Foiling around: Bloomington man creates unusual art
July 21, 2014 at 2:21 a.m.
Updated July 22, 2014 at 2:22 a.m.
BLOOMINGTON - 8.72 - The number of miles in aluminum foil Bloomington resident Javier Gallegos has used throughout the course of 21 years.
Gallegos, 29, maintains a hobby of hand-sculpting aluminum foil figurines based on his imagination and characters from historical and popular literature and television and film.
During the day, he works as a security guard for Securitas Security Services at the Port of Victoria.
Gallegos has always had a knack for making things - first out of string, and later, he worked with clay and ceramics.
"My mother gave me foil to see what I can do," he said. "It's a unique medium."
Joe Frank Gallegos, Gallegos' father, said his son has always been talented.
"Javier can see something and literally just see it, and within a couple of minutes, he has a shape. And in a couple of more minutes, it'd have more shape," he said.
His son's talents sometimes left the kitchen without that shiny, thin roll of metal.
"Once too many times," his father said about the kitchen supply being depleted. "We now get him the commercial-grade of foil."
His father said he has several pieces from his son that are signed and sees him as a "star fixin' to break out."
The support of his parents has led to Gallegos creating popular fictional characters and objects. His choices are based on whatever comes to his mind and whatever he is doing in that moment.
Some works can be done in minutes and hours while others could take weeks and months.
There is Red Bull, a character from "The Last Unicorn," a fantasy novel published in 1968 and later adapted for film, television and theater. He also has creations like three-legged fighting machines, aka Tripods from "The War of the Worlds," a science fiction novel published in 1898 and later adapted for radio, television, film, stage, music, games and comic books.
There's No-Face, a character from "Spirited Away," an Academy Award-winning Japanese animated film released in 2001. There's a Dalek, one of a race of characters featured in science fiction television show "Doctor Who."
These are the inspiration for Gallegos' aluminum foil works, works in progress and works started and suspended.
"If I don't feel it while I'm working on it, I can't finish it," he said. "I just can't."
Gallegos has taken his talents to comic and entertainment conventions, selling and giving away work.
"I walked in with $17 and two things of Reynolds heavy duty foil," he described one convention visit 10 years ago, "and I walked out with no foil, $900, and my fingers were bandaged."
Gallegos said the positive reception to his work is humbling and "means the world" to him.
"I remain as humble as possible. I don't let myself think I'm talented," he said. "It keeps me from being stale."
Gallegos stopped sculpting his foil works after joining the U.S. Marines in 2006. He was deployed three times between then and 2010, when he was honorably discharged.
Now, he said, his childhood passion doubles as a therapeutic device used to help with reintegration.
"It's almost like a high," he said about sculpting. "I ignore and forget everything else around me."
The hobby is low maintenance, not requiring a lot of equipment to accomplish.
"I just need a box of foil, and that's it," he said.