The Eve Of...

The Eve Of… Residency: Preparations for a Sculpture

My palette: transparent colored vinyl. For better or worse it's only available in super bright, often fluorescent, colors.

Cut pieces for a prototype/materials test. My palette is determined by transparent colored vinyl. For better or worse, it’s mostly available in super bright (often fluorescent) colors.

Cut list for a sculpture project. It won't be as heinous as it looks (I hope).

The test worked great so I drafted a cut list for the full scale project. Working with vinyl is a lot like making a sewing pattern, and sewing is a lot like woodwork. You come up with plans and dimensions, then adjust for overlaps.

The sculpture has multiple parts, and is made by layering three different patterns 30 times, so the number of pieces needed to be cut was a lot. Excel and good old tallying came to the rescue.

The sculpture has multiple parts, and is made by layering four different patterns 30 times, so there’s a lot of pieces to be cut. I got them sorted with a spreadsheet and good old tallying.

Whew! After a day of cutting, over 500 pieces are ready for assembly. I'm feeling like I'm nearing the limits on the lifespan of my cutting mats and straight-edge ruler.

Whew! After a day of cutting, over 500 pieces are ready for assembly. My cutting mats and straight-edge ruler are a bit further along on their lifespans after today.

Early exhibition design.

A tentative exhibition design with sculptures represented in vinyl scraps. Even with digital tools, there’s nothing like moving scaled cutouts around a floor plan. (I learned how from my dad, when I was around seven. We were about to move houses, and he had drawn floorplans in ballpoint pen on graph paper, indicating closets with a charming coat hanger icon. We cut out tiny rectangles to stand for pieces of furniture, and tested out arrangements.)

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Art & Development

High on joinery

In Paul Henderson‘s Machine Woodworking class at Woodstock Byrdcliffe  Guild yesterday, I experienced something like looking through a microscope for the very first time. Suddenly things that were previously invisible to me became visible when I witnessed the precision craftsmanship of a hand-cut dovetail joint demonstration. I had never known that that level of accuracy was possible in wood. It required some excellently-maintained tools, including a specialists’ scribe from the English woodworking tradition, chisels sharpened to a mirror polish, and of course, the kind of wood you don’t get at a big box store. Perhaps more importantly, was execution—the brain and body operating the tools embodying skills, knowledge about the tools’ and wood’s nature, and the proper attitude. Even the care with which one cleans the workbench seemed in harmony with the spirit of the woodwork, reiterating a desire to imbue one’s surroundings with intention.

Our class project is to create another cabinet like this one, built by Paul Henderson. We did edge-joined some chestnut planks in the first class, and will work on doing the dovetail joints in the next class.

Our class project is to create another cabinet like this one, built by Paul Henderson. We did edge-joined some chestnut planks in the first class, and will work on doing the dovetail joints in the next class.

Some really cool planes for cleaning up rabets.

Some really cool planes for cleaning up rabets.

The barn, which houses the woodshop as well as ceramics studios, also has a birdhouse-megaplex.

The barn, which houses the woodshop as well as ceramics studios, also has a birdhouse-megaplex.

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