-all images courtesy of the artist.-
Tal ‘Talbotics‘ Avitzur is an artisan with a one-of-a-kind focus.
He collects the rarest, oddest, most antique vintage scrap parts you can find on this earth.
The purpose? He assembles them into handcrafted unique sci-fi sculptures. Most of them could come straight out of a Terry Gilliam movie, while some of the droids even come with light LEDs. Every single one of Tal’s pieces is made with so much love and care for the detail that you can totally feel it.
Tal’s work process starts with polishing the parts he brings home from various vintage sites. Like a puzzle, Tal then tries to combine the parts to find the perfect combination. Therefore, it takes a while until a robot has developed its ‘personality’. Sometimes, the poor half-creature sits in the garage for weeks, even months, waiting for a limb until the body part has been found that finally completes it.
Very often the parts’ origin remains mysterious even to Tal. Sometimes, however, he manages to identify them on the web. It’s fun to look at a sculpture and then try to find out what they are actually made of.
Wanna give it a try? Check this out, this little fella is called Racer 78:
– head: motor housing from a drill
– body: speaker from a drive-in theater
– arms: inside of an old piano that Tal took apart
– wheels: handles off a big machine
– base: stainless steel clad 6″x6″ doug fir beam from Tal’s neighbor’s remodel.
Having Fun? Here comes Sentry 5:
This little buddy consists of
– body: whipped cream maker from the 1950s
– arms: two citrus presses
– hands: medical rakes from the local hospital
– legs: tibial implants (also from the hospital)
– eye: taxidermy eye for a lion.
Wait, one more, here comes the Bug:
– body: fan motor housing
– legs: window crank handles
– eyes: interior of the fan motor
– top: propellor sprinkler.
Ready for some vintage rarities? Here we go, this is a 1937 Kenmore “Bugeye” vacuum cleaner. The motor housing is waiting to be created into something magical:
Here comes another vintage pearl – a Kent-Moore automobile head lamp tester, after and before being stripped off its black paint by Tal:
We could go on like this forever, that’s why it’s better we take a break so you can read the interview I did with Tal, and witness more of his creatures in the gallery below.
WT: Hey Tal. What you do shows an enormous level of detail. Is this a hobby or your main profession?
Talbotics: I love bringing these sculptures to life. This is something I can’t imagine not doing. I feel lucky when other people enjoy my work enough to want to purchase them. I also teach two math classes at the local community college, but when I’m not teaching most of my time is spent somehow in the creative mode, anywhere from collecting the parts to actually assembling something.
WT: Where do you go to find all these parts?
Talbotics: Auto, marine and scrap metal salvage yards, flea markets, garage sales and quite often parts are waiting for me at my front gate, as word has gotten out around town.
WT: Can you let us in on your work process?
Talbotics: Hunting for parts at the yards can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on what they have. The scrap metal yard is fun because every day is different. It all depends on what people drop off each day.
After bringing the parts to the workshop, I then disassemble, clean, polish and sort. Each part takes a different amount of time as they are usually all unique and built in different manners. I actually don’t keep track of the time involved in each of these processes, as I find it fascinating, relaxing and quite enjoyable.
The way the pieces are created is kind of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. A piece usually starts with one item, maybe a head or torso, and then I build from there, by test-fitting pieces together to see what looks best.
WT: Painting, puzzles, modelbuilding… they are all said to be meditative tasks. Do you experience this kind of meditative state when you spend hours brushing and re-arranging these vintage parts?
Talbotics: Absolutely. I find the acts of dismantling, cleaning and organizing very calming. Besides, if the junk wasn’t clean and organized it would just be junk. And the creating is just a blast.
WT: How many new robots see the light of day per year? I’ve read that some of them sit and wait there for weeks and months to “find” their final missing piece!
Talbotics: I’d say on average I finish maybe 10 pieces each year.
WT: What made you start this in the first place? Was there a key moment in your life?
Talbotics: It all started with a visit to the scrap metal yard looking for material for various home improvement projects … and finding all kinds of vintage, retro treasures that were on their way to the smelter. After years of collecting what I considered very cool-looking junk and having a shed full of these items, I decided I needed to do something with them to justify all the space they were taking up.
Tal’s studio panorama looks like the props chamber of a Hollywood Sci-Fi production.
WT: What routines have you developed that help you channel your creativity?
Talbotics: Still looking at things with the same wonder and amazement that I had when I was a kid of about seven years old.
WT: After the robots… what comes next?
Talbotics: I started off creating robot sculptures, then wall hanging masks, spaceship sculptures, creatures, now it’s hot rods. Don’t know what’s next. My motto with these creations is as long as it’s fun, just keep doing it.
WT: Which Sci-Fi literature inspired you when you were young?
Talbotics: The ABCs… Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke. And Jules Verne, H. G. Wells. And of course Marvel’s Stan Lee and his crew, Ditko, Romita and Kirby.
WT: What is your favorite Sci-Fi movie of all times?
Talbotics: Can I have only one favorite? “Blade Runner” is definitely up there. I love Rutger Hauer’s monologue at the end: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion…”
Then there is “Alien”, “Planet of the Apes”, “Terminator”, “The Thing” … Man, so many sci-fi movies I’ve enjoyed.
WT: Do aliens exist?
Talbotics: Of course. How else do you explain crop circles?
WT: If robotics and A.I. [Artificial Intelligence] go next level and become affordable – would you consider building intelligence into your robots?
Talbotics: The sculptures I make are art, intended only to make you smile, not to do your laundry or walk your dog.
WT: How do you feel about a future with intelligent machines, and the exponential rise of computer intelligence of the 21st century? What’s your educated guess for what mankind will face in the next 30 years?
Talbotics: I’m going to leave that one for the brainiacs out there to answer. I just got an old microscope I’m excited to dismantle.
WT: Thanks Tal. Keep on keeping it up!
[editor’s note: right after this interview via email Tal had to drop the microscope to replace a teacher friend for a class of “trigonometric identities”, as he quickly told me before rushing off. I spent the rest of the day meditating what the fuck a trigonometric identity is. I still don’t know but I found this was the perfect ending for this interview.]
Witness more of Talbotics’ Scrap Metal Sci-Fi Sculptures.
Tal Avitzur was born in Haifa, Israel in 1962, and grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA.
Tal holds a BA and MA in Mathematics. His father was a professor for Metallurgy so the fascination seems to run in the family.
Having spent part of his life in a communal artist compound he worked for a variety of artists including ceramicist Beatrice Wood and sculptor George Rickey.
Tal is part-time teacher, part-time artist. His unique talent once also brought him on an assignment to Washington D.C. where he optimized spare part stocks for the US Navy.
Tal now lives in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife Lisa.
Visit the Talbotics website to learn more and shop his unique pieces.
To witness another outstanding upcycling artisan head over to our portrait featuring THE MAD HATTER OF BERLIN.