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twenty: a love story

“Twenty” was a complex piece to make real; it started by sharing in a dream… What is the client imagining? What can they see and feel?

And there it was in my hands, the finished piece: thick, lush, textured, a golden and hefty gem-set brass carabiner, with my thumb flicking that addictive gate-wire! The imagined carabiner had a haptic, emotional identity before material, or sketching. It came to life through our massively powerful human ability to transmit the idea of The Thing between us. Everyone’s a maker when they choose to spend a moment visualizing the thing made, finished, right there in front of them. It’s a delicious first step. And it sends the real-world maker off to find the right tools…

And there’s the rub: the idea of the thing isn’t enough to make it real, because there’s still all the mess and details and skill of the making. That’s where the maker or artist chooses to fall into building the dream.




This is the "making of" video for a commission celebrating a 20th wedding anniversary. My client proposed a decorative working carabiner, set with gems honouring the birthdays of his five family members (from left to right: emerald, fire citrine, peridot, Canadian diamond, aquamarine).

Keep reading for more on process and music…
The carved and chased imagery of the canoe, mountains, waves and climbing rope wrapped around the form create a never-ending adventure: from the river, up through the forest and camping in the mountains, to the glacial traverse where the family are roped together, helping each other on the journey.

As the project developed and we talked about how to display the carabiner, my client selected to have me sculpt a clay plinth. This had just become my dream commission: I would be able to unite my favourite media:) The form of the plinth and the smooth white porcelain continue the look and theme of the imagery on the carabiner, with ripples under the boat, and wind-swept glacial cornices.

With heart-felt thanks to my client and his family for a wonderful artistic opportunity, and very best wishes for a lifetime of adventures together!

Thanks also to my mentor Jeff de Boer, instigator of LEXM.

A word about music:
The music to the video is "Circling" by the excellent Fourtet, from their album "There Is Love In You".  Available on itunes.

I love music, I listen to it a lot. And I buy a lot of music - including the album that the piece used with the video came from, that’s how I knew the song. Musicians need to be paid for their work, just like all artists. Exposure hopefully makes more sales—but it’s a hope, there’s no predictability or guarantee—so exposure always has to be part of an equitable bargain or sharing process, because none of us can buy food or pay mortgages with exposure.

The publisher of Fourtet’s music allow it to be used with the caveat that viewers may need to see some advertising at the start of my video. That’s the payment for the music. I wish there were other options to allow music licensing, because I dislike random (or even worse heavily sponsored and utterly uninteresting) push marketing as much as anyone else. It’s not a perfect system, but at least I was permitted to use some music I really enjoy.



Technical notes: 
I am working on a magazine “how to” article for this piece. Fingers crossed I get to publish it, and I will continue to post more details here. I hope you have enjoyed this, and please feel free to email questions or post a comment :)

Read a thought-provoking article in The Guardian, all about material culture and making, and the impacts that it has on us.

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