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16 posts from ironwork

Custom Security Grates with Kinetic Sculpture Design

These two grates are a commission for an apartment building in Texas. Both are made from recycled/reused components (other than the steel for the frame). Both grates have kinetic elements that spin, turn or bobble.

I love adding moving parts to fences, gates and grates to give them a more dynamic and interactive presence.

Stone and Steel Figurative Sculptures

Stone Sculpture 012
Big Horse Pull Toy, 2003
Recycled steel, granite

  38" x 51.75" x 16.5"
Collection: Kids Count Pediatrics PLLC, Elkin, NC

Ever since I made Big Horse Pull-Toy, I've been meaning to create more "sculpture on wheels." It's a very simple way to play with movement in a piece, but I like the idea of a sculpture that's easy to move around to different locations. There's an appeal, to my mind, in the idea of making sculpture less monumental and more intimate by allowing it the feedom to roam about. I also like the idea of being able to redesign a landscape or garden in the same way that one might move the furniture around in the living room. One might change the accents around as the seasons change, or maybe just mix things up now and then to keep them fresh.

The figures below are one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by, and built around,  stone shapes that catch my eye from the cast-away pile at a local stone vendor's. Because the stone is polished on one side only, the back is decorated with copper.

Stone Sculpture 002 Stone Sculpture 003 Stone Sculpture 004 Stone Sculpture 005 Stone Sculpture 009
Little Miss Exuberance, 2003
Steel, Granite, Copper
74" x 27" x 12"
Available
Akimbo, 2003
Steel, Granite, Copper
80" x 38.5" x 12"
Private Collection
Akimbo,detail Akimbo,detail Lookout, 2003
Granite, Steel
35" x 24" x 12"
Private Collection
Stone Sculpture 006 Stone Sculpture 007 Stone Sculpture 008 Stone Sculpture 010 Stone Sculpture 011
Signal, 2003
Steel, Granite, Copper
61" x 27" x 12"
Private Collection
Signal, detail Sentinal, 2002
Granite, Steel
32" x 40" x 8"
Private Collection
Curious Child, 2002
Granite, Steel
36" x 34" x 8"
Available
Lightning Moon Man, 2003
Steel, vitreous glass
20" x 16" x 7.5"
Private Collection
click thumbnail to view larger image. enlarge

Frog Fountain Wire Sculpture

Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain, 2004
Steel, wire, hose, copper, paint

61" L x 28" W x 12" H (65" H with stand)
Available from Cycling Salamander Gallery

The better part of two 1/4 mile spools of wire went into making this fountain. I found myself singing Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love? pretty much the whole time I was making it (47 miles of barbed wire, etc.). You can read more about the process and see photos of the frog in progress by visiting this entry of the studio blog.

Frog Fountain Frog Fountain Frog Fountain
Alternate view Detail Detail
  Frog Fountain Fountain5
  Movie Movie
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Whimsical Garden Sculptures

garden guardian sculpture
  Garden Guardian. 2002.
Steel.
Private Collection

These three sculptures are early examples of sculpture based on line art drawings. The Guardian sculpture is one of the few I've done which combines lines and planes.

Turning a drawing into a sculpture is a bit tricky. As simple as the end result looks, it only works if all the lines connect in some way— you can't just hang a piece of steel in space. It also helps to consider the nature of the material… steel likes to bend in certain ways, and although you can force it to do whatever you want, I find that if you work with it, it will naturally produce very clean, subtle curves that are well suited to graceful and nuanced drawings.

These first efforts were influenced somewhat by petroglyphs and doodles. Since then, I've refined this style of sculpture into a more gestural,  narrative format seen in my Acrobats, Dancers  and fences.

Mermaid Line Sculpture Running Girl
Mermaid, 2003:
steel,
Private Collection
Tag!, 2003:
steel,
Private Collection
click thumbnail to view larger image. enlarge

Animal Line Drawing Sculptures in Steel

Abstract Bull sculpture
  Abstract Bull, State 11. 2005.
Steel. Dimensions variable.
Private Collection

Picasso has had a quiet, but huge influence on my fences and sculpture. Whatever else you may choose to say about the man, he had a knack for draughting the perfect line and I've aspired to match him on that when drawing my Acrobats and Dancers for steel sculpture and fences.

The Bull above is adapted from State 11 of Picasso's 1945 series of lithographs known as The Bull. He started with a fully realized, realistic image of a bull and proceeded in each of eleven states to further simplify it down to the most essential lines.

That's pretty much exactly the process I follow when creating a Dancer sculpture… I start from a photo, abstract to the minimum number of lines and then tweak it until the gesture of the figure conveys movement so strongly you can't help but see what's about to happen next.  I wasn't thinking of Picasso's Bulls when I started working with the Dancer sculptures and fences, (actually, I was thinking about Haring's desire to create easily understood imagery that appealed to the broadest number of people without sacrificing depth) but it's certainly the same process.

