I currently have four jobs. Besides Skunkadelia-
I am the Fleet Admiral and founder of the bicycle chopper gang infamously known as SCUL. Our missions have busted the funk from routinely-patrolled local space, to long-range recon, since your Earth Year 1996.
I am also the in-house graphic designer for Seven Cycles, never knowing what I’ll be doing when I show up at the office: photography, web site design and implementation, image editing, brochure publication, clothing deign, special edition beer labels: you get the point. Before that I was in production long enough to learn how to build a bicycle frame from tubing to completion: proud times, as I wouldn’t know which end of a hacksaw to hold if it wasn’t for Seven.
I also teach a fabulously popular TIG welding course at the Artisan’s Asylum. It’s a tough class, but the students are stalwart in resolve and light at heart. Many have had little or no experience with fabrication, and I am always amazed how much they learn in just four two-hour classes. It’s tougher than it looks — it took me about a year to get the hang of it.
I ride a bicycle from 1934, a Roadmaster Luxury Liner (I think). As a fellow bike manufacturer, it’s fun for me to try to imagine the people who worked in that factory in Cleveland who built that frame—I try to imagine what their daily lives might have been like. When I ride this heavily weathered antique tank, I love to try and picture who was the first person to ever stomp on the pedals. I love to imagine all the places this bike has been ridden, how all the scratches were made, and who had the mighty legs to propel this bicycle on the many adventures it’s had.
I feel these things whenever I pick up something that was made a long time ago. When I make something, I want it to have a similar fate as the antique bicycle I love to ride. I endeavor to create fantastic objects that will provide delight to people for ages to come. I want my sculptures to outlive me, to be passed down from one owner to the next, to endure for as long as possible.
I believe the way to make an object take this ‘long haul’ is two-fold. The first aspect is to construct using the most durable materials and sound fabrication methods. I construct my sculpture with recycled materials that have already proven their durability: scrap steel parts. The TIG welding torch is my paintbrush. I enjoy re-purposing, and there are lots of great steel bits out there.
The less obvious but crucial second property needed for the long haul is a somewhat Darwinian approach: to create the objects as endearingly as possible. Create a robot that emotes charm, and your robot will be never be scrap. Construct a rocketship that can serve as a reminder to take imaginative adventures, and your rocketship will never be decommissioned. Make a raygun that is perfect for a costume party- well that’s just plain fun!
About the Process
When I make my art, sometimes I start with an image search on the web, and maybe a quick sketch. Most of the time I let the pieces of steel speak for themselves. Choosing the correct parts is the real trick. I lay a bunch of candidates on the table (or floor, depending on the size), and start rearranging and narrowing down the collection of parts. Often the one piece of metal that starts the inspiration gets discarded, ironically. I start with the main pieces, creating a skeleton of sorts. When I’m satisfied that I have the makings of a foundation I’ll tack everything in place with small spot welds. This allows the piece to hold together enough to get a first impression, yet allows me to move things around if desired. Once the piece gets a rough shape I usually walk away for a few minutes in order to get a fresh impression. I’ll make any changes that I see fit, then weld the pieces together permanently. Once the main body of the piece is complete, I dig through my ‘greebles’ bin. Greebles are the little details that get added on to round out the piece. For these I often use silicon bronze weld wire, which isn’t as structural as the all-purpose weld wire, yet it’s strong enough to hold the non-structural parts quite well. Silicon bronze possesses a brassy look that I cannot resist. It’s the perfect punctuation of color. Once the piece is fully welded I check all the pieces to make sure it’s welded strongly enough for surviving as long as possible: hopefully hundreds of years. Finally I apply a few generous coats of gloss finish polyurethane, to protect from rust and add a glossy sheen to the piece.
In the early days of SCUL, we used to watch biker gang movies to get excited before a mission, and we realized that a gang needs gang names. It was decided SCUL pilots should choose a new identity. It was difficult to choose a new name: for a while I was to be called “Houston”, because every time there was a problem, I had to deal with it. Still, the name didn’t seem to fit. One of my friends came up with Skunk, because “you wear black all the time”. While this was (and still is) true – I wear black to hide the bike grease – I liked the name because we called trash-picking ‘skunking’. The name stuck, for better or worse. Even my mum calls me Skunk.
Who Does Your Website?
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