Sunday, March 29, 2015

The End of Spring Break And I Need A Vacation

Warning: If you queasy at the sight of blood, don't read to the end.

So, while all the students and teachers at the college went down to Mexico or wherever for Spring Break, I went downtown to work in the studio with my weekend boss.

I'm taking the Sabbath off today. Not for religious reasons, but because my body hurts. My hands especially hurt. This week showed me the difference between working out and work - not that I needed a reminder. Working out in the gym gives you that good muscle ache the next day. Working just wears your body down.

We had an interesting conundrum. A sculpture - kind of a large outdoor semi-organic abstract - had to be ready to install this Monday, 3/30. We had a week to do it. Normally, something like this would be fashioned and fabricated from metal, but the time constriction didn't allow for that. We considered a fiberglass shell, but again, time was against us.

After playing around with various physical options and experimenting the weekend prior to this, we decided on utilizing parade float technology.

Normally, floral sheeting, festooning and fringes are the salient aspects of parade float technology, but that's not what we did. I recalled that to get any kind of irregular shape, one usually resorts to chicken wire, or if you prefer, poultry fencing. That's what we used.

We adapted our technique for making armatures for figurative sculptures. We* started with the structural bones of construction rebar, welded together, to make the skeleton of the objects (about seven feet in any dimension). Next we bent pencil rod (1/4" thick steel rod) into hooks, and welded them to the rebar as spacers to make an outline frame of the shape.

We covered this welded up internal frame with a skin of chicken wire, attached to the spacers with cable ties. Next, we covered the chicken wire with window screen. Window screen is remarkably flexible and form hugging and retains its shape nicely.

Duct tape works as well.

The resulting surface was, in my opinion, kind of sexy, with a fishnet stocking look to it not unlike the Leg Lamp from a Christmas Story.

The window screen then was covered with Bondo, ready for painting.

When we were done, it took three days to do what would normally have taken as many weeks. The sculptures are very lightweight and the technique could easily be scaled up to make objects tens of feet in size.

Interior of the structure

"I'm stealing this technique", I said at the end of the week.

Interior of the structure

Downside? Well, whenever you work with metal, you get pinched and crushed and cut up and burned. I got all. A lot.

Here you see the consequences of Old Skool #3D rendering. Not as bad as it looks, folks.