February 14, 2020
How it gets made...I thought you might be interested in seeing the process for a small automaton I made this week as a challenge for the monthly meeting of my wood turner's club. The challenge was to make a finial box...which indeed was a challenge because I don't turn finials. However, I didn't let that stop me from rising to the dare. May I present "Finial Box": The Process.
Finished. The little guys dance when cranked.
I had this nice cigar box I wanted to use, so I gathered materials...at this point, all I knew was that I needed to incorporate finials & I wanted it to move.
I consulted my "bible" of mechanisms & created a very "extensive" sketch. I rarely sketch these sculptures completely and certainly don't do any to scale drawings...however, this method only works because I generally use the simplest of mechanisms. Anything more complicated would require better drawings & most likely a scale model, probably of cardboard, skewers & tape.
Once I decided on the layout, I began positioning the main drive shaft to get as much movement as possible as well as starting to locate the slot for the wire that drives the top finial. Again, I didn't need to be too picky here as building in a little slop adds to the casual nature of this sculpture.
I didn't get a good shot, but you can see the slot under the top finial which guides the action. You can also see here the shape of the main drive shaft in order to get a rise & fall action, with the hand crank on the right. The bead is used as a stop on the left side, effectively trapping & stabilizing the drive shaft. This photo also shows the spool feet attached, and the painting inside and on the finials.
And that's it!
To see Finial Box in action, click on the page links (Vimeo, YouTube, Instagram or Facebook) above or click the page header "Automata in action", you will be linked to Vimeo directly. Thanks for looking.
And so another begins. Thought you might be interested in the progression of another small automaton I have been tasked to do for a gallery show. There is a limitation in that I must use a supplied 8"x 8" MDF substrate as a base & it must hang vertically on a wall. A fun challenge. I'll post more as more is completed.
I was kind of stuck, but the afternoon winter sunlight provides just the inspiration I need to finish this WIP sculpture I started this summer at Frogwood Collaboration in Colewood, OR. Hint: There may be lighting involved, stay tuned!
Tee For One, 18"x 15"x 12"
The ongoing pyrography-fest is proving to be serious fun. Making these boxes, bowls & utensils is great practice for more fully realized sculptural endeavors.
I started making some Beads of Courage boxes (http://beadsofcourage.org/) to support this wonderful organization. I'm cheating a little, since I'm using pre-made wooden boxes, but I'll make up for it with the decoration.
WIP: 2nd in the series Baby's First Nightlight: Fishy, Fishy
I got inspired so I'm making another one. Fishy will get a bit more decor and electrification so its eyes will glow & fiber optic hairs will twinkle.
About 10"x 10".
gourd, wood, glass, wire, fiber optic cable
Thought you might be interested in the "steps to a sculpture"...in this case, I was challenged to make something that lit up. Definitely out of my usual comfort zone, but I did get to learn about LED lighting as the head is totally enclosed so it needed to stay cool. This series of photos shows my process from raw materials to finished piece.
Baby's First Nightlight: Sweet Dreams
finished dimensions: 24"x 20"x 10"
oak log section, gourd, shoe lasts, glass, fiber optic cable, embossed leather, brass tacks, paint, lighting fixtures.
The raw materials
Fitting the feet
The leather collar keeps the head in place but allows removal in case the lighting needs attention...and you can't see it in this pic, but the leather is embossed with skulls.
When it all comes together.
An altar I designed & made for a friend's memorial. It was my first foray into using paint markers, and since I'm not a painter it was a little nerve-wracking. But the markers ended up being easy to use & the perfect medium to stick to the vinyl back & seat of the wheelchair.
WIP on the bench: Banana Rodeo, the evolution of a spinning banana.
I attended a workshop at Anderson Ranch Arts Center taught by Russell Baldon of California College of the Arts. The workshop was "Playful Mechanics"...so I decided to make a piece called Banana Rodeo, a push toy where the banana spins while the little guy goes for a ride.
Below are some process shots, to see it in action, please visit my Vimeo or YouTube channels, links above.
The first idea. Hmmm. Needs some fleshing out.
The cardboard model.
Banana Rodeo in all it's glory. Rubber band direct drive, finished with milk paint. About 12" tall to top of banana.
And no push stick is complete without a banana handle.
WIP on the bench: a prototype for an automaton featuring blinking eyes & making gears accurately. Whoda thunk making gears would be so persnickity? Nevertheless, I persevered & am jazzed that I'm starting to get the hang of it. So, I have made this piece featuring 2 gears (with different ratios resulting in different rotational speeds), 2 snail cams (slow lift, quick drop for the eye blink), & a double-lobed cam (quick up & down movement for the twitchy hair).
Having some fun now!