Friday, December 15, 2017

cory barkman’s chinese plum tree: coming into bloom, one flower at a time.

On his facebook page, industrial artist Cory Barkman has been sharing the journey to design and create unique hand-made furniture and fittings for a contemporary Chinese tea-room. I am going to describe more about bringing the Chinese Plum Tree screen installation into bloom, as I have the slightly scary task of making the 600 chased and repousséd bronze flowers.

Chased and repousséd bronze flowers - overlaid to create the feel of the finished Chinese Plum tree branch, loaded with spring blossom. Christine Pedersen. 2017.

With so much work necessary to create all the pieces, Cory has faced a serious problem - how to find enough hours in his working life to make it all: "Sometimes jobs are bigger than ourselves, and the sheer volume of work needed is more than one person can feasibly or efficiently achieve on a good timeframe”.

Cory and I have worked on a previous major project - the “Return” tree sculpture for Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation, with Jeff de Boer, as part of his LEXM artist collective. As Cory says about LEXM: “It means that together we can finish an art work more quickly, and we get to draw from each other’s experience in solving problems - we may find a better, or more aptly suited solution”. And of course, with large complicated pieces, Cory continued “…working together also allows each of us to grow independently, our individual contributions benefit the team, and we carry forward the experience of making the piece in all of our tool-kits."

Process shot: 4 different sized flowers per sheet of die-formed bronze. Christine Pedersen. 2017.

As an artist who specializes in chasing, this is a fabulous opportunity for me to really go deep with a particular form and explore technique: every hammer blow is a choice, the weight and angle determine every nuance of the flowers’ character. It is also physically very demanding, and I make 4 complex curled flowers, or 6 open-form flowers each day. Eventually, each flower will have taken around an hour to complete.

Cory’s hand-carved walnut and aluminium screen is 12 feet long and 5 feet high, and he estimates we will need around 600 blooms for the layered and highly detailed form he has designed. As I write, I have made approximately 350 flowers.


Making the bronze flowers - read on for more.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

makers allowed out for one weekend only!


Calgary Maker Faire Oct 28 and 29, 2017.


Update: Caleb Kraft of Make Magazine shot this video from the LEXM booth* on October 29, starring Kat McLean and me doing all the talking.

*Video: If you don't use Facebook, use this link to see lots of videos from Calgary, at makezine.com. To find LEXM, scroll down to video #13 - you will see Cam Farn's huge red-headed sculpture appear behind the presenter.

Calgary Maker Faire was a lot of fun - hundreds of makers offering show and tell, and loads of hands on opportunities. Might sound crazy, but I think already know what work I want to show in the LEXM booth in 2018 :)

Images: top row, L to R - Reinhold Pinter, Christine Pedersen, Cam Farn.
Bottom row, L to R - Jeff de Boer, Cory Barkman.

October 28/29, 2017: I will be demonstrating chasing and repoussé as part of the LEXM team of master makers and emerging artists. We will have an exhibition of one of a kind works, commission pieces (with thanks to our wonderful clients who have loaned them for the occasion), and jewellery and metalwork for sale.

Calgary artist Jeff de Boer and his Armét Canada team are launching their Gearing kinetic jewellery line with a fabulous 20% off show specialAnd you can literally try your hand at designing a piece of jewellery with their interactive design tools - come and crank some gears!


Links to some of the LEXM featured makers:



Monday, October 9, 2017

The Crafted Dish: gluten free bread recipe

Celebrating National Clay Week 2017, new cookbook The Crafted Dish goes on sale online at thecrafteddish.com

Canadian Thanksgiving - a perfect day to dish up a new cookbook benefiting thestop.org, an organization that works on many aspects of food security and building community.

The Crafted Dish is full of recipes submitted by clay artists, with the food served on their gorgeous hand-made dishes. Creating the book was a zero-cost project, with all of the work done by a fantastic team of volunteers, lead by Carole Epp (she of the excellent clay web-site musingaboutmud.com). Go SEE some of the recipes - if only the Instagram feed was scratch and sniff...

My contribution to the crafted dish is a gluten-free nut butter cookie recipe (hint: if you don’t tell anyone it’s gluten free, they won’t care, they’re good cookies). I offer a grateful nod to all the other cookie recipes I have ever read because I modified and substituted, and went through lots of trial and crumbly error (though even the errors got eaten), until I built a working recipe.

