Handmade Conversations — Jeff Ivanhoe, Aluminum Can Artist

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012

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Image courtesy of Jeff Ivanhoe

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"Yellowfeather," Jeff's first AluMosaic piece.
What was the first piece of art that you made?
The first AluMosaic was called "Yellowfeather." My wife, Barbara, and I worked on it jointly in late 1979. There weren't any black cans in existence at that time, so I spray painted cans black.

We discovered that by scoring the can with an X-acto knfe and straight edge, we were able to break the cans into tile. Voila! We had our medium.

A glue that I used in college allowed us to place and remove tiles until we were satisfied with their position. We then coated the entire piece with epoxy to permanently seal the work. 

Who or what inspires your creativity?

My wife, Barbara, was a designer and art director for department stores. She created advertising and catalogs from scratch. I get lots of inspiration and constructive critiques from her. She is my personal cheerleader. 

Carl Heldt is also an inspiration to me. He was my graphics instructor at the University of Arizona, and inspired and taught me to really look and really see. 

What inspires me the most these days, though, is when initially I don't think that I can do something. At first I am frustrated, but soon determination takes over and I attack.

Jeff in 1980, sitting in a pile of cans.
Where do you source all of the aluminum cans that you use? Which brand or colors are your favorite? 
My cans come from everywhere: family, friends, recyclers and stores (I do purchase cans if I need lots of a certain color). 

I love black cans the most. All of the variations and color transitions within each can is especially beautiful. 
"The Chief" by Jeff Ivanhoe
Which of your art pieces took the longest to finish?
"The Chief" took the longest to complete. The deep-set eyes were an extreme challenge. Each day I would make changes. It took about 5 weeks to be completely finished.

I attach each piece as a personal challenge. I had lots of source material for "The Chief" but eventually just sketched a face that looked right to me. People often ask if it is a depiction of anyone historic. The answer is no. 
Jeff's studio space.
Tell us about your crafting experience.
I listen to rock music: Bob Seger, Elton John, Chicago, The Bee Gees and classic rock radio. I work all hours of the day; there have been times where I have woken up to use the bathroom at 3:30 a.m., and the next thing I knew the sun was rising and my dog, Walter, was pawing me to take him for a walk. 
Another look at Jeff's studio space.
I usually work for 3-4 hours, then take a break. I find it best to work with fresh eyes. 

What is your dream art project?
My dream project is to create a piece that fits a large lobby, perhaps twenty 4' x 8' panels butted together.

In addition to creating beautiful mosaics, what other talents do you have?
I don't think I have other talents, although I do enjoy bike riding and playing golf with friends. 

When I am dead and gone, I would like to be remembered as the "Metallic Mosaic Master." I have had 32 years of joy because the aluminum can exists. My hope is that AluMosaics will find its way around the world. 

What advice would you give to burgeoning artists?
Find out who and what you are as soon as possible. This will truly help you as you navigate through life.

Learn more about Jeff Ivanhoe via his website, and discover how you can create your own AluMosaics masterpiece at AluMosaics.com.



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