Juanita Hill, an Ohio resident, is known for her generosity of spirit as well as talent. Much of her work includes cutting out shapes, hammering them from flat to concave and then enameling them. A final step is the joining of several shapes to create a landscape. She also does easily read wire lettering and etches copper using a new product from Radio Shack. In this short article we will focus on the cutouts in three finished works.
“The Bed of Life” is a three dimensional work consists of repoussé trees, boulders, shrubs and two figures. The inventive use of square brass tubing attached with solder form the legs and feet of the bed. In order to carefully control heat Juanita prefers hard silver solder, not “IT” solder.
Moving upwards, the headboard and footboard are cut out of brass with similarly shaped copper for the insides. The headboard’s clouds range from being all one piece at the top (shaped by using a hammer and sandbag) to the attached, lower, smaller clouds. These lower clouds have headless screws soldered on before enamel is applied. Juanita plans ahead by drilling matching holes through the headboard that the screws will go through, joining the back brass and inner copper headboard as well as the clouds. A last step is to cover the nuts with a bezel and jewel for a finished look.
Both sides of each tree are cut to leave a tab at the root area. A slot is cut in the base material to match. The tabs have holes drilled in them below the intersection of the base. A nut and bolt are fastened below. Because the trees are of double thickness, they fit tightly into the slot. One tree has a rivet on one side and a crow on the other as Juanita doesn’t want her work too precious; too jewel laden. The turquoise buttons along the side of the bed are actually Thompson’s “Indian Turquoise”. The figures are found objects; remainders from a bronze casting abandoned in an alleyway behind the Columbus Art & Recreation Center in Ohio.
A second work, “The Stream”, consists of 10 enameled parts. Here Juanita’s skill and dedication with a sharp saw blade is demonstrated in the jagged grass blades. The 3D shrubs were created using a strip of copper, cutting deep V shapes on one edge, and then tightly winding the strip around itself using needle nose pliers. The “leaves” were then bent down and enameled. A darker green is used for underneath counter enamel. Attachments are the same as the first piece discussed above, with headless screws soldered on before enameling the front and counter enameling the back. Each unit of tree and the grasses below it are a single piece of copper. The grasses take about 15 minutes to cut out and the trees half an hour using a “really sharp blade”. The holes in the trees are “for the birds to fly through”. What might be of special interest is the finishing touch of bare brass sections that surround the entire work. Each metal shape is soldered with wires that hook to the nuts underneath the boulders and trees.
The last art work featured in this article is of an untitled moonlit pine forest. There are several levels of metals in the work, starting with large black enameled rectangular base on 20 gauge copper. Two holes are drilled through this black piece in order to loop a wire through for hanging. The knot is concealed when the landscape layer is finally attached to the base layer. The next layer is again copper, with holes cut in it to form stars. The stars are fine silver foil bits just under each hole that are laid upon the counter enamel and fired for permanency. The moonstone cut with a face jewel has a fine silver bezel that was empty and hard silver soldered to the sky before being enameled, with the stone inserted later. The small mountain is of 26 gauge. Juanita usually uses this lighter gauge to control weight for wall works. She finds it durable when counter enameled, which she consistently does on all enamel parts of every art piece.
Like the brass bottom edge sections on the previously described “Stream”, each pine tree has soldered wires (one on a small tree, two on large) that go through holes in the sky’s base metal. These are bent after going through the skyscape, then folded. The landscape itself is attached using garnet mounted bezels soldered onto screws that go through the black base as a last step leaving a good looking back. The work is then wall hung using the wire previously attached.
Questions? Comments? Please write to Benny Alba, 4219 MLKing Jr. Way, Oakland, CA 94609