The Bird sculptures below were early experiments in using line art as a basis for sculpture. If I remember correctly, one was based on a neon sign and the other I drew by hand. The dog is a more recent piece  I adapted from a doodle in the margins of my notes from an Arts Council board meeting.

Bird1 Horse Bird2
Heron, 2003:
steel,
58" tall
Private Collection
Doggie Doodle, 2005:
steel,
30" H x 42" W x 6" D?
Private Collection
Flamingo, 2003:
steel,
56" tall
Private Collection
click thumbnail to view larger image. enlarge

Fun With Saw Blades: A Couple Custom Jobs

custom metal sign
  Sign for the Cole Farm, 2006.
Recycled steel.
30" x 30"
Commission

The sign above was made for a local produce farmer. The "C" is based on lettering from an antique seed catalog that happened to share his family name. Kinda cool.

The door shown below was a little fix-it job I had some fun with. The original vent door for my uncle's fireplace had broken off (cast iron is like that). He needed a new door that could be fit to the original hinge. I figured the saw blade made a nice reference to the fire inside, and plus, it was just the right size.

Chimneyvent Chimneyvent2
Fireplace  door, vent closed 2002:
saw blade, steel
8" x 8"
Commission
Fireplace  door, vent open 2002:
saw blade, steel
8" x 8"
Commission
click thumbnail to view larger image. enlarge

Recycled Yard Gongs Make A Beautiful Ringing Bell Tone

large recycled zen garden bell
  Garden Meditation Gong. 2006.
Recycled steel.
85" H x 35" W x 12" D
Available

The freestanding garden gong above would make a nice centerpiece for any garden… it requires a concrete pad below grade to stabilize it (or you could do something like a cool stonework base to hold it in place).

The bell shown below was cut from a recycled Oxygen tank. The decorative piece on top was scrap from making the Great Bowl O Fire. The  hanger is made from a farm implement that plows the earth.My bells are all one of a kind and tend to vary in design and tone. If you'd like to order one, drop me a line.

recycled bell steel bell
Big Bell, 2006:
recycled steel
16" to 24" x 9" x 9"
Custom Order Item
Big Bell, 2006:
recycled steel
16" to 24" x 9" x 9"
Custom Order Item

 
click thumbnail to view larger image. enlarge

Fire Wood Cradle Made From A Recycled Radiator

recycled radiator firewood cradle
  Antique Radiator Firewood Cradle, 1999.
Cast iron, recycled steel.

23.5" x 22" x 8.5"
Custom order only

I love the visual pun of making a cradle for holding fire wood from sections of an old radiator. This piece was originally made as a Christmas present, but I'd be into the idea of making more of them. No two will be exactly alike since the design and pattern of the radiator sections is likely to vary pretty widely.

Gates, fences + Trellises

Bottle Fence
  Blue Bottle Fence. 2006.
Steel, glass. Dimensions variable

More info on bottle fences here.

The gates below are largely created from various recycled elements… If you'd like to talk about a custom fence or gate project, drop me a line.

Vine Motif Garden Gate Deco Modern Garden Trellis Macintosh Garden Screen-1
Fruited Vine Screen, 2003:
steel, copper,
45" x 24" x 1.5"
Private Collection
Art Nouveau Gate, 2003:
steel, copper,
68.5" x 38.5" x 3"
Private Collection
MacIntosh  Screen, 2003:
steel,
48" x 36" x 2"
Private Collection
Devilgate-1 Legba Gate-1 Devil Gate-1
Devil in the Jungle Gate, 1998
steel 48" H x 42" W x 2" D
Commission
2025 S. Halsted, Chicago
Devil in the Jungle Gate, 1998
steel 48" H x 42" W x 2" D
Commission
2025 S. Halsted, Chicago
Legba Gate, 1998
steel 48" H x 42" W x 2" D
Commission
2025 S. Halsted, Chicago
click thumbnail to view larger image. enlarge

Modern Security Grates in Steel + Copper

Modern Abstract security grate
  Keeping out of the Jones', 2004
steel, copper.
dimensions variable
Commission

Elise Jones wanted burglar bars for her ground floor windows, but she didn't want to feel like she was in prison when she looked through them. These steel and copper grilles will definitely keep people out—but they do seem to attract admiring stares. When I returned to the site to finish installation, I met an architect who requested that I tender his apologize to the Jones family…he had been standing there looking at the grates for ten or fifteen minutes before he realized that he was also inadvertently staring into someone's window.

Modernist security bars Modern Abstract 03 Modern Abstract 04
Modern Abstract 05 Modern Abstract 06 Modern Abstract 07
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John T. Unger