I had one art class in college...Art 101. Actually, I had Humanities, too, which involved some art history and art appreciation, but I've only had one class in which I created art. The instructor, Paula Clendenin, was someone I admired right from the start. She had zero tolerance for anyone who cut up in class which, because it was a required course, was sort of often. Her response was either an icy stare or, the next time, a short but firm invitation to leave (which you could not turn down). But what I think Paula taught me for the first time was that everyone has some art inside them.

On and off since that class, I've felt the need to create something. It's rare that I've ever gotten, or maybe taken, the opportunity to do so. For about the past year, though, the need to express myself has gotten stronger, and has lately become sort of an obsession. I've been purposely open to inspiration, in that looking-but-not-looking sort of way (like you're supposed to do if you're "looking" for love).

And last year I took the plunge and bought a pretty decent digital SLR camera but I still haven't gotten to really even explore all of its functions. I think it does a good job, though, and if you've got the eye for subject matter and framing, you can create some decent pictures. Here are two I took at West Virginia's capitol back in January (or maybe it was February):

This one needs exposure adjustment here and there but I was really pleased with the overall look of it. Actually, when I look at it, the darkness conveys how I often feel about what's going on in there.

The dome inside the capitol is sometimes obscured with scaffolding for repairs or cleaning, but this time, on a Saturday, I was actually able to lay down on the floor and take this shot from below. I'm not that much of a clean lines/geometry-style person in real life but I love some good shapes and lines in photography.

So as far as I know, I can't draw or paint...but lately I've been wondering why I don't try and do more of this self-expression via the construction methods I've learned over time. I can use most any woodworking equipment (with the exception of maybe a lathe) and even probably most metalworking equipment. I can cut and work with glass which I really enjoyed during a stained glass class I took a few years ago. AND I can arc and gas least I used to be able to so I figure I could pick back up any information I've lost pretty easily.

I've got two things in mind right now. First, I've got six of those giant, metal 3D stars that people put on or around their houses. (Wait, would that be 3D or 2D?) Anyway, I'd like to rough-cut the interior out of them (I guess using a torch), leaving just the outline of the star, the inside lines, etc., then reinforce the back with a welded, star-shaped frame, then build and mount stained glass pieces in that interior space. Second, I want to put the lessons I learned building Brad's Scrabble board to use building boards for myself and for Martha. Here's the board I've already done:

For one thing, I learned a lot about working with the glass-like epoxy gloss coat which is one of my favorite parts about the whole thing. (It makes the paint underneath look like it goes all the way through.) I've also fabricated what I consider a pretty successful prototype of a Scrabble board grid. Before, getting your hands on a usable grid meant finding and ripping apart and old board with a good grid (because new ones have paper/plastic-like surfaces that are just impressed with the grid shape). My first try at the grid-making produced something that wasn't quite right but, much to my relief, needed adjustments I could discern and probably correct. And, since making Brad's board, I've had several strokes of inspiration for various designs and methods.

Part of me wishes I'd gone to RIT and gotten a degree in photography. A big part of me wishes I had the time to go to the much more local WV State University and get another art. Although I'd only need somewhere in the vicinity of 45 hours to do that, most art classes are actually 6 hours of class time per 3-hour credit. Assuming that, at least for now, I'm left with the skills and tools I've got (and perhaps a gas welder to borrow). Luckily, I've decided...if that's what I got, then that's what I got. So we'll see how all this desire to create goes. Right after the move, I'm on it.


Deadpan Alley said...

I'd like to point out that you've created a very impressive blog here.

It can be frustrating when you need to express yourself artistically, but have neither the time nor the focus. (I'm speaking from great personal experience here. Your mileage may vary.)

spinster girl said...

I love the board! I have to admit I thought you'd lost your mind when I asked if you had plans one evening and you said, "Sorry! I've gotta work on the board." I see now that it was worth it.

TTHBTK said...

Ha! You are so good at pretending you don't think I'm out of my mind. And I appreciate that in a friend. :-)

Anonymous said...

Those are some really nice photos, and the board you made is great, too. But what got my attention is when you said this: " I've also fabricated what I consider a pretty successful prototype of a Scrabble board grid."

You see, I have a board that the late John Cornelius made for me, that is in need of a new grid. The original grid became cracked and I had to throw it out. Since then I've replaced it myself, but that just hasn't worked out and it's rather impractical to play on. I'm hoping you can help me out and will pay you to fix this problem if only you can. Pretty please? lol

As for woodworking, a lathe is about the only equipment I am able to use, so I'm sure you'd glom on to that rather quickly. The hard part is finding a lathe. But maybe that's what you meant.

TTHBTK said...

I'll be working on what I hope to be "the real thing" as soon as I move at the end of this month. I'd love to get my own board done before the Pontiac, MI tournament in late August (the next multi-day tournament I'll be attending)...but that will take not only a grid but, of course, the rest of the board, too.

As for the fabrication of the grids, I'll be happy to supply you with one of the first succesful products. The material cost should be minimal.

Horray for Scrabble Solidarity!! An injury to one board is an injury to us all. ;-)

garth said...

Hi There

My name is Garth I play Scrabble (a lot) in south Africa) I am looking to make a board or three as a project too but am stuck for ideas on making a decent, durable good looking grid. Would love to hear what you have done to solve this?

May the Q be with U