Rob Gorrell - Folk Artist

Get your lanterns now. It will be dark soon.

recycled

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.

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....

Building a tramp art and tin church box.

Painted Folk Art, Tinware, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment
tin-folk-art-church-detail.jpg

A couple of years ago I built a series of three small cupboards. Each cupboard was based around some salvaged wood drawers that I have used in a number of projects.  As it usually happens, two sold right away at a gallery show at The Wheeling Artisan Center. The third languished. I tried repainting the piece and was nearly at the point of burning the whole thing. But I held off and stuck it away for future inspiration to strike.

In late 2009 my wife and I went on a trip to Paris, a place that oozes with inspiration, history, art, graffiti, flowers, crazy traffic and great crepes.  One of our favorite things to do is to go to the weekend flea markets to shop.  There was this one table that had two large folk art churches, one metal and the other some combination of toothpicks and other small wood items. At the time I did not give the metal church much thought, to much to see and do. But later on I got to thinking about combining tin with the stored away church box.

One of the many irons I have in the fire is to learn some tinsmithing. I have been aquiring and refurbishing tin tools and occasionally fiddling around with a little tin.  I haven't really made much of anything useful yet, but have been learning more about how the various tools can be used. So I tinkered around and started adding some kinked and curved metal accents to the church.detail of tramp art church with metal accents

This went pretty well. I have plans to rust the metal later on.  We decided that the look I am going for will be post nuclear appocolypse rusty church meets Chrysler Building.  Time will tell.

As the metal went I kept rolling ideas around about what to do with the painted wood flat areas.  I thought about fitting tin inserts, too hard, then gold leaf, too expensive, then settled on punching.  Using my tin punch tools I started tooling the areas much like you would leather or tin punch panels.

This is really starting to look OK to me.  I have raised tin panels cut for the sides that still need to be tin punched before being applied to the sides of the box.  I know what I want to do for drawer pulls and will do them as soon as I get my forge ready to fire up for spring.

One of my many goals is to use less energy resources in my creations.  This tramp art church  is leaning more in that direction. All of the metal work is done by hand, no electricity.  When I forge the drawer pulls I will be using renewable natural charcoal instead of coal.  Granted, a lot of energy was used to produce and transport the tin plate and paints and that is something to work on. But I think it is progress over my older, all power tool method of producing rustic work.  I hope that in the near future I will be adding more hand tool work and less power tool work to my creations.

Stay tuned.....  

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Building a Tramp Art Street Sign

Painted Folk Art, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment
tramp-art-rose-sign-outside.jpg

A while back Shelley came home with an antique street sign that said "E Rose Street" and wanted me to build a tramp art style frame around it to hang in our rose garden.  For once, a simple project. The metal sign was a little heavy so I made a fairly wide pine frame and glued the sign inside of the frame as you can see here:Tramp art rose sign roughed in.

The next step was to add the tramp art layer. Since this hangs outside in the weather I kept the design very simple.  I only added one layer of the edge carved pine. This was when I was still using the grinder jig to cut notches. I don't use that setup anymore, but you can see in this photo what the notches looked like.Tramp art rose sign closeup

To finish up the project I painted the wood with a couple coats of white exterior latex paint. I added eye hooks on top and hung the sign from a cast iron bracket. 

This was a quick project that worked out pretty good. It has been hanging outside for a year or so now and is beginning to get a little "patina".

 

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Building a tramp art cupboard.

Painted Folk Art, Rustic Furniture, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

Tramp art hidden drawer cupboard. I made this painted tramp art cupboard a while back but have been wanting to show the process of how it was made.  Like many things I make, this one changed several times before I came up with something that I was really happy with.

This whole thing started when I bought about 1000 reject drawers for router cabinets from my local Woodcraft store. I figured they would be a good starting point for lots of different projects that required small drawers. One idea was to make a small cupboard that would hold several small drawers. I wanted this cupboard to be plain on the outside, and a bold surprise on the inside. Dan Mack once said that you should not explain your piece to the viewer, but instead, let the piece open up and allow the viewer to discover the story for themselves. I wanted the story to be inside of this cupboard, waiting to be discovered.

My brother was remodeling and old country post office building that needed a new roof. The old roof had really cool pressed tin panels that were rusted nearly to the point of falling apart. I also had a stash of reject walnut lumber to use for the case.

Tramp art cupboard roughed in.

Here you can see the cupboard being roughed in. I decided to use some birch plywood for the doors to keep them from warping. You can see that I am going to have to piece together the tin panels to cover the doors completely. Getting the old rusty tin to form neatly around the door panels was a bit challenging. The old paint kept flaking off where I did not want it to.

I added chip carved fronts to the drawers and matching chip carved panels on the insides of the drawers. I added only simple edge-carved side panels on the outside.

Here is what the primitive cupboard looked like with the doors attached and the tramp art carving completed.

Tramp art cupboard ready to paint.
Tramp art cupboard ready to paint.

Ok, here is where I ran into trouble.  My plan was to have the inside be very bright and decided to go with an americana set of colors. I should add that I usually need to consult Shelley about colors to get something that looks good. I did not do this.... So here is where the paint job ended up for a while.

Red white and blue tramp art cupboard.

Now this is with my old camera, and the red did not look quite this bad, but it was close.  It did not take long to realize that this cupboard was not finished. I let it stew for a few weeks to see what would happen.

This was about the point where I started adding metalworking tools to my little shop. I also found some patina solution in our supplies that put a copper patina over a base metal, in this case, tin.  So I fiddled around with crinkled tin panels that followed the lines in the tin on the doors, and added the patina in several layers.

For the inside I went with a sort of new age-y green with metallic blue, gold and green speckles.  It sort of ended up with a green night sky sort of feel that I was very happy with.  By adding the door panels and repainting the inside I came up with a neat little cupboard that I am pretty happy with...for now. Here is the finished cupboard. It is about 14 inches tall and about 5" deep.

Hidden drawer tramp art cupboard

Hidden drawer tramp art cupboard, open

 

In retrospect, 1000 drawers was about 950 more than I really needed. I ended up giving them away by the case. The last 450 or so went to the local school art department.  At least they did not end up in the landfill.

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