Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sandpoint, ID Art Days - Galleries & Mobile Making

So was I arty and mistakeful on vacation, you ask? Why yes, yes I was. My sister and I managed to make two of my five days in Sandpoint, Idaho, art focused. 

Sandpoint is a small art town in northern Idaho ("the skinny part"), so twas easy to make a day of wandering around galleries. The most varied and lovely work we saw was at Art Works, a cooperative gallery run by local artists selling their wares. Jewelry, pottery, nature photography of the area, watercolors, the lovely if somewhat standard fare of a tourist retail store, but also interesting sculpture made of fired clay, wood and feathers, oil paintings of celestial lovelies, and a number of odds and ends that I was pretty sure I could make (e.g., beaded key chain fobs). 

Sandpoint has a lot of glassworkers, as they used to have a local studio run by the town, now closed sadly, so there was a particularly heavy emphasis on fused glass, jewelry, clocks, plates, etc., in many of the stores. We also poked our heads into a painting studio, which, if I could find her business card again, I would add a plug for, as it was lovely, brightly colored, festive work. I strongly recommend ending any such day by having the baked brie and a glass of wine at the Coldwater Creek Wine Bar. Yum.

Throughout our wanderings, we were busy plotting our own projects.  My sister had recently received five boxes of fabric from my mother, but wasn't feeling the quilting vibe for using some of it that way. And, of course, with my ugly mobile history, it seemed a natural extension to try making some fabric mobile prototypes a few days later. 

My sister is infinitely more organized, so she wasted no time pulling out the fabric, selecting some pieces and quickly cutting shapes, and got me rolling on my own choices.  She then ironed and I pinned shapes so that she could sew them on the treadle sewing machine.  From there, she dug out the grommet tool she'd found at a yard sale (I had tool envy, until we ran into some design flaws, which made it less groovy), and after some failed experimentation, we got her husband signed up for putting grommets in all our shapes so they were easily hung.  

And then there was the wire -- the fun part, in my opinion, particularly since I'm a metal junky.  My sister had a role of electrical fence wiring lying around, which actually worked out well (except it came with somewhat alarming warnings about remembering to wash your hands after use.  It may be coated in something awful). 

What was interesting to me is how different Susie and I approached the random design aspects of mobiles.  She found patterns online and worked to modify those for her needs.  I pulled off a hunk of wire, found a place to hang it off the chandelier, and then connected other pieces willy-nilly, hoping to find balance points with the fabric pieces and lengths of wire. Sometimes, there were failures, and pieces fell off, sections collapsed.  Susie had symmetry; I had random zigzag cheats built into my wire to help shift balances slightly without total reorganization, although in some aesthetic way, I was harboring ideas of a larger balance within the piece.

In any case, an enormous amount of fun. 

And here are the results.  Sadly, pictures don't do them justice, as they remove the movement...

Susie's prototype:

And mine, reassembled in DC - I forgot to photograph it in Sandpoint - so it's totally different than the last time I put it together.

As prototypes, there are, uh, issues, things that we would do differently, from choosing different shapes to finding less cranky grommets, to having cleaner edges and wire shapes, etc. More than that, however, it was a fabulous way to spend a gray day listening to 1980s pop music, singing and playing with wire. Successful art in my book. And perhaps the birth of an industry. You never know.

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