Exocubic Studio

Interwoven: Fabrication.

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:

Pile of stainless steel parts

Into a piece of public art.


box of tabs

Oh, and remember those tabs I talked about? Here they are, ready to be bent and employed to hold the whole works together.


A couple nice b&w shots.

Bike racks black and white

Crop BW

Making Terralogue Totems: Even Deeper.

More fabrication photos. “Crop” was delayed due to the corten face material arriving damaged. Took forever to get replacements.






















Making Terralogue Totems: Both Nitty and Gritty.

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.

















Making Terralogue Totems: Fabrication Part 1.

Once the laser (or water jet, usually for thicker material) is done - the real work begins.Stainless parts

Tall parts

Base plates

Adding the embedded parts

Making Terralogue Totems: Laser Cutting.

A little video showing how the laser cutter works.

Laser Cutting

Woot. Underway on attaching the mirrored sheet and the hexes. #shiny #stainlesssteel #sculpture #holyshitthisjustmightwork

Fresh picked stainless is so purdy.

Through the Looking Glass - DONE!



After a long week of cutting, grinding, welding, and bolting - the convex hexes are all attached to Through the Looking Glass. That means that I'm finally finished - the only parts still without a home are those for the base, and they need to stay off until the piece is installed. Heavy sigh of satisfaction; I really like this thing.

Below are some more action shots, showing the process for attaching the convex hexes. Those in the "field" and along the inner edge are a piece of cake; the ones that follow along the elliptical edge each have to be cut to shape and a custom rig for bolting them on has to be fabricated. I was able to get about 8 on per 8 hour day. Very labor-intensive and a bit hard on my hairline.


Slicing the hexagons

Slicing the hexes to fit. Each hex that falls along the curved edge has to be cut to fit. This is because I couldn't figure out how to roll the convexity into the cut pieces, so had to roll, then cut. I cut each of these dudes with a cut-off wheel on a 4" grinder. Troglodyte!


Mounting Plate and Gussets

Mounting plate and gussets. When the hex is cut, it opens up a gap between it and the main face of the sculpture that needs to be filled. You can see the thin slice of stainless that does this job at the top of this picture.


Rivet Nuts are sweet

Rivet nuts are sweet! The rivet nut enables me to both attach the mounting plate AND the hex to the sculpture's face: the crimping of the rivet nut binds the plate to the face, and then a screw can be threaded into the rivet nut itself. Not so troglodyte!


The easy ones

The easy ones. Hopefully this illustrates why the majority of these convex guys were able to be added in one day. A few squeezes of the nut setter, a couple screws (with thread locker) and voila.


Bottom Arc

Bottom arc. Like so. This really shows how the sliced hexes clean up the design and tie the room together, Dude.


The Last Hex

The. Last. Hex. Did a little dance after this.


Now I just need to get the thing to Little Rock. Are you guys ready yet?

Out of the distant past: Through the Looking Glass

I participated in a public art competition last year for the City of Little Rock, Arkansas. My proposal, "Through the Looking Glass," was not chosen by the popular vote. Ted Schaal's cool piece "Open Window" was the winner. After all was said and done (and much celebratory libations consumed), the powers that be decided they liked "Through the Looking Glass" so much, they were going to raise the funds to buy it, too. So, in Little Rock, even losers can be winners. Here's my description of the piece from the proposal:

"The predominant visual theme of the sculpture has to do with perception and the play of light on polished surfaces. The main body of the piece is an elliptical shape, the interior of which is broken out, revealing that the whole is made up of individual hexagons. The hexagons are further defined by another layer of metal hexes attached to the faces of the main body. On one side these hexes are flat, in essence creating a mirror. The opposite side has hexagons which are rolled to make each one slightly convex - also creating a mirror, but one where the reflected subject is broken up into multiple images. I hope to orient the piece such that the viewer sees themselves and the City of Little Rock reflected as a single, unified whole from one side, and as multiple individual images with the greater world as backdrop from the opposite side. The unified image of viewer and City reinforces the concept of the collective and our roles as members of the community, while the unique, disjoint reflections speak to individuality and the need for each citizen to be a sound and fully realized individual to both be fulfilled and a functioning, useful member of society.

