marshall arts

Belt buckle

Yes, I have snakes on the brain. Snakes are nice folks, with a lot more personality than I tend to credit to reptiles. (I don't know why I'm surprised. I knew from a wee tot that parakeets have plenty of personality, and the main thing that separates them from snakes is a endothermic metabolism. Hell, I've seen an iguana being downright affectionate.)

Below is a design for a belt-buckle that got started because I wanted to do a full-blown painting of a small sketch I'd done during my Sam Elliott period. But, in my innevitable, anal-retentive Virgo fashion, I of course wanted to do gobs of elaborate jewelry. Problem with jewelry, though, is that it has lots of nice shiny surfaces, which are the absolute bastard to draw.

My first study for this concept was the small still life, above. My second go came about serendipitously when I was hacking around with Kai's Tips and Tricks for Photoshop. I discovered that some very reflective-like effects can be achieved with careful and convoluted use of the channel operations he describes, so I had a go with the belt-buckle design:

Photoshop, 1995

Still not really adequate to the purpose of my painting, but I was actually surprised at how good a simulation was achieved down in the intersections where the snakes cross each other, which in some ways is the hardest go get right.

Oh, the latest effort? I've decided to prove just how anal I really am: I'm making the bloody buckle. I figure just copying the damn thing will be infinitely easier than trying to fake how it ought to look.

--25 August 1997

Latest report: I've actually gotten as far as carving the wax form for the buckle. Now all I have to do is find a jeweler to cast it for me. I had one, but he seems to have gone out of business since I started the carving (mumble) years ago.

--20 May 1999

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Last modified: Mon May 24 07:30:22 MDT 1999