Reformed Broken Art

Taut Skirt , 2007

Taut Skirt , 2007

A piece of artwork called Taut Skirt, which I made in college, did not survive the plane ride back to Salt Lake last fall. I clumsily tucked the artwork between my clothes, zipped up my luggage, and thought, “see you there!” Holding the broken pieces in my hands later, a sense of loss came over me.

I reflected on the time I spent creating this piece—cutting and finishing the walnut wood frame, making custom eyelet rivets from copper tubing and brass wire, the two different types of mold-making processes, and the ceramic slip cast. These techniques were some of my first exposure and self-discovery in building three-dimensional work. It shaped my skill set when I was a student in the Sculpture program at KU.

The dismantled artwork sat on my studio shelf till the end of winter. I decided to recycle the salvaged parts, assembling them into my current artist style --birds on a wire. Each walnut frame piece became its own small wall art display. The eyelet rivets, which were once threaded to hold the doll in the middle of the frame, became a brightly colored geometric shape to contrast the dark walnut wood. I think the small clutch of birds look very dashing in their reclaimed home.

You can read about the creation of my Taut Skirt series, just scroll down! It’s one of my first blog posts. Enjoy!

60th Birthday Gift!

Happy birthday to my mom, Kim Koehn! For her 60th birthday, she unwrapped a special custom made gift from me! What makes this Ruby in Fuchsite pendant extra special is that it’s my first prong setting! Considering the steep learning curve, I couldn’t be more pleased with this successful ruby setting, and will treasure it for years to come. 

This Ruby in Fuchsite is a large oval, low-profile stone, with spectacular natural ruby inclusions, contrasting the vibrant teal and cream-colored Fuchsite stone. This cabochon nests between two elegant designer gallery wires, capped with silver ball embellishments at each arch bezel. An antique brush finish illuminates the natural stone's beautiful colors. 

I used a jewelry’s saw to create an open-backed silhouetted mountain design on the backside. This mountain scene is personal to me as the maker, because those enriching outdoor activities are one of the main reasons I call Salt Lake City home. I’ve be entertaining the idea of including this open back mountain design in more of my silver work, so stay tuned to witness the evolution of this design at AEK Display!

D'em Birds...

Almost 10 years ago, I worked and lived in Yosemite National Park seasonally for a couple of summers while completing my Bachelor's of Fine Art Degree at the University of Kansas. It was an amazing time, hanging out in the park, without a care in the world! I didn't fully realize it at the time, but something about frolicking in the woods, and enjoying the high alpine wilderness of Tuolumne Meadows, would change and grow my artwork in a different direction.

When I'm out on a trail, I typically spend my time observing the little things--the miniature details nature has to offer. I remember holding a Ponderosa pine cone petal one morning, spinning it around between my fingers, and thinking "Huh...this looks like a little bird!" Sure enough, the next day I began to design a simple plush body from fabric to pair with the pine cone petal, and the vision was complete! These lil' guys and gals have been making their way into many of my wall art pieces ever since. I assemble a composition that mimics social bird behaviors, integrating that with wood veneer and found objects. The best part about working with this media, is that each pine cone plush bird assemblage ignites it's own sort of personality, with all their particular colors and shapes. 

I can't help but reference Guira Cuckoo birds (above photos), as they individually have very robust personalities. They're known to be ruthless nest pirates, loud, yet endearing, gregarious birds. I've had the opportunity of spending many hours with these little guys at the Tracy Aviary in SLC, volunteering as site interpreter in the "Backyard Birds" exhibit. Guira Cuckoos are truly fun to watch! As you can imagine, inspiration came to me quick while creating these pine cone birds--stuffed to the brim with full-flavored character!

Fun Fact! In 7th grade science class, I won the top 'Bird Brain Award' for audio and sight identification of various bird species. 

Fun Fact! In 7th grade science class, I won the top 'Bird Brain Award' for audio and sight identification of various bird species. 

The pine cones that I use in all of my art work are not gathered in or from protected land or national parks. I specifically source these fallen Pondarosa pine cones locally, as I practice and encourage "leave no trace" principles, and am engaged in preserving wilderness areas for our future.

Festival Display System Made From Reclaimed Materials

I have been brainstorming for weeks now about how I'm going to stage my wall art, jewelry, and pottery at outdoor art festivals. I researched professional display systems, strolled through local festivals, and browsed online, to gather as many ideas as possible to create an interesting and functional display solution for my work. The project goals I needed to keep in mind were for it to be easily transportable, quickly assembled and collapsible, immune to windy weather, lightweight (one person set-up if needed), clean design, and cost effective.

Dimension: 5 foot tall by 6 foot wide. Dual-sided display system that is completely collapsible for easy transport and set-up.

Dimension: 5 foot tall by 6 foot wide. Dual-sided display system that is completely collapsible for easy transport and set-up.

One particular day, I stopped by one of my favorite places, ReStore - Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity. ReStore is like a thrift shop for building materials, furniture, etc. generously donated by businesses, contractors, or individuals. I highly recommend checking it out because you never know what you're going to find. The best part about purchasing from ReStore is that the proceeds help fund their humanitarian mission, and reduces building material ending up in a landfill!

That day, I hit the jack pot for my project. I salvaged 90% of my project's building material, paint, and hardware on a whim... I was so excited to get started transforming my idea into a tangible final product. As you can see flipping through the photos below, this is where all the designing took place from what I had on hand. I ran into a few construction obstacles like the hinges. I really wanted to use the tarnished brass hinges that came attached to the white cabinet doors, but those hinges couldn't bear the weight of the middle panel. I scrapped that idea in exchange for some heavy-duty brass hinges (the 10% non-salvaged hardware), which was a great decision. By simply removing all the hinge pins, I can quickly collapse the panels at ease. The main structure is now complete! Now plans are brewing to find a solution to hang my wall art, along with additional cosmetic applications.

After numerous trips to ReStore (I make tasks harder than they need to be), 40 hours investment, and a sore body, I am so happy with this display system! I can't wait to use this gem under my tent at my first outdoor art festival on September 17th & 18th--the Urban Arts Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah! Stay tuned!

Holiday Sale a Success!

Thank you to all who stopped by my table at the ARUP Holiday Sale! It feels good to know that my creative endeavors have found a new place to call home, and will be unwrapped for the holidays. I appreciate all the kind and encouraging comments. I found it to be a successful Friday the 13th! Until next year, thanks ARUP Laboratories for organizing this event, and providing a space for artisans to set up shop for the day. Cheers!

Site Updates

Alrighty then, here we are live on AEK Display! ... testing testing we all clear?!? Now I mentioned on my front page that you can follow me on Instagram. While I'm in the processes of finishing AEK Display, and building an Etsy Shop (coming soon!), Instagram will be going live at an unannounced future date. I will keep you posted when that happens. Also, Happy October! I love Fall a time to get busy in the studio! -Chow-