Rob Gorrell - maker of things.

Tramp Art

Monkeys on a Weathervane? I call it "King of the Hill".

Folk Art, Painted Folk Art, Tramp Art, WhittlingRob GorrellComment

For some reason the other day I got to thinking about the old "Barrel full of Monkeys" that we played with as kids. Did you have a set? It was a pretty simple toy, but fun.  At the same time I was thinking about the series of folk art weather vanes that I am working on in the shop. So here is how my mind tends to work sometimes. I am thinking of a new weather vane design and about monkeys, so the obvious conclusion is that I need to make a weather vane full of monkeys. Right? So I did.

Cutting out some of the planning steps, I ended up with a pile of monkey shaped blanks of basswood. I was going to hand-carve each of the monkeys, but decided to save time and effort and power carve them into vague, monkey-influenced shapes.

It was at about this point that I started thinking about how the monkeys would be climbing over each other to get to the top of the weather vane. Would the top monkeys be pulling the others up, or kicking them off the heap? Were the monkeys working cooperatively to achieve the summit, or were they trying to jerk the top monkey off of the peak? I did not know yet.

After loosely carving the monkeys I set them aside and worked on the copper weather vane parts. For the arrow and tail I used some salvaged copper sheet that I had in the shop.  Once the copper was shaped and soldered into shape I worked on the layout of the monkeys. Thank goodness for zip ties and wires. Getting wooden monkeys to fit neatly on a weather vane turned out to be quite a challenge.

Skipping forward again, I finished carving and painting the monkeys and fastened them together using a variety of techniques to get them under control.  For the base I used part of a salvaged pine beam, an old spool of some sort and a few chip carved pieces of a shipping crate.  A few layers of paint, some antiquing of the copper and I called it done.

King of the hill weather vane

In the end I decided the monkey on top was a mean looking dude and is trying to dominate the other monkeys. Maybe I'm just in a mood, but that is the way I see it. What do you think? [polldaddy poll=6717789]

I have listed this creation in my Etsy Store if you are interested in purchasing King of the Hill for your collection.

Pearl, Queen of the Sea.

Folk Art, Painted Folk Art, Tramp ArtRob Gorrell1 Comment
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Looking back over the months I spent periodically working on this piece I think I really just needed to adding something goofy and fun to the world right now.  We are being bombarded with so much bad news and over sensationalized media crap that I think we really need to find more ways to laugh and have a little fun.  That being said, Pearl is my latest folk art creation.  It all started with an idea that involved making some sort of sea monster in the waves with button scales.  That was really all I had to go with at the start.  I sort of had this Tim Burton critter in my head, all odd and strange.  I also wanted sort of a Loch Ness situation with dark, brooding water and sky as a backdrop. Here is the shadow box part underway. I used more of the rusty roof tin I have for waves.  I started out with the blue sky, most of which gets covered with rusty smashed bottle caps.

Next, I needed the critter. Using more of the salvaged pine blocks that I have stacked in my shop, I roughed out this dragon sort of design.  I am a beginner when it comes to carving, but I think it gets the idea out there.

Now at this point things started to drift from the original plan.  When I went looking for a bunch of buttons to use I was thinking about muted colors, dark greens and browns, scale-like and all. But what I found was BRIGHT COLORS of many sizes.  Suddenly, Tim Burton was out, Elton John was in.  From here on it just got silly.

Have you ever tried to get the idea of scales across using buttons?  It sounds easy and started out orderly enough.  But as I got into the curves and twists the orderly nature of the button universe started to unravel. You would think that round sea dragon, round button would be a compatible pairing, but no.......

 What definitely was working was the bright colors against the rusty tin. This was starting to look like the most colorful creation I have made.  At some point you just have to let go and run with it. As Owen Wilson said, "let your freak flag fly".  Besides, I always knew those goofy 4-H camp craft projects would lead to great things (even though I think they all got burned in the trash later on).

So after hours and hours of nailing and glueing buttons onto a wood snake (high art I must say), we ended up at this point.  Maybe the purple eyebrows are a little over the top, but once you give a dragon gold spiral teeth who would have the nerve to stop there.

So here is the finished piece. I really don't know what to say about it at this point. My wife helped with the design so I have someone to partially blame. However, she love it.  We debated a long time on the name. One perfect idea came to mind, but it is not appropriate to print.  I ended up with Pearl because of the Pearlies, the Brits that sew the white buttons all over their clothes and party .  Do you like her?  Hopefully there is someone out there that will see this and realize that their life is incomplete without a button bedazzled sea monster with devious purple eyebrows and gold teeth swimming in a brooding sea of rust.

 

 I have listed this piece in my Etsy store.

Tramp Art Church Cupboard with Round Top finished.

Folk Art, Painted Folk Art, Tramp Art, UncategorizedRob Gorrell1 Comment
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Yesterday I finished making this tramp art cupboard.  I have been working on it for a while now and am glad that it is finally finished. I have a ton of other projects I am itching to get to.

I was inspired by the cathedrals and churches of Paris to make this table-top cupboard. I am fascinated by the interplay of eternity and decay in the old churches, the rusting of roofs and railings, the souring Gothic arches, the massive strength of the Romanesque vaulting, and the way things sparkle out of the shadows. I love the way builders kept updating styles and forms alongside the old, allowing the old and new to coexist.  There are some earlier posts that show some of the techniques used to build this piece.

This cupboard is made from salvage pine, and old crate, beer caps, rusted roof tin, tacks, salvaged furniture elements, and lots of paint. The cupboard is 21 inches wide, 35 inches tall and 7 inches deep.  It is currently listed in my Etsy store for sale.

Here are some other shots of the piece:

Tramp Art Church update.

Folk Art, Painted Folk Art, Tinware, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

The proportions of this cupboard have been puzzling me for some time now. As it sits without any layers of applied wood, it looks kind of odd. I have convinced myself that the finished project that sits nebulously in my head will balance out as layers are added.  Along the way I have tried some different ideas on the sides and back. This shot shows a couple of ideas that I tried out for the space on the sides.  The problem arises when the door is opened.  Anything added to the sides cannot interfere with the full opening of the doors. In my vision of the project, the doors will be left open.  In the end, both of these ideas were scrapped.  The bottom section is going well and is pretty straight forward.  Here you can see that I have added the carved borders, notched the shelves and added the church door influenced center drawer front.

Tramp art church cupboard with bottom notches

The majority of my time was spent working out the top section.  I am working on combining punched and distressed metallic elements with the traditional tramp art carving.  After I get all the individual parts cut out and notched, I will begin painting the background and etch the metal elements before final assembly.  Here is where I left off:

My point and shoot digital camera had no idea what to do with this setup. I may set this aside for a while because I have had a couple new orders pop up.  Also, there is another piece started that I want to post that involves sea critters and buttons.

As a little preview....