Industrial metals–copper, aluminum, brass–are tough but often unremarkable. But don’t tell that to Gary Schott, who uses them to build objects that pack a remarkably emotional punch. His “Eskimo Kisser,” for instance, is a series of metal objects that use a miniature crank to connect a small set of gears that turns a thin rod ever so gently so that a soft piece of wool at the tip will mimic the feel of eyelashes against your face.
Many of the objects are what he calls “wearable playthings,” using a small crank to whimsical effects: “Polite Clapper” is an aluminum and brass brooch that houses a pair of politely clapping hands; “Tummy Scratcher” is a wire neckpiece that does exactly what it says. Schott, who runs the metals department at his Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas, says he is drawn to cranks because it requires viewers to share their own energy to power the device. “The honesty of the crank handle and seeing the mechanisms that move it is a nice contrast to our modern lives,” he tells Co.Design.
In the video above, by Walley Films, Schott talks about how he fits into the metalsmith tradition while also thinking about how to use his craft to create “an aesthetic moment.” Each piece can take anywhere from 12 to 30 hours, but the hardest one to make, he says, was the Polite Clapper. In addition to being very small–-which means the measurements must allow the object to remain strong and still function with repeated uses-–it was also a limited edition, so it needed to be simple enough so that making multiples did not become an overly intense process. And the scoring and bending of the aluminum sheet needed to be perfect, he says. “That was achieved by just taking my time, wearing magnifying glasses and trying not to drink too much coffee.”
More information here.