Category Archives: Jivotica: Project Posts

Viking Prow: Drakkar

After a long delay and many requests from collectors, the second piece in my Viking Prow series is now in production and available for order.

Prow2-main.jpgThis series was originally conceived as a tribute to the mystery and majesty of ancient Scandinavian culture during the Viking Era in general, and specifically to celebrate the 950th anniversary of the battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings. These twin battles mark what many consider to be the end the Viking Era. However, since the Normans (or North Men) who ultimately conquered England by defeating Harold II’s Anglo-Saxon army at Hastings in 1066 were themselves the descendants of Vikings, it is also the completion of a great story arc.

Like the first in the series released in 2015 (Viking Prow: Coiled Serpent), this second piece in the series stands an impressive 17 inches tall (slightly taller than the first) and is also a bit beefier overall with bolder lines and details. This is meant to reflect the brute power of the drakkar (dragon). Weighing about 4 pounds, it is a solid piece meant to stand on desk, shelf or pedestal.

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Each sculpture in this series is strictly limited to 95 signed and numbered castings along with a handful of artist proofs. They are cast, assembled and painted by hand, then clear-coated for a long life.

When this bold and brutish Viking Prow: Drakkar is placed beside the smoother lines and fine detail of the Serpent Prow, they are a wonderful pair. I am keen to make enough difference between each prow in this series that, were one to collect them all, they would have enough variety to represent a fleet of individually crafted ships.

An extremely limited number (10 to be exact) of these prows have been reserved as matched pairs, allowing you to have the corresponding edition number in both pieces. You can discover more about this opportunity here.

PROW-SET

As always, I thank my patrons who allow me to continue doing what I love.

~Aric Jorn

Faeries of the Wood

Faeries of the Wood is the latest in my triptych series where I attempt to capture a mythological story or concept in three 4-inch tiles.

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Faeries in their modern form have been capturing imaginations for two centuries having gained prominence in the Victorian Age. It was at this time that what we now think of as fairies (beautiful young girls with tiny dresses and delicate wings that spend their time flittering about in the woods) took hold. This image of the faery would eventually lead us to the ultimate form of “cute” fairy – Disney’s Tinkerbell.

To say that this is a far cry from the faeries found in works pre-dating the Victorian Age would be an understatement. While the faeries of old might occasionally help out a human, they were just as likely to be malicious tricksters who delighted in toying with the mortals they encountered. They were powerful and wild forces of nature. While the Victorian Age skewed our idea of faeries as beings far more consistently benevolent, they still retain their magic, mystery and deep connection to nature and these are after all the most important aspects of the faerie folk.

I will explore the earlier forms of faeries in future pieces, but decided to start with something more familiar. So, it is from the modern traditions of Ireland, England and France that I drew most heavily when envisioning my Faeries of the Wood triptych.

Faeries of the Wood is limited to 75 signed and numbered castings presented in cold-cast brass. Each piece is hand numbered, signed and mounted in an elegant beaded frame (available in black or aged walnut).

There is a large number of books available to those who are interested in exploring the world of Faeries. One of my go-to sources on the subject is Anna Franklin’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies. I also enjoy the many books by Brian Froud, whom many consider to be the current embodiment of the faerie spirit.

As always, whether you choose to contact me privately or leave a public comment, I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

~Aric

In Honor of the Last Viking Invasion

950 years ago, two battles took place that mark what most consider to be the end of the Viking Age. In September 1066 at the battle of Stamford Bridge, an English army under King Harold Godwinson defeated the invading forces of the Norwegian King, Harald Hardrada, and his ally, the English king’s brother, Tostig Godwinson. By battle’s end, both Hardrada and Tostig along with most of the Norwegians lay dead on the field.

prow-sneak peek

Although Harold Godwinson repelled the Norwegian invaders, his Saxon army was defeated in turn by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings just a few short weeks later. Ironically, the Normans (or “North Men”) who ultimately emerged victorious were themselves the descendants of Vikings, so it could fairly be argued that, while Hardrada lost, the Norse ultimately did succeed in conquering all of England.

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To celebrate the Viking Age and the sea kings who left their indelible mark throughout Europe, on this 950th anniversary I am offering NINE of my Viking Prows at FIFTY dollars off through OCTOBER 14, 2016. The proceeds from these sales will fund my first official bronze edition in 2017 so you’ll not only get one of these prows at a great price, but you’ll be helping me expand my studio to include .

