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Arboretum Planters

Arboretum planters

Arboretum planters

Arboretum planters

This set of 4 planter bins and trellis' were designed as an installation in The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's 2009 "Waterosity" exhibit in collaboration with Blue Thumb.

The purpose of the exhibit was to delight people's senses, educate about the number one polluter of our waters and inspire residents to be part of the solution. The installation was located on an existing stormwater runoff model site adjacent to a parking area with various levels of permeable pavement. Our work demonstrated how different parking lot pavement scenarios impact water quality.

The form and design of the trellises were inspired by the Art Nouveau movement itself as well as its characteristic organic plant-inspired motifs and highly-stylized, flowing curvilinear forms. The quintessential Art Nouveau decorative "whiplash" motif (formed by dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines in a syncopated rhythm) was meant to symbolically break societal preconceptions of art and nature and redefine their role in the traditional civilian experience. The movement encompassed the full scope of art and craft from architecture and furniture to household objects. This made art and nature a part of everyday life as well as constant reminders of the importance and inseparability of our connection to the natural world.

Steel, beeswax

Keychains

Keychains

Keychains
Photo © 2009 Jessica Bessette

Ryan and I created these hand-forged steel key chains. Mine swirled and curled into monogram letters, and Ryans flowed into organic shapes. They are temper colored with flame to iridescent shades of gold, purple and blue and finished with lacquer.

Steel, silicon bronze, lacquer

Burl Table

Burl Table

Burl Table
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace

Burl Table Top

Table Top
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace

This piece began as a gift. Another artist, a carpenter, just wanted to create something with a very cool material called Mappa burl, an Australian hardwood. It's gorgeous. The four quarters of the table top are reflections of each other. The effect inspired me to created a repetitive pattern with steel for the base that remained organic in nature. The two long sides are opposing reflections. The trick was to make the ends of the design match up so that it would flow. Ryan translated the drawing to a CNC document, placed a precise brake bend in the center of each side to match the angles of the top and TIG welded the two together. Adjustable feet and mounting plates were welded to the base for structural support. I tooled the surface freehand with an angle grinder and temper colored with flame. The finish is lacquer.

Mappa burl wood, steel, lacquer

Shwoop Lamp

Shwoop lamp

Shwoop Lamp
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace

This design was inspired by my fascination with several delightful organic byproducts of metal fabrication process and materials. The original drawing for the plasma cut shell was based on a flower bulb with the growth flowing from it's source. This organic muse influenced my process in that I usually torch temper color my work after it is complete. With this work I wanted it to grow and bloom on its own. When using a CNC plasma cutter you can control the speed of the cut, this affects, amongst other things, the penetration of temper colors into the body of the metal. I loved the crisp line of color surrounding every curvy schwoop of the steel. Copper has a much higher conductivity than steel so when polished and TIG brazed (a high heat process) the temper colors move quite far. The center tube of copper glows with six to eight inches of color on either end from the heat produced in affixing the industrial elements. The refined polish of the copper also reflects the shell from the inside adding an aesthetic dimension. The shell was plasma cut, and shaped with a manual roller...ugh. It was worth it. I love this one.

Steel, copper, cast iron, silicon bronze, lacquer

Cog Lamps

I have always been fascinated with machinery; cogs, sprockets, etc. I have collected pocket watches, typewriters, adding machines, check writers and other various mundane yet beautifully complex machines. I have taken many such machines apart just to see how they went together. The beauty of the connections and complex relationships inspire me. I began this series of lamps by choosing pieces that were substantial, peculiar and unique. I cleaned and prepared them to be welded and then began to play. I wanted to experiment further with copper tubing, but in addition explore the use of chrome coated steel tubing as it's crisp cool reflection juxtaposed with pitted aged steel was visually interesting. The distorted reflection creates a visually kinetic effect amongst the static machinery parts. The layers of bushings, tubing, cogs, sprockets and recycled lamp parts developed varying degrees of temper coloring depending on their proximity to the heat when the piece was joined. Ryan brought the silicon bronze element to a new level in that it was incorporated on several of these pieces as an aesthetic rather than simple joinery, creating more heat and subsequent interest.

Steampunk - For Sale

Steampunk cog lamp

"Steampunk" Cog Lamp
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace


This piece is inspired by my favorite aesthetic movement. "Steampunk" is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s where modern utilitarian objects are modded by individual craftpersons into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style.

