Height/ 37". Width / 11".
Weight/ Grunt! Heavy!!!
Hours in the making: 96
Approx 900 nails used.
During my years as an art student 1973-76 I encountered metal sculpture using oxy-acetylene welding methods. In 2002 having purchased a MIG electric welder I was keen to have a go and see if I could produce work with this tool.
After a number of stumbling attempts and with some considerable trepidation I got started. In May this year I started a series of sculptures based on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse using part ceramic heads with welded metal armour and bodywork. Having finished Death & War I am halfway through Plague.
Meanwhile I decided to start this piece, which for want of a better title is called the Nail Hare. It comprises of a basic skeleton/armature of 5mm thick welding rods overlaid with 75mm flathead nails. The nails provide a standard "filling-in" medium with which I can flesh out and create the outer skin. They are labouriously laid on and then spot welded into place. Once a sizeable area has been covered I then go back over the joins and gaps with the torch to create a texture .
As I am by no means an expert welder, puddles, dribbles and bubbles (especially if you forget to switch on the CO2 supply) of the molten metal are formed which I can later attack with a grinder. Although some areas I leave as the texture is quite interesting and pleasing, despite some head shaking, suppressed guffaws and tut-tutting from experienced welders, Bless em!.
As the nails are straight, the piece initially takes on a rather geometric shape but I have found that at some stages the welding softens the metal nails and if I am quick enough, I can bash them with a hammer and bend them whilst they are still red-hot to get some curves etc... Weld, Whack!, Tap Tap, Weld etc... Who says males are not capable of multi-tasking?
Well, the adventure continues and I hope to undertake more pieces of work as the ideas come thick and fast. Assuming of course that I don't set fire to myself, the garage, or blow up the village.
My thanks to the experts who advised me on how to use the welder but whose advice I immediatly forgot or didnt understand in the first place but just pretended I did.
My daughter Hannah who offered the opinion that the first set of ears on the piece were much too short, pinpointing my initial dissatisfaction with the piece. Reluctantly I enlarged them and dammit! she was right.
My son Rhys (aged 10) who painstakingly removed with boltcutters , one by one, thousands of nail heads from the 75mm nails so that they would fit evenly on this and other works. Im sure we will think of something to do with the leftover bits? and I hope the pocket money raise was generous enough for your labours?
My wife Annette, who has generously allowed me to take over the garage until winter and meanwhile left her precious new car out in all weathers. And for not being too upset when I set fire to my trousers and then thegarage, twice! And not wondering aloud why we are buying excessive amounts of Germolene.
Germolene . Ahh! a clumsy welders saviour.
My neighbours in the village who have shown an interest in and tolerance of the bangings, crashing, strange flashing lights etc... that have eminated from the garage at all hours of the day and night.