New Website for Robyn Chapman’s Nail Art

New Website for Robyn Chapman

As big fans of Robyn Chapman’s nail relief and mixed media artwork — and of the man himself — we are honored to present his new online portfolio. With over 80 works showcased, there’s something for everyone! (Millbillys will recognize several pieces featured on Powder Mill’s album art and music videos.) Hear what he has to say about his materials, tools, and techniques…


The only wood used for the backgrounds is cabinet grade plywood. Sawmill grade, kiln-dried oak, walnut, and cherry planed on front and back are used for framing and some design work. Tubular and sheet copper is often used as an element as well as glass and ground lenses and stained glass leading. And then there are the nails, a great variety of nails in fact, often bought in boxes, some as big as 50 pounds.


The tools are whatever gets the job done. Hammers are used, of course, the farrier’s hammer and ball-peen hammers, usually along with a variety of punches. Three power sanders are used for shaping and surfacing, but the final sanding is done by hand. There is a small and large adjustable drill press. There is a table saw, a scroll saw, and a compound-complex miter saw, and framing blade along with a variety of framing jigs. The frames are glued and then dowelled with bamboo for extra strength. Background finishes include water-based stains and venetian plaster sealed with polyurethane. The frames are finished with 4-8 layers of tung oil on 400 grit finished boards.


This work is totally self taught with very few examples to study. From basic compositional layout and element design the goal is closure. The lowest level has to be set with the first nail, and, ideally, closure is achieved with the last nail. Along the way there is very little room for adjustment and every nail has to be constantly monitored in all 3 (or 4 or 5) planes in relation to itself as well as the adjacent nails and lines of contour.

The work is challenging and demanding and, therefore, rewarding . . .
the goal is to tickle the spirit of creative experience which we all presumably share.

Click here to read more from Robyn about rust and the photographs in his portfolio. We’ll be adding videos to his site in November and replacement photos as time allows.

Sign up for Robyn’s email list to receive show announcements and notices of additions to his portfolio.

Thanks for your interest!

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