artist in Portland, Oregon. This website is a small sample of his crafts in several
disciplines including light art, led art, metal art, and sewing.">
Mark Allyn Artistic Journal
Light Artist in Portland,Oregon
Playing With Light And All Types of Materials
When I was five years old, I got a toy flashlight for Christmas. I remember that Christmas
night, I lay in bed aiming the flashlight at the ceiling of the room. I quickly learned that
I could draw patterns using persistence of vision.
My first light art project was at 10 years old when I made a house out of blocks and
put night lights in it to simulate light in rooms.
My light artist career began when I was about eight years old.
At that time, as a child, I have never dreamed that I would have the imagination needed to create a highly
spiritual sculpture like this. . . .
Mark Allyn Pole Dancing in The Last Supper
When I was about 11 years old, I was at Jordan Marsh, a department store in Boston,
looking for tools (yes, I had already started to make things). (Please remember that
in the 1960's and 1970's, department stores like Jordan Marsh had a decent tool department
with real tools). On my way upstairs, I passed the furniture department where I saw a transparent
slipcover for a sofa on sale for fifty cents. I don't know, why, but I bought it.
Three weeks later, I made a clear plastic raincoat by cutting up that slipcover and
melting the pieces together using a hot light bulb. My first clear plastic raincoat.
You would ask why did I do this? Well, the only answer that I could come up with is that
I wanted to let my beauty shine through in the rain.
When I wore this, other kids behaved as if I am from mars. Or called me 'the clear plastic boy'. Oh, well.
Little did I (or any of my classmates at that time) realize that the little raincoat was the
beginning of an exciting adventure of blossoming imagination, strong problem solving skills,
and very strong will to live beyond the bounds of society's expectations of mens fashions.
The mistakes I made in that project were but stepping stones to success. It taught me that failure
is the beginning to the path of achievement.
Those classmates thought that raincoat was a failure. Thier message to me, however indicated that
it was a successful first step on that ladder to new heights!
One of those heights on that ladder is here:
A Lighted Jacket to Wear Out On The Town
In The Beginning - Sewing From The Heart
Once you take that first step on the stairway to your own heaven, you find that you cannot stop
climbing. And taking risks. And making mistakes.
A big risk I took was to buy a $2,000 sewing machine without having sewn a single stitch in
my life and then learing to sew by myself without any teaching. A journey down a forested path
at night with only a feeble flashlight with dying batteries.
The many mistakes that I made during that journey; along with being on my own without someone else's
ideas on what should be done to make a garment; allowed me to create new ways of garment design
and construction. As the years progressed, I have had much positive feedback on the techniques of
design and construction.
Since I am not afraid of dressing in my own imagination and not that pre-concieved by society, I have
created garments that have brought much positive feedback from others who have also made clothing.
Along with making the artistic clothing, I have also made the rainwear which allows it to be seen in
the rain that we have here in the Northwest U.S. where I live. The attitude which was articulated in my
response to the taunts of my classmates of yesteryear in the form of 'I want to let my beauty shine
in the rain' still is as strong as ever and I continue to make and wear my clear rainwear. A few samples
of my sewing career are in the following galleries.
Now that I am well down that dark path in the enchanted forest of my artistic journey, I have
reached a crossroads. My clothing and clear raincoats have brought me here, but I see a fork
in front of me. One trail leads downhill and it appears to be cleaner and easier to walk. The other
trail looks more primative and heads up a steep hill.
I decided to take that more dangerous trail.
I am now really moving away from complacency and toward total freedom.
It was not far into that trail when I found steel and stainless steel.
Two very common, yet very powerful metals. Metals of which I had a fascination even when I was a child.
For example, I had loved the erector set more than the tinker toys. The erector set was steel. The tinker
toys were wood.
I asked the Gods of Creation to help shepherd me to that patch on which I can learn how to harness the power
of steel so that it can be one of the many forms of light of which I can shine.
The Gods answered in their unique and lovely ways.
The Gods gently laid their arms around my shoulders and shepherded me through
my journey (which includes mistakes and burns) of
teaching myself how to do 'tig' or
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), which is one of the most difficult forms of welding that can
be learned. By learing this form of welding, I have been able to perform very strong, yet delicate
sculptures that form much of my jewelry.
Those same Gods gently set me down in front of a unique place called ADX Portland
which is a shared workshop in Portland, Oregon. Here, I was able to further refine my abilities in metal
craft. Many of the pieces which have steel free-hand cut with plasma cutting were constructed at ADX.
By no means should this suggest that my love affair with steel is an easy one. Steel (and stainless
steel) do have lives of their own. They have their own spirits and energies.
Steel loves to warp in its own creative ways when I weld it. If it is in a bad mood, it can crack.
Welds can break on their own. A steel sculpture I had on my desk at work suddenly collapsed one
day as a weld broke.
Six years now into my marriage with steel and I am still making mistakes and creating sculptures
which fail spectacularly. And I am still learing. The Gods still have their arms laid gently around my
shoulders while leading me on this wonderful journey.
This gallery exhibits some of the metal jewelry and sculptures which I have constructed over the years.
The cloting, the transparent raincoats, the jewelry, and
the stainless steel sculptures let me shine in the light.
But not of the light itself.
Image yourself at a trail in the forest. It is late afternoon and
the sun is setting behind you.
You peer through the trees and you see a mountain ahead. The base
of the mountain is shrouded in late afternoon twilight.
However, the top of the mountain is covered with snow and that snow
is glowing softly from the dying rays of the setting sun.
Above that warm light of the snow, you see a beacon shining at you from
the very top of the mountain. At first, you think that it is a reflection
of the golden rays of the setting sun, but you realize that the beacon is
much brighter than the surrounding snow.
You also realize that the beacon is looking at you right into the eye as
it shines on a trail that leads up the mountain.
I know. I am the person who is being gently shepharded by the Gods up
that trail. The journey up that mountain has been going on for the past
Along that trail, I see crystals of glass. Each one is glowing radiantly
of light and ideas. I lean down to touch one of them and I get a spark
of crative energy and ideas and desire to take more risks.
And I am still no where near that beacon. However, with the Gods holding
my hands as they lead me through the journey during that late afternoon
twilight, I have been gifted with these pieces of light art. Hopefully
you can see the light of that mighty beacon shine through them to you.
If you are in the Portland, Oregon area, you can see me wear some of these
lighted clothes and jewelry.
Among those sparkling pieces of glass alongside that trail, I see some that are hand
carved and egraved into beautiful patterns by a masters' hand.
That master's hand led me into yet another exciting part of my advanture.
Glass engraving. Hand engraving of glass, which is a dying art in todays
world of computerized chemical etching of glass. But it has much potential
in opening windows between my imagination and the world.
One of the many fantasies that I have been able to bring to the world is myself
when I was a hippie in the 1970's pole dancing inside of
Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper while my mother and the Virgin Mary are watching
from their thrones. . .
What can be done to create a unique bicycle light? Dreaming and creating for six months
result in this bicycle. I only rode it for a year or so until I had a near accident and
realized that fifty pounds of engraved glass does not handle well on a bicycle, especially
if I am riding downhill in the rain and have to stop quickly. It was fun while it lasted.