November 13, 2011

SunDrops: another new collaboration with David Little

David Little is a fantastic blacksmith in Meredith, NH. You can see older posting on my blog about other pieces we have done together. He and I began collaborating in 2004, and almost every year since then, we have come up with new projects to create together. Some are commissions for clients, and some are for exhibitions. This summer we premiered an entirely new design concept for the Living With Crafts exhibit at the League of NH Craftsmen's Annual Fair at Sunapee, NH.

It began as a drawing I made five or six years ago, but we never actually built it. I have always liked the concept, but since it is more three dimensional than our other pieces, the sketch could not do justice to the essential forms, so we never got a client interested in commissioning this piece. This year, we took the leap of faith to build it for the LWC exhibit, and it could not have been a bigger success. David and I love the way it came out, and it opens up a whole new branch to our growing portfolio of designs. It also won two prestigious awards at Living With Crafts: Best Collaboration, and Best in Contemporary Design. There were so many amazing pieces in the exhibition, so we are honored to be selected by the jurors.

An interesting bit about how the design evolved: the original drawing was quite a bit taller and proportionally narrower, and that form is equally dramatic. But it would only be appropriate for a room with a very high ceiling. In coming up with the final drawings for LWC, it was obvious that it needed to be re-scaled to suit the exhibition hall. In doing that, we realized it could easily be scaled in many ways: wider or narrower, taller or shorter, and with shades as small as 10" diameter or as large as 18." All the variations we played with looked good! What we settled on is a fairly small rendition, which was appropriate for the space and also the Terry Moore Table over which it was going to be placed.

When we had it all built, we realized it needed a name. Originally we had been referring to it as "Tri-Icicles,"
which made more sense when it was a much taller form. But in this shorter configuration, it looked less like icicles. And when the shades were suspended from the steel and lit up, the coloration and glow was so much warmer feeling than anything having to do with ice and winter. Although it is not literally mimicking any natural floral form, it seemed reminiscent of something growing and organic. Suddenly the word "SunDrops" came to
mind, and that title resonated instantly. Now we couldn't imagine it being called anything else!

One other note about this piece. Working on two dimensional paper to draw three dimensional forms is limiting. The interplay of lines sweeping through space is entirely different depending on what angle the piece is seen from. And even if I can imagine what the lines on the paper mean when it is translated to three dimensions, it is far from an ideal way to present to a prospective client – the dynamic range of dancing shapes is confusing and ambiguous. So I am now learning how to make 3D models out of copper wire and tubing, annealing the metal so it bends sinuously, and soldering the joints. I still have to work out some tricks for how to hold the odd shaped pieces together while I solder, but the process of bending and arranging the components is fascinating. Just a simple thing like taking three arc-shaped elements and holding them together in different ways provides for infinite choices. The aesthetic and functional results are fascinating. I have no doubt that this new way of designing is going to open up a lot of new project opportunities.