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Spent shell casings, graphite, iron, padauk wood, amythist, glass, bone, M3 "Macro-Molecular Materials", ice resin & glitter, firebrick, sterling silver, brass, found case
I went through my "box of things" recently and found these bullet casings. I often go through this box when I am at a loss for ideas and need inspiration. It is not a metaphorical box, but rather a literal one filled with objects that I have collected or made; I like to think of it as a box of loose ends. I should get rid of some of them, but I always end up telling myself that I will tie them up some day when the right idea comes along, or when I complete the half finished idea attached to the object.
What really drew me to these shell casings was not political- but I have entered that territory whether I like it or not. It's as if I have wandered into a ideological mine field, and any misstep will completely re-contextualize my work or make it appear trite and contrived. Bullets, and by extension firearms, are an extremely controversial and loaded subject. But once again, that's not what drew me to these objects. If I am being honest, it was just my fascination with weapons in general.
I've always liked masterfully engraved knives, swords, and firearms. There is just something hauntingly beautiful about an object with such destructive potential taken to its logical extreme in terms of craftsmanship. As a metalsmith, there is nothing more beautiful to me than an object that has been embellished in such a way. I sometimes imagine that this must be what a zoologist feels like when looking at a beautiful but dangerous beast of pray.
But this duality goes further than just embellishment, we also tend to romanticize such weapons to the point where they take on a life of their own. In ancient times swords and other weapons were often steeped in mysticism and took on a romanticized narrative. Tales of weapons imbued with mystic power, wielded by heroes and gods, show up all over the world: King Arthur's sword, Excalibur; Odin's spear, Gungnir; the archangel Uriel's flaming sword; Honda Tadakatsu's spear, Tonbogiri; the list goes on. It should come to no surprise that firearms were the next logical step to this tradition of mysticism and romanticism. ("Westerns" are a particularly good modern example of this.)
We place a lot of that same mysticism on workable materials as well: Amethyst was believed to be an antidote to intoxication, and was frequently carved into drinking vessels. (To this day there are still some that swear by the stone's apparent healing properties.) Graphite has been used in writing and drawing implements since the 16th century, and to some degree it is both respected and feared for its ability to convey ideas through writing. Silver has always had a reputation for purity, and in western culture it was believed to be one of the few materials which were anathematic to the supernatural. Even the most primitive materials such as bones are saturated in mysticism, and a lot of them continue to take on this air of mystery and superstition even to this day.
I want to play with this notion of the mysticism and romanticism of these materials and of these weapons by replacing the business end (That is, the "slug" or "projectile" which performs the actual function of the weapon.) of these bullets with something more magical. But I want to ground this object in reality with the very real, unaltered, bullet casing. I want to play with this fascinating duality.