Buckle Box

So I’m boxing the frame on my buddy’s ’31 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan one day, welding in long lengths of laser cut, eighth inch steel plate to the tired old factory “C” channel rails, when the neighbor comes across the alley to see what the racket is.

Ordinarily, a visit by the neighbor during a major auto reconstruction project in a residential area, involving welders, grinders and the like isn’t a good thing.  It’s usually the precursor to an unplanned meeting with the local constabulary.

But this visit was pleasantly dissimilar.  You see the neighbor was actually quite fascinated with the work we were performing, inquiring about the various processes involved with the undertaking.

She then invited us into a studio she had constructed just a few steps across the alley in her garage.  I was enamored with the devices and products she had assembled.  It turned out that she was a very talented artist, with leather being her primary medium, though she was quite adept in other disciplines such as wood carving and non-ferrous metal design and sculpture.

We had a pleasant exchange that afternoon, as it was a joy to meet another artist with similar passion and devotion to the craft.  We adjourned shortly thereafter, and my buddy and I finished up the hot rod work for the evening.

Some time later, my friend called to let me know that he had scored some fantastic loot from the alley angels.  Sitting alongside receptacles rife with the requisite banana peels and offal of our urban truck patch was a beleaguered old basket filled with glistening brass objects.  They were the cast-offs, the hand made buckles that didn’t quite make the cut and live up to the neighboring artist’s vision.  Perfection can be an unrelenting beast.

So I went to go see the pieces and was again inspired.  Through a small bit of horse-trading with my buddy, I acquired a couple of the distinctive shiny shapes.  I hadn’t a clue as to what I intended to do with them, yet I knew I just needed to possess one or two.  Like a moth to a lamp, a child to a red ball, I was simply drawn in and captivated.

I’ll admit, I’m not the greatest tabula rasa guy out there.  Blank pages often confound me.  But give me a platform of inspiration, however small, and damn if I ain’t gonna run with it and turn it into something splendid.  See, I’ve spent a fair amount of my life making ugly things beautiful, though inanimate objects seem to respond best to this infusion of time, energy and passion.

When inspired by something already possessing innate beauty such as this piece, the possibilities can be limitless.  However, I was in a bit of a quandary on this project, due to that elemental beauty.  So rather than hide or incorporate the buckle into a greater work, I decided to simply showcase it.

The photos below show the fruits of that labor.  The material chosen was repurposed, reused, rough hewn carbon steel…some two inch square tubing, recycled five-eighths inch, twisted bar stock from an old railing demo, and a single piece of eighth inch plate, slit four times, cold formed with hammer and vice, then MIG welded back together.  There’s a poor mans patina on it too.  Wet rubbed, rattle-can black with a clear lacquer finish coat.

This piece always seems to bring me a smile.  And although I’ve been tempted to sell it, or pass it along to an appreciative soul, I’ve retained it thus far, and it occupies a prominent place in my home.  If you would like a similar one fabricated, whether complete with this current focal piece, or perhaps centered around an object of your own design, don’t hesitate to contact me.   

And if the buckle catches your eye, you’ve got to check out the other offerings of this artist.  Meg McGuinness’ work is just a mouse click away. http://www.meguinness.com/  And it’s customizable and wearable to boot!

Austin Bader
Copyright 2011

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