~Aric

 

 

Sculpting Myth: Triptych Tile series

Today I’m sharing a new series that I started this spring – I call them Triptych Tiles and each one seeks to capture the essence of a mythological story or idea in three, four-inch tiles. Those who found me at any of my spring/summer shows (Farmington, Birmingham, Ann Arbor or Lansing) got a sneak peek at these as I experimented with various finishes, patinas and framing options. I have been overjoyed at the response they have received so far and both are now available in the Jivotica Gallery Shop.

Fishing-brass-full
FISHING FOR JORMUNGAND
This triptych captures the story of Thor as he fishes for the Midgard Serpent, Jormungand (Jörmungandr). Long before Captain Ahab set out to find Moby Dick, Thor was after something vastly larger, for the Midgard Serpent was so large it encircled all of Midgard and was a source of dread for the Aesir Gods themselves. With hammer held aloft, Thor waits for his nemisis to take the bait. When he does, Thor pulls on the line so hard that his feet break through the bottom of the boat. The struggle continues for a time but eventually, Thor is obliged to give up the chase. Although this encounter proves inconclusive, the two are destined to meet once more in combat at the great, world-ending battle of Ragnarok, during which each will die at the hands of the other.

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RATATOSK
The second triptych depicts the great world tree, Yggdrasil, and three of its more notable denizens.
High in the canopy is Eagle (interestingly, the only important character in Norse mythology never to be identified with a proper name). Eagle represents the positive aspects of creation (the ordered cosmos). Beneath the tree is Nidhoggr (who’s name means “He who strikes with Malice”). He is a dragon who despises creation and is attempting to bring about its destruction by gnawing at the roots of Yggdrasil and drawing the cosmos back into chaos. Between them is Ratatosk the trickster – a squirrel who delights in running up and down the trunk of Yggdrasil, spreading gossip and insults between the Eagle above and the dragon below, ensuring that they will forever be at odds.

Each piece in the Triptych Tile series will be strictly limited to 50 signed & numbered castings in each of three finishes (in the case of these first two piece, the finishes are copper, brass and stone.) Each triptych comes beautifully mounted and framed, accompanied by a signed COA/story card that tells the tale upon which the art is based.

If you are interested in acquiring either of these triptychs, you can find them in the Jivotica Gallery Shop.

A SPECIAL NOTE: Although I will be devoting an entire blog entry to it next week, I would like to acknowledge that the photography for these pieces is the work of my dear friend, wonderful photographer and fellow creative spirit, Donna Kert, of Life in Focus Studio.

Sculpting Myth: Hugin and Munin

The next piece in my “Sculpting Myth” series (available in my Jivotica gallery store and limited to 150 signed/numbered castings) explores another symbol from my Norse heritage, the pair of ravens who served none other than Odin, the All Father, himself. Their names are Hugin and Munin and they were sent out each day to fly around Midgard (Earth) and report back on the events of the world (it is in this way that Odin achieved something like Omniscience.) 

Hugin&Munin

The ravens are shown intertwined in knotwork to symbolize their interconnectedness – not only to each other, but also to Odin, the physical world and the knowledge they seek. They are perched on a rune stone upon which is carved a sampling of Futhark (the Norse alphabet) and a depiction of Odin astride his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.

This piece is fashioned from four separate reliefs using cold-cast bronze, nickel silver and stone-infused resin. Next, patinas, inks and paints are applied and the pieces are buffed to bring out highlights. They are then assembled, covered with a clear coat and mounted in a beautiful black shadowbox frame.

Because they are closely associated with the seeking of knowledge and the king archetype, people often display images of Hugin and munin in their library, study, office or wherever they do their most profound thinking or make their biggest decisions.

Digging deeper into the story of Hugin and Munin…

The Eddic poem Grímnismál mentions Odin’s thoughts on Hugin and Munin:

Hugin and Munin
Fly every day
Over all the world;
I worry for Hugin
That he might not return,
But I worry for Munin more.

The names Hugin and Munin are commonly translated as “thought” and “memory” respectively. While it is widely accepted that the name Hugin does indeed mean “thought” (derived from the Old Norse “hugr”), given that the Old Norse word for memory is “minni,” it is more likely that Munin is derived from the Old Norse word “munr” meaning “desire.”

odin, hugin and munin

So, with this alternate translation in mind, Odin seems then to be saying that he is worried about losing his mental faculties (thought), but is more worried about losing his zest for life (desire). I think this expresses the importance placed on a raw passion for life that is fundamental to the Viking world view.

For additional information on Hugin and Munin (and other tales of Norse mythology), I strongly recommend the site Norse-Mythology.org

This piece has joined the others on my Etsy store and I will also have them available at the Ann Arbor Artisan Market. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

~Aric Jorn

Sculpting Myths: Buddha

April placed an unusual number of demands on my time that made it difficult to blog as often as planned. Despite this, my work has continued and I would like to present the third piece in my “Sculpting Myth” series, Buddha: The Awakened One.

