The following post is by Jim Kransberger, an artist who has graciously agreed to share his thoughts about his basswood and paper mache sculptures, as well as a few interesting notes about life in general.Â (I’ll definitely be watching for that book when it comes out.)
Edit 9/2/2011 – Jim’s work has been showcased in the latest Artsee Magazine. To see the entire Artsee article and all the images of his basswood sculptures, click here (leads to an image-filled pdf file, so give it time to load). Thanks for sharing, Jim.
I came to Papier Mach because of it’s low cost and quickness. Papier Mach is additive (you pile it on) in construction and does not force a huge commitment, beyond a minimal investment of time, to evaluate the possible success in finishing a work.
My entire life as a maker of anything is all of twenty months. In January of 2010 I bought a couple books on Automata (mechanical) sculpture. Made a couple pieces, entered several judged exhibitions, winning some acceptance, got a few galleries to represent me. Have been included in a new book Humor in Crafts that will be released next Spring.
This piece was judged into THE BASCOM – AMERICAN CRAFT TODAY exhibition in October, last year. The judge was Carol Sauivon; she’s the executive producer of the PBS TV series Craft In America. She selected is So who’s the potter, Omar?
The material that most automata is built of is basswood. The downside of automata is that there are few fellow automata makers to converse with and even fewer collectors. Automata is fragile and if left on open display, it will be mishandled (broken). So I switched making the sculptured basswood figures without the mechanics. Again, some success and been accepted into the Southern Highlands Craft Guild and will be (hopefully) accepted into the Piedmont Craftsmen Guild at their annual show in November.
Here’s what my basswood looks like: CrownMan . . . The man who thought himself a crow.
And, Mime Doing Time
I live in Asheville, North Carolina where there is only one wee hobby shop. That shop basically serves the radio control hobbyist. The bits and pieces of brass rod, and the like, are usually out of stock. So I sought out an alternative set of materials . . . wallah, I found Paper Mache!
My first piece was: Drowned in Red Ink. (Jonni posted it a while back.)
Sent photos to both political parties and got a “nice work” back from Karl Rove. In this piece, my first piece, I learned to not use strips of Kraft paper. Random pieces don’t produce noticeable parallel lines. My wife is still wondering where her bit of cardboard tube has gotten to.
My second piece was: Goya ‘Odalisque’ Crow.
Seems every famous artist does an ‘odalisque’ nude at some point. I may never become famous but I can claim to have completed my ‘odalisque’ piece, should fame ever over take me.
This piece has an #9 fence wire armature. It’s stripped with newsprint and then covered with a slurry of Elmer’s Glue-All, Elmer’s Art Paste and Whiting (chalk, available from a potters supply). I wanted a smooth surface so as to not have to tell everyone I was not using basswood. More often than not, I see a slight curl in the lip of an interested party at the mention of Papier MachÃ©. So don’t pick at scabs.
Next came: End of Indecision
The off balance looking piece stays upright due to 1.25 pounds of embedded fishing (lead) weights. Again, a #9 wire armature.
Piece four is: Feathered Friend
The armature here is a piece of plywood. The crow’s body and the hand are basswood. The crow’s wings are hammered aluminum flashing. The base is just a chunk of wood from Lowes.
Number five is: Flower Girl
Fencing wire and some tiny paper flowers that my wife brought back from Mexico. Plywood armature, metal foil, paper strips, and about a quarter inch of very thick paste of Jonni’s formula. Once dried, I smoothed the surface with a Porter-Cable profile sander.
The last four of the five pieces were shown in a gallery’s booth at the Folk Fest show in Atlanta last weekend. Folk Fest is the largest Folk Art presentation in the U.S., over 100 galleries attend. I do not make Folk Art, I make Contemporary sculpture and expected little. The first three pieces were obviously not classifiable as Folk Art, but the fourth, Flower Girl caught someone’s eye and went home with them.
I also had three basswood pieces mixed in with the papeer mache work at Folk Fest. When someone showed interest in my work, I talk a bit about it, until they loosened up, and then asked them which were of wood and which were of paper. They couldn’t tell ! In time, when I can establish that my work equal in both mediums, I came stop this game of which-is-which.
I am really not delighted to explain what I am saying in or with my work. Explaining the point of a piece is admission that someone has missed the point . . . could be me, could be them. In the end, people either get it or they don’t.
My twenty month journey as a maker, has taught me two things: Humor and/or Funny doesn’t sell; people do not spend “good” money easily on work that they can’t brag about. All good work communicates something. Oh, yes, another thing: life is easier when you are cooking for more than one . . . when I have multiple pieces going I keep my fingers out of wet paint and or Jonni glop . . . I don’t have to sit on my hands and wait, wait, wait. If I had to do one piece at a time, I’d soon find myself bored to distraction.
I made a list last night of possible new pieces. Came up with 21 different concepts. Most require that I become a better painter. It is said that “. . . the art is in the edges” and atop everything sits the top edge: paint. So I enrolled in a Beginners Drawing course at our community college yesterday morning. It starts September 13th.
What a great venture making sculpture has become.