A plumb bob isn’t something you’d usually see on display to admire. The typically acorn-shaped weight is used behind the scenes, by the likes of carpenters, architects and artists, to note the vertical of a surface. It’s rarely seen as a work of art in and of itself.
Gary Schott begs to differ, though. The San Antonio metalsmith has a new series on display at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft that asks you to admire the plumb bob for its aesthetic contributions in the solo show “The Ornamental Plumb Bob.”
More than a dozen plumb-bob weights line the center’s artist hall, suspended from the walls in between the artist studios. Historically, these weights have taken the form of anything from fruits and vegetables to nautical designs and the standard acorn. Schott favors the latter, with weights that look like ice cream cones. They’re painted bold colors and hang from decorative plaques of varying shapes, sizes and colors, like ornaments or earrings. Though they all serve the same purpose in the end, each one is unique.
The cords the plumb bobs hang from also vary. Three weights in a row may hang at the same length, satisfyingly in sync, while others may hang at different lengths, helping to highlight their differences. There is a rhythm and flow to the show, even if it’s disrupted by the occasional door.
The HCCC has a habit of exploring the functional versus decorative purpose of items, and it doesn’t get old. These tools are made with such precision and care, only to be used to make something else. But by giving plumb bobs their day in the sun, you can explore their simple beauty.
“Gary Schott: The Ornamental Plumb Bob” at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main Street, runs now through July 27. For more information, call 713-529-4848 or visit crafthouston.org.