The same is true for my home-made gluten free bread recipe: I made a lot of bread-flavoured bricks on the way to developing a successful recipe, and learned a lot from other cooks. Please share this recipe freely, please do not add any copyright or other restrictions - thank you, and enjoy!

Gluten free rye-style loaf, baked in a cast-iron pan with heavy fitted lid. Served warm with butter, love, and lots of tea.
Hand-made tablewares by Christine Pedersen. 2017.


Ingredients
2 ½ cups boiled cooled water
2 tsp yeast

5 cups total in the dry flour mix:
2 cups whole oats
1¾ cup brown rice flour or whole-grain creamed rice cereal
¾ cup sorghum flour
¼ cup psyllium husk
¼ cup buckwheat flour (for a rye-like flavour, or swap out for more sorghum for a fluffier loaf)

2 ½ tbsp honey
2½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
1¾ tsp Salt
3 tbsp olive oil

Optional ingredients - can add these without affecting flour:water quantities:
1 tbsp dried egg white, if available
1½ tsp caraway seeds for a rye-bread style flavour
½ cup sunflower seeds

Directions
Boil water and allow to cool.
Turn oven on to very low or keep warm setting to prove the loaf.

Make water/honey/yeast mixture:
Pour 1½ cups into jug and allow to cool to body temperature
Add 2½ tbsp honey into jug and dissolve
Add 2 tsp dried yeast and dissolve
Keep mixture warm and allow to stand for 20 mins (until frothy)

Prepare the baking pan:
Preferable to use a heavy saucepan with lid, butter and dust with rice flour. Or a large loaf pan (grease and line aluminium pans with baking parchment)

Make water/egg/vinegar/salt mixture:
To remaining 1 cup water add and dissolve…
1¾ tsp salt
2½ tbsp apple cider vinegar

Mix flour: add all the flours (and any optional ingredients) to a large mixing bowl and run through fingers to mix and aerate:
2 cups whole oats
1 ¾ cups brown rice flour
¾ cup sorghum
¼ cup buckwheat flour
¼ cup psyllium husk

Mixing the dough:
Add 3 tbsp olive oil to well in mixed flour.
Add all wet ingredients to flour (yeast mix and water/vinegar/salt mix).
Mix with a spatula - will appear very wet and sloppy initially, don’t worry! No need to mix constantly, take breaks; after about 5 minutes mixture will have become very thick and formed a dough-ball.

Proving:
Butter pan and place in oven to warm, add small handful rice or sorghum flour to dust inside a buttered pan (no need if lined with parchment).
Turn the dough into the baking pan.
If cooking in a saucepan: turn oven OFF, cover with pan lid, place into oven on middle shelf.
If cooking in a loaf pan, cover with a moistened clean tea towel or dish cloth, and stand on top of the warm stove.
Leave for 50 mins to prove, loaf will rise somewhat but not like a wheat loaf.

Baking:
Turn oven on to 400F.
Place pan on middle shelf and bake for 50 mins. Loaf will have a light golden colour. (Next time you try the recipe - cook loaf for a bit longer, or slightly hotter, 420F, to darken/thicken crust).

Allow loaf to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Try not to cut into the loaf for around half an hour so that the crumb can set ;)

A few important recipe notes:
1. This GF bread recipe was developed at 3500 feet above sea level. If you live below this, you might want to decrease the yeast, may need a little less cooking time, and should cook at 400F to limit the crust becoming too cooked or overly thick.
2. A general principle that I work with for gluten free breads is a 2:1 ratio for dry ingredients:water. Experiment with different flours within these parameters and develop a tasty recipe that works for you. This also means you can make a 4-cup loaf easily by just scaling everything down a bit.
3. I have been making a decreased carb bread by increasing the amount of psyllium husk in the recipe. I have used up to 1 cup psyllium husk successfully. Drink additional water if you experiment with this, you will be getting a large dose of seed fibre, and it needs extra moisture to work its magic through your intestines.
4. I try to increase the protein (and therefore nutritional) content of the bread by using dried albumen in the mix. If you can get it, pre-mix this into the flour mixture. Wet egg whites sold in the carton work fine too, but you will need to adjust the amount of water you will be using to keep the dry:wet ratio mostly the same.
5. Do experiment with adding spices, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. Or making rolls instead of a loaf - this recipe will create a wide variety of options. Makes a great pizza base - dip fingers in olive oil and spread dough thinly onto the largest size cookie tray, or split between two trays.
6. There is an excellent article on soda bread from the BBC - GF flour mixtures  translate really well into soda bread recipes.

Happy eating.




