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Weaving Interwoven: The Beginning.

Now that I’ve bent some tabs, the actual assembly can start. First steps are to figure out which part goes where; I’ve employed a letter-plus-number system cut right into the metal to try to simplify this process. Seems to be working OK, but ascertaining “front” and “back” on a form without them is somewhat problematic.  It’s just a matter of playing “who’s your neighbor” and keeping track of those relationships. I divided the form up into 13 “modules” consisting of the sheetmetal surrounding each hole. Beyond planning, the actual assembly is aided by the use of these little doodads called “Clecos,” which are spring-loaded temporary rivets that hold things in position until actual rivets can be added. Pneumatic riveter for the win. (I “love” “using” “quotes,” apparently.)

Interwoven: Fabrication.

Once the virtual model is finalized and I have all the surfaces flattened and laid out, the files are sent off to Wesco Laser to be cut from 14 (main body) and 7 (base) gauge 304 stainless steel. Now I get to try to turn this:

Pile of stainless wanting to be a sculpture.

Into a piece of public art.

Oh, and remember those tabs I talked about? Here they are, ready to be bent and employed to hold the whole works together.

1200 wee tabs, flat, wanting to be bent.

Trying something new(ish).

I have been utilizing the welding process in making my sculptures for 30 years.  It is a straightforward, effective method for joining metal together—but there are some downsides. Biggest of these is the warping that occurs from the adding of heat; second is the aesthetic requirement of dressing the welds. Grinding and finishing out the weld beads and the associated discoloration around them (chasing) is time-consuming and, frankly, painful. I’ve experimented in the past with alternative methods of joining parts, like here:

“Breakfast with Tiffany”

I thought I’d try using rivets to assemble a larger piece, and “Interwoven” seemed like a great candidate, as warping and chasing out the welds on this beast would be bad. Very bad.

This did end up translating into many, many more hours of tedious design time on the computer—but that’s the price for ART!!! I placed over 2000 paired holes into the model and designed a simple tab to span the seam where two parts meet.

A note for the geeks: this shape was generated parametrically with code in the Grasshopper plug-in for Rhinoceros, and is based on the famous strip of Mr. Moebius. The chief challenge here is determining just how to go about realizing this mathematical form; there is no “front” or “back” and the the inner edge becomes the outer, and vice versa. Add to that the way the “faces” weave through each other, and you have a real head-scratcher on your hands/brain.