Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Art Fair Insiders

www.artfairinsiders.com is a great site created, ran by, and for artists to share information with each other.

The site is broken into several links for sharing information on art shows, photos, artist's classifieds, and just general sharing with each other.  I discovered the site a few months back, and it's already becoming an absolute must in my daily art life.  I search for information on art shows and get real comments for real artists.  Additionally, I've met a number of great people through the site that I've met at art shows.

Visit it soon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Manhole Cover

Every great piece of art work needs to start with an idea that someone passes by me, or I see some piece of metal about and then I build it.  In this case, this sculpture started out with both an idea I had at mind and a thought posed by a new friend.

I had two manhole covers that I picked up in a scrap yard to make into bases for a sculpture although I didn't have any idea what the sculpture would be.  There they sat at my shop for six months when Therese asked about making a seven foot tall fish sculpture.  Now here was an idea and a perfect base.  The manhole cover is approximately two feet in diameter and weighs about 60-70 pounds.  Perfect for the base of this sculpture.

I decided to use varying sizes of fence finials as a base for each fish.  They have a great round shape and will create some interesting fish.  I like these balls because they are hollow and move nicely when welded to the top of steel rod.

I welded one twisted piece of two inch flat bar to the manhole cover first.  This gave me a height that I wanted to work around.  A guide if you will.  Here I am twisting on the steel.  Yeah.  My back is still hurting after twisting on all that steel.  It's a real manual brute force process.

I'm still working on this piece buy you can see where I'm going with it.  Mackie is creating glass eyes for each fish and I need to spray several coats of clear sealer to finish this piece off. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I got a phone call, is there another kind, from a friend that was interested in a giraffe.  He wanted something large for his garden.  Now I'd never made a large one but it came into my mind instantly on what it would look like and how I would do it.  Esther, she's the good looking one on the left, and I are in this photo in Mark's garden - what a great setting!

A lot of folks ask me to build something and ask for a sketch.  I laugh because I can't draw straight or curved lines.  They get it as I show them my sketchbook of pieces that I've created in the past and compare the two.  They don't look anything alike to most people but ring true with my mind.  Hey, it's an artist at work.

Esther started as a propane tank for the body and steel pipe used for the legs neck and head.  I've used my plasma cutter to cut the pattern into the parts to create the giraffe look.  I've used bolts for the giraffe's head and pipe for ears. 

I love challenges and never turn anything down.  It's the journey that I love.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Camper

Oh the life of an artist.  I chuckle at the comments that I get from people at art shows about my art or me!  This year its been: "can you really make a living at this"; "do you drink alot before you start working"; "do you sleep at night"; "oh, I would like to work that easy"; and my favorite "I'll take it"!

The reality is that here's never time to be bored in a real artist's life.  Even when I'm slacking there's something that I really need to do.  Whether it's planning for a show or getting work ready for shows or the gallery, working around the jungle at home, or repairing a piece of equipment.  This weekend it's repairing our floor in our camper.

Mackie found this treasure about four years ago, and we've spent about 80-90 nights each year during that time.  I was taking it off the truck when I returned from the western US, and the bottom aluminum frame fell off when I took it off the truck.  Unfortunately, I know that was the start of a slightly larger project.  It was a good bet that the floor was starting or completely rotten. 

Our camper was made by Citation and is built like a tank.  I've been in several friends campers that is newer than  ours but not near as solid, so there was no doubt in my mind that we'd invest a little sweat and about $50 to make her like new again.  It was a fairly easy job to complete and we'll gear her up for this weekend.

Mackie and I are participating in our first east coast jaunt to Birmingham, Alabama.  The Barber Vintage Fest is this weekend and we'll be there!  www.barbervintagefestival.org

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Model T

 Awhile back I got a call from a friend in Iowa to discuss a present for his father's 80th birthday.  His father is very interested in cars, and he wanted to know if I could make a replica of a model T his father had.  After a few photos and some discussion I started to build the car from a variety of recycled materials.  I decided to document my process and took photos of every key step.  Here's the link to my Picassa album http://picasaweb.google.com/jl12118/ModelT#.  Each photo has a description of what I'm doing.