Through the Looking Glass Render

TtLG Boards

Render and presentation boards for the competition. ^


The fundraising took a bit longer than they anticipated, but I was able to get underway building this thing just a few weeks ago. FormZ, Rhino, Draftsight, and Solidworks all came into play while designing and detailing the sculpture - which actually was a source of several problems for me. Juggling data between different programs is a fact of life in a digital 3d modeling pipeline, and the intellectual overhead of keeping track of just what geometry came from where can get overwhelming pretty quickly. Add in the passage of time, and confusion is the inevitable result. I took quite a few extra hours to check and double-check my work, so was able to get at least a minimal sense of confidence that the design would actually be possible. There's nearly $10K just in stainless steel in this thing, so screw-ups can get costly fast.

TtLG exploded view

Parts, parts, parts. ^


TtLG parts laid out

Said parts, realworldified.  Shiny. ^


TtLG Tack Welding 1

Tack welding. Here I'm tacking the inside edges onto one of the main faces. The yellow strap you see is for lifting the second main face into place. ^


More Tack Welds

Inside edges. More tack welding. ^


TtLG Overview

Overview. Birds eye view; you can see the bent edges sitting on the table lower right. ^


TtLG Bulkheads

Structure. 1/4 inch thick stainless steel plate bulkheads that add stiffness and hold the whole thing up. ^


TtLG - Outside Edge

Outside edge. Welding on the curved outer edge. ^


Welding nearly done

Welding almost done. I’ve welded just about everything I can from this orientation. ^


Base Frame

Base frame. Welding the frame that will bolt the piece onto its footing. ^


Seam weld before

Seam weld. Before… ^


Seam weld after

Seam weld: After. ^


TtLG - Grinding

Grind. I hate grinding. I’m working on ideas to minimize the amount welding and grinding in my work. ^


TtLG Upright

Upright. Time to right the thing. Yes, it really is big - 12 feet wide and almost 9 feet tall. ^


Once I had the thing upright and all the welds cleaned up, it was time to begin adding the hexes.

TtLG flat Hexagons

Flat hexes. All the holes were already cut by the water jet with the faces. ^


TtLG Reflections

Reflections. The raison d’etre for the whole thing. ^


TtLG Sky Reflections

Sky. Another cool feature is the way the reflections sometimes undermine the perception of solidity. ^


TtLG rivet nuts

Popeye arms. Installing all these Rivet Nuts is a real forearm workout. These gussets fill in the open corners on the convex hexes. ^


TtLG Convex Hexes

Convex hexes. Really coming together now. ^

So that’s where I’m at currently. Stay tuned.


So, this:

Shelterstack Render

Initial computer model. ^


Turned into this:

Shelterstack installed

Finished and Installed in Little Rock, Arkansas. ^


By holding my mouth just so and doing this: 

Laser-cut stainless

Raw material meets laser. ^


Anchoring Plate

Anchoring plate that gets embedded in the concrete footing. ^


Base reinforcements

Base reinforcements. ^


First House

First house. ^

Internal frame

Internal frame for stiffness. ^


Housing drama

House - drama shot. ^


Anchoring gussets

Internal gussets for bolting the main sculpture onto its base. ^


Close up of hex nut and gusset

Corner bracing with Special Guest Star Hex Nut. ^


Second House

Second house. ^



Weld, weld, weld. ^


Third House

Next house goes on. ^


Anchoring plate embedments

Another shot of the anchoring plate. For reasons. ^


Numba 5

Numba 5. ^



That makes six. ^


7th House

Lucky seven. ^



Sculpture is done - just needs bolting onto its base. ^

Real Craftsmanship.