A machined, contemporary take on a netsuke/sagemono

Machinist/sculptor Chris Bathgate (previously) continues his run of collaborations on small, gorgeous kinetic sculptures and fidget toys with the "Netsuke Hybrid Vessel Bead," a collaboration with Revolve Makers.

Inspired by netsuke and sagemono — small, ornamental worn containers — the new piece is a finely machines lanyard bead that has a satisfying locking mechanism. Bathgate uses the story of the bead's development as a jumping-off point for ruminating in fascinating manner about the line between functional machining and artistic creation.

They're going to run about 50 of these, and will do a pre-order later this week.

What has finally brought me back to the vessel idea, and the rest of the inspiration for this peice, was my search for other contemporaries who are exploring the aesthetic side of machine work. Instead of finding other sculptors, I found a number of professional machinists who are branching out from their traditional roles to explore the more creative possibilities within their trade.

These machinist craftsmen are primarily creating functional objects and do not necessarily consider what they are doing to be art. Their aim however, is not so different than mine, they wish to express themselves and maybe make something beautiful in the process. Rather than sculpture, they are making lanyard beads, folding knives, spin tops, fidget toys, pens, flashlights, and other tactical type accoutrements. Many of them are progressing into the type of embellishment and thoughtfulness of craft that has seen many industrial crafts blossom into a fine arts movement. Crafts like wood turning, glass blowing, welding, and ceramics have all transitioned from commercial industries to fine and decorative art traditions.

My interest in how industrial processes morph into arts movements is what first set me on a path of exploring a kind of functional art of my own. Looking for similarities between the decorative arts and machining is where the rest of the inspiration for this work was found.

A Reluctant Designer, The Netsuke Hybrid Vessel Bead. (NHVB)
[Chris Bathgate]