The Spiral Jetty

By on August 17, 2009
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Wire-Sculpture’s Side Trip Adventure!

For Inspiration and Education

Over the past several months I have spent quite a lot of time in Utah, most of it between the Wire-Sculpture offices and warehouse. As a serious rockhound and ‘outdoors person’ this has been extremely difficult for me, because I have had no time off to explore the beautiful countryside or to look for rocks! During my most recent trip an opportunity arose and I was able to draw one of the staff and his family into a small adventure. Wire artist ‘inspiration’ has been one of the themes around the office this summer, so we are pleased to present the first:


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Located at Rozel Point of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, the Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture that was created by American sculptor Robert Smithson in 1970. In a previous post regarding inspiration, I mention folks who use mathematical formulas to create physical art, as Robert Smithson did when designing the Spiral Jetty. Read more about this amazing artist:

The Spiral Jetty is a form of art known as Earth Art, Earthworks or Land Art. From other examples found around the world, Land Art has been a practice for thousands of years but became a recognized ‘movement’ of the art world in the 1960’s, led by Americans. What I find so cool about this art form is that it uses only materials native to the natural area in which it is created, and over time the art is actually meant to erode back into the earth from which it came! (Talk about recycling.) This is a great video clip that shows Smithson planning this sculpture, as well as its’ creation by heavy equipment:

The only Sign that told us were we headed inthe right direction!

The only Sign that told us were we headed in the right direction!

Our travel to the Spiral Jetty was enjoyable and it is ‘out there’! As we rode through the terrain I thought of the first settlers traveling through the Utah prairies in covered wagons; women wearing all those cumbersome, hot clothes and what a challenge it had to be to find drinkable water. Our first stop turned out not to be our end destination, but we were all glad to get out of the van and walk around on the salt flats, which seem to go on forever!

7 flats

12 sunflower contrast

During our exploration of these flats, we checked out what appeared to be puddles covered with a thin layer of ice.

Ice in August in Utah??

Ice in August in Utah??

Upon closer examination, the ‘ice’ was really a layer of salt crystals in the process of forming as the water evaporated.

Nope - Salt crystals!

Nope – Salt crystals!

The challenge for everyone then, was to find a formation of salt crystal that was different from anything we had already seen. There were so many, really cool examples! Although tempted to remove our shoes, as it was rather hot and we were in a wet location, I do not recommend it because these crystals can be razor sharp and some of them are as big as a dinner plate! (Find out more about salt/halite crystals: )

4 cleaving xtals

5 puffy xtals

Loading everyone back into the van, our driver expertly maneuvered around not just rocks in the roadway, but miniature monoliths! Continuing on to the Spiral Jetty location, we stopped to leave some water and fruit with a young couple that had not been as careful and had cracked the oil pan of their little car. (Warning! If you venture out to any remote location, be sure to take along plenty of water and a few high carb snacks, as in some places cell phone reception is non–existent!)

The Jetty is awesome!

August 30, 2009

August 30, 2009

Talk about an ‘inspiration’ for everything beyond jewelry making, from: ‘we need to take care of the earth because it takes care of us’ to ‘one person can make a difference’. Yes, we all walked the entire spiral and then explored the salt formations on the local basalt rocks that had been used to create it.

9 stalagtites

10 salt rock

My only wish now would be to see this Earth Art sculpture when the water is up because the salt here is tinted pink with the salt tolerant algae that lives in this lake, and when the water level is up the black jetty jumps out of the blood red water, aligned with the bright white salt encrusted shoreline.

Leaving for the long drive back to Ogden, we each felt just a little closer to Mother Earth, and everyone has a nice salt crystal to remind us of this wonderful ‘Side Trip Adventure’.

11 group

Moral of this article: take an occasional ‘Side Trip’ in your local area and see what you didn’t realize was in your own backyard that may just be transformed into an inspiration for both your life and your art!

Stay ‘Twisted‘!



  1. avatar

    Angela O.

    February 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    There are definitely no coincidences in life. All experiences lead us to where we need to be. Seeing this Spiral Jetty created in 1970 by Robert Smithson and reading about it in this article today in 2012 is amazing to me. Handcrafted jewelry and wire sculpture is a latent talent that has been awakened in me. That specific spiral shape speaks to us creative people in a very special way. This article is a “GO” sign for me as I “follow my feet” in my life’s journey. Thank you Wire Sculpture and Dale/Cougar for bringing this to light.

    • avatar


      February 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      I totally believe that we are led to where we need to be at the “right” time, Angela. Happy to be part of your journey.