August 2015 – The Rise of the Plasticsmith

With a big research and development trip just around the corner this month has been devoted to preparations for Burning Man which starts at the end of this month. In addition to all of the usual travel preparations I’ve been doing a little research.

The theme of this year’s Burning Man is, ‘Carnival of Mirrors’ and with that as a starting point I’ve been looking at artists that use mirrors and reflection as part of their work. Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian is a contemporary Iranian artist who is now in her nineties. A contemporary of Andy Warhol her work features the traditional Iranian mosaic work, ‘aineh-kari (mirror mosaics) and khatam-kari (inlaid marquetry) that are used in many of Iran’s mosques and holy shrines. The craft is traditionally passed from father to son and Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian was a pioneer as both an Iranian woman and in bringing these techniques into contemporary large scale sculptural works. I love the architectural, geometric nature of her work and her intricate use of materials.

Even wilder is the work of Masakuzu Shirane and Saya Miyazaki with their architectural installation entitled ‘Wink Space’. Based on origami folds, with the various planes joined by zippers, the installation is assembled inside a shipping container. As people enter the space their reflection changes the environment creating a dazzling kaleidoscopic effect. Check it out at

IMG_3593Another aspect of my Burning Man preparation has been a project to make a pendant for the Airpusher Collective. The Airpusher Collective is a group based out of San Francisco involved in ‘bringing the best in art and music to Burning Man and beyond’. The brief was deceptively simple – a pendant for the 50 or so crew members of the Collective to be given out at Burning Man…and then the problems started. If nothing else, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about the casting process, CAD and how not to subcontract. However, instead of detailing for you the horror, blow-by-blow, I’ll just give you a lovely photo of the 4th version and final version on the bench.

Finally a strange little video I found on the Craft Council Website has given rise to a change in my title. Previously on my website I have had the phrase ‘maker, designer, scavenger’ as a tag-line underneath my name. Plenty of folk complained about the (perhaps) negative connotations that can be associated with the word, ‘scavenger’ however I didn’t let it worry me too much. I quite like picking stuff up off the ground. Then I spied the title of the video and I found a new description. I can be a Plasticsmith! To be fair, as a word, it’s not going to be a contender for inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary any time soon but there it is. I’m also still a maker, a designer and a scavenger and hopefully a few other things to come.

Check out the video at:


More about Monir:



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