Rock Solid Bodies

In undergrad classes at Savannah College of Art and Design, I tried my best to take the most interesting electives, and my Intro. to Metals and Jewelry class didn’t disappoint. From simple sawing projects to more complex riveting, soldering, and even cuttlefish casting projects, I knew I would eventually return to this medium even though I majored in painting.

Now that the four summers of my Masters Degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art have been completed, I’ve had the time to continue expanding my skill base as well as the direction of my work. With a generous Professional Development for Artists Grant from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the County Commissioners, I was able to attend a 5-day long course in Channel Inlay Jewelry at the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts in Young Harris, GA.

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My obsession with “treasure” started young, with the prospect of finding buried gold doubloons from Spanish galleons that have wrecked off the Florida coast where I grew up.  Throwing fire onto my flame for expedition, my parents even spray painted some stones gold and buried them in our backyard sandbox for me to dig up (much to my excitement!). As I grew older, I became interested in other sorts of treasure as a rock-hounder: patterned agates, colorful tourmaline, and various fossils like megalodon teeth and trilobites.

Using treasures I’ve found on trips out west, channel inlay is a specific form of silversmithing that combines my interests of metals, semi-precious stones, and fine art. As a technique that closely aligns with painting or collaging with gemstones, strips of sterling silver are bent into organic-shaped enclosed spaces where stones are hand-cut to fit into their designated slots (think along the lines of “Paint-by-Numbers” for jewelry). To me, this is the closest way I can get to wearable paintings by being able to translate my drawings into sterling silver lines, with various colored stones as my “limited palette.”

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Because the channel inlay class was so small (just two of us), I was able to really spread out, which was a wonderful treat.

Many forms of jewelry tend to rely on symmetry, but I wanted to approach jewelry-making from the perspective of a painter, and use my preliminary sketches for paintings as material for pendant designs.

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This is the second piece I completed during my week at William Holland (my first piece was a braid-like piece). As a true glutton for punishment, I gave myself some challenging shapes to cut with this one, especially with the arm and booty pieces since they had to be separated into two stones butted-up next to each other.

The first step for channel inlay is to take your design and copy it on onion skin paper and tape to your soldering brick. As you form your sterling silver strips along your drawing outline, you pin them down so the sections don’t move when you start soldering your joints.

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I got beginners luck on this piece and didn’t have too much clean-up work to do after soldering.

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Now that the “channels” have been made for my figurative pendant design, it’s time to cut the stones to fit. These numbered templates were from my first braided piece as I forgot to get pictures of my gal’s progress at this stage. From left to right: petrified wood, jasper, and dinosaur bone slabs. To get them preformed, you use a trim saw to roughly cut these shapes out.

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If I only had this kind of grinding equipment in Florida, I’d be grinding away the days! On either side of this hand-made carving machine, there are diamond-plated wheels with different widths to assist in getting the right curves for each stone to be cut once they have been trimmed. You can see my little stack of rocks on the top right of the machine.

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While the stones are being cut, the backplate needs to be soldered on. Here, I’m testing out some bail designs (headphones, that I didn’t end up using but perhaps I will in a future piece).

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With the templates adhered to the tops of the stones, it makes it a little easier to cut the stones to size, but there’s still a lot of Cinderella-esque fittings to be done until the stone slides in perfectly. Here are my first and second pieces with the stones set in place.

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Once all the stones are cut, a strong epoxy is used to glue the stones in place. In the last image, you might be able to see how the stones stick out from the silver channels by at least a quarter inch if not more. Because the surface is irregular, the next step is to use a flat lap to grind the surfaces down evenly and flush. Once that is done, all it needs is a final polish and it’s done!

(Stones for the fan/skirt piece on the left: black petrified wood and lapis lazuli; stones for the braid: black petrified wood, dinosaur bone, and jasper; stones for the girl: black and tan petrified wood, jasper, and brecciated agate).

The fan piece still needs it’s bail, but I’m excited to have completed 3 pieces in 4 1/2 work days!

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With only minimal jewelry and lapidary experience, I’m excited with the results and would love to get the equipment to do more of this type of work at my home studio.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on the channels for pieces I’d like to pursue in the near future:

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Silver channels for powerlift gal

And additional sketchbook drawings playing with some ideas:

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Because of the necessary simplification of lines needed for making the silver channels, I’m looking forward to this new conceptual direction and how it will make an impact on my paintings.

-Caitlin

Shaped Painting Panels

Round panels

After weeks of waiting, I finally got my round and oval panels to start working on paintings from sketches I did at Morris Graves Foundation. A huge shout out to Crone’s Woodworking for the awesome job with them! (They also have round and oval stretcher bars- that’s next on my to-do list.)

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And since my studio is running in all sorts of tangents now, here’s some other work that’s being pumped out:

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Crunches (small sketch), 5 x 7 in., oil on canvas, 2016

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Crunches, 36 x 40 in., acrylic and oil on canvas, 2016

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Details from Crunches

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Peekers (small sketch), 6 x 9 in., oil on canvas

(Don’t you ever get the feeling…. you’re being watched?)

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Sketches while watching the Lightning hockey games (Go Bolts!)

