It’s fairly evident when looking at my body of work that I love rivets. I love them so much I make sure that they are an integral and obvious part of my design. I use a different metal and I don’t countersink them flush. As I said in my revamped artist statement, “[rivets] give a physical presence to the joining, a reminder that someone chose these parts to make a whole.” They are a critical design element that I employ not just for technical reasons, but because they fit into my aesthetic.
I first used rivets in metal shop in junior high school. We made rounded head rivets to hold together a trash can basketball hoop thingy. That’s the only specific project I even remember from that class. Next, I used them in college on a pair of chopsticks that I made sophomore year. These were countersunk and chosen for purely technical reasons, but they struck a chord with me. I wouldn’t say that rivets were critical in my college work, or even in anything that I did before making my crown, Humble Conceit. But when I used them while making that crown, I was reminded why I love rivets, and I’ve been using them ever since.
I’ve mentioned using rivets for “technical reasons” a couple of times now. What do I mean by that? There are times when you can’t solder pieces together for a variety of reasons. Usually I have a particular patina (surface coloring treatment) on a piece of metal that would be ruined by heating and cleaning it. Also, the nooks and crannies created by fold forming are places where the acid used to clean metal after soldering can hide and slowly eat away at a piece. Another reason would be because the heat generated while soldering relaxes the metal, but I want to keep parts of it work-hardened for durability concerns.
Now that I’ve told you all about my fascination with rivets, do you feel differently about them? Next time you go shopping or use something, notice how the parts are connected. Did they weld, screw, or nail them? Are the connections hidden or obvious? Connections are an integral part of my work and an important design consideration. I hope that now you appreciate some of these often overlooked parts of the designing process.