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Steel Peace Pole

The familiar design of peace poles should bring new visions.

wabi-sabi, a Japanese termRusty steel peace poleWabi-sabi (pronounced wah-bee sah-bee) is a Japanese term for a feeling you get when looking at, say, the charm of a wave-worn bottle on shore as opposed to a new beer can. Or the authenticity of a worn, antique wooden bench as opposed to a new plastic one.

Rusting steel peace pole, lower portionHere in the west we have the same concept. We just don't a specific term for it. Whole books have been written about the term in Japan.

I wanted a peace pole that embodied it in my yard. The copper one has it, but this steel one (that needs more time to rust) has it in a different way. Copper is lux and enduring. Rust is like driftwood: not forever/ its own kind of cool/ wabi-sabi.

Sabi literally means "to rust." It is "the beauty in the imperfect, the impermanent, and the incomplete." Arrows shot into rusty steel peace poleWabi is "the imperfection inherent in the material or the design or the way thing is or was used," like the way an antique steamer trunk was covered with train stickers and stacked in baggage cars and dragged about until the wear of many miles was part of its character.

Age visible through a natural deterioration brings a depth of feeling to many things. I put a hundred years of patina on copper peace poles before shipping them, and that does it for those. Abstract sculpture in rusty steelI could speed up the rust on this steel one too, but instead I'm letting it stand in the rain to go its own way. It is my yard. I'm not in a hurry. I did the same thing with another sculpture in my yard that is made out of the same steel (at right) that now is maybe a dozen years old. Visitors often ask how I got that finish on it.

Steel Peace Pole Price
6 sides with 12 translations . . . . $4,500 (free shipping).
It will be clean steel when it arrives. You can let it rust or paint it.
If you buy one I already have made, the one in the photos, I'll knock a thousand dollars off of it: $3,500.

Planting / Installing
This one might need to be in cement, depending on where it is. In some locations it need only be slid over metal fence posts, like all the peace poles are in my yard. How to do that is at this link.

The next time I make one of these I'll de-galvanize the rivets so that they rust too, unless I eliminate that issue by welding.

Other forms of wabi-sabi
This peace pole could be painted, as could copper peace poles. Stainless steel doesn't accept paint as well. Although I know how to etch the surface of stainless to improve that, but it still isn't like painting copper. Although it does open the possibility of creating interesting effects with, say, darkened stainless (that I'd provide) under layers of various colors of paints that you might apply to produce effects by exposing it to fire or solvent or abrasion to reveal lower layers of color, and maybe some dark stainless too, to create a different wabi-sabi. That could be done with either copper or steel also.

When I get time I'll play with that and post photos here, more of the hundreds of hours of experimentation that go into everything an artist creates - a process I'm continually in the middle of with one design or another.