Friday, January 30, 2009

Support Your Local Artist

Metal is heating up at the Clifton homestead, and Mackie is getting ready for Superbowl Sunday. Interesting enough is that she is the football fan in our family. She's a Steeler's fan and I'm doing the typical male thing and picking the Cardinals....I like the bird....OK.

Back to more important things. Arrrrt! It's crazy the ideas that are running around in my head. Is it the new year? How about challenging times for the country? Hmm. I believe that it's my inner child. Yeah. I never wanted to grow up anyway.

I've read lots of articles lately that art shows are struggling to attract artists. Some have even resorted to reducing their booth rental rates. Don't buy into all the negativity. If I had a nickel for every negative thing I heard on a news forecast, I'd be a rich man. Matter a fact, just quit watching the news, and I believe you will be a lot happier.

I remember meeting a Russian woman that told me about her son and how they made it in America. Unemployment was high and major industries in the area were not hiring, and I was very fortunate to land this position.

The lady told me how they moved to the US with nothing and started a sandwich shop near downtown and now had five of them. They were moving into a new house overlooking Lake Washington and while gazing over the lake said these words I'll never forget. She said, "it's a good thing that we did not have time to watch tv or read the newspaper. Otherwise, we would have heard that it was a terrible time to start our business and would have failed." And then she laughed and said that she loved America.

The moral of the story is to buy art.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

The first show of the year is over and we're getting ready for our next show on February 18 - 22nd in Portland, Oregon at the Portland Home and Garden Show.

This is a cool show because we set up an entire workshop and work during the show. Welder, grinders, recycled metal, we bring a little of it all. We build pieces large and small and often create art by request. Imagine a young child asking for a large mosquito and we can create it right on the spot. Or a mask like the one above. It can be alone to hang on the wall or attached to a rock star, a robot warrior or anything my mind can think of.

Come visit us if you get a chance.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

First Show of 2009

The last of the art work is completed, the trailer is loaded, food is in the camper, and the camper is on the truck. Here we go. On the road once again.

It's a combination of excitement and apprehension, and a stomach-wrenching experience all wrapped up at the same time. Especially this year with what has been going on with the economy. It's always a treat to see what new things people come up with. Now this is not a typical art show that we do, but it is a home show and Eugene always has something interesting. This year it's a bicycle hearse with a woven basket for the casket. Hey there's a thought. Recycled metal caskets! Just kidding.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Legend of George and Sherman

There is a lot more than art that is important to Mackie and I. We have four children, are active in our community, and George and Sherman allow us to share their home with us.

The four kids are on their own and so that leaves George and Sherman with us. George is a North American Retriever that my father rescued about 10 years ago, and Sherman is a miniture Schnauzer that rescued Mackie and I at the Bandon Cranberry Festival.

Life takes many interesting turns and it never ceases to amaze me at the journey one takes. I never would have guessed that the these two would mean so much to us. They travel with us to the art shows around the country and while George is getting a little older, Sherman is just three and keeps her on her toes every day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wall Fish

Some people want a corporate career, what the neighbor has, or chocolate. But working in the shop on new work is what I thrive on. And, in about six months, that is where I should be spending most of the time.

I finished a few pieces today including this wall fish. He doesn't have his glass eye yet, but Mackie is the talented one for that. This is the first time that I've made a wall fish that uses a similar technique I developed last year with creating a frame and then adding skeleton key, I believe I coined the term but maybe heard it on the cartoon channel, over the frame. This piece is slightly over two feet from nose to tail.

Mackie and I are on the hunt for our new home. She's looking at a few fixers on ebay, and she just told me about an artist relocation program in Palestine, Illinois. I took a look at thier website and the last news they posted was in 2007. So, I'm not sure how much commitment there is for that program there. Paducah is still looking good,a nd I had a brief conversation with Pat from the city the other day and she was full of information.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Art and Sunny Days

It's supposed to be sunshine for the next week in Portland, Oregon which seems like an oxymoron to me. Anyone who's lived or heard about the northwest knows that it's cloudy and rainy all of the time. Sort of. Most of that is perpetuated by the crowd that hopes the Californians don't move up here. And, most of that is perpetuated by the Californians that have already moved up here.

I can speak to that as my wife and I were both born in California even though I grew up in West Virginia, and Mackie grew up in Oregon.

Living in the northwest gives us a great appreciation for summers. Part of that is from living here during the wintertime, and the rest is the appreciation for how beautiful it is here during the summer. It's incredible how beautiful it can be here from May through October.

Sunny was inspired about the sun that gracefully warms our hearts. He was composed from a floor drain and silverware. Knives and forks surround the outside, and two spoons created the sunglasses.

There is so much opportunity in cast-off items to create wonderful works of art. It just take some sunshine and an open mind.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Creating the Tilly Bird

I finished a tilly bird today. What's a tilly bird you ask?

Well it's one of those things in my imagination that I saw in a horseshoe one day. The video is an abbreviation of creating this little girl.

I started out with with working a body from some round bar and rebar. Then I wrapped skelton key to form the outer skin. Skeleton key is a by-product of sheet metal with parts cut out for another use. Next, I used rebar to create the legs and neck on top of which I added the split horse shoe for the beak.

This little girl will be at our next event in Eugene, Oregon in two weeks. Check the show scheudule on our website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Upcoming Art Show Schedule

Alfred the pre-historic reptile in today's post was created from buckboard wagon springs, a motorcycle chain, two shovels, concrete re-enforcing metal, rebar, and some steel bearings. Man, I love my job!

Have you heard the expression - "time flies when you're having fun"?

Here we. The first week of January. And the show schedule is filling up fast! But we're really excited about this one - The Portland Home and Garden Show that is held at the Expo facilities in Portland, Oregon.

Why you ask that we are excited. This is the only show where we set up a full working workshop and art galery of approximately 400 square feet. We have bending and cutting equipment, and a full welding set up behind UV protected screens so people can come and see Mackie and I create art right before your eyes!

O'Loughlin trade shows put on this event each year and they do a bang up job. They take the back area of hall "C" and turn it into a large artist working area and feature 10-12 artists working in their craft. It allows an incredible opportunity for artists, would-be artists, and the public to interact and share with each other.

We appreaciate and salute the vision and opportunity that O'Loughlin has provided artists and the Portland community!

Come visit us at the Expo

Monday, January 5, 2009

Creating Bugs - The Movie

An academy award winning film producers we are not. But here is our first video of two bugs that we created for a lady in Nehalem, Oregon. The link to our youtube video is below. Copy and paste it in your browser and it will take you right to it.

I used round bar, a shovel handle, rebar, washers, and some glass to create these two items. But, anything metal is fair game. If we can recycle it, we'll create artwork from it.

We have our first show in Eugene, Oregon in two weeks. Come and see the new items we'll have this year.

Joe and Mackie

Friday, January 2, 2009


A lot of people ask me if we draw the items we create.  And the answer is yes and no.  Yes is that Mackie has quite the talent and draws excellent, and I am terrible at drawing.  It's something that I would have always liked to do but never really got around to developing it.  But that is going to change.

I've seen several of the Manga drawings and like how the simplicity really tells a story.  Manga also reminds me of my approach to sculpting.  Well, Mackie got me a beginer's book for Christmas and here's my first picture.

We'll be adding more sculptures and pictures in the coming months.

Happy New Year Everyone!