Mike Spencer
Artist Blacksmith

They Travel in Elephants

Made for Spider & Jeanne Robinson , who collaborated in writing Star Dance and its sequels. Spider is the author of numerous other novels including the hilarious Callahan's Saloon series. Jeanne was for many years a dancer and choreographer before working with Spider on Star Dance and is now pursuing, well, the impossible with great success.

I was initially stumped when I receive this commission. If I were to base the piece on Spider's wildly popular Callahan's stories, that wouldn't very well include Jeanne, who was co-Guest of Honor at Halcon. On the other hand, I couldn't imagine how to capture in iron the central images of Star Dance , tiny zero-grav dancers, motes in the vastness of space.

Then I realized that it was the collaboration, Spider & Jeanne themselves and not the book that was central. So the word "Elephants" is etched on the travel case beside the couple waiting for the next transcontinental Greyhound.

The Robinsons were good friends of Robert & Virginia Heinlein before their demise and remain fans. Spider was chosen to edit and complete Heinlein's unfinished and unpublished novel, Variable Star   for posthumous publication. The "elephants" allusion is sort of a private message for Spider & Jeanne, although if you're a real Heinlein fan yourself, you'll understand, too.

About 10" tall, forged from solid bar. The travel case is welded 16 ga. sheet and etched. White oak base by Robert Whitelaw.

Original photo by Peter Barss

Updated: Sat 23 Feb 2008