Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bristle Blocks Acrobats

One of the best ways to restore sanity while raising a toddler is to steal his toys and play with them. I recommend buying earplugs so that you can ignore the screams of "mine! mine! mine" when he sees you playing with his stuff.

These Bristle Blocks Acrobats are great fun but you have to keep them out of your two-year-old's reach or he'll tear them a apart. This sculpture was placed on top of a tall bookshelf, well out of reach of the little tike.

Bristle Block Momma with her two babies and upside-down husband portrays the struggle of motherhood and marriage: she does this with great skill and beauty. Note: her flowering breasts and the three hands - two outstretched in both strength and love, and the third reaching forward into the future. All this she accomplishes while carrying for her children and supporting her useless husband, who spends his day writing on blogs.

By the way, this also demonstrates how you can take a silly "sculpting" project and write about it "intellectually" to make it look like great thought went into it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sheaffer Legacy 1

Yes, I know. I took the easy route and used stock photos for my unbiased review of the most awesome Sheaffer Legacy 1 fountain pen. But my camera almost always disappoints me when doing close up photos. And then I find myself with lousy photos and no time to write a review.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS. If ever there was a pen that would compel me to say, "Okay, that's it I'm done. I never need to buy another fountain pen ever again." The Sheaffer Legacy is that pen . . . except for the Pilot 823 . . . and the Waterman Carene . . .and . . . well at least the Legacy is such a great pen that it was longer than usual before I got another fountain pen. (By the way, the 823 review is coming soon.)

I'll be honest, I don't care for the color gold, real or plated - in fact I really dislike it. But I had read so many good comments about PFMs and Legacys, that when I saw the price: too good to be believed at Peyton Steet Pens, I said "Gold, shmold" and ordered one. When it arrived, I still didn't care that it was gold. The 1995 NOS Legacy 1 arrived just as advertised - just as if straight from the factory - perfect.

DESIGN and CONSTRUCTION. The first thing that you notice is the impressive girth and weight of the pen. The barrel is a half inch in diameter but it feels thicker. And, from end to nib it is only 4 3/4" which I would usually disdain as too short but it doesn't feel that way at all. With the cap posted it is a full 5 7/8". The cap is wide and light weight so it stays well balanced with the cap posted. The barrel has a high gloss black lacquer (over brass?) with a deep shine.

NIB. The Legacy has an 18ct gold inlaid medium nib. Though this pen was made in 1995, the inlaid nib makes it look as if it were designed in the 1920s. The common everyday nibs that stick out of the bottom of a pen lose their appeal once you've seen an inlaid nib. Not only is the nib stunning in appearance but it writes velvet smooth with a wet, even flow. The Legacy has a reputation for being a very wet writer and this one followed suit. It is an absolute joy to write with.

FILLING SYSTEM. Sheaffer utilized the touchdown filling system in the Legacy, which creates a suction when filling the pen and provides a very satisfying woosh sound when the pen is filled. It also seems to hold a higher capacity than a converter, which is handy for such a wet writer. I've read some complain about the shape of the blind cap at the end, but it gets the job done and makes the pen look more interesting than a simple cigar shape. There are a lot of C/C fillers out that have a faux blind cap. It is great to have the real thing!

CAP and CLIP. I'm sure the cap is marvelous for those of you who like the color gold. It doesn't do much for me. The clip is the only average part of this pen. It gets the job done. However, I do appreciate how well the shape of the cap corresponds to the rest of the pen. The top of the cap tapers to a square, just as does the blind cap at the end of the barrel. The cap is light and snaps securely onto the pen. And it clearly does a good job of capping the nib, because it never dries out. I also, prefer snap on caps over screw on caps - quicker to remove, and the cap doesn't inadvertently unscrew in you breast pocket.

CONCLUSION. Apart from the average clip - but nothing wrong with it - everything about this pen is outstanding in design and performance. After using this pen, it isn't as easy too get excited about pens with standard nibs and standard filling systems.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Doodles and Icons

While it is very rewarding to spend hours drawing or painting something suitable for framing, little compares to getting so lost in the doodle zone that you lose a sense of time or troubles. You are not self aware. You are not drawing to impress or please anyone else. In fact, you are not even drawing with intent to please yourself. The drawing just emerges while you observe.

It is similar to that feeling that you get reading a great story or watching a really compelling movie: you are transported to another world.

I don't recall where this doodle began - probably with the face - that is usually where I start. The starting place is always a self-aware decision. It is sometime after that as the drawing begins to take shape that you stop trying to draw and just draw. That is why doodling is somewhat therapeutic as a way to relax.

This sort of doodling is a faint echo of an even more significant form of artwork that transcends personal therapy: iconography. For monks who paint icons, the process of painting is a form of prayer as they paint, understanding that the finished icon will be a vehicle of prayer for others. I am not trained in the method of painting icons, but the general concept is one that we can embrace. Several years ago when I was drawing portraits for a living I took this concept to heart and adapted it for my work: while I was drawing the subjects portrait, I prayed for him/her. It transformed the way I thought about the subject and the process of producing a piece of artwork. It was no longer just a creative effort or a business transaction, but took on a sacramental significance.

Block Head

This is a concept drawing for a tactile sculpture that was designed for children.

Each mouth is a cavity, which contains objects that can be felt, such as marbles, feathers, water, et cetera.