I started by creating the spoked wheel from some pipe and 20 penny nails.  Then I built the body from the ground up.  It took me about three days to create the piece. 

This was a real challenge but I sure had a great time creating the piece, and it was even better when he called me and told me what a hit it was and how pleased his father was at his party.  He especially liked that the wheels and steering wheel worked!

Check out my website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com and let's talk about something special for you, a member of your family, or a special friend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tiki Fire Pit

I have an interesting life and have made numerous friends over the past 30 plus years through my art work.  People appreaciate my efforts and have thrown my all sorts of curve balls in thier ideas that they would like to have turned into reality.  It was June when a young lady approached me to create a special piece for her husbands birthday - she decided on a Tiki fire pit. 

Now I had to find the material to create her dream!  That's one of the biggest challenges when one is working with recycled materials.  I searched for over a month to find the right items.  Fortunately, I've build a number of great relationships over the years with scrap dealers all around the country and able to scavenge around their facilities.  I found a full size air tank in one state and half of it became the fire pit you see with me in the picture.  I then found another piece of curved steel plate in another state and created the Tiki figure on the top step.  Look closely and you'll see his flaming hair.

I cut all of the pieces by hand with a hand held plasma cutter.  Each piece came out great.  I then added propane plumbing for the fire pit so they can enjoy the piece year round outside their home near Kent, Washington.  This is a perfect choice for this area as it sports about 9-10 months a year of gray weather.

Fire pits can be created to be used with propane or wood for primary fire source.  Check out my website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com to see samples of other work or send me an email at joe@cliftonmetalworks.com and I'll be happy to work with you to create your dreams.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Heading Home

It's been a great summer season for the shows and visiting with my old friends, but I'm really looking forward to getting back home. I came out and did seven shows, and picked up a new friend. She's a beautiful five pound miniature Schnauzer we named Sofie. I think Sherman is going to be pissed when I bring her home, but he'll get over it quickly.

I'm in Phoenix tonight, and it's a balmy 108. I'm thinking it's hot!!!!! We drove down through Los Angeles and dropped off the sculpture above to MK and his wife in the bay area. They have wonderful art gallery and needed an anchor point for the room's center. Fabulous is an understatement.

Tomorrow morning, Sofie and I have an appointment in Glendale to begin work on several large sculptures for a home owner - it's good to be busy. We'll take photos, make a few stick drawings, and most like chase Sofie around the yard. Hopefully, we'll make it close to San Antonio tomorrow night.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If Everything Worked Right

We decided that I would come out west and exhibit at our best western art shows this summer. Now that in itself has presented some challenges. First, Mackie and I would be apart for an extended period of time; second, I would have to work and clean out our old house so we could sell it and eliminate making these house payments; third, I would have to make technology work. So lets take the latter.

I opted to drop my Verizon card because I figured out how to use my Droid to connect to the Internet. it works great for viewing email, tv shows, etc but not for getting on secure servers like the ones used by Google and some other companies. That's going to be my excuse for not updating my blog so much. Now that Starbucks is giving free wifi, I have no excuse. So here I am enjoying a nice iced coffee on a muggy day in Vancouver, Washington getting some secure server work completed.

The summer shows turned out great. One down and seven up. Not bad. And, its been very productive getting new work created. I attribute that to being able to focus 100% on my art work. Obviously its paying off with numerous new customers and existing ones ordering new work. The "Guardian" shown above is just one example of ideas that I've been working on for the past two years that I'm finally bringing out. Each one is created from 100% recycled materials if one does not count the welding rod.

I'm getting itchy to head back to Florida, but I've got a number of commissions and deliveries to make on the way east. Life is sure exciting!

