Some women get excited about a new pair of shoes or a new handbag. And I’m sure on Mother’s Day last weekend lots of women were thrilled with a new piece of jewelry. But as for me, I like my metal a little less precious and a lot more bulky!
So I was thrilled yesterday with the arrival of my “new” Pexto metal shear. As it sat in the driveway awaiting the necessary muscle needed to move this 700 pound beast into the studio, Kyle, John (the clock maker from next door), and I oohed and aahed over what a beauty it is. According to the serial number, this rugged piece of machinery was built in 1928 by the Peck, Stow and Wilcox Co., a company whose origins date back to the industrial revolution. It predates disposability, and instead was manufactured when something was built to last, and should it become necessary a small weld here or there would solve most ills.
As I (literally) sat staring at it after it found its place in the studio, I daydreamed of all the things this piece of equipment had a hand in making, all the metal it had cut to make various pieces and parts. How many hands and feet had touched this machine. Did it sit idle during the depression? What was it used for during the war effort? And was it a woman that was using it while the men had gone away?
And now, after being rescued from a barn it will have a new life, making new things. Things that are reminiscent of and inspired by the era in which it was built, but with an underlying technology that could not have possibly been conceived of in the day. I love that it requires this machine from the 1920’s, alongside my other equipment that uses the most current printing technology, to create my work. And there they are, representatives of the two opposite points that I always strive to combine in all my work sitting together right there in my studio.
So perhaps this huge hunk of steel that now lives in my studio is no less precious or beautiful than silver and gold. Not to me anyway…