Exocubic Studio

CinderCone: A Story in 6 Chapters


Chapter 1:

Chapter 2:

Chapter 3:

Chapter 4:

Chapter 5:

The Final Chapter:

Man, I've had some goofy ideas over the years.

CinderCone: Making V2.0

Now that I’ve figured out how to correct the issues that presented themselves in V1, it’s time to implement the changes. That means generating new patterns for the laser and having the improved design cut. I also went with slightly thicker material — 11 gauge instead of 12 — to provide a touch more rigidity. Let the games begin!

CinderCone faces render.

The updated upper faces. Here you can see the threshold below the door, and the updated trio of fastener holes in the bottom of each face. ^

Laser cut metal.

Voila! The laser-cut metal in all its glory. ^

Bottom plate and fire basin faces.

The bottom plate and fire basin faces. ^

Bracket 3d model

The 3D model of the new & improved anchoring bracket… ^


… and its real-world counterpart. ^

Brackets bolted into basin.

To insure a proper fit, I bolt the brackets into the fire basin and tack them together while there. Here, you can see how the ring of brackets pins the grill in place. ^

Brakcet ring on fixturing table.

Once tack welded, the brackets are removed, clamped securely flat, and the final welds added. Oh - about that work surface: I was massively frustrated with how my fixturing and clamping setup worked on the prototype, so I broke down and bought a fancy German fabrication table. I really only spend money on things that make making better. ^

That’s the first half of the assembly for version 2. I’m really pleased at how the design is working out, and the new welding table not only makes things easier, but insures that the quality of my parts is top notch.

CinderCone: Back to the Drawing Board.

With lessons learned from the first burn trial-by-fire (literally), I went back into my model on the computer and started implementing improvements. Chief among these was a way to stabilize the grill and a better system for attaching the top section to the fire basin. I also wanted to add in an ash door and a way to stiffen up the feet (they had a bit of lateral deflection happening, albeit slight. Might as well fix it while I’m fixing, right?)


Belt line in Solidworks


The biggest change was adding a “belt” that ran along the entire perimeter of the joint between top and bottom. This kills two birds: the belt pins the grill down to prevent warpage, and provides a super-beefy means of attaching top to bottom. You can also see how I extended the bottom plate further out on the legs to stiffen them up.


Belt section


Detail of one section of the “belt.” I used tab and slot construction to spare me the hassle of alignment, plus it adds strength. Note the hexagonal cutouts that receive the nuts. Magic.


Belt complete model


The CinderCone’s “Belt.”


CinderCone V2 design


The finished V2 design. I added a bit of a “threshold” under the door to allow for a full 360° of attachment, top to bottom.

CinderCone: How.

Once I decided I wanted to make a chimenea, it was time to address the “How?” I’ve spent 25 years slowly incorporating computer-aided design elements into my work, including patterns that are warped and deformed algorithmically. I had a vague idea of how I wanted the perforated pattern to look, but utilized the "mess with it 'til it looks good" method to arrive at a layout of hexagons, warped along a curving path. Not to get too far into the weeds, but that curving path acts as an attractor, deforming the hexes more strongly relative to their distance from it.

Chimenea attractor curve


Since the humble hexagon was the seed for the pattern, I thought it appropriate to use it as the driving motif for the chimenea’s main form, too. Given that there are some immutable constraints at play - scale, containing the fire, supporting the wood, channeling the smoke, etc. - much of the remaining design choices were just a matter of adjusting the form to allow for said constraints. I worked up the basic shape, then stuck an average-sized human into the scene to check the scale. The initial 40 inch height just felt too small when viewed in this context, so I added a foot. Ta Da!


Original, too-small design Revised, taller size


Once I have the design finalized, I lay out all the parts as flat patterns for the laser cutter, then send them off to be cut.

laser cutting layout


A long-ago rejected proposal design. I think it was for a music venue of some sort.


Backpedal: Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To move the pedals of a bicycle or similar vehicle backward, especially to apply a brake.

  • intransitive verb To move backward by taking short quick steps, as in boxing or football.

  • intransitive verb To retreat or withdraw from a position or attitude.

 Well, that didn’t work out.

I’m referring to my previous post, wherein I formally “end” my career as a sculptor. I gave it a year, and it was crystal clear that my new endeavors were not going to pan out financially. I was scrambling to figure out what to do and why, when that stupid little notification sound emerged from my phone. It was a text from a client I’d worked with back in 2015, designing and fabricating a privacy screen for his house here in Fort Collins.

Fawzy privacy screen

Turns out, he has a need for another screen at his new place in Denver. When opportunity knocks, you answer – sore shoulder notwithstanding. I felt somewhat defeated at first, but, as I started digging into a new design, I realized just how much I missed the process of building artful things—actual, physical objects made to fill space and look cool doing it. There is something deeply satisfying about working out how to reach an artistic goal while also striving to make it fulfill a clear purpose. Speaking of purpose, it seems I’ve relocated mine. Exocubic Studio is back, baby!

Messing with some patterning iterations for the aforementioned new screen. #sculpture #mediterraneandiet

Trying something new(ish).

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:

breck w tiffany sunlit 1

“Breakfast with Tiffany” - rivets!



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.

Interwoven model 1

Interwoven model 2

Interwoven unrolled layout 1

Interwoven unrolled layout 2


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.

Interwoven mobius render

Andreas Christen

More info here.

Gravity Well

Gravity Well


and working in Illustrator. Sometimes the complexity of 3d just gets on my nerves.

<div class="

    <figure class="
        " style="max-width:2500px;">

      <div style="padding-bottom:100%;" class="

        <img src="http://exocubicstudio.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/e3db5-2014-01-22gravitywell.jpg" alt="2014-01-22 Gravity Well.jpg" /><img class="thumb-image" src="http://exocubicstudio.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/e3db5-2014-01-22gravitywell.jpg" alt="2014-01-22 Gravity Well.jpg" />