Arsenal assemblagist

Matt Waage

Photo By Kris Vagner

Matt Waage has been a Reno rocker for years. He’s played guitar with bands like The Source and Phat Couch. These days, he’s making swords and armor of detritus and debris he finds around town. His sculptures are on display at The Zephyr Lounge.

What’s your work made out of?

All found items. [He points to various creations, most of which resemble archaic weapons.] That’s a leather purse, shoulder guards, this is a child’s costume from Halloween, a fork, toothbrush holder, gas cap, and this is a sleeping bag. This is a hammock rod, a deadbolt, this is an ashtray, a sauté pan and some leather. That’s about it. This one fits me. I wear it at Burning Man.

This [referring to the wooden handle of a sword] my friend machined this for me, so that’s the only thing really made.

That’s off a bike. This is a door threshold with a screen on top of it. And napkin holders. Guitar knob, pulled it off of a Telecaster, a purse, river rock, a table leg. … That’s a Pabst Blue Ribbon can.

Do you have a favorite source for materials?

My friends notice that I make this shit, so they’ve started saving stuff for me.

Are these actual, sharp, infliction-grade weapons?

Oh, yeah. All of them are. And they’re all household items, for the most part.

How did you get started?

My first project … it was a stick off a tree that was curved. It looked like a snake’s head, so I carved a snake head out of it.

Were you one of those little kids who was making swords out of every stick and branch?

Totally. Like street-sweeper blades [were] samurai swords.

Do you have any movies that are seminal influences?

Probably MacGyver.

Is there a theatrical or performance-based component of this stuff? They look like props. Or are they meant strictly as sculpture?

Sculpture, mostly. This one took about six months, and that one took two years. This one, I tried to make it catch on fire.

What did you do to make it flame?

I filled this with cotton, then filled it with fluid, and tried to have it so it runs down the blade.

You haven’t read the Artist’s Complete Health and Safety Guide, have you?

[no comment]

What else do you do with your time?

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.