Steel, chrome plated steel, brass, cast iron, silicon bronze, lacquer

Barely Blue

Barely Blue cog lamp

"Barely Blue" Cog Lamp
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace

This one involved a patina experiment. I fell in love with the painted blue metal base. The form was fantastic, the paint job was not. I used the wire wheel to burnish it to its barely blue state and finished with lacquer.

Steel, chrome plated steel, copper, cast iron, silicon bronze, lacquer

Pulley - For Sale

Pulley cog lamp

"Pulley" Cog Lamp
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace

The pulley wheel that serves as the base of this lamp recalled another of my favorite aesthetic movements. Art Deco was a popular international design movement from 1925 until 1939, affecting the decorative arts. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, functional, and modern.

Steel, coppper, silicon bronze, lacquer

Ruffle - For Sale

Ruffle cog lamp

"Ruffle" Cog Lamp
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace

This one reminds me of Shakespeare and his sophisticated "Ruff". I dedicate it to my high school English teacher. Robert Walker.

Steel, chrome plated steel, brass, silicon bronze, lacquer

Stocking Hooks

Stocking hooks

Stocking hooks

This series of hooks developed as the antithesis to the mainstream offerings in holiday decor. I love the holidays and have managed to collect more than my fair share of saccharine dressings for my home. These look vaguely snowflakish and serve as a balance to the standard fare. The cogs were cleaned and polished, the hooks were hand forged and TIG brazed together with silicon bronze.

Steel, cast iron, silicon bronze, lacquer

Stocking hook closeup

Closeup of stocking hook

Magnet Board

Magnet Board

Magnet Board
Photo © 2009 Jessica Bessette

In an effort to fulfill a need for organization and storage in my home office, we took the opportunity to explore a mixed media integration of circuit boards that had been donated by Oxygen Service, a welding supply company. The boards were taken from welding units, which seemed particularly appropriate for an INDUSTRYelle office piece...plus he's a super cute snaggle toothed robot guy. The "robot" plate is plasma cut steel scrap from another project. The rest of the board is a mild steel plate with the factory process temper colors and mill scale left intact and waxed.

Steel, printed circuit boards, wax

Wolf Wallace Family Portrait

Wolf Wallace Family Portait

Wolf Wallace Family Portrait
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace

I had been thinking for a while about how to translate elements of human character, emotion and experience through medium as well as process. This work allowed experimentation with the use of localized heat to create the families unique blend of personalities and balance.

This is a family portrait for close friends of mine rendered in steel from plasma cut curvilinear forms and a recycled industrial cog. The piece was temper colored with flame, "painted" with melted bronze brazing rod and finished with wax.

Steel, cast iron, low fuming bronze brazing rod, wax

Soror

Sketch of Soror

Soror sculpture and original sketch used
to create a file for plasma cutting
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace

I studied linguistics and much of my work reflects a fascination with the beauty of the written word. This piece was a study in continuity and an exploration of the flexibility of steel as a medium. I wanted to see if I could weave it together. The word means sister in Latin and the two O's were meant to create an infinite loop that holds the whole thing together. Ryan translated my sketch into several sections that were cut using a CNC plasma cutter then woven and welded together.

Steel, wax

Kids Blocks

Kids blocks

Selection of kids blocks and chess pieces
Photo © 2009 Kerry Wallace

The focus of one Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center fundraiser in the fall of 2007 was to introduce ourselves to the neighborhood. It was an open house style event held at Bancroft Elementary School. We had a slide show which featured images of our adult education and youth programming (The SPEAK Project). There were various pieces of art displaying the scope of fire art forms we would be exploring at the center. We were prepared to field questions about our services and our role in the community. This set of blocks was created as entertainment for neighborhood children who's parents had questions for us. Each block was TIG welded, hand filed and waxed by Ryan. Combined with the brass chess set it has become a memorable favorite for kids that have known the Fire Arts Center since before it began.

Steel, wax

Blossom Lamp

Blossom Lamp

Blossom Lamp

I have become the person that many people think of when they find a unique metal object. This is very fortunate as I often receive random strange metal things as gifts and am inspired to create. This lamp began as an antique nail cup that my friend Mark found. It looked like a bubbly petaled flower. I flipped it over and cleaned it up and the lamp began to take shape. I experimented with removing stripes of oxidized surface from copper tubing and temper coloring it. This process created a dramatic whorling color effect. The plasma cut shwoops were scrap steel cuts from another project. This is one of the first pieces where I really challenged Ryan by using completely dissimliar metals. His solution was to TIG braze it together with silicon bronze. This method has become a common design element in our work. It will always be one of my favorites.

