Once the virtual model is finalized and I have all the surfaces flattened and laid out, the files are sent off to Wesco Laser to be cut from 14 (main body) and 7 (base) gauge 304 stainless steel. Now I get to try to turn this:
Into a piece of public art.
Oh, and remember those tabs I talked about? Here they are, ready to be bent and employed to hold the whole works together.
I have been utilizing the welding process in making my sculptures for 30 years. It is a straightforward, effective method for joining metal together—but there are some downsides. Biggest of these is the warping that occurs from the adding of heat; second is the aesthetic requirement of dressing the welds. Grinding and finishing out the weld beads and the associated discoloration around them (chasing) is time-consuming and, frankly, painful. I’ve experimented in the past with alternative methods of joining parts, like here:
I thought I’d try using rivets to assemble a larger piece, and “Interwoven” seemed like a great candidate, as warping and chasing out the welds on this beast would be bad. Very bad.
This did end up translating into many, many more hours of tedious design time on the computer—but that’s the price for ART!!! I placed over 2000 paired holes into the model and designed a simple tab to span the seam where two parts meet.
A note for the geeks: this shape was generated parametrically with code in the Grasshopper plug-in for Rhinoceros, and is based on the famous strip of Mr. Moebius. The chief challenge here is determining just how to go about realizing this mathematical form; there is no “front” or “back” and the the inner edge becomes the outer, and vice versa. Add to that the way the “faces” weave through each other, and you have a real head-scratcher on your hands/brain.
So, now that I’ve caught up on the Lincoln Corridor project, it’s time to move on to what’s currently occupying my time. “Interwoven” is a new sculpture commissioned by the City of Little Rock, Arkansas for the new expansion of their Vogel-Schwartz sculpture garden. Concept rendering below.
Huh. Looks like I’ve forgotten to clue you in on just what the heck a “Terralogue Totem” is.
“ Terralogue Totems” are a set of sculptural designs based on the concept of the land speaking; these messages being symbolized through metal emblems. The designs are executed in three distinct formats: large sculptural Monoliths, Bike Racks, and Bollards.
Maybe these little explanations we included on the plaques will help:
Getting into the meat of the fabrication now. Mostly a pretty straight-forward process and totally familiar to those of you who’ve followed along with other projects here on my blog. One hallmark of this particular design is the complication of using two different metals. Corten and stainless both rely on an oxide layer that develops on their surface to provide corrosion protection; Corten’s oxide just happens to be, well, rust-colored, while stainless steel’s is chalky gray. The only issue this presents is the rusty Corten oxide can stain the stainless (how the?), ruining the aesthetics of the piece. I elected to use internal supports (standoffs) to hold the two materials a quarter inch apart to prevent this.
Take a look at these photos and see if you can spot the standoffs.
The biggest benefit of using 3d CAD to design and prototype my work is the number of intermediate fabrication steps it bypasses. Once a design is settled upon, the digital version of the sculpture is basically finished; there may be a few loose ends and problems to address, but at this point the only thing left to do is to generate 2D CAD files to drive the cutting of the material. No maquette or other physical prototype is necessary, saving time and wasted material. Care does need to be taken to insure that the simpleton fabricator (me) can assemble the parts once they’re cut; careful labeling and color-coding are a huge help.
Once we decided on a design direction, I fleshed out the design and added the motifs to other formal elements; bike racks and bollards in this case. Materials were also pinned down: Weathering Steel (Corten) and Stainless.
As is usual for me, Winter is a slow period for the sculpture business. Rather than spend my time carefully categorizing my favorite localbrews by IBU and hangover severity, I’ve been flexing my creative musk oils—er, muscles— with a bunch of 2d work. I picked up one of the big iPad Pros, and it has been a revelation. I’ve used Wacom tablets for years, but have never had the experience of drawing directly on the display surface. Well, not with the level of precision that Apple’s Pencil provides. If you have any desire to draw digitally, do yourself a favor and try one out.
These designs are made with a vector drawing app called Assembly. As the name implies, it primarily involves assembling pre-made shapes into compositions. I enjoy the challenge of resisting complexity. I add textures with a variety of other apps, and run the final design through an app called Percolator to give them the packed-circles look.
Also have been doing some sketching on the iPad. Nice.
Switching this site over to WordPress in order to (hopefully) secure it from any future structural changes in my hosting provider.
Note to others: The original spirit of the web is being slain by the likes of Tumblr, Facebook, et al. YOU should take ownership of your online content, not hand it over to the latest corporate fad or nameless overlord.
Some links are currently broken. I have a back-up over here.
“We are not afraid, we are not afraid. We are not afraid today. Deep in my heart I do believe. We shall overcome someday.”
On September 25th, 1957, nine brave schoolchildren walked into Central High School and became symbols for a nation. They symbolized the righteous striving for equality and justice that continues to this day. I have chosen to refer symbolically to this event in my sculpture “Overcome” to honor both these students and what they represent to us all as a society and a culture. Nine shapes begin, caged by a lattice of injustice and segregation. They rise up and come together, and, leaning upon their collective strength, break their bonds to soar free. Each form is an arrow pointing skyward in continued aspiration for the greater good and an indication that more is yet to be done.
Here’s some shots of the installation:
Below are some more photos from the fabrication process.