Buddha-Bronze-on-stone

This piece is actually two reliefs fused together, fashioned of cold-cast metals and resin-infused stone in various combinations to achieve several different looks.

Buddha-coppr-on-bronze-1Buddha-Bronze

My Inspiration for Buddha: The Awakened One

Buddhism has long provided a source of inspiration for me and I have incorporated several of its practices (such as meditation) into my life.

As with many early traditions, symbolism in Buddhist art is highly nuanced, its meaning often missed by those unfamiliar with it. For instance, each mudra or hand gesture of the Buddha represents an important Buddhist teaching. For those interested, here is a great article that outlines ten of the most common mudras.

When I decided to leave the traditional career path and strike out on my own as an artist-entrepreneur, it was not without trepidation. The Buddhist idea of living in the present moment while rejecting fear and worry about the future did much to give me the courage to keep moving forward in the face of uncertainty.

With this in mind, I chose the Abhaya mudra. Abhaya is sandskrit for fearlessness and the open-palm hand gesture represents protection, peace and a sense of deep inner calm in the face of fear and uncertainty. It is the perfect symbol for me as I continue my own artistic journey and, in sharing this piece, I hope others will find it equally inspirational, seeing their own potential reflected back upon them and realizing there is nothing to fear.

Buddha-framed

Like the Yggdrasil piece I unveiled in early April, Buddha: The Awakened One is 10 inches in diameter. It can be hung as a plaque and is also available framed in a high quality shadowbox. Each Buddha is hand detailed, weathered and sealed for a long life, stamped on the back and accompanied by a signed certificate.

Produced in the USA with materials supplied by local, small businesses and offered to the world in humble gratitude. Available as always at the Jivotica Etsy store.

~Aric Jorn

Sculpting Myths: Yggdrasil

As promised, today I am sharing the next piece in my SCULPTING MYTHS series, YGGDRASIL: the Tree of Life.

Whether we speak of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha sat, the tree(s) of knowledge in the Garden of Eden, the tree of life so central to the Celtic tradition; or those found in the mythologies of ancient Egypt, China, India and countless others, trees have played a major role in stories that seek to explain the world and our place in it. In many of them, the tree represents the connection between mortal man, the heavens and the other realms and often it is seen as the very thing that holds them in place and binds each to the other.

To this day, trees continue to be a staple in storytelling, from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Trees of Valinor in Middle Earth to James Cameron’s Home Tree of Pandora in Avatar.

Yggdrasil-copperYggdrasil-bronze

I chose to name this particular design YGGDRASIL which is the Tree of Life in the Norse tradition. It is the tree that connects all 9 realms of the Norse mythology and it is upon this tree that Odin, the All-Father sacrificed himself (to himself) as a means of acquiring knowledge. But whatever name I give it, the design is intended to represent trees appearing in all our myths and traditions and I hope it will bring you a sense of connectedness to the natural world.

Yggdrasil-stoneYggdrasil-stone-framed

This sculptural relief is 10 inches in diameter. It can be hung as a plaque and is also available framed in a high-quality shadowbox. Offered initially in three finishes – cold cast bronze, copper and stone – it is hand weathered and sealed for a long life, stamped on the back and accompanied by a signed certificate.

Made in the USA from start to finish and offered to the world in humble gratitude.

~Aric Jorn

Sgraffito at The Henry Ford

With just under two weeks before I announce the next piece in my Sculpting Mythology series, I thought to share a technique from another part of my life that I have yet to discuss on this blog. 2-3 days per week, I work as an historical presenter and decorative artist at The Henry Ford’s Pottery Shop.

The Pottery has a line of around 250 different items. We make in excess of 10,000 pieces each year, go through a ton of clay per month and have a staff of seven. It is a production shop that supplies THF’s gift stores, catalogs, historic buildings and restaurants but we also demonstrate how pottery was made in North America from the colonial era through to the twentieth century. In fact, some of the equipment we use is of historical interest in its own right – including a belt-driven potter’s wheel from the 1870s.

One of my favorite techniques to demonstrate is sgraffito, which most commonly took the form of decorative plates. German immigrants brought the style with them to the new world and it was popular in North America during the 1700’s and early 1800’s. A time consuming (and expensive) technique, you would not have seen a set of these around the dining table of a colonial home as much as a single plate hanging over the mantle – likely a cherished wedding gift.

