1. Practice, 6 x 8 x 23"
This was the first piece of steel that I put torch to. I last worked industrial shapes in this manner in 2007 and so I felt most comfortable starting here, carving the beam with no particular care as to where it took me. In this respect 'practice' was sacrificial. I was not concerned whether it ended up as a plant stand, an object of art, or thrown into the bushes. There is one 'successful' cut that I achieved late in working with this piece of metal that made me feel I at last had control of the torch again and once this point was reached the piece, to me, was 'done'. The second exercise, and the one that took much longer, was studying the piece in the environment that I was working in. I knew from previous experiments with the medium that working the steel in this manner achieved, to an extent, goals that I was working toward. Namely, adding an organic nature to an otherwise cold, industrial object, and an exposure of the liquid nature of steel. However, when I started 'placing' the piece, on top of rocks, in the grass on the ground, right side up or upside down, at the base of trees, etc., all I could see was a mauled piece of I-beam. I was therefore quite frustrated and unhappy, and so left it, taking two lessons from it initially. First, I wanted more of the integrity of the steel to remain (more of its 'architecture') and second, none of the pieces were to be 'mixed media', meaning that each piece was to stand alone, non-dependent on stone or wood for pedestals or props. It was a week later, after carrying it for miles, that 'practice' was placed and worked successfully in the setting that it now sits, completing the circle of stumps, the last cog in the wheel. If I had placed it there initially however, I think my mind would have concentrated too much on looking for things that were missing in the environment instead of what was there.