In a sea of design objects and decorating pieces, Detroit-based artist Chad Wentzel‘s creations truly stand out. The psychedelic vessels are meticulously crafted using colorful string and crystals, but each piece is much more than the spectacular, sparkly result. Wentzel (who was born in the Pacific Northwest but lived a long stint in NYC) puts a lot of time and energy into his creations—these are the opposite of the mass-produced pieces you can buy online. Some of Wentzel’s works can take up to two months to complete—that’s including crystal soaking and all the positive energy he puts into each one. Influenced by his raver days, hippie friends, his Catholic upbringing (and rebelling against it), the vessels are charged with mystical powers. While it might sound like nonsense to some, Wentzel’s dedication to his craft and the beauty of his pieces is undeniable. And, as he says, a little extra positive energy never hurt anybody.
Can you tell us a little about where you draw inspiration? There seems to be tinges of nature but also psychedelic influence.
I was a raver when I was young. I have a really great friend from those days who was raised by hippies and grew up worshiping “the goddess.” She would rub her hands together and then make a triangle out of her pointer fingers and thumbs and hold her hands over her food every time she ate. It was some prayer type thing that would charge the ions in the food I guess. I would always make her do it to my food too, like, “Why not?” It was funny that she was so religious and didn’t rebel against her parents traditions like all my Catholic school friends and I did.
These works are religious relics for a non-existent religion
I think I miss the mystic part of Catholicism these days. It’s pretty voodoo-y, drinking Jesus’ blood and all. These works are religious relics for a non-existent religion. I’m borrowing from my poor understanding of metaphysical hippie ideology while looking at Rococo interiors, West African ceremonial wear, Chinese ceramic foo dogs, 1960s hippie craft, 1990s rave wear, the part in the back of the Skymall where they sell fancy things like the life-sized golden sarcophagus to name a few. I suppose I’m seeking the sincerity that people find in religion and creating these objects to be full of positive energy—the way I imagine my grandmother feels about her rosary.
Can you talk us through your process a little?
There is a lot of waiting in the process. All the metaphysical steps I learned from my hippie friend—she is sort of my crystal consultant. First, I soak all of the crystals in a salt bath for a week. This neutralizes the crystals, crystals absorb energy so once they are cleansed you can charge them. I charge them by washing them and rubbing them while running water over them. While I’m doing this I think of all the people I love. It’s always different. Some stones like pyrite react with salt, so I cleanse them in moonlight but the charging is the same. I love getting new stones, it’s awesome having a ton of them in my studio.
Then I glue the stones to the rock and glue the string on—row by row. The process is really meditative. I’ll lay down a few lines of string then sit and think about the color and the progress and the glue dries. Then move on to the next color. I can complete a small one in about one day. The largest one so far took me two months.
Do you use them as vases?
I think of them as objects on their own. If someone wanted to put flowers or something in them I guess they could. To me these works are design objects that bring some magic vibes into a space.
You mention magic and your process seems almost spiritual. What do you hope people get from your creations—transferred from you—when they bring them home?
There is a lot of energy in these pieces. I am packing them full of positive vibes- color and stone and rhythm and repetition. I really love making them and I hope that if one is in someone’s home that they pick up on that. I’ll charge my crystals when I get depressed. You can recharge these bottles by leaving them in the light of the full moon overnight. I don’t think it matters if its the crystal bringing magic or the act of intentionally doing something to change my mood that does the trick but it really does help. More mystic positivity is always a good thing.
To buy one of Wentzel’s pieces, contact him via his website. Make sure to peruse his textiles while you’re there too.
Images courtesy of Chad Wentzel