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I’m enjoying this time in my studio to pursue all things I’m interested in, instead of limiting myself to one idea or sole body of work. (I’ve been incredibly inspired lately by some great figurative/narrative painting by the likes of Nicole Eisenman, Dana Schutz, and Todd Bienvenu) It’s always good to be experimenting and keep things fresh in the studio.

-Caitlin

Solo Show Set-Up Tomorrow!

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Lots of white paint in the studio, here’s a nice little clip of one of my newest paintings.

Tomorrow’s the big solo show set-up day! If you’re in Tampa (specifically the Channelside area), please make sure to stop by and check out my paintings with a nice cup of tea from Bamboozle Tea Lounge. My show “Hack, Twist, Life: Cutting the Paint” will be up from Oct. 22nd through Nov. 19th. Hope to see you there!

Press Release: http://tampaarts.com/local-events/?event_id=441943630&fid=1

-Caitlin

Pinellas Park Better Block Pop-Up Show

This past weekend’s pop-up show “The Space We Share” during the Pinellas Park Better Block event was a big success in bringing arts to the area.

"The Space We Share" Gallery Space

Photo Credit: Leslie Curran

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Panorama Photo Credit: Luis Gottardi

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A big thanks to ARTicles Art Gallery and Custom Framing for hosting three of my paintings in this pop-up space, and also to artist Nathan Beard for pulling together an ambitious, successful event. I was able to show one of my newest paintings, seen below:

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Thanks to everyone who came out to support the arts during this 2-day event!

-Caitlin

P.S. If you’re unfamiliar with Nathan Beard’s paintings, I suggest you check his beautiful acrylic paintings out. They truly are stunning, especially the piece below, “Exit Music #42 (Cabin Fever)”

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SCAD Permanent Collection

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 I am incredibly delighted and honored to have 8 of my paintings acquired for Savannah College of Art and Design’s Permanent Collection! Here are the paintings packed up snugly, ready to be shipped off to their new home! Below are the paintings that SCAD has purchased:

White Peel-Back/Forest

White Curtain/Teal Scrapes
(Snail Stripes) Community 4

White/Light Purple Striations

Green Swagger (with Purple)

Stacks, Ripped
(Drywall) Slats

Shifting Slats

-Caitlin

ArtPop Tampa: Live!

Artpop Tampa Billboard Caitlin Albritton

Since the ArtPop Tampa billboards were put up when I was in Baltimore, I finally had the chance to see the electronic billboard in person this week!

Bringing the beard to the people.

Once again, I have to give thanks to all of those who helped out and voted for me for the People’s Choice ArtPop Tampa, I truly appreciate your support!

-Caitlin

ArtPop on Hart Buses

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In addition to my painting being featured on two billboards in the Tampa/Brandon area, my work is also featured on the side of a Hart bus that runs all through the city! I am incredibly grateful and thankful to Hart, Outfront Media, and Arts Council of Hillsborough County for supporting the ArtPop program to foster the arts in our community. Keep your eye out for the other local artists’ works if you’re in town! Find out more about these other local artists here: http://tampaarts.com/artpop-2/

-Caitlin

Nick Cave HEARD Performance at Lights on Tampa 2015

Having the opportunity to help costume the performers in Nick Cave’s HEARD Performance at Lights on Tampa this year was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget. Not only did I get to see the performance up close and personal, I also got the backstage insider to see how much time and effort goes into putting on these shows.

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Each full horse costume can be seen in their appropriate boxes in the back staging room of the Tampa Museum of Art. The horse costumes comprise of two dancers: the head and the butt. You can also see the furry Soundsuit costumes hanging up, waiting to be combed down by the assistants.

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This performer is in the head costume, which is consists of raffia (the straw-like material) pants, and the top part is a big horse-head shoulder-pad with a large raffia cape. It’s interesting how simple overall construction can turn into incredible results.

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Once the performers were ready, the “horse butt” performer would crawl under the horse head cape and seamlessly transform into wobbling, dancing horses.

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Here are a few video clips from the two performance nights:

Here is the man himself: Nick Cave attending to his Heard, making sure all of the costumes are settled on the performers nicely.

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 Some extra performance pictures courtesy of my sister:

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And of course I had to get a picture with my horse performers!

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As the sun went down, Curtis Hixon Park really glowed at night with the Lights on Tampa installations. Here is artist Silvia Curbelo’s “Up-Lit Words”: Can You Stand Perfectly Still And Hold This Moment Open? In the background on the Sykes building is the “Sky Striker” piece by Traction Architecture. It resembles old-fashioned High Striker games at carnivals where you swing a mallet at the base of the machine to get the puck to ring the bell at the top. As participants swung the mallet, their actions were reflected with lighted rings climbing the building.

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“River Glow” by Wannemacher Jensen Architects in St Pete created this underwater light installation to expose the ecosystem we tend to forget in the city environment. This installation will be reinstalled as a permanent fixture after the Lights on Tampa event.

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“Recurrence” is a light piece by Chicago-based Luftwerk. This light installation takes after the tidal ebb and flow of the Hillsborough River by rhythmically twinkling in Kiley Gardens.

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Having never been to a Lights on Tampa event before, I was really impressed with how everything pulled together and am really glad I got to be a part of it. The whole experience walking through the park at night (especially on the first night when there weren’t as many people) was quite mesmerizing. You know I’ll be there next year!

-Caitlin