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Charles Emlen



 Artist County

My sculptures are created using mild or ‘low carbon’ steel. My tools are simple: an oxy-acetylene torch, an old Lincoln arc welder, a body grinder, files, hammers, chisels, and a vise. The techniques are simple as well: I cut shapes with the torch and grind the edges with a body grinder. I also use the torch to heat and bend the steel. All the pieces are welded together using an arc welder. After fabrication, I’ll spend a good bit of time filing, sanding, and chasing the surfaces. Some of the pieces are finished by applying gun bluing, others by sandblasting and then adding and removing multiple layers of paint. Each piece is completed by applying several coats of urethane.

The process is organic. I start with the base, usually a single piece of steel, and continue to add different elements as the piece develops before me. I rarely use a drawing but typically have an idea or gesture in my mind when I begin. The direction of the piece can change at any point during the process. I’m always focused on the fundamentals, though: line, shape, form, balance, articulation. While I consider my work to be abstract, it’s important that every gesture has a specific intention. I seek to voice that fleeting sense of purpose, or, a suggestion of some yet untapped pseudo-technical methodology.