Cast iron, steel, copper, silicon bronze, wax

Whiplash Hooks

Whiplash hooks

Whiplash Hooks

These mark the beginning of my exploration of the Art Nouveau "whiplash" which is formed by dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines in a syncopated rhythm. I drew them constantly and wanted to understand their role since at the turn of the century they were the quintessential Art Nouveau decorative motif. They were meant to symbolically break societal preconceptions of art and nature and redefine them in the traditional civilian experience. The movement encompassed the full scope of art and craft from architecture and furniture to household objects making art and nature a part of everyday life. Constant reminders of the importance and inseparability of our connection to the natural world. It was fitting that my exploration would take a utilitarian form.

I drew them in pencil, then Ryan scanned the drawing and created a readable document for the CNC plasma cutter. The sizes were made through changing the dimensions in the CNC document. He cut them and I hand tooled, heat formed, flame temper colored each piece and finished them with lacquer.

Steel, lacquer

Aerial View of Tomorrow

Aerial View of Tomorrow

Aerial View of Tomorrow

This piece was created for a friend that was opening a Dunn Bros. franchise at 19th and Lyndale. He needed something for the wall space over the computers and my recycled mother-board fascination was eager to express itself. One of the many things I love about these boards is that they look like tiny cities. I still rememeber the awe I felt as a tiny child the first time I flew over a twinkling city and a rural area's charming patchwork. The island of civilization laid out on the "hilly landscape" of cold corrugated galvanized steel is meant as a harsh reminder of the future we may yet face and the distopian aerial view we edge toward bestowing to our children.

Galvanized steel, printed circuit boards

SPEAK

SPEAK

SPEAK

This was the introductory piece for the SPEAK 2006 sculpture installation. The four most common languages spoken in Minneapolis are: English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali. The SPEAK sculpture uses the imperative form of the word "speak" -a plea to our youth- in each of these four languages. The form and design are inspired by two elements: the controversial language of youth graffiti art and the old tree standing stately -elegantly- at the fore of the installation space. Like the branches of the tree, the four languages in this piece are intertwined, connected, and ultimately bound by the same "root" meaning.

Steel

Chess Set

Chess set pieces

Parts of the chess set
Photo © 2009 Jessica Bessette

I worked in the metal fabrication industry for a while. I would have been bored out of my mind were it not for two marvelous elements: Books on tape to listen to eight hours a day while mindlessly repeating the steps required of my place on the line (Anna Karinina, War and Peace, Sidhartha and others I had never had the time to read), and Fred. Fred was the business owners father who had worked many years as a railroad man. His job had been to fix anything that broke. He was in his eighties and knew more about tools, fabrication, and life than I could wrap my head around and taught me about anything I asked him to. One of many fascinations was with the old Southbend lathe he had in his shop just outside his sons office. It was a beautiful old machine. He taught me how to use it as I made these chess pieces. Each piece is slightly different, hand measured with a dial caliper. As I finished each piece he would hold it up to the light, then regard it with a very serious face. He would check the measurments against my drawing and point out the many imperfections. Then he would smile and laugh, "You gotta feel for it girly!"

Brass

Portrait of Richard Dodge

Portrait of Richard Dodge

Portrait of Richard Dodge

The whorls and shwoops that show up again and again in my work had their roots in music. I love the movement...the flow. My dad was a musician and this was to be an album cover. He never finished it, though.

Acrylic on canvas

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

The use of mechanical elements in my work goes back long before my life as a metal sculptor. I loved to visit a watchmaker on Hennepin and Lake named Marshall Ferster. He repaired antique watches and fountain pens. He taught me about watches by putting me to work taking them apart. I made a set of tools from sewing needles that I was quite proud of. The most fascinating thing I found was the level of craftsmanship. Layers and layers into a well made watch I would still find ornate engravings. Only another watch maker doing a repair would be privy to the design. It was a nod from one craftsman to another.

This painting describes the dichotomy most of us face: The side that gets things done, the machine. The other side floating and calm. Of course we all need the balance. I was in my early twenties when I painted this so my machine looks a little stormy and frustrated with my floaty side, but it was an honest self portrait.

Acrylic on canvas