Rob Gorrell - Folk Artist

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tramp art church

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....

Starting another tramp art church cupboard.

Folk Art, Painted Folk Art, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

I keep coming back to the inspiration provided by the cathedrals and churches we have seen on vacations over the past few years.  There is something about the interplay of eternity and decay in the metal stone and paint of the structures that affects me deeply.  I haven't sorted out what that all means, but I definitely feel the need to work it out in my recent folk art and tramp art work.

     The previous cupboard that I made in this vein was the Tramp Art Cathedral. It had tall pointed spires and a number of drawers. I tried some new ideas to incorporate used tin cans and other metal into the wooden tramp art carving which I think added a lot of interest to the piece. This time I want to play with the round and pointed arches and doors from places like Notre Dame in Paris. These first few pictures show where I was when I started on the piece a couple of weeks ago.  At this point I just have the basic body blocked in, no carving or applied pieces yet.  The proportions are a little off right now with the doors closed, but I think it will be fine once I all of the layers of carving and metal.  

Tramp art and tin church cupboard nearly finished.

Painted Folk Art, Tinware, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

I finally got a couple of evenings back in the shop to work on this little cupboard again. I got side tracked getting my antique blacksmith forges ready to use now that the weather is good enough to work outside. Hopefully in a few months I will have more to say about using the forges. 

In the previous post on this project I added most of the tin except for the sides.  Now for the sides I have added punched tin panels with raised beading along the edges.  I used my bead roller for the first time on this project and it took a little tinkering to figure out how I wanted the corners to look.  I know there is a better way, which I hope to learn when I take a tinsmithing class at Campbell Folk School this fall. After adding the half round beading to the cupboard I decided it was a bit smooth. So I took a small cross peen hammer and added creases along the length of the tin.Tramp art church ready for patina It is interesting how something as simple as a series of hammer dings can change the look of a project.

The final part to be added was the drawer pulls. In this case I heated off the shelf eye screws in my forge and reshaped them a little with a small hammer.  They are mismatched and twisty and I think look pretty good against the crimped tin.

Between now and the next time I post on this project I will be working on adding a rusty patina to the tin.

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Building a tramp art and tin church box.

Painted Folk Art, Tinware, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment
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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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