Canis Major at Workshop Residence

Introducing my newest installation — a warm, glowing night sky, made of paper, wood, and LEDs.

When I was a child, my parents helped me stick glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling above my bed. Gazing at them while drifting off to sleep was a comforting ritual. I delighted in the magic of the glowing plastic, but subconsciously, I think I also liked being reminded of my place in a vast universe.

Canis Major, my newest installation, is about bringing that that feeling into my adult life. The feeling of being safe in your home, lowering the lights as you wind down for the evening, and contemplating your place in the universe. I hope it brings viewers a feeling of comfort, calm, and maybe a bit of childhood nostalgia.

Pinpricks of light shine through thousands of tiny holes, which are laid out in the exact pattern of stars in the night sky. Canis Major and Orion are among the constellations that can be found if you’re in the mood to do some stargazing.

The constellation chart below shows the map of stars depicted in this piece. Canis Major, the constellation for which the piece is named, is located on the far right side. It can be identified by the large cutout representing Sirius, the the brightest star visible in the night sky. To the right of Sirius is Orion -- look for the three stars in a row that make up Orion's Belt.

The piece is on display — and available for purchase — at Workshop Residence in Dogpatch. Email manager@workshopresidence.com for pricing.

Installation at Square

I just finished this 10-foot long installation for Square! I’m so excited to finally share this with you! I’ve been a Square seller since I started my art business in 2015, so it was an honor to create a large piece for their San Francisco Headquarters.

This piece is a balance of order and chaos. Each strip is pleated in a repeating pattern, but the strip size and scale varies randomly across the piece. I actually used a random number generator to randomize the strip order. Humans are notoriously bad at artificially creating random sequences, so I didn’t trust myself to wing it! (The only rule I added in was no repeats — I didn’t want adjacent strips to be identical.) From afar, it reads as organic and textural. Up close, the orderly patterns emerge.

In case you were wondering what 6,000+ folds might look like, this should give you a good sense!

Connections: Open Studio Exhibit

My studiomates and I opened our doors and showed off new work this past weekend. I showed a paper installation that featured projected light effects by Phil Reyneri and Lightform

New Works on Display at Harmonic Brewing

Exciting news: Two of my pieces are now on display at Harmonic Brewing in San Francisco! Harmonic is a fantastic craft brewery in the Dogpatch that makes 10+ interesting and seasonal beers. Their taproom is open to the public five nights a week, and it's become my favorite place to unwind after a long day in the metal shop.

I've gotten to know Harmonic's founders, Eddie Gobbo, Jon Verna, and Eric Tisch, over the last few months because we're neighbors -- we all share a roof over at ShopFloor Design (hence my new happy hour habit). If you're on this side of town, come by for a drink, some cheesy popcorn, and a peek at these two wall hangings!

Harmonic Brewing is located at 1050 26th Street in San Francisco, and their taproom is open Wednesday through Sunday. Fun fact: You can bring your kids, your dog, and outside food into the taproom. So round up your crew and make an evening out of it! Check out their website for hours and more info. 

And if you're interested in purchasing either of these two pieces, email me at zai@elektrasteel.com. Cheers!

Volunteer Welding for the Temple of Promise

I recently started volunteering to help build a part of the Temple of Promise for Burning Man 2015. My friend Jazz Tigan is the artist who created this year’s winning design, and he's been bugging me for months to put my metalworking skills to use. I finally joined the volunteer team of builders, and I'm so glad I did!

The design of the Temple is a giant, sweeping spiral made of wood and copper. In the center is a grove of steel trees -- that's the part that I've been working on. Though most of the Temple construction has been happening in Alameda, sculptor and metalworker Kevin Byall has been spearheading the Grove fabrication at American Steel in West Oakland -- just a couple blocks away from my studio at The Crucible. Hear Kevin describe the project in his own words:

So far, it’s been an absolute blast. They’d already created the tree frames out of steel rod when I joined, and now we're cutting steel screen into slivers and wrapping it around the tree frames. I don’t have much experience working with organic, flowing curves, and I’ve learned a lot of new fabrication tricks already.

One aspect that I've really enjoyed so far is the experience of being a worker bee on a large team of volunteers. I’m used to working solo on Elektra Steel stuff, and it’s really cool be able to tag-team construction challenges with a buddy or two.

It’s also given me an opportunity to brush up on my MIG welding and plasma cutting skills, neither of which I’d used since high school. I forgot how many sparks there are with MIG! I foolishly welded without a jacket one day, and I'm pretty sure I singed off most of my arm hair. 

Helping out on such a giant project is starting to give me a sense for how massive sculptures are constructed. I’m getting inspired! I'm thinking that I might want to design something huge at some point in the next year or two...

This is just a small peek into one portion of the Temple prep -- there's a whole other circus going on in Alameda, where a team of volunteers have spent the entire summer working on the Temple itself. They're loading up the trucks now and will be hitting the road soon! Follow Temple of Promise on Facebook for more updates.

If you’re going to Burning Man this year and would like to contribute to the Temple of Promise, please consider donating to the Kickstarter campaign. It’s going to be a stunning space in which to reflect, and its existence is due to the passion, money, and elbow grease of the Burning Man community. Thank you, and see you on the Playa!