Please don't draw on the walls (that's what the floor is for).

One of the pieces for Three Elements in Manchester, IA is a 5' version of the City's logo.  In my initial proposal, the element representing growth looked like a two-leafed stylized sprout.  I was chatting with the City Manager about the model and he said, "What's this?" pointing at the scaled-down sprout.  And I was all, "Oh, that's meant to symbolize growth, life, the emergence of new things."  And he pointed at the logo on his City-issued polo. Bam! The three-leafed City logo looked like a first cousin to the thing I had made up.  "Easy enough to change that."  I said (meaning the model).  Because if your city's going to spend the resources on a logo that symbolizes growth, family, and community why not work that into your public art?  

So I drew it out in CAD, that program I love to hate.  I loathe screen time (sitting is for reading, eating, and drinking with friends in a cozy pub within walking distance of one's home). But I love the sorcery of clicking on an arc and instantly knowing its radius, where in space it begins, and where it intersects another arc. All of this is easily transferrable to the shop floor via chalk and trammel points.  Having an accurate, full scale image to build from is beyond convenient.  Besides, if you can draw on the floor, you absolutely should draw on the floor.   

Posted on February 15, 2018 .

Do these clamps make my butt joints look big?


This week has included coaxing a lot of curved steel into narrow cylinders that will form the primary structures for 'Three Elements.'.  I try to use kind, productive language when I talk to my steel.  Sometimes I fail at this endeavor.  Which is why it's good that I work alone. 

Getting curved sheet steel to precisely follow the path of a structural steel circle is best accomplished with a cadre of seasoned, battle-wise C-clamps.  My C-clamps know the drill (and the drill press).  And they're so very accommodating when I leave them unattended in a dark tool drawer for weeks on end, only to call them into service with no notice. They don't complain.  They just show up in orderly formation ready to deploy their great mechanical advantage. And after the welds are run, back into the tool drawer they go.  Awaiting the next adventure, or cursing my name, or maybe... well, who am I to know what C-clamps think about.

Posted on January 18, 2018 .

Mama was a rolling stone (or piece of tube steel)

I learned a long time ago that if you can put a thing on wheels, you should put the thing on wheels.  I learned this at the History Theatre in Saint Paul, MN.  Building in that shop was like building in a bowling lane.  With a very low ceiling.  Space was at a premium.  Putting tables, saws, racks, cases, coworkers,   and snacks (ok, snacks were technically on a table) on quality casters meant I could usually squish out enough room to build the thing.  

For 'Three Elements,' I need to bend a bunch of 20' long tube steel to a 5' diameter.  To bend said steel, I need to run it through a roller. Back and forth. Over and over. With the width of the roller, that means I need 42' of travel space. I've got about 25' useable linear feet in my shop. Aw snap! Better put the whole enchilada on some wheels. The roller is on wheels.  The steel is on wheels.  And if I sit on my shop skateboard (not to be confused with the 'good' skateboard), I'm on wheels.  It's really kind of a fun way to spend the day. 

Ok, so that last entry about taking every opportunity to wail (safely) on my musculoskeletal system?  Yeah, I could motorize my tubing roller, but where's the fun in that?  This baby's hand powered all the way. Gonna be a great lat and arm workout!  Cue beast mode. 


Posted on January 9, 2018 .

Let's get ready to rummmmmmble!

"Three Elements" for Manchester, Iowa is my first public art project of 2018.  This sculpture triptych is meant to reflect sun, water, and growth/earth, and will be installed near Manchester's riverfront. 

The crew at Marion Iron cut and rolled 128 linear feet (16 @ 8') of 12" wide 11 gauge sheet steel to a 2.5 foot radius. We were able to fit it all in my F-150, so I didn't even need to waste Curt's time with a delivery!  And I got a bonus 'arm day' unloading it.  Seriously, when you're over 40 and your body is your most valuable power tool, it's best to take every opportunity to wail (safely) on your musculoskeletal system.  Plus, who doesn't want bragging rights?  

Manchester Model.jpg
Posted on January 9, 2018 .