​JOHN HENSON

about

JOHN HENSON NAIL ART


The inspiration to make art like this (large pieces, unusual & repurposed materials, iconic images) comes primarily from my time with the thriving creative community in the Joshua Tree area of the Mojave desert.  The idea to work with nails came after I rescued a cache of discarded hardware at the back of a theater headed for the landfill.
 
The inspiration for the nail art came to me during a sleepless night, and took about six months to figure out how to actually execute it.  The first piece I tried was the peace sign which took another six months to create.  The technique has evolved with successive pieces.

Only later did it occur to me that this act of creating art from hammered nails is my way of processing the loss of my brother Jerry who, as a roof installer, probably pounded more nails than I ever will.  My thoughts are often with him when I work.

 To answer the most common questions about the nail art:

  • Each piece consists of 3,000 to 33,000 nails.

  • Each piece takes 40 to 80 hours to complete, spread over a period of one to six months.

  • Each nail is hand driven with a ball-peen hammer, struck five to seven times into a painted wood panel.

  • Each piece has one uniquely colored nail.

  • Assuming 99.9% accuracy swinging the hammer, that would mean I bent a nail or hit my thumb around 850 times - which sounds about right!