Sink Your Teeth Into Something New

There’s no time like the present to launch outsized ideas.
Make Me One With Everything is a giant papier-mâché hot-dog sculpture by former landscape painter Nat Dickinson.

Fresher temperatures feel like fresh opportunity, right? Many of this month’s significant annual arts events have been cancelled or moved online. Silver lining: There’s no time like now to snuggle up to a new creative endeavor. 

It’s going to be a long winter. By the time January drops, you might want to be ready to cut hide for clothing, chop root vegetables for sustenance, take up whittling, or at least have a righteous piece of handcraft to hang on your wall, one that proudly announces: I forged this myself.  “Basic Knifemaking with Billy Salyers” happens at Tryon Arts & Crafts School on Oct. 3 & 4 and again on Nov. 7 & 8, tryonartsandcrafts.org.

Or do like Nat Dickinson, an accomplished landscape painter who turned away from familiar horizons to begin making oversized papier-mâché sculpture with a palpable (and in some cases almost edible) sense of whimsy.  

“I was struggling with my enthusiasm for painting landscapes since before the winter,” Dickinson revealed in an e-mail to Asheville Made. “When the stay-at-home order came, we shut down Riverside Studios, [and] that triggered a change of routine. Looking around the house, I was faced with the same problem shared by many of us — a basement full of cardboard boxes from online shopping, old newspapers, and part gallons of wall paint. I started cutting the cardboard up into shapes, cooking up some wheat paste, and using newspapers for papier-mâché to build them out.” 

At first, Dickinson made barnyard animals, with the idea of loaning them to friends who were launching a cidery. As spring turned into summer, his repertoire grew. “The materials are mostly free,” he points out, “and I can always cut up and rework almost any part.”

The pictured hot dog, which is nearly three feet long, was an homage to summer whose appeal will likely last post-season. “I liked the absurdity of making it huge,” says Dickinson. “I wanted to do something fun.”

             — Ed.

Follow the progression of Nat Dickinson’s papier-mâché works on the artist’s Instagram account: @nat.dickinson.art   

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