Forest Park Public Library Show of Balance and Tension by Elaine Luther, All artwork is Copyright Elaine Luther 2017.

I’ve been making Balance & Tension sculptures since about the summer of 2015, and they have hung in trees at an artist in residency, in libraries and in a gallery. Now a large group of them, about 25, are installed at the Forest Park Public Library in Forest Park, Illinois.

They look so cool as a group! Sorry, did I lose my professional cool there? Seriously though, I’ve never been able to take over such a large space and fill it with so much art and I’m thrilled with how the show turned out.

Here are more pictures of the process of making the pieces and the show itself!

Since there were going to be up to 30 pieces in this show, I thought I’d explore adding a bit of color. While I really like the plain wood, for so many pieces in one space, I thought more color and variety would add visual interest.

Studio Sneak Peak, So Many Mobiles to Make! Photo Copyright Elaine Luther 2017.

In this photo, you can see the orange paint on the inside of one hoop — that’s how I started adding spot color to these pieces.

Then I was crushed to learn, when I took my paint pen back to the store to buy another just like it:

that they no longer make that color!

The dark brown color you see in that photo is a dye I made with rusty objects and vinegar. I love how the color turned out!

Adding color, laying out ideas.

I also dyed a number of hoops this teal color.

When I’m making these mobiles, I try out different arrangements — and when making this many, I really had to get creative and try things I’d never tried before — I often take photos like these, to help me remember. Building these pieces can require multiple gluings, depending on how the clamps need t go on, and the photos help me remember what my plan was.

Preparing for the show – New shapes; Work in Progress in the Balance & Tension series, Copyright Elaine Luther 2017.

Preparing for the show – New shapes; Work in Progress in the Balance & Tension series, Copyright Elaine Luther 2017.

To reinforce the joints, I also added a dowel-pin to every joint, except where it was physically impossible. Here’s a “what’s on your work bench?” photo of the drilling process.

Preparing for the show – drilling the holes.

Figuring out how to layout this show was a challenge for me! I’ve never had to design something like this before, and making it even harder is all of the functional bits in the ceiling, such as lights, vents, a speaker, some sprinkler heads.

Luckily, a dear friend of mine is a brilliant curator and she came up with this plan —

Map showing the installation plan for the show.

The plan calls for this snaking design that goes through the appointed space in the library, and in addition, the length of the fishing line varies, so that the pieces also go up and down as they undulate through the library.

And, the third and final element of the movement is that some pieces are suspended on fishing swivels, so they can also spin.

Here are more views of the installed show.

Balance and Tension Show at FPPL, View Toward Elevator, Art Copyright Elaine Luther 2017.

Balance and Tension Group of Three, Copyright Elaine Luther 2017

Library Show Installation Showing Curve; Balance & Tension series, Copyright Elaine Luther 2017.

Here’s a bonus art piece installed in a plant, for the very observant.

P.S. for artists and librarians on how we did this installation:

I used 50 lb fishing line and the blood knot.

We used clips, of the kind teachers use in their classrooms, that are specifically designed for clipping to the plastic strips in between the ceiling tiles. Those are rated to hold 10 lbs and these sculptures are all quite light, something under half a pound.