Turning and Burning
March 16, 2010
Entry Details

# 889
Charles Benson
Spokane, WA
Dimensions (inches):  
  Width:   6.75
  Height:   5.75
  Depth:   6.75
Materials:   Maple wood, Metal acrylic paint various patinas and metal waxes


The "Rust Belt," refers to the heavy industry, economic region of the United States in the earlier 20th century.  This area, made up of the industrial states; Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, produced autos, rubber, iron, and steel fueled by coal. They were  referred to as the "Smokestack Industries".

The Rust Belt is the result of these dying industries. They shut down rather than rebuilding with modern equipment necessary to reduce pollutants and improve efficiency. They transferred these industries and their related jobs overseas. Huge plants were left to rust, corrode, and further deteriorate; leaving symbols of the good days past.


These rusty memorials of our history were the inspiration for this piece.

I hope my artwork will speak favorably to this part of our history.

This piece is a four axis hollow form. The top and bottom were hollowed separately and rejoined. The three stacks were turned separately, each one avoiding the adjoining stack. The centers were hollowed and formed, opening to the interior. A multi axis chuck was used in this process.

Sufficient wood was left to form a chuck tenon for reversing. All detail work and beads were accomplished before the tenon was removed. The tenon was used to turn the inside of the top to create an even wall thickness and joint for alignment.

The outside of the top was then shaped, removing the excess wood and chuck tenon.


The smoke stacks were distressed then textured using different burning pens and carving tools. The simulated rivets were created with shop constructed brands, soldering pens, and various commercial pyrography pens. Surface texture was accomplished with pneumatic hammers, and stippling tools.

The decorative pyrography on the bottom half, simulates the various structure elements used in this industry. Metal based acrylics and patinas were applied to the wood, while a dark patina over iron acrylics was used to blacken the inside of the stacks. This same iron metal acrylic with green and brown patinas forms the "rusty" look on the top and outside the stacks.

The simulated structure on the bottom half of the piece, is a copper and bronze mixture of patinas.  Corroded copper rivets were created with different green patinas and waxes.

The last process was to apply and buff the black, brown, green, copper and bronze metal waxes to enhance the colors and complete the piece ---- hopefully to bring attention and pay tribute to the "Rust Belt" era.    

Judges Comments
Andi : This reminds me of a ceremonial vessel rather than an industrial wasteland, but I really like the surface treatment used.
Graeme : Great concept and very well executed, Great story too but I wonder about the form chosen, I see a more ancient, tribal object than industrial USA, maybe the smoke stacks are a little too organic for the concept. But awesome piece nontheless!
Molly : The textures achieved on this vessel make me want to pick it up and explore it in more detail. The three branch-like openings are quite interesting, and add a 'how'd-he-do-that' component to the design. Overall the piece is a bit confusing to me. Interesting elements, skillful execution, but it still makes me tilt my head and go, "huh?".

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