress - and a very special holly sprig that I have been working on for over 90 hours… Look forward to seeing you there. “Run”. Brass portrait study. Chasing and repoussé. 14.5 x 9 x 3 cms. Christine Pedersen. 2014. ‘ Chasing ’ is the use of tools to create lines or texture marks on the surface of metal, it can be just like drawing. But the artwork can also be made into a three dimensional form by hitting and stretching the metal surface from behind—‘ repoussé ’—to sculpt relief, or volume, into the metal surface. The Statue of Liberty is probably the most famous repousséd object in the world - it’s also an awful l

hello you...

I always keep a piece from a new body of work: I need to spend time getting to know it.  #15 “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow: Orange and Red Slurpee” pinched porcelain vase form. Height: 8 inches. Christine Pedersen. 2015. And so #15 stayed with us, and I schemed up a delightful challenge for myself: in the name of art—and pictures for my blog—I would fill it with flowers for every opportunity I could make up for a whole year. Sweet. First up: a lovely (and very modestly priced) bouquet from the supermarket for Christmas 2015.  #15 “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow: Orange and Red Slurpee” pinched porcelain vase form. Seasonal flowers. Christine Pedersen. 2015. I always approach a vase thinking about the overall shape, as something to contemplate in my home, because most of the time it will probably stand empty. But as I make the piece, I end up imagining flowers and how they will fill it: how the stalks reach down to the bottom and push off at an angle; how wide a base nee