WEMU interview for Ypsilanti Water Tower Candle

Exciting to start the new year with this interview onWEMU, our local public radio station that broadcasts from the campus of Eastern Michigan University. Below is the transcript of the interview from WEMU.org  you can listen to it here: http://wemu.org/post/area-artist-creates-local-landmark-candles#stream/0

“Every summer, there is the nationally known art fair in Ann Arbor, and the area is known for its large number of local artists. One of those artists is gaining attention for his locally historic creation that was a popular gift for Christmas.

Listen Listening…0:00 WEMU’s Lisa Barry reports on a local artist and his “Water Tower candles.”
Perched on the highest point in Ypsilanti sits the iconic Water Tower, a local landmark which was constructed in 1890. Ypsilanti resident and artist Rick Wedel was inspired by the highly recognizable city structure and made a replica candle of it.

“It just had this air of inevitability. It seemed like it had to happen. In fact, I was really surprised they weren’t already being made. A friend of mine said somebody shouldn’t just make an Ypsilanti Water Tower candle, and it’s like the earth stood still for a moment.”
Wedel is primarily a painter but learned through YouTube videos how to make a candle cast designed to look exactly like a mini version of the Ypsilanti Water Tower.

“I created the original out of palmer clay, and then, through a series of like four or five layers of silicone, I make a glove mold, and that captures the detail. And then, around that, there’s a plaster cast.”
The Ypsilanti artist began making the water tower candles about three years ago and says they have been sold and delivered now worldwide.

“I was hearing people tell me about dozens of places around the world they were going to. They’ve gone to Germany and the Philippines. One was taken to Australia. It was wonderful. A woman who came to tell me the one she bought last year, she hand-delivered to the Phallic Museum in Iceland.”
It takes about 24 hours for the candles made of 100% soy wax to and set, and, even though they do have a wick, Wedel says he doubts many people actually burn them.

“I let people know that it’s okay to burn, and I let them know that it has a long burn time. But I think, for most people, they’re not interested in burning them. It’s more the suggestion of functionality, you know, that it’s a candle. But, really, it’s being proudly displayed.”
He also makes a candle replica of Ann Arbor’s Burton Bell Tower and is thinking of other ideas to create.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu” – wemu.org
The candles can be purchased online here on this web site, and found locally at The Eyrie in Depot Town, Ypsilanti. 

Portrait no.8

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The summer of 2016 I did a series of 18″ invented portraits. It was an effort to get into the marks – to focus on gesture and brevity, and to find character and mood within that. This is one of those portraits, painted on the rough side of a 1/4″ Masonite panel.

Please touch the art.

At long last, I’m getting to an art/design project that’s been going through my head for years. A Busy Box is an interactive artwork that can be easily taken off the wall or picked up from a surface and played with. Two or more Busy Boxes = Busy Board. Think toddler’s sensory board – but for adults as an artwork. I’m excited to begin a group of different designs that will display well together and invite interaction.

busybox1bThis Busy Box is “Abstract Roller Disco”.  It changes as the viewer moves one of the four wooden rollers. For this piece, each roller is covered with a different section of canvas from an original abstract painting. Rollers are set permanently within a 1.5″ deep wood frame. It can be hung in any direction or orientation, as it is open on the front and back and lacks hardware hangers. Rollers can also be turned without removing from the wall, and the depth of the frame allows it to sit free-standing on a surface.

The idea is to repeat the Roller Disco form with different image making techniques. On the horizon: Lakeshore Roller Disco. A variation made using an image transfer process.

In a physical sense, this project continues themes I’ve been interested in for a long time. The interaction of the viewer, and the interpretive factor that the viewer brings to the artwork. I’m looking forward to exploring this further in different forms, with variations on each.

Finishing Summer portraits & planning Fall projects

These 18″ imagined portraits have been a lot of fun. Slowly getting them on a few online galleries. All painted on the rough textured side of a Masonite panel. A few different approaches and techniques – the upper right has pieces of painted canvas applied to the surface of the panel. All have been an attempt to add brevity and spontaneity to my painting process.

For Fall, I’d like to go larger and non-figurative. Hiking season is drawing to a close, and I’ll have more time on the weekends in the studio. My previous abstract paintings have kept the object in place with central light source and point of action. In the coming paintings I’d like to explore ideas of open field, dispersed focal point and overall calm. We’ll see. 🙂

Small Painting Summer

This may have to extend into the fall. I’ve had such a great time with smaller paintings this summer. It began with the commission of “Connectivity” shown below. There has also been the start of the “Wonder of birds” series, one of which is in the Onimatopoetic show at MIX Ypsilanti for the month of September. A group of 18″ square figure portraits have developed. So many in fact, that I’ve sworn not to begin any new ones until I finish some up. The studio is becoming littered with little figures. 

I had hoped to move toward landscapes and take some with us on our weekly hikes. That just hasn’t turned out to be the case. Both my current visual interests this season and my partner’s bad knee have played a part in that. It hasn’t kept me from working though, and enjoying the result. More images to come. 

  Connectivity, 2016     Acrylic on canvas      Commission

Autumn Clearing Mirror

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Mirror Detail

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed working out several designs for wall mirrors. Much more interested in the design process than in production, many have been one-of-a-kind pieces. This is one I created in a few variations.

The Autumn Clearing Mirror has several layers spaced apart to allow for a reflected view of hidden textures. The branch layer is cut from 1/4” thick masonite and given a rounded edge. Both cutting and shaping were accomplished using a high speed rotary tool. The facing branch surface was painted off white, with gold leaf applied to the reverse side. This metallic element is seen in the reflection of the mirror, which extends to the frame of this 25″ square mirror. It is only in the center that a 12″ clearing allows for the functional part of the mirror to be used.

In front of the wood branches floats a stretched and block-printed sheer silk panel. An overall print of fall colored leaves is made by stamping the silk with leaf shapes in acrylic paint. What I loved was that the leaves, the branch shapes and the gold leaf layer all reflected and create an overall appearance that’s dreamy and full of motion. I eventually made and sold several mirrors through 16 Hands where I worked at the time. A lot of fun to design and make.

This design was featured on the HGTV show “That’s Clever” and is shown on the HGTV web site as the tutorial “How To Make An Autumn-Inspired Framed Mirror“.

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Autumn Clearing Mirror