October 21, 2010

Travel Backgammon

Crisloid recently manufactured a small run of the travel backgammon set I designed for them. The set is a smaller interpretation of their popular attache' set, and features a thicker cut checker for increased playability. Look for different colorways in the future. Pick one up here - Crisloid Travel Backgammon

The Tornado - Finished

Here's some gratuitous shots of the finished sculpture. In addition to this piece I also assisted with the finish work on the barn. Under the direction of Jim Irish, the entire structure was rebuilt bigger and better than it had ever been.

The party was amazing with almost the entire town turning out. Both the sculpture and the film were very well recieved. There was a ridiculous amount of delicious food with pulled pork and ice cream being made on site, a live bluegrass band and even a red carpet. This article from the State Journal-Register includes a great description of the event and includes some history of the Pine Lodge Farm and the town of Elkhart.

Special thanks to Phil and Ruth Austin for such an amazing opportunity and congratulations to Tara Austin for writing and directing such an outstanding film.

My favorite part about Illinois; everyone is completely obsessed with Abraham Lincoln.

The Tornado - part 3

Once the skeleton was complete, the original plan was to use scrap wood and other debris left by the tornado to cover the piece. However, once I arrived in Illinois, I discovered that most of the wood had been recycled and used to construct the new barn. Anything left over was put in a large pile and burned a few days before I showed up. I was forced to come up with another solution quickly, as the event was only 2 days away.

I found a large roll of burlap fabric and quickly began cutting it into long strips. Each piece was around 15 to 20 feet in length and about 4 to 6 inches wide. With no little to no plan, I worked through the night wrapping the strips haphazardly around the piece.

Working at night provided relief from the hot summer sun, but made it difficult to see exactly what I was doing. As I added more and more fabric, it was hard to visualize what the final outcome would be. Nevertheless I continued stretching and stapling until I had upholstered the entire piece.

The next morning I was finally able to see the results, and was quite pleased. I added a few more strips for balance and called the piece finished. I toyed with the idea of adding more material to the outside. Possibly some scraps of wood or metal, maybe a few branches, but I ultimately decided that they would just detract from the piece. I liked the sharp angles and shape of the spiral enveloped by the natural burlap, which blended with its surroundings in both color and texture. When viewed from different angles, light shining through the layers of burlap created even more interesting shapes and depth. Years from now, as the piece ages, the burlap will weather and wear until all that is left is the skeleton once again.

October 20, 2010

The Tornado - part 2

The hardest part of this build was the location. Elkhart, Illinois is about 1300 miles from my studio and there was no way I could transport the finished piece that far. With just a few days on site and only a portion of my tools, it couldn't be constructed there in its entirety. The solution was to build the internal skeleton of the sculpture in my shop, break it down, pack it in my hatchback and drive it out with me. The final blueprint above shows the 11 octagons which would be pre-built along with their mounting blocks.

After 2 days of driving I arrived in Illinois and began assembly. The 12 foot, 4x4 post that would provide the backbone for the sculpture was already on site. After measuring and marking, I affixed the first few mounting blocks and octagons. Once the post was upright, I could mount the rest.

The next step was to cement a 4x4 aluminum tube into the ground. One stipulation of the piece was that it had to be removable for storage during the harsh winter. The wooden posts fits into the tube and is secured with a large bolt. When the sculpture needs to be moved, the bolt is simply removed and the piece can be lifted out for storage.

Once the cement dried, the post was installed and the rest of the octagons were mounted. This was actually the first time the skeleton was completely built. Although I had done mock-ups in my shop, I was unable to fully test everything beforehand due to height and time restrictions. Fortunately, it came together without a problem, and was better than I had hoped.

The Tornado

In August I traveled back to central Illinois for the premier of Funk's Grove, the independent film I worked on last summer. A huge party was thrown in celebration of both the movie and the rebuilding of the barn which was destroyed by a tornado shortly after we wrapped. I was asked to create a large sculpture to be displayed at the event, and remain on the property.

I played with several ideas before deciding that nothing would be more appropriate than to construct another large tornado and place it directly in the path of the actual funnel cloud. My justification being, that the piece would be partially constructed from the remnants of the old barn and other debris created by the disaster. I did have concerns that the hundreds of guests would be put off by the piece, not wanting to remember such a thing. Luckily, the response would be quite the opposite.

The final design stands 10 feet tall and consists of 11 octagons spiraling around a central post. The size of each octagon and its position relative to the post is determined by an exponential pattern of my own design. As you can see, I experimented with several different variations before deciding on a more robust funnel shape.

Salon Chair

A few months ago I picked up this salon hair dryer from an estate sale shop. After years of use, it was in pretty bad shape, but still worked. For the price, I couldn't pass it up. Knowing absolutely nothing about upholstery, I decided to completely renovate the piece.

The torn and dirty fabric was the first thing to be replaced. I found a few yards of bright purple vinyl at a local store and set to work cutting, stretching and stapling. The cushions were also replaced with new foam, making the chair much more comfortable. I had the piping custom made at a local shop, who also gave me some much needed advice. The white furniture nails serve both a practical and aesthetic purpose, securing the side panels to the frame.

The blower assembly and dials were completely rebuilt and rewired. All of the exposed metal was then painted flat gray. Through some creative taping and masking I was able to save the original foil stickers and dials.

Luckily, the original dome was not cracked, and cleaned up well. However, the arm rests were in bad shape and needed to be replaced. Using the originals as a template, I created a new set from red oak and finished them with a natural stain.

The chair is for sale, so feel free to email me for details. In the mean time, I've lent it out to the girls from Providence Pin-Up who recently used it in a shoot.