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Sgraffito comes from an Italian word meaning to scratch or scrape and this describes precisely the technique.

I start by drape-molding a red ware plate over a plaster form to ensure consistency in size and shape. I then pour a paper-thin coating of slip (watered down clay) onto the inner surface of the plate and allow it to dry to the touch – a process that takes 3-5 days in a damp cabinet.    [note: The slip appears gray but will fire to a buttery yellow.]

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Once the proper level of moisture in the clay has been achieved (referred to as leather hard), I trim the plate on the potter’s wheel and then use simple loop and needle tools to carve my design through the top layer thereby revealing the red clay beneath.

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The carving completed, I allow it to dry fully in the open air for about a week. At this stage, the surface must be gently sanded using nylon netting and any dust or debris cleaned off with an air compressor. Next, I selectively brush on a highly diluted copper paste that will turn green when fired.

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The finished piece gets fired twice at 1800-2000 degrees Fahrenheit with a coating of clear glass frit (glaze) applied between firings.

Aric---pottery-THF

The process takes about 30 days from clay cabinet to store shelf.

Greenfield Village and the Liberty Craftworks (part of The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan) will reopen to the public for the 2014 season on April 15. If you happen by the pottery, stop in and say hello!

~Aric Jorn

Sculpting Myths: Mjölnir

Last year, I made the decision to walk away from several other ventures to concentrate on my sculpting and bring my vision for Jivotica to life.  That vision is to create art that celebrates the human spirit and imagination as it finds expression through culture, myth and story.

Perhaps it is my Scandinavian blood, fired up by Thursday night’s season premier of Vikings but I couldn’t be more excited to introduce the first piece in my new line of relief and free-standing sculptures – Mjölnir: the Hammer of Thor.

My inspiration for this piece is a well-documented artifact found in Skåne, Sweden that is held in the collections at the Historical Museum in Stockholm. Although I put my own spin on this raven-headed hammer, I also wanted to remain true to the original. There have been many attempts to capture Mjolnir as wearable art, but I wanted to create something larger that could be framed and hung on the wall – something that looked like an artifact from an archeological dig.

Initially offered in two finishes – stone and steel – they are produced in durable stone/metal-infused resin, accented with a lowlight painting technique to bring out every detail and sealed to ensure a long life. Each piece is then mounted and showcased in a high-quality shadow box.

Jivotica-Mjolnir-stone1smJivotica-Mjolnir-steel1sm

This piece is the first of many reliefs and sculptures in this line, a new addition to which will be unveiled at the end of every month along with information on any upcoming shows where you can see my work in person. Each piece will also be available at the Jivotica store on Etsy.

Jivotica-Mjolnir-stone_caseJivotica-Mjolnir-steel-case

I’d love to hear what you all think of this piece, and welcome comments below.

~Aric Jorn

Sweet Sculptures

I am always looking for exciting new ways to explore my passion for sculpting and have decided to make one such undertaking the focus of my first Project Post.

EJC-Cameos

In early 2012 together with several fellow creatives in SE Michigan, I co-founded Sweet Steam, a purveyor of fine steampunk-themed chocolates. Enthusiastically received at steampunk events in Michigan and Wisconsin, it proved an instant hit with steampunk convention attendees.

Chief among my contributions to the venture was the task of sculpting the products. This included a tri-chocolate (dark, milk and white) cameo of Nikola Tesla. I found this to be particularly rewarding having never attempted a relief on such a diminutive scale and it presented an interesting challenge to create something that could be poured in three layers with a material that is notoriously unforgiving.

Steampunk chocolates

When creating the master, I sculpted the base in polymer clay (Sculpey III), then used Green Stuff sculpting putty for the portrait.

Although I moved on from Sweet Steam shortly after its launch, I continue to take private sculpting commissions for custom chocolates through Jivotica and each project has proven more fun than the next.

An example is this set of three cameos I created for a production of Dracula in October 2012 as a fundraiser for a local theater company. Here too, the chocolates proved a huge hit and they sold out at every performance.

Dracula Cameo TRIO

As a point of interest: Although I generally prefer to work in either a neutral color (better to see the sculptural details) or a color that closely represents the color of the final casting, I found myself sculpting the background of the Dracula chocolates in an ivory color. This is because, even though the teeth would ultimately be cast in dark chocolate, making them look like real teeth while I sculpted helped me conceptualize them.

This venture into sculpting chocolate cameos offered me the opportunity to learn many new skills from chocolatiering (an art onto itself) to miniature relief portraiture. If you’ve never made sculpture you can eat, I highly recommend the experience.

~Aric Jorn