I'm going to be creating a lot of new work that will be featured in our gallery at Fisherman's
Village in Punta Gorda, Florida. Soon, I'll have a website for the gallery - my target date is by Halloween. We'll have a number of new work from several of my west coast artist friends that we'll be showing in the gallery. I'll be posting more information here soon. I promise.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Packing Steel

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It never occurred to me that it would be difficult to find recycled metal when we decided to move to Florida several months back. I thought it would be like, "hey, I'm coming here to save all of you", and it would be coming out of the woodwork. Hmm. Metal...Woodwork. Oh well. It took some time to find two resources but life is good for those who are persistent. The challenge is that the best place is in Tampa, and that makes it a full day to hit the yard and get back home.

I managed to score on about 2,400 pounds of metal. Contrary to popular belief, recycled metal is not always the cheapest way to go, but I believe that it's the best way for all of us - I'll talk about that later. Today's finds were around $1,500. I'm creating my own stimulus helping others while other folks are supporting my artwork.

A few years back I thought that I was going to start creating smaller pieces, but lately, I've been building a lot of pieces around six feet tall. What the heck, I break my own rules and give people what they want. There's nothing quite like when someone is kind to share their hard earned dollars to purchase a creation that I've poured my heart and soul into.

There's a lot going on over the next month with getting ready for the west coast art shows in June and July, restocking the store, and working on our Florida home. How did I ever have time to work at the power company?

You just can't make this stuff up!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Destination - WingHouse Daytona Beach, Florida

The show was over at 5:00PM and it's been an interesting day. Sales started strong this morning and died around 12:00. Fortunately, I had a strong morning. Unfortunately, my neighbors did not.

This show has awards that it gives out. While this appears to be a common practice in the east, I have not seen much of this on the west coast. I have to be careful about saying west coast as I've found in Florida that people think that I'm talking about the west coast of Florida. I find that I'm explaining a lot about Vancouver; Washington, Portland, Oregon and such. EnoIugh of that. Anyway, the judges selected one of our sculptures for a candidate in the Best-of-Show category. I was pleasantly surprised and not just for being selected. It was an older piece from last summer that had not sold, and I almost cut it up and create something else! Life works in mysterious ways...

Thinking that I may have one or two beers tonight, I opted to go to my hotel and eat at the Winghouse (www.winghouse.com) just in front. Salad, wings, and beer - it's not my fault that a glass is 32 ounces... were pretty darn good. OK. The atmosphere was pleasant to - there were a lot of Harley Davidson motorcycles out front.

This place is pretty cool. There's a large section that is outside undercover with wooden stools and tables with 47 bizillion tvs. Is bizillions really a word. Nevermind. I highly recommend this place.

Life is good!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Port Orange Artfest

It's another weekend and I'm off to another show. This weekend it's the Port Orange Artfest just south of Daytona Beach, Florida.

Check-in was impressive this afternoon. There was at least 20 signs directing artists where to go, and there was plenty of room for the largest of vehicles to pull in. They checked me in in about 30 seconds and had lines of John Deere gator carts to take the artists directly to their booths. The show is set around a lake where all the city buildings are located. Every booth has an extra 3-4 feet on either side, and they are all located right on the street. Plenty of parking too. I set up the booth, dropped off the trailer, and headed for my hotel.

I opted for the LaQuinta in Daytona Beach, about 10 minutes from the show, instead of the one in Port Orange. Hey, it was almost half the price, and the room is very nice. The Daytona speedway is a few blocks down the street, and I was blown away by how large it is. I've never understood about the Nascar appeal. There was a lady from North Carolina that worked with me at Pacific Power, and I asked her if she went to Nascar. She said she loved it. I asked her what was the appeal. She looked kind of surprised and said, "you can take in you're own cooler with beer". Now I understand the appeal.

Pictures to come tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sunny and 84

Life is starting to set into normal in Florida. The temperature finally started rising a few weeks back, and it's now a consistent 80ish degrees during the day and 60ish at night. The gallery was pretty busy over the past few weeks, and we've had a number of newspaper articles published on us in Florida; it seems that were kind-of-unique here as we work with mostly recycled metals.

