REIN TRIEFELDT Kinetic Sculpture

the New Jersey studio of sculptor Rein Triefeldt

by Sharla Bailey Kidder

aRein Triefeldt: People usually ask artists about sources, inspiration and ideas. Since I create kinetic, or moving sculpture, people nearly always ask me how my work is made:

I begin with the simplest of exploratory drawings -- pen and ink or pencil on a paper bag or sometimes even welding chalk on the side of a tool box or board. In these sketches I am composing the framework, the body of the sculpture, and giving some indication of the travel (or orbit) of the kinetic element.

aRein Triefeldt Migration study in gouache completed after the bronze sculpture (right)



aBronze casts of rough sculpture elements (left)





Rein Triefeldt: Soon I'm off the drawing board selecting from an inventory of wood and metal elements -- balls, discs, plaster, styro-foam, wax, rods or bits of old sculptures. Working quickly and crudely, I assemble the elements by clipping, gluing or taping them together in order to quickly visualize the piece. This process brings problems to light that will require study and more precise solutions. Here is where I begin making decisions of proportion, size, weight, materials, balance, engineering and time.

aRein Triefeldt: The small bronzes are modeled in plasticine (a fine oil-based clay). I mold the clay; then I cast the form in plaster or bronze. (The clay is discarded.) Next, I sand and shape the figures and carve the details in by hand. I prefer to do my fine finishing work directly in the bronze. Bronze is capable of holding shape and details without being broken. A rubber mold is taken from this figure and the figure is nearly ready to become an element in the sculpture.





aRein Triefeldt: Sanding and filing the bronze surfaces prepare the sculpture for the patina. I paint the patina chemicals onto the bronze with a patina brush--then fire the piece.

Triefeldt holding patina brush (left)


aColored patina detail from Firebird sculpture (right)






aRein Triefeldt: My earlier bronzes are rather restrained in the use of patina: traditionally bronze-colored figures with black frames. My current works are livelier and include red, green and blue patinas on the bronze surfaces; I even gilded one element on an Orbiter.

Rein Triefeldt sculpture Flyer IX (left) with traditional patina





aRein Triefeldt: Balance and complete ease of motion are key concerns in my work. I use fine industrial bearings; the axle rod of the sculpture is turned on a lathe to help the figures spin freely. When the bronze elements are ready, I lay them out on the floor and balance them crudely on a teeter-totter kind of board.

Rein Triefeldt: As the parts are welded, changes occur in structure, spatial relationships and balance. Once the sculpture is assembled, I tune and adjust the balance by hand--each sculpture's movement is unique.

Rein Triefeldt: Casting of the bronze elements for the sculptures takes months, then the welding and assembly takes about a week and the patina about a day. So, from exploratory sketches to finished sculpture is a long process.

aRein Triefeldt: The Orbiter series is serious in tone. The basic form is that of a sphere--but it strongly resembles a land mine. I have dealt with environmental and ecological concerns in my work for a number of years. The Orbiters continue this vein. "Migration"--the sculpture, related drawings and the print--are specifically inspired by my own family history as refugees from Estonia during World War II.

Rein Triefeldt bronze sculpture Migration (right)

aRein Triefeldt 's original print Migration
from the sculptor's Orbiter series (left)






aRein Triefeldt: My large sculpture exhibited at the Atlanta Olympics, was about athleticism and dance motion. The Olympic Flyer developed my interest in choreographing sculptural movement even further.

Rein Triefeldt sculpture Olympic Flyer (left)



Rein Triefeldt: There are many sources or inspiration--direct and indirect--in my work. I'm doing more with the bronze surface itself; that is the result of looking at old African pieces. In 20th century sculpture, I've learned by looking at sculptors Joel Shapiro and George Rickey.

aRein Triefeldt: My latest series Cirque de la Lune is inspired by the Cirque de Soleil performances. They are a creative, high-energy group. I've been honored to be their guest at several performances. I share a affinity with Cirque in the sense of having rhythm, balance and emotion in my work. Often, a Cirque concept or even a specific Cirque performer will influence my sculpture.

Rein Triefeldt kinetic sculpture Firebird (right)






aRein Triefeldt: My current work is light-hearted and thrilling. With this series, I subvert the historical expectations of traditional bronze sculpture as I work against logic, and gravity in these whimsical kinetic sculptures. These sculptures are all about motion, balance and fun.

Rein Triefeldt Sculptor (left)






CREATIVE PROCESS at Biddington's is designed as a forum for watching fine art in the making.

Usually, this process happens in the privacy of the artist's or artisan's studio.
At BIDDINGTON'S -- Contemporary Art Gallery & upmarket, online art & antiques auctions--we find it interesting to witness the steps leading to the end product and to hear the artists speak about their work in the relaxed surroundings of their own studios.