Original Cartoons, Art School projects, Cigar Box Guitars plus other entertaining Odds & Ends. All content & imagery copyright 2010-2017

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Two for the Price of One

This week we look at two recent projects from my Sculptural Processes class in which we spent the first half of the semester working in the wood shop and the second half working in the metal shop.  I’ve used  all the basic wood working machine tools before but never to the extent that they are used in this class.  As far as metal shop goes I’ve only done some very basic spot welding which took place many years ago.

Wood Shop “Towers” project.  Working in pairs each team was provided two 8 ft. x 2”x4” pine boards. The goal was to create a tower (something that is taller than its base is wide) that uses all of the main power and machine tools in the shop. The design categories were to build; the tallest, the strongest or most aesthetically pleasing. Initially it didn’t look like I would have a partner because on the day we were assigned the project we had students who were absent, which gave us an odd number of people.  Instead of waiting (and wasting an entire three hour class period) until the following week to see if I would have a partner, I went ahead and designed a tower for myself.

The next week I was assigned a partner, and in order to save some time we went ahead and used my design but the actual work of constructing the tower was evenly split. We had to use the provided boards but they could not look like standard 2x4s. They had to be split, cut down, or re-shaped in some way. Our base was a bit overbuilt because at the time we didn’t know how large and heavy the arc was going to be. Wood screws and wood glue was used to hold the entire thing together. The screws hold the pieces in place and allow for the glue to dry. The glue would set and become structurally sound after 24 hrs. and that is the true strength that holds the project together.  Finding and cutting the proper angles was the key to our success.  After that, the build was pretty easy. This project preceded the 3D wooden puzzle fish posted here a few weeks ago.

Metal Shop “The Body” project. Working again in teams of two using up to twenty feet of 3/8” steel rod we were to reference, represent, enclose, modify, or otherwise interact with the human body or one of its parts.  Once again special attention had to be placed upon making solid, clean, welds, and spray painting the surface in a professional way. This time my partner had a strong idea and we went in that direction with a few modifications. We wanted to combine form, function, and fun by creating a coat and hat rack that looked like an abstracted “butler” type figure. My contribution to the original design was the addition of the wheels, the bow tie, and the hand with tray. The bow tie was originally going to be cut and formed from sheet metal but for a variety of reasons that did not work out. So the tie was created with red felt and “museum board” which is a very stiff and strong cardboard material. The tie had a purpose in it was used to conceal the junction of four rods coming together. Not a pretty sight for us first-time welders. We have been told a number of times that “a good craftsman covers his mistakes well”.  And that is exactly what we were doing; covering our unsightly intersection.

Bending of the rods was done mostly “cold”, using manual labor by placing the rod in an iron brace and using brute strength and body weight to make series of incremental bends. The hardest part was bending the 2ft circle for the base. That was a two hour process of continuous, slow, and deliberate work that I did on my own. The figure’s hand was hot bent with an Oxyacetylene torch. One merely heats up the rod until it glows a bright orange, and then the metal becomes quite pliable. 

We went through a few working titles for this project which ranged from simply “The Butler”, to “Winston”, and eventually to “Wobbles (the Butler)”. The name came from the fact that our figure being a little bit top heavy, had a tendency to wobble somewhat any time it was touched or moved. We thought the wobbling was not a detriment but it actually helped to animate our guy and put a little “life” into him.  

Painted wooden balls were placed on the ends of the coat and hat hanger arms. Painted black wooden balls were also used to cover the nut & bolt assembly that holds the wheels on. We wanted the option of being able to remove the wheels in order to place Wobbles in a semi-permanent location. A plastic tray was velcro-ed onto the hand and there were three shot glasses placed upon it. We had a little trouble with gravity just prior to our presentation on Critique Day, when two of the glasses slid off and broke on the concrete floor…yikes! But it all worked out fine in the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment