Showing posts with label robert chaplin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label robert chaplin. Show all posts


Heads or Tails

Last weekend saw the leaves in color,  clinging fast to the last vestiges of summer. 
The fog rolls in and taking half the day to clear, the sun reveals autumn...
It is time for letting go. 

It took a while to finish this one, I started it in 2004 then put it aside, published some books, started a snowflake collection, played some chess, traveled, visited with friends and relations. I would work on this carving whenever I had a spare moment, and in those moments had the time to reflect on important matters such as the Elizabethan notion of artifice; transformation, and the relevance of les objets de virtu in the age of the smart phones. And so this piece is finished, made in hematite, carved by my hand using diamonds and water.  Heads, tails, its your call. Things happen gradually in nature,  invisible processes working away in their own time. Then, in the flashing of an instant we notice,  everything is different. Context is variable.

 robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
-Copy Cats are Dirty Rats

Photo Credit: Peter Lattimer


Royal Canadian Snowball

This snowflake tessellation incorporates principals of geometry to randomize the surface of a sphere. Carved by my hand using diamonds and water, this piece was commissioned by Deana Grinnell for Jim Smerdon's 40th birthday. The latest addition to The Royal Canadian Snowflake Collection, lead crystal completely carved, a Royal Canadian Snowball. Heat resistant to 600 degrees centigrade because context is variable.

Photo Credit: James Manning Smerdon


Incendiary Literature

‘ The MatchBook- a fireside fable ’
is perhaps my most incendiary creation. It is a pack of paper matches, published complete with poem, illustration, copyright, and ISBN. I made 10,000 copies without creating a warehousing problem. It can be found in public and private collections and is most recently available in The Paper Hound Books. Since I never do consignment Kim Koch the proprietrix, was generously disposed to acquire a box for the store...they can be found in this little drawer on 344 West Pender.


The Brussels Sprouts of New York

Phillips established in 1796
Papaya King since 1932
Manhattan fire hydrant
The Cloisters
in Cesare’s Sprouts
Near Joe‘s
I was surprised by an exquisite gift, a short notice trip! so I brought my silver sprout to do a little research on this question, is context everything ? Picture the Brussels sprout in New York City,  seen with an Ellsworth Kelly at Phillips, which by the way sold for a very respectable price. Picture the silver sprout in spaces sacred, profane, street, and mundane. It is my postulation that a work of art creates it’s own context and surrounds itself with magic, transforming the world, leading us to state of wonder...context is variable !

For Brussels Sprout in Bronze or Sterling
current Price $1050.


Happy Valentines Day

With all due respect this heart I've  made in solid copper, it warms up quickly in the hand. I hope that you enjoy this picture, a great piece is good no matter where you find, gallery, museum, library or pocket, context is variable.


Worlds Smallest Book- A large print edition

These are Raw SEM images of the tablets which comprise the World’s smallest book

I  launched a kickstarter campaign to raise money to do a book project. The campaign was successful and I was able to publish the fifth book in my library editions series. ‘Teeny Ted From Turnip Town’ is a tale of scale, a wild rhyme and a book of science for young readers, aged 5 years and up. Thanks to everyone who helped with my Kickstarter campaign and thanks again!



There is an underlying geometry to this random flurry, a system for defining the minimum amount of negative space between snowflakes of various sizes, I figured it out by drawing. Without getting too specific it makes use of the fact that equilateral triangles of any size, each and all together can tile a plane. Further, each and every shape divisible by equilateral triangles, can be tiled together in this way. Since hexagons are made of equilateral triangles they can tile a plane in the same manner, leaving sections of equilateral triangles which can, in turn be occupied by more hexagons, leading the mind to infinity.  I’m not sure If I discovered this all sized tiling, but at least for the purposes of this design I will call it ‘Chaplin’s Snowstorm’. Carved by my hand using diamonds and water, this sterling silver pill box fits in the little pocket of your jeans and is ideal for carrying pills of all sorts, medicinal, recreational, and vitaminical. 

robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
-Copy Cats are Dirty Rats



What's this I hear you can't make up your mind ?  Time moves us to death, inevitable. Yet we may jest and play, and each man in his time wears many hats. This jokers cap and bells was made for court in Gastown. Perchance that we might laugh at death, and in the moment when we hear the bright tone of these bells,  feast in celebration of this one and only life.

I sculpted these bells in sterling silver, and of course I needed help. Sarah Strange has a millinery mind and after a brief discussion, and some loose sketching,  returned yesterday with this fantastic chapeau. After attaching the bells we set up this shot.
Crown Commissioner : Scott Hawthorn
Goldsmith: Karen Morrow
Casting: Jess Sarber
Milliner: Sarah Strange
robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
-Copy Cats are Dirty Rats



Spring is quickly approaching and with it, the return of the snowbirds. You may be one, you may know some. Canadians with means sensible enough to spend their time in warmer climes, come fall and winter they migrate to Arizona, Texas, Mexico, and Thailand, anywhere equatorial, somewhere warm and dry. But as springtime approaches the lure of friends, summer drinks and rustic weekends, call the snowbirds home. To celebrate we at the Royal Canadian Snowflake Factory have produced the snowbird patch; embroidered and made to iron on to your favorite camping clothes, glad rags, and ceremonial vestments. The snowbird patch lets everyone know that you may exercise the option to enjoy the sun, and have fun. Snowbird Patches are included free with sponsorship in the Royal Canadian Snowflake Collection.

robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
-Copy Cats are Dirty Rats


Something Good About Publishing

You know when you are a kid and someone hands you a copy of 'The Guinness Book of World Records' and you feel like it just might be the most important book ever published? The sum of all knowledge, arcane facts, photographs and histories, an entertainment simultaneously wondrous and spellbinding... and you think,“just maybe if you never cut your fingernails, or if you hold your breath, or live a really long time, or grow extremely tall, or strike it rich, or gain a lot of weight, then maybe, just maybe you could get a Guinness World Record”. Then you go outside and play, you go to school, grow up, fall in love, and work. Responsibilities take your life in its own direction and the dreams of childhood get put on the shelf. In this adult life each day seems much like the next, and you think things might never change. Well sometimes they do change, like one day in January my friend Bruce called and told me that an art project I worked on made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

To find out more about the project see 'Teeny Ted From Turnip Town'
To see the Guinness World Record see Smallest Book

I enjoy the privilege of sharing this record with my brother, Malcolm Douglas Chaplin, and the nano-imaging lab at SFU. One day someone may beat this record, and they will be lucky enough to know how I feel right now.

robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
-Copy Cats are Dirty Rats


Amuse-Bouche De Roi- the Kings Dinner

Queen Elizabeth I
Let us celebrate the Crowned Head of Gastown.

Funny there’s a municipal election going today, and it matters not at all. For on this last Thursday evening in Gastown, a monarch was selected by Amuse-Bouche, followed by a coronation dinner. I mean really, who said democracy has to be achieved by something as mundane as an election. In the City State of Gastown things are a run little differently, it’s Government by lottery. Our head of state is selected by Amuse-Bouche, from among a court of 20 dinner guests. Each guest receives an Amuse-Bouche/Objet d'Art, one of these treats contains a sterling silver Ruckle bean. The Person who receives the Ruckle bean is then coronated, ascending to the position of Ruling Monarch.


Queen Elizabeth I and the consort King Ravi

There are two crowned heads at the table. The Ruckle bean selects the monarch, the monarch chooses who may wear the other crown. On the King’s crown is inscribed this verse, Long live our King, lets celebrate, Gastown is a city state. Sing and Feast and Celebrate, Our King is Good Our King is Great.The Queen’s crown is inscribed with a very simple truth “However The King may rule The Queen runs the show. I designed these crowns, first by sculpting components for casting, after the components were cast and finished, I brought them to a goldsmith for assembly and stone setting. The Amuse-Bouche/objet d’art were loaded each with a sterling snowflake from the Royal Canadian Snowflake Collection.

will post more pictures on this one...

Crown Commissioner : Scott Hawthorn
Goldsmith: Karen Morrow
Casting: Jess Sarber
Leather Work: Ravi Pankhania
Photo Credit: Landon Marie
robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
-Copy Cats are Dirty Rats


Sheep Graffiti

Ireland is a green place, and that’s been said in different ways by many great writers. Further, there’s been much academic attention paid to the importance of street art and its rise, from late twentieth century graffiti, through to a kind of museum quality death. Perhaps something that’s not been discussed enough is sheep tagging. Farmers used to the history of grazing their livestock on common land, get into branding their sheep in this manner. It makes the sheep easy to identify and reveals a savage beauty; in stark contrast, to all those bucolic eighteenth and nineteenth century genre paintings, depicting country life.

Serious beauty, I was lagging behind my hosts on this walk and saw a lovely cow, grazing on grass which I’m certain had been infused with absinthe. I fell in love here, this land and it’s beauty, the Irish are inspirational. I participated in Clifden arts week. My dear friend Joanna Galloway operates Hair Gallery on Bridge street and she sponsored my exhibition. And so for one amazing week I was able to meet and greet people, read my stories and show my work. In the evenings I went to gigs in the pubs of Clifden and was treated to a musical feast. Electric Jazz, Country, Folk and Irish Traditional, It was truly an honor to participate in this event and I had a super time.

This is one of the pieces I exhibited, it is a representation of a deer being hunted by wolves, it’s a synthesis inspired by the form lines of pacific northwest coast art, celtic knot work, mathematics and retinal color theory.

Also for the first time ever, I exhibited the complete collection of scanning electron micrographs, of the worlds smallest book. ‘Teeny Ted from Turnip Town- a success story’ was written by my brother, Malcolm Douglas Chaplin and designed and published by me. I'm glad that I saved the premier exhibition of this for Ireland, as the most significant part of the story happens on Blooms Day.

On the Last Friday of Clifden Arts Week there was a fantastic parade. It's a celebration and the craic's almighty! The parade is a kaleidoscope of color and imagination. I hope to return to Clifden as soon as possible, to stay for as long as I can. Shout out to Joanna, Simon, and Catherine. Word.

Copy Cats are Dirty Rats


An Object Lesson in Macro-Economics

what is this mysterious object ? this sphere of hematite carved by my hand using diamonds and water? The designs are inspired by the backside of a Greenback, American dollar bill and circumscribed with magic text. “Made round to go round”, Something my Father used to say when he gave us our allowance. An object lesson in macro-economics, perchance to help with quantitative easing?

My Grandfather said, “ you can’t spend yourself rich” and, “ the next depression would be high priced ”. He was right of course, the elderly very often are. The US government is printing money faster than anyone can spend it. The effect is that it costs more to buy anything. It’s not that things have increased in value, rather that the money is very very cheap. Fiat money never survives long, a symptom of a regime in decay.

This stone is a crystal of iron oxide, yet it will never rust. When Hematite is carved it makes blood red dust. It can be magnetized and it’s hardness is about 5 1/2 on Mohs scale. It is a durable, hard stone, carving and it will remain intact until the sun consumes the inner planets. Metaphysicians believe this stone has grounding properties. With money and metaphysics, grounding has value.


Free Range Democracy: Leaf in the Wind

What happened in Vancouver last night ? Our team lost a hockey tournament, and we tore our city apart in angry rampage. A riot, poor sportsmanship and free range democracy, we can only blame ourselves.

And so I present, my latest carving, a ‘Leaf in the Wind’, an individual carried by current, without intention. People are a bit like that and one at a time is no problem. This work was made of basalt, carved by my hand, using diamonds and water. I wanted to create the illusion that hard stone could be weightless, that a leaf could be thin and light and carried by the spiral form currents of turbulence.

Some may pick up a hard stone and throw it through a window, I choose to carve something interesting. Most people are unfamiliar with work like this, it has a production value similar to dentistry. And in the end, I believe it’s more worthwhile than looting and rioting.

private collection: John Taylor
photo credit: Peter Lattimer
Copy Cats are Dirty Rats


Amuse-Bouche De Roi


There’s a crowned head in Gastown, and what Royal proclamation would be complete without a crown? Considering Gastown's historical relationship with the colonial Government of British Columbia and the Nation State of Canada, it's hardly surprising that Gastown has succeeded. That the Crown Commissioner of Gastown through his agency, saw fit to have me work upon this project for our King is a blessed miracle! and clearly illustrates the ancient relationship between Divine Right and Artistic License.

We will celebrate the Coronation with Amuse-Bouche De Roi. A festive tradtion for investing the King of Gastown. Long Live The King !

Crown Commissioner : Scott Hawthorn
Goldsmith: Karen Morrow
Casting: Jess Sarber
Leather Work: Ravi Pankhania
Photo Credit: Mel Yap


Political Geography...Somwhere on The Border

Somewhere on the border between BC and Alberta, Bull Moose poses majestically in alpine vista with Grizzly Bear and Bighorn Sheep. If we look out on to the plains we can see a heard of Bison and a sky full of birds in flight. Life here is good, despite a federal election, and I thank the power of Creation that my animal friends maintain a certain kind of respect for Political Geography.

This 40”x 60” brush drawing was commissioned by architect, snowflake sponsor, and friend Gair Williamson. Further, my nature pictures are not cartoons, and so all of my animal friends sport the gifts of creation. Bear has mighty teeth, Birds have wings, and Bull Moose has magnificent antlers.

Photo Credit: Mel Yap


What’s in a Book ? - isbn 978-1-894897-25-9

What’s in a book ? and anyways, why are books so magical ? I've some thoughts on the matter and may at this point share them.

A book is a containment system for knowledge. Whether it be a clay tablet, scroll, codex or electronic application; a book is a compartmental unit of specific information. The information contained may be of any level of importance, everything and anything; understanding modern plumbing, instructions for burning witches, recipes for delicious cakes and pies, poetry, history, nonfiction, and fairy tales. Irregardless of relevance, form or content, engaging with a book is an act of revelation. Open up the covers, and we are in, experiencing the word, entertained, and enlightened.

This wise stuff aside, the book in codex form has another, more inappropriate function. It can be used to conceal an object. This old chestnut... take a big book in hard covers, one seldom opened, commonly the Bible. Open the book and cut holes in the pages , until you have created enough usable space, to hide something important. Place your secret object in the book, close the covers, and place the book on a bookshelf. Excellent! you have successfully hidden the goods in a manner no one will ever suspect.

Now that I've given you the background information, this is what you are looking at. A book, a medal, my latest publication: The Robert Reid Medal, to be precise. The medal was commissioned by the Alcuin Society and named after Robert Reid, a pioneer in Canadian book design. Presented nationally, the Robert Reid Medal celebrates lifetime achievement in book creation. The design was carved by my hand then cast in bronze at the studio of my colleague Jess Sarber. After the medals were cast, each one was hand finished by me. This work was completed in an edition of 25 with 5 artists proofs.

Regarding the revelatory and concealing power of books, it seemed most fitting, to encase each medal in this manner. Within this context the medal becomes a dimensional illustration, and since I've taken to publication as an act of contemporary art, it would be reasonable to assign an ISBN to this project. The book itself consists of an essay written by Yosef Wosk, regarding the value of a life spent in creation. The typography was designed electronically, burned into polymer plates, then printed and bound at Black Stone Press. A purpose built and published work to simultaneously protect and reveal a lifetime of excellence.

photo credit: Peter Lattimer

robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
Copy Cats are Dirty Rats


The Royal Canadian Snowflake Collection

The Royal Canadian Snowflake Collection came to me in the vision of a flurry, wind hustling silver snowflakes, swirling, dancing, everlasting. Every snowflake in the collection is sculpted by my hand, then permanently cast in sterling silver. The collection is produced exclusively through sponsorship, like discovering a new star, sponsors get to name their snowflake.

Sponsors receive the first snowflake cast, to keep or give to a friend. The first snowflake is signed and delivered, as a pendant or lapel pin, it's name engraved on the back. The pictorial collection is updated periodically, each snowflake pictured includes the name of the sponsor and the name of their snowflake. We are all Royal Canadians and sponsoring a snowflake is easy, to find out more please visit.

photo credit: Peter Lattimer

robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
-© Robert Chaplin admmx. copy cats are dirty rats
* Hats off to Wilson Bentley, for inspiration and a life well spent.


Faire Dodo, perchance to dream... in sterling

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I have heard it said that, “faire dodo” means nighty-night in french.

Regarding the sterling Dodo, at some point I published ‘The Last Dodo’, complete with cast sterling medal, isbn, rhyme and dedication. The text portion of this work was reproduced in ‘Brussels Sprouts & Unicorns’. Here’s a taste of the medal for your perusal, The model was first carved in hematite, by my hand using diamonds and water, it was then cast in sterling , hand finished, then signed. Each and every dodo is slightly different, an original work of art, to be worn as jewelry. Own one, if it pleases you...

for $180.00 Canadian Dollars
* shipping included

Word to Ralfe Whistler, Happy Belated Dodo. Eighty is a grand age indeed, to be riding bicycles, chasing our favorite Romaphile, and hunting dodo's. Well done!
photo credit: Peter Lattimer

robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
-© Robert Chaplin admmx. copy cats are dirty rats