Find me at the Athfest Artist Market this weekend!

pam001This upcoming weekend is the official unveiling of the “Post Apocalyptic Mystic” collection of unique and intriguing wearable art jewelry. You will find us in the Athfest Artist Market (booth #16) during the three day city-wide Athfest Music & Arts Festival. Inspired by a mystical and innately magical post-apocalyptic muse that’s part post-modern hobo, part apocalyptic survival kit, and part chaotic magical symbolism this collection intertwines upcycled raw materials, found objects, mixed metals and all sorts of vintage fragments from antique buttons to precious beads and stones to engage you in a style way ahead of it’s time.

(Van Beville and Mux Blank, photo by Kari Bjork)

The whole project all started when a friend, Van Beville, came to me and asked if I wanted to share a artist vendor booth with him at the next upcoming Athfest. At the time the Joker Joker Gallery house (built circa 1940) was a dusty noisy construction zone. There were workers knocking on the roof, workers trampling around running power tools in the attic, and tons of construction debris scattered about the yard. As we began the clean up process I thought that instead of taking the scrap to the landfill, maybe I should figure out how to turn it into something a bit more useful… like art. Turning trash into art has long been a passion of mine. I’ve done everything from cd covers for my band cut out of cardboard and manilla folders then spray painted with stencils, to stage props made out of dead vines, ragged paint tarps, or even smashed tube style TV sets. I’ve always managed to make some awe-inspiring art simply by using what was available around me or easily dumpster dived.


Ever since recently getting home from tour (with my band Rat Babies) in Feb of this year, I have experienced a sudden rifting shift to my creative endeavors. For a long time now I have been on a more “promotional effort” kick, spending countless hours on and offline mostly organizing art events and showcases like the Moonlight Gypsy Market and Classic City Fringe Festival, putting together underground shows at the Joker Joker Gallery, booking and promoting tours, album releases, and so much more. But now, due to shear exhaustion, I have decided to take a intentional step down from the overwhelming world of art promotions and got back into completely enveloping myself in “creation” mode.

Once the construction was finished at the house the old paint-caked and corroded steal/tin metal roof was in one pile, scrap pieces of deteriorating antiqued wood was in another, and I was in the middle wondering what to do with it all. So I posted a call on FB that said:

“IDEAS? I’ve got a big pile of old rusty metal, I need ideas for art projects and/or some way to make some money off of it or it goes to the scrap yard!”

Some of the replies sparkled with inspiration: “Origami”, “Mad Max it up!”, “What about a suit of armor?”, “Jewelry!!!” and more were some of the suggestions that got me to thinking, dreaming, got gears turning… I dug into boxes of rusty tools to find as many that could be used to bend, cut, melt, or mold metal in some way as to transform these raw materials into magic. The tools I use the most are simple: a hammer and chisel, tin snips, an antique sheet metal bender, and a tuft of steel wool which gives everything that awesome shine.

(photos by Kari Bjork)
(Mux scraping old paint off metal, photo by Kari Bjork)
(photos by Kari Bjork)
(Mux working, photo by Kari Bjork)
(photos by Kari Bjork)
(Mux working with hammer and chisel, photo by Kari Bjork)

Of course my first couple pieces were rough, but I was developing ideas and streamlining my process. It took a couple weeks of nonstop pounding on metal to learn how it moved, how it folds, how hard to hit it, how many time I can bang on it before it breaks. I began making eyeball pendants which I gave away as gifts. I came up with designs for stash boxes that had small metal tabs fitting into tiny holes then folded for strength, and wall hangings that incorporated old brittle waterlogged looking wood removed from the roof as part of designs for frames around hammered metal pieces or as mounting boards for bent and folded metal sculptures.

(Kari Bjork and Mux Blank, photo by Kari Bjork)

Almost immediately after finishing some of those first few pieces, another friend of mine Kari Bjork (artisan jewelry designer, former bead shop owner) began collaborating with me on ideas for more refined and wearable art pieces. Ideas for velvet lined hammered steel bangles, or flat metal titles that could be linked together with jump rings made from stripped old copper house wires began forming. I even reworked my enchanting metal eye design into a smaller easily wearable pendant which she strung together with semi-precious stone beads made of Ocean Agate, Jade, and other embellishments. What unfolded was a collaborative process of creation, each finishing where the other began. Ending with an awesome array of one-of-a-kind earrings, necklaces, bracelets, pirate treasure boxes, key holders, wall hangings, metal labeled apothecary bottles, keychains, and more.

Also on a sidenote, but continuing with another ongoing folkart-esque upcycling project were I’ve been painting skulls on wood pulled out of my former tiny house on wheels aka skoolie bus, my second series of “Skull Bus Paintings” will be on display and available for purchase (see “The “SKULL BUS” Fundraiser“).

(Mux painting, photo by Kari Bjork)
(Mux painting, photo by Kari Bjork)

It’s all been a lot of hard work yet, as we are rounding the home run stretch with Athfest this weekend, we’re still feverishly finishing up a few pieces even while I write this blog. Still, we can’t hold the excitement in anymore and so I’m happy to finally show everyone what has remained so hush-hush over these last four or so months… Come out and find us at this years Athfest Artist Market and look through our stockpile of secret treasures that you can acquire for that someone special, even if that person is yourself.