We've had a lot of rain from January through early March. Funny thing is that this is the dry season here. Normally, the rain comes in the summer months. There were many days when our place in Vancouver was actually warmer and drier than here, but now were having great weather every day.

Our gallery is in Fisherman's Village (www.fishville.com) in Punta Gorda, Florida. The village is a man-made pier that extends from Punta Gorda into Charlotte Harbor. Originally, this was used by Phillip to store and pump boat fuel into the local fishing fleet. As commercial fishing started to decline, the city came up with a plan to build shops below with condos above. Today, there are approximately 30 shops here and it's quite busy during season which runs from November through the Easter holiday.

I'll be heading to the west coast for this year's shows in late May. Check our show schedule at www.cliftonmetalworks.com for the latest updates.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Floridays Two

It's a little after 7:00 AM and I'm sitting in the back yard in my new wooden rocking chair my wife bought me last weekend. Mackie and I like to have coffee back here before we begin our day. It's a tradition that we started years ago and found that it's that moment in time that brings us close together. We talk about the previous day, things that bother us, or just to listen to the birds. Every morning there is a chorous of countless birds of different species chirpping away. I've seen numerous kinds, but the Cardinal is the only one I recognize.

The sky is a blue like I don't ever recall seeing. It's a brilliant blue that lacks a brown haze I was used to on the west coast. It's 65 degrees at 7 AM, and the weatherman predicted a high of 75 for this afternoon.It's been a real challenge finding supplies and materials here, but Mackie and I are finally starting to figure it out and can focus on creating art.

I've got my first show in less than two weeks, and I need to get crack-a-lack-in to get things ready.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How About Some New Work!

This new guy was created from recycled steel plate, round bar, a saw blade, some copper wire, a mowing machine guard, and some special cable to make the eyes light up. He's about 18 inches tall and is mounted to a heavy 1/4 inch plate.

Being in Florida has benefits but finding recycled metals here has proven a real challenge. It never occured to me coming here over the years that there's no manufacturing base here; therefore, there's not much waste by-product. Fortunately, I've found a scrap yard about 30 miles south of here with a sympathetic owner. He likes what I'm doing and enjoys searching for objects with me.

I've updated our website with our show schedule - www.cliftonmetalworks.com (click on the show schedule link on page left). I'll be doing the shows this year while Mackie is focusing on her glass work. March 20 and 21, 2010, I'll be at the Peace River National Festival in Punta Gorda, Florida. Then I'll be hitting several other shows before I head back to the Pacific Northwest for our summer exhibits.


Crossing the bridge from Port Charlotte to Punta Gorda

So I've been away from writing for awhile, but I feel like I can get back to it with a vengeance now.

Mackie and I have been in Florida for just over two months taking a bit-of-a-break from our real world. We've bought a second home in Port Charlotte where we've been coming for about 10 years. Our plan is to live here during the winter months and head west for our annual foray into our art shows. I guess one could say that we're going to be bi-coastal.

Port Charlotte is approximately 90 miles south of Tampa on the Florida gulf coast. It's a smaller hamlet that's missing the high rises of Florida's other tourist areas. Normally, the temperatures average 75-79 this time of year, but this has been an exceptionally cold winter. I arrived on January 1st and had ice on the windshield every morning for the first week. Unfortunately, that's been the common story this year.

I've finally set up a shop here, and Mackie is starting full bore on her glass work. We're going to do three of four shows over the next four months, and then I'm going to head west to get ready for the summer shows throughout the Pacific Northwest and California - I'm excited to be building again! Our show schedule is posted on our website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com . My biggest challenge here is finding recycled metal. There's no real industrial base here, and the recession has really taken it's tole on what's left, but I've finally found a place in Fort Myers and one in Tampa to get items. Time to head to the shop!