Saturday, September 9, 2017

narrative jewellery: tales from the toolbox book launch

For every piece of jewellery I make there is a story. It can be simple, just a note on the “why?” that led to the forms and textures, or the feeling that I want to remember.

Sometimes the single idea that could become a piece, conceived way before the act of making, can become so over-whelming that I need to write a whole new reality for the jewellery to exist within. That’s how it was for “Pull”, the first piece of jewellery in a body of work that became the ReFind Collection*. It caused me to look at materials in my home, especially the things that were routinely thrown away, very differently. It was like waking up to realize I just hadn’t been paying the right kind of attention to all the “stuff” in other areas of my life; realizing that maybe jewellery could be linked to something as obscure as industrial-scale food-processing and packaging—if I allowed my mind to receive the information, differently.

I am very honoured that my necklace has been included in Mark Fenn’s new book, Narrative Jewelry: Tales From The Toolbox, to be released on October 28, 2017. There is a website for the book, and all of the contributing artists and their web-sites will be listed there. The book is available for pre-order from Amazon.

Not surprisingly, I can’t wait to read my copy… For all of the reasons that a piece of jewellery becomes special to us—why we fall in love with one thing, but not another, for the stories that we hear from makers, and the stories we will make-up for ourselves, as wearers.

*The ReFind Collection is still under development, and has not yet been shown publicly. I am seeking an appropriate exhibition opportunity that would allow me to present the full installation of source materials, intermediate jewellery forms, and finished work  - please contact me for further details.


Details from the official web-site for the book: 
http://www.narrative-jewellery.com
Narrative Jewelry: Tales from the Toolbox
Author Mark Fenn
Foreword by Jack Cunningham, PhD
Published by Schiffer Publishing

Featuring 450 full-color photos and 241 of the world’s foremost narrative jewelry makers, this book showcases the best of what today's makers, ranging from newly graduated students to the luminaries of the jewelry world, have to offer us: jewelry that's designed to evoke a range of thoughts and feelings. 
Do you have a piece of jewelry that offers a story? 
What story does the jewelry we own or desire tell?
Why are you attracted to some pieces, but repelled by others? 
The answers unfold in this contemporary compendium, also featuring a foreword by jewelry professor and expert Jack Cunningham, PhD, and text by artists Jo Pond and Dauvit Alexander (The Justified Sinner). 
The makers and images selected for this book are a broad representation of the genre of narrative jewelry, and offer a fascinating look for anyone who wears, collects, or has an interest in jewelry or design.

ISBN: 978-0-7643-5414-4
Size: 9" x 12" - 
Illustrations: 450 colour images
Pages: 304
Binding: Hard Cover
Guide Price $60.00 - £46.37 



Monday, May 15, 2017

#GroundsForDiscovery - a series of unlikely events, and how science and art work together beautifully

This begins about 110 million years ago with the death of an 18-foot long armour-plated ‘lizard’, some time after it had enjoyed a large salad.

Six years ago the fossilized animal re-surfaced at Alberta’s Suncor Millennium Mine, as an excavator dug down to recover the bituminous remains of prehistoric plants and animals in the tar-sands layer. The Royal Tyrrell Museum and National Geographic hail the dinosaur fossil as the finest specimen of its kind in the world—it is the best preserved, with armoured plates and even some skin tone visible. It is also the oldest dinosaur ever found in Alberta.


As yet un-named nodosaur fossil. Photo: Kristi Van Kalleveen. #GroundsForDiscovery

See the nodosaur fossil up close in this beautifully photographed essay from National Geographic, published in the June 2017 edition.

All of the Grounds For Discovery exhibit fossils were accidentally discovered during mining and excavation work in Alberta. As the Tyrrell specimen fact sheet indicates, some of the fossil animals are very close to complete. However, the tail end of the nodosaur was too damaged to recover, and a new species of 60-million year old pantodont, a bear-like mammal, had only a skull, a paw, some vertebrae and arm bones. The Tyrrell invited Calgary sculptor Jeff de Boer to work with museum scientists: using their understanding of the animal forms, Jeff was able to design steel wire sculptures that could support and complement the fossil remains, and give the specimens a new life. 

Front L-R: Les Pinter, Kelly Hofer, Jeff de Boer, Dinosaur Curator Dr Donald Henderson, Christine Pedersen, Tyrrell exhibit designer Colin Hnetka. Back row - a new genus and species of pantodont.

