Particle physics art

The Art of Making Art: Will Allen

Like many others, Will Allen is a college student with a part-time summer job, but his real passion is being in the middle of his planned three-year launch into creating and selling fine art sculptures. self-designed steel.

Indoor moving room with balance points. Credit: Abey room

Allen’s craftsmanship and works of art range from purely artistic metalwork to functional metalwork. Her finished art can be large or small to fit in a yard, home, or office. He is particularly drawn to the size and three-dimensional space that metal craftsmanship allows him to work with.

He previously studied the American metal masters and initially followed their designs, but soon found his own “voice” and is now building a body of work that reflects his worldview. Most of his pieces have a point of balance around which the work revolves, literally or figuratively.

Allen’s studio is in the two-car garage of his parents’ home in South Evanston. Workshop equipment reflects the variety of skills needed to create metal structures. A main tool is his arc welder with shielding gas. The gas helps keep dust out of welds. There is also a small black box, similar to an oven and attached to a gas cylinder, where he heats the metal until it is red and malleable.

Allen welding with protective equipment. Credit: Will Allen

Other pieces of equipment include an anvil, drill press, work table, and paint gun. He has an array of hammers and grinders. Finally, there is important protective equipment for any welder: masks, earplugs, headphones, gloves and a heavy jacket. Protection in metalworking is essential to protect each of the senses. Metal work is hot, dusty and noisy.

The messiest part of the garage contains a wide variety of metal stocks and junk. Allen has befriended a variety of people he sources his metal from, including scrap metal collectors, the recycling center, and Metal Supermarkets, a small-quantity metal supplier, who supplies the odds and ends he needs. he needs. At first, the metal he could find dictated the art he could create, but now, with a growing clientele, he can afford to buy specific metals when needed.

Allen’s sketchbook. Credit: John Cunningham

A new metal structure begins with a sketch. Ideas for Allen’s sketches came from his studies and walks around Evanston’s neighborhoods to generate conceptual and form ideas. Most of his works are kinetic (meaning they have elements of movement), so his designs typically include one or two pieces that balance on a pin or ball.

Metal sculpture with kinetic movement. Credit: Abey room

After creating his sketch, Allen selects materials strong enough to avoid warping or bending. After cutting out the shapes, he determines the balance point of the whole work. One way to find the balance point is to work the math and physics around the size and weight of the design. But Allen found a more practical method that involves finding the balance point using the actual metal pieces that will make up the work.

Looking at his sketch with the balance point established, Allen determines if the
proportions are acceptable. If so, he then creates a base stick or ball on which to rest the finished work.

At this point, Allen begins to solder the parts and make fine adjustments for balance. Once the shapes are welded, he then begins the finishing process by grinding the edges and cleaning off all the rust and grease. Rust is the enemy of the finished work, so this step, while not creative, is crucial for a successful long-term work.

He then paints the piece if it is to be installed outdoors. Painting requires a lot of tape and spray to get clean, crisp edges. After painting for color, Allen varnishes the work. An interior creation is waxed to deepen the color of the steel and avoid any risk of enemy rust.

Exterior sculpture. Credit: Abey room

Once finished, a work is installed with others in the backyard of his house. This is where customers and other interested parties can come to see what is available to buy or admire. Allen had over 30 pieces available prior to a recent gallery visit event.

After a long hot work session in the garage, Allen likes to go to Lake Michigan for a swim.

Another appreciated perk of living in Evanston is the patience of his neighbors when working and making noise. In addition, community members have supported his art by donating equipment and tools that he could not have purchased himself during this start-up phase of his craft.

This generosity as well as a growing number of orders opened the door to this emerging craftsman. Allen said, “I’m in love with the sculpture. It makes me feel good and part of the space. It’s a combination of reality and scale that I can’t get from other art forms.

If you want to know more about Will Allen’s work, visit his website or his Instagram at @billzbuildz.