Sunday, September 13, 2015


Now that we've moved into the Bronze Age, Ivaan's sculpture of his nose is one of his most important works.  Although it is not dated, I know it is relatively early, because at the time he cast the sculpture, he had a moustache. That moustache became part of the story.  I initially thought Ivaan used dental moulding compound to make an impression of the fine detail of his handsome nose.  However, I now think he must  have immersed his face in liquid plaster of Paris; otherwise, how could he have captured the detail of the insides of his nostrils?

However he did it, I remember he told me that when his face and the mould parted company, some of his moustache remained in the mould.  Besides making me shudder, this information helps me to carbon date the sculpture, which is unsigned and undated, because it can only have been made before he shaved off the moustache for good.  And who knows?  Perhaps this experience was the inspiration for the clean-shaven look he sported for the rest of his life.

One day I'll have to look through all his photographic slides.  I know he photographed this sculpture, and perhaps I'll find a photographic slide that is dated.  Right now I'm estimating it was made in the late 1970s.

Friday, September 11, 2015


And here's where we branch out.  After struggling with whether or not to include pieces that are not made of silver, I've decided that to include only silver means to exclude some of Ivaan's most memorable pieces.  So, sure, I could make this corkscrew in silver if only to prove a point, but I can tell you what would happen:  the second bottle of wine that was opened would wind up with the business end of a corkscrew broken off in the cork.  Silver's like that.  Like butter, I mean.

So let's stick with bronze.  I love working on bronze.  It holds detail beautifully, is the most stalwart of metals, and it develops its own patina if you leave it alone.  Ivaan did not leave this one alone, and he had a patina added to it at the foundry.


Ivaan cast his own thumb to make this corkscrew.  He called it the Thumbscrew, and it's definitely a functional corkscrew.  He was never very enthused about mechanical corkscrews that sucked all the joy out of opening a bottle of wine, even as they sucked the cork out of the bottle. Never much of a drinker, Ivaan nonetheless felt that if you were opening a bottle of wine, you might as well make it an occasion, and put some effort into it.

There's a story behind Ivaan's collection of corkscrews.  He made several of them, mostly functional, occasionally just decorative.  Once, a couple of years before his death, he lent his collection of corkscrews to the editor of a magazine called Metalcraft, who was publishing a story about making corkscrews.  I have a feeling I may have written that story.  Certain turns of phrase come back to haunt me. But I digress.

Anyway, Ivaan lent the guy his corkscrews and promptly forgot all about them.   In the months just before he died, Ivaan started worrying about what he'd done with his corkscrews.  He asked me if I knew where they were.  I didn't.  In fact, I didn't even know he had lent them to the editor.  Ivaan was capable of the most fantastical leaps of logic, even when reason suggested otherwise.  If you've never read the story about the ruby heart, stay tuned. There is not one small chance I'll forget to post that story in this series.  So, Ivaan decided that since I didn't know where his corkscrews were, that I must have thrown them out.

Now, I'll admit I have a powerful predilection for cleanliness and order, but preserving Ivaan's art is what I do. So I would never even contemplate throwing out something he made. And besides, how would I open a bottle of wine for our guests?  Ivaan almost drove me mad, cross-examining me about what I'd done with his corkscrews.

Months after his death, I was at the foundry, picking up Ivaan's bronze grave marker.  The owner of the foundry (who happened to be the publisher of Metalcraft Magazine) came by and said, "I have something of Ivaan's here", and handed me a cardboard box filled with his corkscrews.  I bet you think I was relieved.  Wrong.  My blood boiled.

I got in the car, drove straight to the cemetery, and in the earth around his grave, I carved the words I TOLD YOU SO, IVAAN, with the business end of this corkscrew.

Now you know.


It's sometimes known as the Traffic Stopper.

This ring is one of my favourites but, try as I might, I've never been able to make one that fits me comfortably.  I'm not sure what era it's from, but I think it's from the early 1990s, when Ivaan was experimenting with rings and bracelets that were folded over at the base, and were therefore next to impossible to duplicate.

Despairing that I would ever have one of these to wear, I once made a mock-up of it in heavy brown paper, took it to my milliner, and she made it into a hat for me.  It's an excellent hat, and I wear it often.  That scorpion tail flourish on the right side of the photo is a peacock feather on the hat.



This is the first ring Ivaan ever made.  He hammered it out of a silver 25 cent coin in 1969.  Although it's not beautiful in the way that most of his pieces are, I decided that I should include it, because it's such an important part of his journey as an artist.


This Chinese proverb, attributed to Laozi  (Lao Tzu) in chapter 64 of the Tao Te Ching, literally means The journey of a thousand [units of measurement] starts beneath one's feet.  Ivaan was 25 when his journey in metal arts began.  His pieces are all over the world.  In many senses, his journey has not ended.

I wish I could ask Ivaan what inspired the design of the ring.  It has several elements from nature, such as the leaves on the sides and the sun, perhaps, on top.  There are so many things I wish I could ask Ivaan.  But I consider myself fortunate to be the custodian of his legacy - something I could never have predicted for myself.  Perhaps one day I will know more.