​Commissioned by the

Reno Philharmonic, 2009

The ammosaic process is my original idea.

There is a mountain where I used to hike near Reno, NV that is littered with shotgun shell cases. My first thoughts were that this unsightly litter might somehow be recycled; it then occurred to me that perhaps some form of art might be made utilizing their infinite variety of color and patina - they can fade to a very interesting light blue, lavender, even white sometimes. One critical technical challenge of this process actually came to me at 3:00 one morning! This epiphany changed the entire course of the process of creating ammosaics.

The more I began to collect the casings, the more I began to appreciate the variations of color and texture of the less visible brass, aluminum and steel casings. These metals also have a tarnishing process that renders remarkable iterations in patina. Collect-ing these casings has become almost an obsession; as I travel around northern Nevada and parts of California, I seek out the rifle, shotgun and pistol ranges in each town. Even tiny Lovelock, Nevada has a public range. There are also what I euphemistically call "unsanctioned" ranges, where people simply drag trash and other items out into the desert and start shooting them up. I have found mannequins, TVs, pornography, appliances, cars, propane tanks, barrels, buckets, lumber and all manner of trash that people have set up as shooting targets Once the disgust at the sight of such disregard and disrespect for the desert wears off a little, I realize that every shot creates a shell casing, and I get out my knee pads, garden cultivator and a bucket, and start collecting.

The process for creating a picture is probably difficult for any artist to describe. What I am looking for in my work is some kind of inherent, subtle contradiction or counterpoint. That is to say, we might typically associate the violent ejaculation of a bullet from a gun with hunting, war, target practice, trap shooting, and so on. I am looking for subtle suggestions that, regardless of where one might stand, politically, on "the gun issue", s/he might see first the beauty of the textures and patinas of the material I have chosen. I try to find unexpected images that lend themselves to this medium. I am definitely attracted to pronounced silhouettes, although I have works on the easel that are far more modeled and contain gradients and more obvious pictorial light source. Contrast will likely continue to be a trademark of ammosaic.


 John Ton


the original artistic medium of artist JOHN TON

Commissions are accepted and require six months to one year for completion

To view more ammosaics by John Ton please click here