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Mechanical Insects

I shoplifted from Liz Claiborne:

Not this exact store, but this company. I was actually an employee there in Auburn, WA. Not my shiniest moment.

Anyhow, I found a "really cool" butterfly broche. As I "guarded" the tables of broches I kept staring at a particular blue butterfly. I imagined its little wings flapping, also how I would add hand wound mechanics to it to make that happen.

I have no idea why I didn't buy it, it was probably $10.

I damaged it, showed the manager, and she said "toss it", so I did, then I got it out later and took it home.

I swallowed my guilt, until much later when my wife asked me where I got those wings.

More on that soon.

Anyhow, a month later I made this:

It was my first kinetic sculpture.

It was wobbly, stopped working some times, and to me, very, very cool. I had turned my dream into reality. I really enjoyed bending the wire, figuring out how to make the body spin with a little ball bearing, and playing with it.

Then I grew up a bit, got other jobs, got married, and one day Brenda (my wife) asked about the wings.

I was finally in the right spiritual place to admit to stealing them.

"You can't keep those," she said.

"Well, but... it's not like I can buy them now. That store isn't even at the mall anymore, I think (hope)."

"Even if it's not, you still should get rid of them."

She was right.

So, I tried to repay Liz Claiborne for them. They essentially said "whatever", having no way to sell me an out of date broche with no price tag. SO I pulled apart the sculpture. I kept the ball bearing and the flooring nail I had used for the body and buried the wings in my grandma's backyard - weird...

I was sad that I didn't have my artwork. Brenda then said:

"I bet you could make your own wings and make another one, better than the last one even."

Here it is!

>> Read more about this sculpture.

I put the most work of all into those wings, cutting them by hand with a jewelers saw. To me, the labor itself (about 23 hours of cutting) was a way to cement the lesson:

Don't take shortcuts.

The body of this butterfly is the same flooring nail I had used in the first sculpture (with the stolen wings). I liken it to the caterpillar becoming a butterfly, yes its made of stuff that went into the coccoon, but it looks like (and means) a lot more coming out.

Between the year that I stole the original wings and the year I finished this brass butterfly, I was in a coccoon (of learning) myself. I realized how stupendously honest Jesus was. I admire that. I am finding that I am becoming that.

Broken becomes beautiful.

Dead becomes alive.

Ashes become roses.

Junk becomes art.

Reusing and upcycling less desirable objects in my art means a lot to me.

This is one of my boxes of "junk" containing parts of bicycles buried in the mud, yardsales, stuff on the side of the road, and things people give to me to make art with.


Upcycling and reusing has become part of my workflow.

Two days previous to opening this page and composing the content, I was on vacation. My wife and I strolled along the sidewalk in Down Town Kirkland toward an art gallery and I saw a square something half buried in the mulch. I kicked it. It flew out onto the walkway, clattering, it was a small piece of brass, beat up, a dim patina attempting to take hold on the surface.

I picked it up.

"YES! It is brass!" I smiled knowing that soon it would be cut, polished, and fastened into a collection of other materials. It will make the leap from forgotten, to treasured.

As a kid I often sympathized with inanimate objects.

Like the time I cried when a family of hairs got sucked down the bathtub whirlpool.

Or the time I couldn't toss my scraps after making a paper snowflake in the third grade. I remember hiding the pieces in my little desk and whispering to them that they didn't deserve to be thrown away.

I can see this getting bigger.

I intend to make five or so sculptures of flapping winged insects. Not just butterflies, but dragonflies and damselflies or cicadas. But I keep getting inspired about future pieces; new creatures and new mechanics. It might be that the butterfly was just a beginning.

As they are completed they will appear in links below:

Brass-Wing Butterfly

>> Read More

Jar of Fireflies

>> Read More

Blue Dragon Fly

>> Read More

Burnt Butterfly

>> Read More

Cyan Dragon Fly

>> Read More

Gold and Poplar Butterfly

>> Read More

        About this site:   

My site has three closely related focuses.


  • First: I aim to share my kinetic sculptures, and the process by which they are created.


  • Second: Maybe you are someone who suspects that you haven’t reached your greatest creative potential. This site will change that.


  • Third: I will give voice to the deep connection with God we experience as we echo His fundamental identity… Creator.



 UPCOMING Projects: 


Living Glass Plumage


Maple Zoetrope


Monarch Tower


Wind up fruit

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