Archives

 

These are select older pieces - key-operated and wind-up motor-driven work.

As you might detect, Tom's style changed significantly in 2005. Before then, his style was more colorful, primitive, and folky.

Grace
Grace

2006 14" x 21" x 4" This piece, which is powered by another 8mm camera motor, took a while to figure out, lots of trial and error. One special thing I had to do was to hollow out the back of her head to get it to fall forward when she bows. Her movement turned out just as I intended and I couldn't think of a more perfect name.

James K. Polk
James K. Polk

2005 18" x 37" x 11" My friend organized a great gallery show around the music of They Might Be Giants. I chose the song "James K. Polk" because of its obscure subject matter. Polk is powered by a Victrola motor and is controlled by 4 cams and levers inside. I painted the lyrics to the song on the sides. Waving the stars and stripes, he marches along proudly.

Roebling
Roebling

2004 17" x 33" x 19" On a recent journey, I saw a great painting of a bridge and a bridge builder. My wife suggested I do a bridge builder piece. After a little research, I decided to do it about John Augustus Roebling and the Suspension Bridge that crosses the Ohio River in Cincinnati, my birthplace. The painting is taken from a photo taken around the turn of the 20th century, and I set our hero off to one side so you could see more of it.

Young Love
Young Love

2004 10" x 14" x 6" I was going to suggest this idea of a shy, young couple to a fellow artist and thought, "Why don’t I just do it?" I spent a lot of time carving the female figure, getting her arms and bashful posture just right. When you push the button, she swivels her foot and the boy raises his arm to present her with flowers. This piece took approx 100 hours to make and is powered by a 8mm camera motor.

Swordswallower
Swordswallower

2004 8" x 14" x 8" Another classic act, I decided to have him stand on one leg after I figured out the rod that is attached to the sword has to run up one of his legs. I love this guy's precarious pose.

Strongman
Strongman

2004 8" x 14" x 8" A classic sideshow act. I really tried to make his body muscular and barrel-shaped. The carving is much more advanced than my previous work, but his body and tight outfit demanded that I spend more time getting it to look right. I really love the way the figure came out.

Balinese Dancer
Balinese Dancer

2004 19" x 33" x 12" She turned out just how I hoped; she moves slow, fluid, and deliberate. She runs for approx. 8 minutes on a full winding. She has 6 cams and levers that operate the 8 strings on her body, and 2 cams and levers that operate the 2 sliders mounted in the roof, that enable her arms to move left and right. 250+ hours from start to finish.

Twain
Twain

2003 12" x 29" x 19" I decided to make a man steering a steamboat and put Mark Twain at the helm, and put him in a fancy suit. I painted the Ohio River scene behind him that's reminiscent of the area where I grew up. Since I wanted the floor to be curved on the outside, I decided to steam-bend the 6 smaller outer boards. This learning process took a whole day to finally get the pieces I wanted, but I really think it was worth it.

Bob Dylan Wheel
Bob Dylan Wheel

2003 11" x 11" x 7" My friend Aaron, who is a huge Dylan fan, suggested I make a version with Bob spinning the wheel. I made the wheel big so I could fit 20 of Aaron's favorites songs on it.

Abe
Abe

2003 7" x 11" x 6" Abe is seen here tipping his stovepipe hat, and standing on a huge copy of his famous Gettysburg Address.

Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith

2003 8" x 12" x 7" This piece was inspired by all those inventors who have ever dreamt of flying. A dream so strong, that they took it upon themselves to construct, and test, a contraption that they believed would enable them to soar with the birds.

Combo II
Combo II

2003 22" x 12" x 33" This is the second version on this theme. I had some extra room for an additional cam, so I added a string for the dancer's leg, and what a difference one string can make. Also, the drummers are playing bongos instead of drums with drumsticks in the original version.

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Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie

2002 12" x 30" x 19" I've always wanted to do a series of unsung heroes, so Woody with his guitar turned out to be a good choice.

Marathon
Marathon

2001 17" x 30" x 10" My first piece using a Victrola motor to drive the mechanism. Also my first attempt at carving a female figure - and carving the dress, and making her legs operate, was quite challenging. They dance from side to side for about 8 minutes on a full winding.

R. I. P.
R. I. P.

1995 15" x 33" x 23" What could be cooler than a dancing skeleton? This piece started out as a haunted house with a skeleton out front, but in my sketches the skeleton looked huge, so I changed it to a mausoleum instead. I even put grave markers inside and if you look with a flashlight, you can see them.

Mr. Oddball
Mr. Oddball

1994 14" x 27" x 24" This is my very first figurative, kinetic artwork. When I was making it, I really didn't know what I was making, or how it would come out. I discovered a type of artwork that combines my primitive style of carving, my love for assembling and working with wood, my naivete way of painting, my skill for making things look old (aging), and my fascination for mechanisms. I used the combination of these skills to create something truly unique and that is all me.

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