Sharing the creation process from concept to completion for ‘Feeding Time’, a signature sculpture.
The concept for this particular sculpture came to me after watching our cat in action and understanding that house cats are a major cause of bird loss. Completing this project is my little way to raise more awareness through sculpture around where we place our bird feeders.
It was because our neighbor, a fellow bird lover, puts seed out, and our cat sits patiently in waiting for innocent birds to fly past him.
We discussed ways to divert him, so if she sees him in her yard, she is allowed to spray him with her squirt gun. As for our side of the fence, we have made screens to block. Now he can sit and watch, but the birds are no longer innocent prey for him as the screens prevent him from attacking.
As for the sculpture itself, this one is made out of 1/4″ round steel, mounted to an L shaped bracket of 1/8″ x 1″ with two holes drilled to mount to an arbor, fence, awning or post. They come painted in a black, hammered black or clear coat as my standard options but it can also be left to rust or you can do your own custom paint and finish on it. Photos in the ‘Gallery’ share more of the process.
The process starts with a single stick of steel that is hand bent using a vice that is mounted to my table. Starting at the neck, I create the rounded curve of the body, then bend the last bit to curl into the tail. The ears, face and arm are all single pieces bent to the shape then welded together. Sometimes I get lucky enough to have leftover bits of steel that are just the right size and shape for what I need. More often, a quick cut is needed with the a cutting wheel on the grinder or the chop saw to make the desired length after the bend is complete.
When it comes to bending the steel, tiny pieces, just a couple of inches in length, are possible to bend at 1/4″ diameter. Leverage is my best friend here, because if you can get a pipe over the end or secure vice grips to it, that creates enough leverage to easily bend the littler bits.
With the smaller sticks of steel, the other tricky part is getting all the welds without getting too much warping from the high heat. It takes time to tack all the bits into place, making sure they are all secured either to the table with a clamp, magnet or pliers holding them in place while it is welded so it ends up where I want it. After tacking it on one side, the piece gets flipped and tacked on the other side, then placed into the vice to finish off all of the welds on all sides for a more seamless appearance.
My preference is a smooth finish at each seam, some pieces a rougher finish is desired. However for ‘Feeding Time’, I love the flow of the lines that each piece lends to for the overall look of the cat. Once all the welds are done, cleanup begins…everything gets brushed with the wire wheel to remove the flux around the welds and any splatter. Then if there are rough spots around any welds or sharp edges, those get a turn with the grinder to smooth down all the roughness.
Finish choice determines how much grinding will happen. A clear coat will mean that the entire piece will get the hand grinder on all surfaces so that it is a solid silver, no discoloration in metals or welds. It usually adds about an hour to most of the pieces that I do, larger the piece, the more time it will take. A color doesn’t require as much time with the grinder as all of the varying shades of steel are not an issue once primer and paint color have been applied.
If you are in the Sonoma area, ‘Feeding Time’ is on sale at ‘Swedes Feeds’ which is a lovely and amazing garden supply store out in Kenwood. Much of their work focuses on supporting local Butterflies, Bees & Birds!
If you are interested in ordering any pieces, or having a piece custom created, you can fill out a ‘Connect’ form and I will get back to you!
Smaller pieces, Kittens, are on the way after a request to fit an indoor space!
Thanks for taking time to share in the creation process!