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Monday, July 13, 2015

Hardware Art

My ugly little pet scorpion. A little SAE 20 once a week and he's good to go.         
A steel man by Steelman24. Who among us
hasn't wanted to do this a few times?
In my longstanding series of articles in which I've set out to prove that true artists can make a creative statement using just about anything they can lay their hands on in sufficient quantities at a reasonable price, here's another example. Technically, quantity and price are secondary to the whole process. Diamonds are pretty rare, not to mention costly, but they make lovely material for wearable sculpture. However, if an artist hopes to have a decent market for what he or she creates, they'd damned well better make sure the materials aren't going to be worth more than their labor. Perhaps British artist, Damien Hirst can get away with gluing such glistening "rocks" on a skull and then find a wealthy buyer for it, but it's quite likely no one else could. Rather than a jewelry store, some artists are buying their supplies at a hardware store; I guess to get down to the real "nuts and bolts" of their art. Last spring as my wife and I went gallivanting around the western United States, I came upon an example of just such hardware art (top), somewhere out in South Dakota if I recall. I consider it my pet. It's ugly as hell, but I've grown rather fond of it despite is metallic origins.

The Traction Tractor, Eddie Bures--love the shiny paintjob.
lire-aux-wc, Hinz and Kunst
There are very few items or scenes which have not found their way into this galvanized art form. Steelman24, (above, left) must have had bad day online. Eddie Bures of Dodge, Nebraska, who may, in fact, have created my little friend, seems to have invented the ultimate for working muddy fields (above). And, speaking of scenes, the figure at left which I've nicknamed "man on the can," is by a company which designs and manufactures such art--Hinz and Kunst (left). Translated literally, their title mean "read the toilet." However chess sets have long been a more common staple of the "nuts and bolts" art market as seen below in the simple, clever figures of medieval combat. These are in zinc and bronze but some come plated in gold and silver.

Your move...
Rather flowery, and potentially
quite messy.
Lest you get the idea that nuts and bolts as applied to art have only to do with sculpture, the young man at right begs to differ. Inasmuch as the items tend to have flat surfaces, and can be outfitted with reasonably convenient "handles," they make excellent "stamps" for relief printing, either with real ink or tempera paints. Regardless of the age of the artists, two of the most common subjects for hardware art are animals (usually cats and dogs), as seen in he Junkyard Cat (below). And for some unknown reason, motorcycles (below, right) are also immensely popular.

The Junkyard Cat

Nuts and Bolts, by Christopher.

Although most hardware art is quite frivolous, there are those who take it very seriously, usually with welding torch in hand. Much of the nuts and bolts art done today involves solder or (more often) simply a heavy duty glue (much like Super Glue). For larger pieces, and those intended for outdoors, the "glue" holding them all together needs to be made of stronger stuff.
The noble canine is much larger and sleeker than most nuts and bolts
art, in that it goes far beyond such standard parts for its metallic content.
The close-up (above, left) reveals some of the extraordinary mélange of hardware
parts utilized in making this "junkyard dog" the counterpart to its feline friend seen earlier.
If all else fails, the artist can always paint nuts and bolts, much like the little guy below.
No, I didn't do the painting, but I wish I had.
The nuts and bolts of painting.

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