Cre Fuller is a talented local (to me) artist who works with found bits of scrap metal to create whimsical robots. Many of his pieces are based on coffee pots and other objects found in the kitchen, but the source material can come from pretty much anything made of metal.
While I chatted with him in his Ypsilanti, MI studio he was not so carefully disassembling an ancient mechanical typewriter. He wasn’t sure what he would find inside, but hopefully it would be inspiration in the form of some hunk of machined metal ready to be re-purposed as an eyebrow or ear or neck. He was getting increasingly frustrated that the old machine wasn’t coming apart, and it became clear that if he didn’t get inside soon with the screwdriver, a nearby dremel sat waiting to lend a hand to the process.
He has a number of nice pictures of his work at Tin Angry Men but he also let me take some pictures of him, his studio, and some of his robots, which I’ve posted in my Google Plus Photo Gallery. The picture that I linked above turned out really nice, and is pretty indicative of some of his larger pieces.
Cre’s space isn’t actually that small… but when you put this much stuff into a room, it sure feels that way. The giant window overlooks a lot where workers in a factory once parked. The buildnow now is something of an artist colony. He said that at nights a number of bands practice here, and it can be a bit noisy. Cre’s studio walls are covered with shelves piled with pots and pans and springs and wires. The floor looks almost like the first act of Wall-E, with bits of machines and appliances and parts in various states of deconstruction spilling out of cardboard boxes.
The sculptures he creates remind me of a child’s idle doodle concocted in the back seat of some boring class, but re-realized not with pencils and pens, but rather with food-processor blades and coffee pots. In fact, Cre recently spent a day with a classroom of local kids talking about his work and drawing robots together. He later presented the class with their very own robot based on one of the best designs from a particularly imaginative child.
Cre has been working on his robots for nearly a decade now, although in the last 4 years he has stepped up his production, and taken a more active stance showing his work at local small scale art fairs in attempt to make a little money for his work. Unsurprisingly he has also discovered that people are more prone to make a purchase when his sculptures match their decor. This can be a bit of a problem since he doesn’t generally seem to paint his work, instead leaving the metal with its originally color intact. Besides more traditional venues like art fairs, he noted with a small hint of pride that his works based on coffee pots have found homes at many of the local coffee shops… in fact, that’s how I became aware of him: the Zingerman’s Coffee Shop is a few hundred feet away from my office at Ann Arbor’s Maker Works and they have one of his robots, actually a functional lamp, on display.