In January 2017, Jeff assembled his project team… 3D creature designer Cam Farn modelled scientifically-guided animal forms which were CNC-milled in polystyrene. The full-size foam animals received a flame-resistant hard coating that allowed individually hand-formed steel parts to be tack-welded into position. Kelly Hofer, Les Pinter, and I had the privilege of working with Jeff, and being mentored in the design and building of the steel-wire sculptures.

Jeff de Boer with pantodont steel wire sculpture in process.
The sculptures were cut apart to release the foam materials, and all the steel sections deep-welded back together. Metal joints were hand-ground back to a beautiful smooth finish. 

Close-up on the finished pantodont paw: cast fossil bones are supported within the powder-coated steel sculpture.
Ricardo Miranda, Alberta Minister for Culture and Tourism, with Tyrrell Executive Director Andy Neuman
and Millie - the as yet formally un-named new nodosaur.

A rear-view and cross-section of the nodosaur specimen - very unusual in having such volume and depth in the fossilized remains - including the vegetation in its intestines! The detailed wire-work sculpture hints at the armoured outline of the animal, and the massive scale of the overall fossil as it was discovered, lying on its back.

May 12, 2017, 2pm: the Tyrrell unveiled their new exhibit, Grounds For Discovery. The museum and installations are world-class, gorgeous to experience. There is something else at play here…unspoken…every atom of concrete glass plastic metal used to create plinths, cases, museums, and art-work is as old as the atoms that built the original animals, and their fossils. Materials harvested, refined, re-arranged by us - for now - into new forms to show-case the life on this planet; it is a glorious enterprise in that we are driven to build beautiful, meaningful things in our application of science and art.

It is a huge thrill to have a small part in this fabulous collective enterprise: thank you to the Tyrrell for reaching out to artists to help tell the story; and to Jeff for his commitment to expand the community of makers with the skills to take on these projects (go LEXM!).

Lots more pictures...
Kelly Hofer has published a huge collection of behind the scenes shots as we made the sculptures, and from opening day at the Tyrrell.
Yes, you can see that the nodosaur had salad for lunch... Fabulous National Geographic 3D tour of the fossilised nodosaur.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

twenty: a love story

“Twenty” was a complex piece to make real; it started by sharing in a dream… What is the client imagining? What can they see and feel?

And there it was in my hands, the finished piece: thick, lush, textured, a golden and hefty gem-set brass carabiner, with my thumb flicking that addictive gate-wire! The imagined carabiner had a haptic, emotional identity before material, or sketching. It came to life through our massively powerful human ability to transmit the idea of The Thing between us. Everyone’s a maker when they choose to spend a moment visualizing the thing made, finished, right there in front of them. It’s a delicious first step. And it sends the real-world maker off to find the right tools…

And there’s the rub: the idea of the thing isn’t enough to make it real, because there’s still all the mess and details and skill of the making. That’s where the maker or artist chooses to fall into building the dream.




This is the "making of" video for a commission celebrating a 20th wedding anniversary. My client proposed a decorative working carabiner, set with gems honouring the birthdays of his five family members (from left to right: emerald, fire citrine, peridot, Canadian diamond, aquamarine).

Keep reading for more on process and music…

Monday, January 30, 2017

the mane event this March...

Whoa! That's a very young me with my skewbald bestie and life-long inspiration... Read a feature article in the Okotoks Feb 2017 Cultural newsletter.

Want to talk horse all evening AND learn to sculpt a horse-head in clay? Sounds like a great way to spend time to me! I am really looking forward to teaching this course - starts March 16, 2017, and you can register through the Town of Okotok’s website here.


Punk, Jazz, and Classical: ponies with attitude! Christine Pedersen. 2016.

You will spend four 2-hour evening classes making your sculpture, after which your piece will dry, and then be fired for you. During the final 2-hour class, you will decide whether to use paint or glaze to decorate your finished horse-head.

This course is for anyone who would like to sculpt with potter’s clay. No experience is necessary—just bring your enthusiasm, and pictures of horse-heads that you find inspiring. I will cover all of the important techniques for hand-sculpting, and you will be able to purchase some clay tools during the class. I will help you to develop your composition and build character into your piece, and for those with some clay experience, we can increase the challenge as much as you would like.

Although the course is focused on the horse-head, the style of your piece can be as literal or abstract as you wish, and you will make your sculpture as simple or challenging as you want in the time available. 

We will work in the fun and stimulating environment of the artist’s studio upstairs at the lovely Okotoks Art Gallery.

Hope to see you there :)