the bell-mouth

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I am working on a wooden bell-mouth shape for a spray booth.  It is basically an exit portal that smoothly (because of its bell shape) evacuates the paint-laden air out of the space, so that overspray doesn’t land on the object being painted. That’s the theory anyway, which I have borrowed from Geof Guzynski, a furniture designer near Chicago, who published plans for building one in an on-line magazine at

Whether the theory is practical and whether the design would actually work, for me was an exercise in faith.  The truth is, I haven’t made sculpture for too long, also this was an excuse to delay my entire studio project by immersing myself into making this shape. This is just something artists must do. I don’t expect readers to understand.

The plans were not completely detailed. For instance, how to make a hexagon and what lengths to cut the 2 X 4 units that form each unit of each hexagon. Furthermore the size of my motor had different dimensions throwing some of the measurements off from Geof’s plan. My router with only a quarter inch drive barely enabled me to create the stair steps used to mark how deep I must go on the wood’s surface to create the a shape resembling the inside of a bell.  One by one, I managed to solve these problems with both research and creative ingenuity.  Slowly the form revealed itself.

Jonah and the whale


The bell shape began to be resemble a mouth as I continued–a big mouth!  I imagined myself as Jonah, at the moment before fear had struck him when he realized that a mouth had appeared out of the waves to gobble him.  I imagined feeling like a bug at the sight of an aerodynamic chimney swift gliding in toward me, his wings fine tuning his aim, his body tilting first one way, then the other, as he zeroed in toward me with his mouth gaping open for the swallow!  I once did an assemblage entitled Swift, Swipe, Swallow, that expressed instantaneous and unceremonious death that occurs in nature and in war. A gallery packed it poorly in the eighties, when I sent it off.  I hope to restore it and show it again in our new gallery at ArtSpaceVincennes.

Now, I am back to my senses from an arduous week’s work, trying not quite successfully to take the first weekend off in a month off.  In my head the whale and the swallow have vanished, and I have somehow been saved to think about the next steps needed to finish the spray booth. I need to finish that, so that I can mud and paint the studio and move in.  It’s just hard being an artist sometimes.

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