When I was young, I can remember my parents sending me off to have some aptitude tests.  I think my father was thrilled when the results came back.  I was told that I had good hand-eye coordination and a high aptitude for doing things with my hands.  At the time I wasn’t sure if that meant that I would be spending my life changing tires or digging ditches, but as things turned out, I think the tester-people were pretty much on target.  I do like doing things that require good hand-eye coordination, and for me, that means spending some of my non-working time creating artsy stuff.

I (foolishly) thought when I moved to Sol y Mar that the new house would give me many opportunities to do so.  Whilst being here has been highly motivating, it hasn’t worked out as well as I thought.  The motivation part is spot on – the weather at La Antigua was incredible, but at Sol y Mar it is incredible-er (is that even a word?  Probably not, but you do get the point) due to it being smack in the middle of a micro-climate area.  As for the actual doing new stuff, I seem to have produced more output than my walls can find space for.   So, being of sound mind and body, I have adjusted my view of where to put things a bit. 

In several previous letters, I have mentioned some of the graphic art projects I have done, and in my last letter, I talked a bit about the rather large PVC tube sculpture that now resides on my front terrace.  Well, making “Esteban Tenia Razon” was so much fun that this week I was at it again. 

Back when I had the plastics company, my sons and I would scavenge through some of the scrap bins at the company during their summer vacation.  We would look for cut-offs of fabricated and moulded parts, and then take them home and put them together and hang them on walls at home.  Interestingly enough, many friends just assumed I was spending serious money on these ‘artworks.’  Time has changed everything.  I no longer have a plastics company where I can find cut-off pieces of stuff to re-create, so now I keep my eyes open for ‘stuff’ that I can use to re-create into other ‘stuff.’  This week I was able to find something that was perfect.

A couple of years ago, I had make something I titled Gordian Beginnings, and the new piece was a logical complement…well I think it was logical.  Besides, what I wanted to make was going to be way too big for the inside of the house but I did have a nice corner near the front door that was beckoning for something more creative than just another plant.  After I finished it, I was pondering what to call it, and wanted to avoid just calling it ‘bendy-aluminium-tubing-doo-wah-thing,’ so after hearing from David and Nancy about the new addition to their home, I sort of appropriated the same name they gave their daughter…oh, sorry…their cat.

And then there was the other piece I made this week.  This one is an inside piece, and whilst I did put it up so I could see it, it won’t stay at Sol y Mar.  A good friend had asked me if I would consider doing a picture of her son, and not wanting to do anything boring, I had asked her for several photos of him.  “Charles” was good for me to make as it involved many of the things I like.  After applying some creativity, some geometry, some maths, and a lot of very smelly adhesive and it was done.

Now for those of you who are creative, and do like to invoke some of the skills you may (or may not) have learnt in schools, here is how to make one of these pictures.  Step 1: find two pictures you really like.  It is helpful if the pictures have the same basic colour palette.  This reduces the amount of colour adjustment you will need to do (as in the "Charles" picture).  Step 2: have the photos enlarged to the size you want the finished piece to be.  Be a little cautious here.  I like graininess, especially when photos are big.  When you enlarge a photo over and over again, the graininess grows faster than…well, it grows very fast.  I don’t think you can do this at home unless you have a printer that will do seriously big.  You will probably need to take the photos to a commercial printer.  Step 3: buy some carton pluma (foam-core) about 1.2cm thick.  The carton pluma here only comes 70 x 100cm or 100 x 200cm which can limit the scope of what you are making, so check that out before you spend any money.  Step 4: cut the carton pluma into parallelogram strips.  The parallelogram is only seen on the edge of the strip, which means you need to find a way to make long cuts on a 45-degree angle.  Make sure that all the cut pieces are exactly the same width.  I tend to make these about 7 – 8 cm wide, but you can do what you want for this.  This is where you remember you should have put more study into maths in school.  Step 5: glue the strips together so that viewing it from the top or bottom, the finished unit looks like this   /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\   Step 6: cut the enlarged photos to the same width as the cut carton pluma.  Make sure when you cut them, you don’t lose track of which piece goes where.  Step 7: adhere the photo strips to the carton pluma assembly.  There is, of course, another way to achieve the same look in a finished piece, but that would involve contacting Dr. Timothy Leary, and I think he isn’t taking calls anymore.



"Madeline Sparkle Pants"


another view of "Madeline Sparkle Pants:


"Charles" (viewed from the left)


"Charles" (viewed from the right)

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley